What kind of legacy will we leave?
by Harry Mathis, San Diego City Council Member for District I
The City of San Diego and concerned citizens move to save an environmentally
sensitive area in north county from developer's bulldozers.
[Ed. note: Mr. Mathis' district is the site of planning prea
"Neighborhood 8A," much of which lies just inland from Torrey
Pines States Reserve. This area is being proposed for development by one
of the large corporate owners, Pardee, and for conservation by a consortium
of other local owners and concerned citizens.]
fter a considerable effort and a number of delays, the
future of Neighborhood 8A was back before the Council on Tuesday, April
11. At that time, the Manager presented a set of recommendations which included
a compromise development concept and an acquisition process for Pardee's
In the past, I have gone on record that I will not approve
a plan for development in Neighborhood 8A which is not consistent with the
Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP), a comprehensive environmental
preserve system being developed by the City. The compromise plan, which
proposes no development in the northern portions of neighborhood 8A, has
the support of the City's MSCP staff. Under the proposal recommended by
the Manager, several property owners will not be able to develop to the
extent they have wished. However, despite this reduction in development,
community sentiment runs high for the preservation of even more of 8A than
the compromise plan proposes.
The extraordinary environmental quality of 8A has made
any development in it an important issue. The State and Federal Resource
Agencies have designated 8A a core biological resource area of great value.
It has the largest remaining stand of Southern Maritime Chaparral (SMC)
in San Diego and is exceptionally rich in biological diversity. Because
of this unique value, it is worth saving, and I believe every effort must
be made to preserve it. There is general acceptance of the notion that development
south of street "A" is reasonable and acceptable. On the other
hand, development as proposed, will destroy nearly half of the SMC.
The focus of the Council's interest is the 143 acres
identified as "Pardee's Parcel A." Pardee proposes, under the
Manager's recommendation, to develop 80 acres for single family dwellings.
I am not in support of this proposal for Parcel A. I believe that the public
should be given precedence in the opportunity to have the site preserved
in a natural condition. Results of a poll conducted last week indicate that
nearly 70% of residents in Carmel Valley and Del Mar Heights are willing
to pay for at least a portion of the acquisition cost for Parcel A through
a properly tax assessment. In my mind, this, combined with funds from environmental
sources, can result in a successful acquisition effort.
Pardee has insisted that it is a willing seller at a
fair market price, and its parent company, Weyerhauser, has taken pride
in portraying itself as a friend to the environment. The outcome in 8A will
be an important test of their credibility. I expect them to be true to their
word and cooperate in a good faith effort to make purchase of Parcel A feasible.
I received the support of my council colleagues to join
me in seizing a rare opportunity to help preserve a unique and valuable
resource which wilt be the cornerstone of our MSCP efforts. I am particularly
pleased that the imitative has been taken by the people living in the area
who know better than anyone how important this resource is. The community's
willingness to bring to bear both their time and financial resources through
a property tax assessment was the deciding factor which enabled me to get
the support of the Council in achieving our goat to acquire Parcel A. Its
preservation wilt benefit of all of us and future generations.
The Council could have denied consideration of the compromise
plan. However, while I do not support any development on Parcel A of Neighborhood
8A, I recognize that we must move forward toward a compromise plan which
creates a climate for the successful acquisition of Parcel A. Simply put,
it gives us a vehicle for controlling the future of Neighborhood 8A in accordance
with the MSCP. With the Council action of Tuesday, we can pursue a course
of action where it is the interest of the Council to give precedence to
acquisition of negotiated fair market value of Parcel A if funding for acquisition
is assured. I am confident that with community involvement and financial
support we will be successful.
Announcing the formation of the
Carmel Mountain Conservancy
he Carmel Mountain Conservancy has been formed to actively
pursue acquisition avenues to preserve the Carmel Mountain Area.
The Conservancy is endorsed by: California Native Plant
Society, Torrey Pines Association, Torrey Pines Docent Society, Endangered
Habitats League, Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Foundation, Friends of Los
Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, San Elijo Conservancy, Ted Case, faculty
UCSD, Ellen Bauder, faculty, SDSU, Barbara Coffin Moore, naturalist and
author, San Diego Earth Day and the San Diego Earth Times.
For more information please write: Carmel Mountain Conservancy,
P.O. Box 910424, San Diego, CA 92191, or call (619) 682-7026. Donations