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SANDAG, county acquire sensitive habitat

SAN MARCOS — Working as partners, SANDAG and the county of San Diego recently purchased approximately 40 acres of sensitive habitat in the unincorporated area of Escondido Creek south of the city of San Marcos.
In addition, SANDAG utilized TransNet Environmental Mitigation Plan, or EMP, funds in a separate recent purchase to acquire approximately 32.5 acres located adjacent to an important natural preserve in the Del Mar Mesa area of San Diego. Both properties will be permanently preserved.
“The county has been an excellent partner in this process,” SANDAG First Vice Chair and Encinitas Councilman Jerome Stocks said. “Working as a team, we have been able to achieve the SANDAG goal of preserving open space as mitigation for highway and local road construction, while at the same time expanding the county’s park system for use by the public.”
SANDAG and the county split the $2.3 million acquisition cost of the property in the Escondido Creek area, known as the Mendocino property. The County Department of Parks and Recreation will own and manage the property, which is located near 234 acres of land known as Sage Hill. The property was purchased by SANDAG and the county in 2009. Portions of the Mendocino and Sage Hill properties will be utilized by SANDAG as mitigation for impacts associated with its I-805 and I-5 freeway improvement projects.
The SANDAG EMP employs money generated by the local TransNet half-cent sales tax to purchase large tracts of land as mitigation for the future construction of transportation infrastructure. The EMP goes beyond traditional mitigation programs by filling the future mitigation needs of major transportation infrastructure improvement projects comprehensively, rather than on a project-by-project basis, to maximize the cost-savings of early land acquisition. The $850 million program, which began purchasing property in 2008, has now acquired approximately 1,241 acres of land and has spent approximately $60 million.