Referendum to halt housing development fails

A petition drive failed to gather enough signatures to force City Council to overturn its approval of a 220-home development.

The group Friends of Discovery needed to collect 4,017 registered voters’ signatures to force a referendum on the project by Brookfield Residential Properties, which would re-zone about 23 acres near the southwest corner of Twin Oaks Valley Road and Village Drive — just south of Cal State San Marcos — from commercial to residential to pave the way for the new homes.

Friends of Discovery had more than 66 volunteers circulating petitions. A group spokeswoman said the group isn’t opposed to growth, they just want it to be well planned.

They submitted 4,880 signatures, but the Registrar of Voters invalidated 1,006 of them, leaving the group with 3,874 valid signatures, short of the number needed to force a referendum.

Groups only have 30 days after projects are approved to contest them, so the failure of the signature drive means the Brookfield project can move forward, city officials said.

“The window has passed for that particular legislative act,” City Clerk Phil Scollick said.

Mayor Jim Desmond, who voted for the project, said that he felt that residents who pursued the signature drive echoed the anti-development sentiment he said he sees countywide.

“It’s frustrating because nobody wants growth near them,” Desmond said. “We are in a tough spot because we are being forced by the state to build housing, and if we don’t (approve it) they are going to allow it.”

Desmond said that cities have a duty to make sure that growth is regulated, which he believes San Marcos is doing.

The Coast News has reached out to Friends of Discovery for comment on the failed petition effort and will update the story when comment is received.

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