June 25, 2014 (San Diego) In 1993 residents of San Diego voted by large majorities to create the Forest Conservation Initiative (FCI). This came to it’s end, as the initiative said, on December 31st, 2010. This meant that the County would need a new General Plan and Staff, Planning Groups and Commissions have been busy ever since.
Today’s hearing was far from the last action the County Board of Supervisors will take. On a vote of three to one (Supervisor Ron Roberts missed the vote, and Supervisor Dave Roberts voted against it), the Board instructed Staff to analyze the different plans presented to them, but did not include the FCI.
This was the heart of the disagreement by Supervisor Dave Roberts. He could not vote for this if it did not include the FCI as part of one of the options. As he repeatedly said throughout the day, not having that in the direction to Staff could pose a future challenge in the Courts since the will of the voters was overwhelming in 1993.
Throughout a four hour hearing both supporters of the different sections of the plan, and opponents came forward. The major piece of opposition came from the United States Forest Service that manages the Cleveland National Forest. Carlton Jospeht, guided by his experience in the forest service, said that “Increasing wild land urban interface, Greatest risk and loss is. It adds a complexity that wash;’t there ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. It is going to create more urban interface.”
Joseph added that “recent research was conducted in SD county. Leapfrog development. This leapfrog development, isolated clusters of homes surrounded by vegetation are at a higher risk. This increased development will lead to losses of structures, natural resources and potentially human lives.”
This was the reason that Board of Supervisors Dianne Jacob asked for a specific piece of research to be done on the Alpine part of the plan.
There was an interesting dynamic. The Planning Group, though Travis Lyon, made it clear that they preferred their own plan. They wanted a higher concentration of housing, partly since they are at a cross roads. They want to provide more municipal services but they do not have the density of population to pay for services.
As Commissioner Adam Day put it well, nobody won on this.
Before the heart of the hearing started Environmental groups took their turns, as well as William Metz, supervisor of the Cleveland National Forest He was blunt at one point and said that “the lowest the housing density the better for the Cleveland National Forest.”
Jack Shu of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation supported that feeling several times. He said regarding Alpine that “Opposed to whole process. It would not be appropriate to put light industry in residential If we want to uphold forest conservation initiative, Grandfathered in several properties. But to make allowances to develop further and put more residencies is inappropriate “
In the end the vote was taken and while the CFI was not included in the final instruction to staff, it is not over and Staff will come back with the Environmental Report sometime in the Winter.