County faces contempt hearing

Failure to comply with 1995 ruling threatens local farms and habitats.

by Carolyn Chase

n late January, Save Our Forests and Ranchlands (SOFAR) successfully petitioned the Superior Court to schedule a hearing to have San Diego County held in contempt. At issue is the County's noncompliance with a 1995 ruling impacting thousands of acres of productive crop land in western San Diego County, and more than 400,000 acres of grazing and watershed lands on the east side of the County (see SDET December '95).

What's at stake? The precious back country - the scenic ranchlands for which San Diego is justifiably famous. According to Duncan McFetridge of SOFAR, "The County is still attempting to authorize residential subdivisions on agricultural land. If we 'grow' houses on this land, then we forfeit forever its agricultural, grazing, crop, and watershed use."

The hearing will be held on February 7th beginning at 1:30pm at the Hall of Justice, Judge McConnell's Court.

The contempt motion asks the court to :

Too little, too late

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing on February 19th at 9am on its two recent proposals, both of which are deemed "neither appropriate nor legal" by SOFAR. Other local groups are also alarmed, calling the two proposals "seriously flawed" and "fatally flawed," respectively.

The first proposal is from County staff. Here, 169,000 acres are given a gross density level of one housing unit per 40 acres. The remaining 21,000 acres - which are inside the County Water Authority service area - are given a gross density level of one unit per 10 acres. Actual parcel sizes and exactly where the density will go are to be determined later. This is a seriously flawed proposal:

The second proposal was advanced by the Farm Bureau. It is a blatant front for real estate speculation, subdivision, and the eventual loss of back country areas, like the gorgeous Santa Ysabel Valley, to housing tracts. Under the clever pretext of a "climate line," the development-oriented Farm Bureau is asking for 115,000 acres to be given the higher density of one unit per 10 acres. They claim that "small farms" will prosper west of the frost zone, when in reality, the crop will be houses! A few of the problems:

The last round of hearings at the Board were packed with potential subdividers with profit on their mind and loud voices. The public interest and the interests of San Diego's wildlife got lost. Your voice is needed in this process.

For updates on the hearing status and schedule call Californians for Quality of Life at (619) 496-3361.