Wednesday, January 11, 2012
San Diego County Supervisors have approved a major new residential development project north of Escondido over objections from Native American tribes.
The Meadowood development at the junction of Interstate 15 and State Route 76 will build 800 new homes in the rural San Luis Rey river valley.
Several Indian bands protested that the land is part of a wide area that’s sacred to southern California tribes, and part of their creation story.
Chris Devers, former chairman of the Pauma Band of Mission Indians, told the board ancient human remains have been found under an access road, and the tribes would prefer that they are not disturbed.
“We have the option or re-interring these individuals at other locations or leaving them in place,” he said. “If you had a road built over your grandmother, how would you feel?"
The developer, Pardee, has set aside an acre to re-inter found remains.
Devers questioned what would happen if that land filled up.
Attorneys for the Pechanga tribe said the environmental studies took into account the archeological value of the sites - but not the cultural value. They asked the board to delay a decision until the site could be investigated further.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob said she sympathized with the concerns of the Native Americans, but wondered what difference it would make to delay the project since the developer has spent years getting to this point, and has involved the Native American bands in the process.
County staff assured the board the environmental impact reports met all state and federal laws.
Supervisor Bill Horn proposed the motion to approve the development.
“When the State of California built I-15, they just bulldozed and buried everything they came over, so I’m sure there’s lots of remains underneath the I-15,“ Horn said. “But we don’t want to do that again.”
Supervisors Greg Cox and Dianne Jacob moved that developers should continue to involve the tribes when any remains are found.