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Carlsbad City Hall. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Measures A, B, stir controversy

CARLSBAD — Two controversial ballot questions will be decided by voters on March 3 regarding the county’s General Plan and development within San Diego County.

Measure A and Measure B have pitted environmentalists against both political party establishments, along with trade unions and chambers of commerce.

In Carlsbad, the chamber recently endorsed a no vote on Measure A, which would amend the General Plan requiring voter approval to increase density in semi-rural and rural areas. A no vote would keep the plan as is, while a yes vote would approve the amendment.

As for Measure B, it’s a referendum on the Newland Sierra project, a 2,135-unit development north of San Marcos and west of Hidden Meadows and Escondido. The Board of Supervisors approved the project, 4-0, in 2018.

But now, Democrats and Republicans and their allies are lining up to reverse course, which has riled environmental groups.

As for the Carlsbad chamber, President and CEO Bret Schanzenbach said Measure A is critical to the region’s ability to reach its housing goals and will protect open space. Measure B, meanwhile, is a common-sense development, with him noting the housing supply is extremely low.

“Bottom line, too many of our workers are coming down from Temecula, Murrieta and beyond,” Schanzenbach said. “Not having enough supply is what results in these steep costs and makes it more challenging for the average working person to afford something in North County.”

He said it is unfortunate a development project such as Newland Sierra has to go before the voters, but the chamber board believes it is a win for North County. As for Measure A, he said voting on every project requesting an amendment to the General Plan is onerous, plus it is why the supervisors are elected.

Schanzenbach pointed out the time between General Plan updates and those elections will kill development in San Diego County.

“Not only would they have to get the support of the Board of Supervisors, then they would have to go through the election process,” he added. “Putting all that time, all that money and all that effort before they can find out if they can do anything, and I think it’s going to be a deal killer for any developments looking for a variation off the General Plan. That’s bad for San Diego.”

However, George Courser of the Sierra Club San Diego chapter, disagrees with the establishments’ support of both measures. He also noted under the current General Plan and recent Regional Housing Needs Assessment released by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), those housing totals are just 6,700 units for the 2020-2029 cycle, according to a November report.

In the previous cycle, the county was responsible for 22,241 units, while the General Plan allows for more than 60,000 units and is in compliance with the plan.

Courser said the measures are another example of backroom deals between developers, lobbyists and elected officials. He also noted the areas where potential developments would be constructed are in high fire regions and lack infrastructure.

With Measure B, one big issue is blasting the mountain and moving tons of dirt just to start the project. He said infill development should take priority.

“We’ve found that the last 10 years the county has actually shut out the voices of the voters and relied virtually exclusive on what the developers say,” Courser said. “The development community are terrified is because they know the people are smarter and, frankly, care more than the politicians.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a no vote on Measure A would keep the General Plan as is, while a yes vote would approve the amendment. The Coast News regrets the error.

1 comment

Brian McInerny February 21, 2020 at 7:00 pm

If a developer has to have an amendment to the general plan for his project he should probably consider creating a plan that adheres to the general plan. Or maybe some other form of employment. If they stick to the rules then we don’t have politicians granting amendments the people already voted against. People know that our county is already developed way beyond a sustainable level considering water fire and infrastructure. Not to mention the traffic on our freeways and surface streets. I am amazed at the “Housing Crisis” ploy used over and over in the media. I guess the only way we learn is the hard way. Yes on A. No on B.

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