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Voters Reject Lilac Hills Measure

Photo caption:

Photo by Alison St John

Area in Valley Center where Lilac Hills Ranch project is planned, Aug. 30, 2016.

The Lilac Hills Ranch initiative would allow developers to build 1,746 homes on semi-rural land currently zoned for 110 homes in Valley Center.

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m., Nov. 9, 2016:

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, the no vote for Measure B remains at 64.2 percent. Some provisional and mail-in ballots remain uncounted.

Mark Jackson, co-chair of the “No on B” campaign, said voters weren't duped despite the $5 million dollars spent on advertising to pass it.

“The voters in San Diego county wouldn’t let an election be bought," he said in Golden Hall downtown on election night. "The measure doesn’t provide affordable housing and meant a lot of costs for roads and fire stations to taxpayers — and the voters were smarter than the deceptive advertising."

Much of the advertising suggested the 1,746 homes that would be added to the county's housing supply under the measure would help reverse the region's housing crisis.

The "Yes on B" campaign put out the following statement:

"Measure B represented an enormous undertaking to educate the entire County on the need for additional housing. This housing crisis continues, and our efforts to build this great community, Lilac Hills Ranch, doesn't end with this result. We will continue our efforts to bring the region affordable housing opportunities with arguably the greenest community in the county, Lilac Hills Ranch."

UPDATE: 6:12 a.m., Nov. 9, 2016:

The measure to build a development with 1,746 homes in Valley Center appears to have been defeated.

With 92 percent of precincts reporting, the no vote was 64.2 percent and the yes vote was 35.7 percent.

UPDATE: 11:30 p.m., Nov. 8, 2016:

With the vote steadily mounting, the measure to build Lilac Hills Ranch continued to slide to defeat Tuesday night. With 35 percent of precincts reporting and the mail-in vote counted, the no vote was 63.8 percent, with yes at 36.2 percent.

UPDATE: 8:30 p.m., Nov. 8, 2016:

The measure to permit a major development in Valley center was losing in early voting Tuesday night. Voters were rejecting Measure B with 63.6 percent saying no, with absentee ballots counted and 28 percent of precincts reporting.

Original post:

What is the measure?

Measure B, or the Lilac Hills Ranch initiative, would allow 1,746 homes to be built on semi-rural land in Valley Center that is currently zoned for 110 homes.

The measure would amend San Diego County’s General Plan, which was passed in 2011.

The 608-acre site — currently made up of mostly agricultural parcels — would become a master planned community to house a population about the size of Del Mar, with small commercial centers, a public park, several private parks, 16 miles of trails, and a 200-bed assisted living facility.

The plan went through environmental review. In September 2015, on a 4 to 3 vote, the County Planning Commission recommended it for approval — with conditions. Those conditions included extra road improvements, increased fire safety and a school.

County Supervisor Bill Horn recused himself from the vote for potential conflict of interest. Rather than go to the Board of Supervisors for a vote, the developer decided to put the issue on the ballot.

County staff produced the Lilac Hills Ranch Specific Plan Initiative Impact Report, which details the differences between the project approved by the Planning Commission and the project outlined in the ballot.

The changes include fewer road improvements and no new fire station.

The developer has offered to pay up to $7 million in road improvements. The true cost of improving the roads to mitigate for the 19,000 extra vehicle trips a day the project is estimated to generate is expected to be millions more.

The initiative would waive the county’s five-minute fire response time.

Photo credit: San Diego County

Map showing location of proposed Lilac Hills development.

Who's on each side?

Supporters include the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas, former Cal Fire Chief Howard Windsor, real estate consultant Gary London, North San Diego County Association of Realtors, Bonsall Unified School District Superintendent Justin Cunningham and the Republican Party.

They say the project will be eco-friendly and help ease San Diego’s housing crisis by offering homes starting in the $300,000 range.

Opponents include the League of Women Voters North County; The San Diego Union-Tribune; the League of Conservation Voters; former Supervisor Pam Slater-Price; Victor Reed, retired Escondido fire chief; Lou Obermeyer, retired superintendent of Valley Center Pauma Schools; and the Democratic Party.

Opponents say the initiative would set a precedent of ballot box planning that will make a mockery of the county’s General Plan for growth, and has no guarantee that any of the homes will be sold for under $500,000.

Supporters have raised about 28 times as much as the opponents. Major funders for the "Yes on B" campaign include Accretive Investments, which contributed more than $4.2 million, and the North County Leadership Council, which contributed $35,000.

Major funders for the "No on B" campaign include Save Our Forest and Ranchlands, which contributed $45,000; Palomar Investors LLC (Darlene Shiley), which contributed $49,000; and Jim Pardee, who contributed $40,000.

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