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Supervisor Asks State To Drop Conflict of Interest Charge In Lilac Hills Vote

Photo by Angela Carone

A portrait of Bill Horn, county supervisor for District 5, Jan. 5, 2015.

Supervisor Bill Horn is disputing the advice of the California Fair Political Practices Commission to recuse himself from voting on Lilac Hills, a development that would build 1,700 homes near Valley Center.

Photo credit: San Diego County

Map showing location of proposed Lilac Hills development.

Supervisor Bill Horn is disputing the advice of the California Fair Political Practices Commission to recuse himself from voting on Lilac Hills.

Horn has written to the commission asking it to reconsider the conclusion that he has a conflict of interest in the proposed North County development.

The development would build 1,700 homes — enough for a population about the size of the city of Del Mar — on agricultural land east of Valley Center. It’s considered a test case for the county’s General Plan, which took more than a decade to develop with public input, and allows for only about 100 homes on the site.

Without Horn’s vote, the Lilac Hills project might not have enough votes for approval.

The proposed project is in Horn’s district — less than two miles from his 33-acre ranch.

The FPPC concluded that the decision on whether to build Lilac Hills would have "a reasonably foreseeable financial effect” on his property value.

Horn initially called the advice to recuse himself “outrageous,” but accepted it.

Now, he is asking for a reconsideration. In his letter, Horn wrote that because his 33-acre spread includes a flood plain and steep slopes, only about seven homes could ever be built on it.

He said the Williamson Act that commits him to keep his land agricultural and opting out would have tax implications that would cancel out any potential development gains.

“Furthermore, I have no desire to subdivide or develop my property,” he wrote.

Horn invites members of the Fair Political Practices Commission to visit his property and hold a face-to-face meeting with him.

A letter to from attorneys with the Cleveland National Forest Foundation urged the commission to abide by its decision that Horn has a conflict of interest. The letter pointed out that Horn’s property was up-zoned in the General Plan from allowing one home per 10 acres to allow one home per two acres.

The legal division of the Fair Political Practices Commission has 21 days to decide if Horn’s letter constitutes new information that would change their advice.

Meanwhile, the Board of Supervisors’ vote on Lilac Hills has been postponed until early next year.

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