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San Diego Explores Transfer of Development Rights

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Aired 6/21/10

Property values in San Diego County’s unincorporated areas will be affected by a new “General Plan Update” currently in the works. Some property owners are calling for reimbursement, through a process called the “Transfer of Development Rights,” or TDRs.

Property values in San Diego County’s unincorporated areas will be affected by a new “General Plan Update” currently in the works.

The update is designed to preserve open space, while allowing for another 700,000 homes to be built in the unincorporated areas by 2050. That’s more than 30,000 fewer homes than the current General Plan allows.

Inevitably, zoning changes will mean that some landowners can’t build as many new houses on their property as they thought they could.

Some property owners are calling for reimbursement through a process called the “Transfer of Development Rights,” or TDRs.

Devon Muto is Director of Advanced Planning for the county. He held a workshop to look at whether property owners who’ll lose the right to develop their land could sell their development rights to someone else.

“There’s no requirement that we provide for this type of compensation,” Muto said. “The county would have the option in the future to purchase those rights and we could use them, or we could retire them. And that’s something that other landowners would have the option of doing also.”

Muto said county staff do not recommend the Transfer of Development Rights. There is no money in the county budget to purchase them. Developers are opposed to purchasing them also.

But County Planning Commissioner Peter Norby said landowners who get the right to develop more houses under the new General Plan could be required to purchase those rights.

Farm Bureau Director Eric Larson said this could be part of the solution for farmers who may lose property value under the plan update.

But Planning Commissioner Michael Beck said making development rights a commodity that can be traded or sold undermines the effort to consolidate development in the back country. Beck points out that the General Plan is made up of plans put together by multiple community planning groups, based on how they’d like to see their areas grow.

County Supervisors are scheduled to vote on the long awaited update in the fall

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