San Diego County Equestrian Foundation

Understanding the 20/20 General Plan Update




San Diego County Farm Bureau

San Diego Association of REALTORS®

North San Diego County Association of REALTORS® East San Diego County Association of REALTORS® Building Industry Association of San Diego County “Save Our Rural Economy” (SORE)

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce San Diego North Economic Development Council

Alliance for Habitat Conservation

San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation


For the past twelve years, our organizations have actively participated in the County’s General Plan Update process. We have approached the process with an open mind and a willingness to work cooperatively with the various stakeholders involved to address the core issues identified by the process including population growth and housing, community character, rural preservation, farming and industry, and environmental protection. Since its inception, the General Plan Update was presented as a “rooftop-based” plan that would identify and assure the planned density yields. It was the County’s key argument in response to the approximately 40,000-unit downzone that staff has been proposing since the inception of the process in 1998.

From the beginning, as invested stakeholders, we have opposed this severe downzoning. We have stated consistently the need for the General Plan to be adopted as a “complete package” of effective implementing tools; and we have insisted that the General Plan guiding principles and land use policies must be consistently applied throughout the County and direct the Community Plans. Community Plans should not be allowed to “trump”, interpret, or negate the policies of the General Plan.

To our frustration, none of these key elements of our support has been addressed. With little basis in planning principles, large swaths of the County are proposed for severe downzoning, a downzoning that is arbitrary and excessive and will result in regressive economic impacts to rural communities. Many property owners would lose 80% or more of their value.

The General Plan land use policies vest clear veto authority to Community Plans on key elements of the General Plan project description, including accommodations for new housing and conservation-oriented/compact development projects. And after twelve years of discussion, the implementing tools still remain conceptual or undeveloped and fundamentally dependent upon Community Planning Group acceptance. We find this lack of progress on our core issues untenable. Therefore, we cannot support the General Plan in its current form and we will not support the General Plan without resolution of all of these core issues.

August 2010 Stakeholder Coalition County GPU White Paper Page 1 of 10



Downzoning Lacks Planning Validity

The Draft General Plan proposes a severe downzone of approximately 400,000 acres of privately-owned land in the unincorporated area. An additional 220,000 acres of privately- owned Forest Conservation Initiative and “General Ag” lands are also targeted for downzoning. Lands east of the County Water Authority Boundary, where more than 70% of the land is already in public ownership, would be particularly hard hit. Much of the land being downzoned would lose 80% or more of its value. Most of these lands reside in the County’s rural communities and support viable agricultural and ranching operations which would be wiped out by the devaluation of the land supporting these uses. This loss of property value in rural communities and the resulting evaporation of private investment potential will cause significant economic harm to these communities, leaving them with little or no viable economic future and placing significant strain on County taxpayers to support a continuing need for fire, school, emergency and other services in these communities.

This severe downzoning reflects the same downzoning scheme proposed by Propositions B and A, a scheme that was soundly defeated in 1998 and again in 2004. The environmental protections already in place (CEQA, the Resource Protection Ordinance, the Groundwater Ordinance, Fire Access Regulations, the Multiple Species Conservation Program, etc.), enable the County to achieve its environmental and rural preservation objectives without the need for downzoning. There is no justification for the economic harm that will occur to individual landowners and residents of our rural communities if this downzoning is approved.


Key General Plan Policies Defer their Applicability to Community Plans

Policies that are key to implementing the General Plan Guiding Principles, core elements of the General Plan project description, fatally defer their applicability and implementation to Community Plans. Throughout the document the language “when consistent with the Community Plan” is used to preface the application of individual land use policies. In essence, these policies, which are fundamental to implementing the General Plan, are contingent upon Community Planning Group acceptance, interpretation and application (i.e., inclusion in their Community Plans). This leaves the General Plan project description (i.e., the Guiding

Principles), which is built around these policies, in question, jeopardizing the viability of the General Plan as a “Project.”

August 2010 Stakeholder Coalition County GPU White Paper Page 2 of 10

Examples of these policies include LU-1.10 (Density Allocation), LU-3.2 (Mix of Housing Units), LU-3.3 (Complete Neighborhoods), LU-6.4 (Conservation Subdivisions), LU-9.2 (Village Land Use Designations), LU-9.8 (Village Connectivity), and LU-9.12 (Achieving Planned Densities).

For example, Policy LU-9.12 has been significantly weakened in the latest draft, now stating “In villages, encourage future residential development to achieve planned densities…” changed from “ensure that future residential development…” The policy is backing away from the

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