San Diego County Equestrian Foundation

Meeting with Bill Horn

Reportfrom a Meeting with County Supervisor Bill Horn on the Equestrian Community

At theend of June, a government affairs expert and I paid a visit to CountySupervisor Bill Horn and his staff; Horn is the local elected official in whoseunincorporated Eden Valley district my ranch is located. My message wassimple---why is the County of San Diego perceived as so unfriendly toequestrians, and what can be done to improve the permitting climate for theequestrian community (“EC”) ?  It may just be typical pre-election promisesfrom a long time County politician, but after hearing what he had to say, I am seriouslywilling to give Supervisor Horn benefit of the doubt.  The Supervisor had heardsimilar complaints but, after hearing my presentation, was receptive to tryingto resolve both the zoning issues and also the negative relationship betweenthe EC and the County.

For overtwo hundred years, equestrians in San Diego County have ridden on ranches andtrails with little trouble from regulatory agencies.  Horses and the outdoorsare a natural fit, so what’s the problem?  The challenge is more people wantingto live in formerly semi-rural areas. On top of increasing suburban developmentpressures on rural ranch lands, environmental quality rules, such as strongernew laws controlling air & water pollution and endangered species habitats,seem to threaten an age old way of living on the land.  Once a ranch’s newneighbors start complaining about dust and flies, a conflict can flare up.   Asa result of the County’s efforts to balance the many conflicting objectivesassociated with government planning for residential neighborhoods intermixedwith equestrian communities, trying to set up a new ranch can be maddeninglycomplex, with regulations coming out of seemingly everywhere and all designedto frustrate.   

In myown situation, there appears to be a effort by minor County officials to standalmost unthinkingly in the way of my efforts to rebuild what had been adecrepit old eyesore of a ranch into a modern and clean facility.  Aftertalking to others in the EC in North County, I found out I wasn’t alone and wasgalvanized into action.  We need to:  (1) provide the people who can help uswith a reasonable, workable plan of action, (2) present them with a concisestatement of our needs, and (3) be willing to stand up and be counted for whenthe time is right.  There are many smaller groups of disgruntled ranchowners and it is time for everyone to join forces and stand together.

The equestrian community is requesting that the Board ofSupervisors commence a series of meetings with us and any other interestedstakeholders, such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, CaliforniaDepartment of Fish & Game, the San Diego Regional Water Quality ControlBoard, and the U. S  Army Corps of Engineers to identify and implementmuch-needed changes to the County’s permitting process for equestrianfacilities. Some of the solutions contemplated include standardizedcompliance options and conditions for those seeking expedited approval. Applicants choosing the simpler, standards-based permitting path would benefitfrom a much shorter and less expensive permitting process.

 The meeting goals include:

  • Identifying the EC’s and County’s key interests and concerns, all of the Zoning Ordinance and related provisions applicable (and current status of Code Enforcement activity pertaining) to Equestrian facilities
  • Immediately establishing a more productive working relationship between the EC and County by : (a) adopting an amnesty period to allow owners or tenants who operate allegedly non-conforming uses to elect to seek compliance more quickly and reasonably; (b) eliminating or significantly reducing the fees for smaller-scale equestrian facility applications; (c) adopting a 180-day moratorium on code enforcement and related efforts to impose Major Use Permit requirements on existing equestrian facilities
  • Amending the zoning ordinance and related regulations governing equestrian uses, including formulating specific land use/planning standards which (if met) will render the permitting of equestrian facilities “ministerial” rather than “discretionary” to the maximum extent feasible.

Followingthe positive response the EC received, two organizations will be created, SanDiego County Equestrian Foundation 501 (c)(3) and San Diego County EquestrianAdvocacy Group 501 (c)(6).  It is my hope that you will help me by writing aletter that will support the EC through these two Organizations, San DiegoCounty Equestrian Foundation and Advocacy Group, as well as Supervisor Horn ashe tries to help facilitate a solution all can live with.   

Michell Anne Kimball
Hunter Equestrian Center
1042-B N El Camino Real
Ste 414
Encinitas, CA 92024

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