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Politics

Election Issues Shaping Up In North County

Vista Republican Congressman Darrell Issa and Democrat attorney Doug Applegate.
Courtesy Photos
Vista Republican Congressman Darrell Issa and Democrat attorney Doug Applegate.

Issa in a fight for seat, supervisors to weigh development, golf courses look to develop

North County Midday RoundUp
GUEST:Alison St. John, North County reporter, KPBS News

Voters in November can expect a large number of initiatives and propositions on the ballot. Not just concerning San Diego, land use is used dose issues will pop up. Joining me is Allison St. John, welcome. That surprisingly in play seat is currently held by Darrell Issa, he won the June primary , Doug Apple Gate came in with 45%. Should Congressman Issa be worried? He will have to spend more money he's held the seat for a terms, 16 years and he's always wanted -- won it. This time he got more than 50% of the vote and Doug Apple Gate is right on his tail with 45% of the vote. It's certain that he will need to get -- pay more attention than he has since he was elected. Speaking of those war chests, their lopsided. The latest campaign disclosure that came out, showed Apple Gate had raised a bit more then I said -- is a -- Darrell Issa . Darrell Issa has cash on hand, $3.7 million in his campaign war chest, Apple Gate only has 135,000. That will be a big issue when it comes to buying television ads, which if you are trying to reach people who may not know you anybody trying to challenge Darrell Issa would need to do that, since the district is spread between San Diego and Orange County What's the idea about why Applegate is posing such a threat . He's a retired Marine veteran. He's well spoken, he's got a good agenda that he has laid out, talking about jobs. He is focused on how America must renegotiate the unfair trade deals, he wants to strengthen the by America requirements. He is talking about defense spending, he says the defense industry has hijacked our military. He is in a good position to have a strong voice on cutting defense spending. In terms of immigration he is saying, very different from Darrell Issa he says it's to help Mexico rid itself of the cartels so they can employ its citizens. He has some very different platforms, positions from Darrell Issa and he's expressing them. Moving on to another measure, North County voters may see, all voters in San Diego County Macy on their ballot. About the ranch development in Valley Center. This is interesting, if you live in Chula Vista you might think it would be nice to have an extra 1700 homes in the hills, if it takes the pressure off of the housing crisis. Everybody will get to vote. The issue is that it was set a precedent to overturn years of planning with local planning groups. The initiative itself is different from what the County planning commission approved earlier last year. This is an issue that voters would do well to educate themselves on, it would build 1700 homes on a semi rural agricultural land. It would be a major amendment to the general pen -- plan. What is it mean that enough signatures have been gathered, what comes next? As of tomorrow the County will be voting on whether to approve the initiative all right, or -- outright or put it on the ballot or they can call for an environmental view which might take 30 days. Opponents of the plan are asking for that, they're pointing out that there's element of the initiative which voters might not be aware to that relate to roads, fire safety transportation, voters claim will miss -- were misled, who said this will help affordable housing and housing for veterans. In fact, this project makes no guarantees for housing for veterans and its housing will not be in the affordable range. There will be news developing tomorrow? Yes. We will find out if it's going to be on the ballot or if the supervisors decide to take a risk and vote for it outright. This reminds us of the developers plan in Carlsbad, that shopping center they wanted to build on the Strawberry Fields. That was defeated by voters. Yes. What are the differences and parallels the tween that in this Valley Center? Some people say, and initiative the developer needs to be careful, the community stands a good chance. In Carlsbad the local community defeated that much to everyone's surprise. That was a different situation, that's a small neighborhood. In the case of lilac hills, you've got the whole County, which is very expensive to reach. Most people are not that educated about what the general plan is. One of the issues is, do we want to preserve our back country or do we want to let development spread out into the rural areas as opposed to the plan, which is to keep it more in the urban areas. The interesting fallout of that vote about the Strawberry Fields Ctr., is that it seems to be shaking up politics in the city of Carlsbad. In the case of Carlsbad, this success has galvanized and they've seen that if they get active, they can defeat, in this case it was unanimous Council vote to build this vote the Caruso development on the shores of the lagoon. Now, we have councilmembers that are up for election in a city that is never seen very much in the way of competition. The former Mayor was there for decades in a stable city. Now, we are seeing both of those seats being challenged and quite actively, by a couple of people who were involved in the anti-Caruso initiative. We can expect fireworks. The last land-use issue is an open space controversy concerning a golf course and Polly. Golf courses, you could do a whole segment. They are all having trouble making money. This one might end up on the ballot, in power way -- Poway. It still can't make money. They want to build a hotel on it. According to prop F F, if the city wants to start changing the zoning on open space like a golf course it has to go to a vote of the people. The city Council in Poway will consider whether to put this on the ballot to allow the owner, Sunray Corporation to build a boutique hotel on the Madera's golf course. Lots of rings happening. We will have to keep our ears to the ground. Allison St. John, KPBS North County Bureau division. Thank you very much. Coming up, San Diego leaders rally in support of law enforcement. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition.

Election Issues Shaping Up In North County
Rep. Darrell Issa will likely have to fight harder to keep his seat. A housing project proposed for Valley Center could set a precedent for future growth. Carlsbad gears up for a more contentious election than usual.

Election issues are shaping up in North County — from the unusually competitive race for the 49th Congressional seat to a battle in the normally ultra-stable city of Carlsbad over who will represent residents on the city council.

When it comes to development issues, Lilac Hills, a major housing project proposed for Valley Center, could set a precedent for future growth if county supervisors vote Tuesday to put the project on the ballot. And the owners of a struggling Poway golf course may also go to the voters for permission to build on the land.

Issa vs. Applegate

North County Republican Darrell Issa will likely have to fight harder to keep his 49th Congressional District seat this year. Issa has easily won his previous eight Congressional elections, usually with more than 60 percent of the vote. But in this June’s primary, Issa ended up with just 51.5 percent, while his democratic challenger, Doug Applegate, was not so far behind with 45 percent.

The Democratic Congressional Committee has named the 49th district as an emerging district in its "Red to Blue" program.

The latest campaign disclosures show Applegate raised more money than Issa in the reporting period since the primary: $127,00 to Issa’s $99,000. However, Issa has built up an impressive campaign war chest over the years, with more than $3.7 million cash on hand to Applegate’s $135,000.

The funding gap will be a challenge when it comes to buying airtime: The 49th District spreads between coastal north San Diego County and coastal Orange County, so the cost of buying TV ads in not one, but two, markets will be high.

Registration in the Congressional district is changing. When Issa was first elected in 2000, Republicans made up more than 50 percent of registered voters. That is now down to less than 40 percent registered Republicans, while Democratic registered voters make up more than 30 percent. Almost 25 percent decline to state.

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s fortunes may affect this race. Unlike several other prominent Republicans, Issa has endorsed Trump and is attending this week’s RNC as a delegate.

Lilac Hills in limbo

Steve Hutchison gestures toward the site of the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch development in Valley Center, April 29, 2015.
Beverley Woodworth
Steve Hutchison gestures toward the site of the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch development in Valley Center, April 29, 2015.

A precedent-setting project that would build 1,700 homes on semi-rural land zoned for 110 homes may also go to voters countywide. The Registrar of Voters has declared enough signatures were gathered to put the Lilac Hills master planned community near Valley Center on the ballot.

The County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will decide whether to approve the initiative outright, put it on the ballot or send it for review.

The developers, Accretive Investments, decided to put the project to voters after Supervisor Bill Horn, one of its primary supporters on the board of supervisors, was ruled ineligible to vote due to a conflict of interest.

Opponents argue the initiative, which is several hundred pages long, has made significant changes to the plan that the county’s planning commission approved. They are urging the supervisors to order a review.

Time is short, though. A 30-day review would not be completed until Aug. 18 and the deadline to submit the ballot measure for the November election is Aug. 12.

Carlsbad shake-up

Carlsbad City Hall, Aug. 25, 2015.
Alison St John
Carlsbad City Hall, Aug. 25, 2015.

The North County coastal city of Carlsbad is gearing up for a more contentious election than usual, partly due to a similar land-use initiative. In February, citizens opposed to a major retail developments on the shores of the Agua Hedionda lagoon defeated the plan, in spite of being outspent 100 to one by the developer, Caruso Affiliated.

Now, Citizens for North County, the grassroots group that defeated the measure, has endorsed two activists — Cori Schumacher and Ann Tanner — to unseat two incumbent city council members who supported the development.

Carlsbad City Council seats are seldom vigorously contested and Bud Lewis, the previous mayor, served for 24 years. Current Mayor Matt Hall ran unopposed in his last election and is not up for re-election this year. But incumbent councilmembers Keith Blackburn and Lorraine Wood will likely face spirited opposition from Schumacher and Tanner.

Golf course blues

Golf greens are becoming more costly to maintain as the price of water escalates, and three North County courses built in the 1960s have closed recently.

In Poway, the Maderas Golf Club is one of several courses still struggling to make a profit, even though it is relatively new — built in 2001. The owner, Sunroad Enterprises, wants to build a boutique hotel on the course to encourage patrons to stay and play longer.

However, Poway’s Proposition FF, a measure that passed in 1988, says any up-zoning or rezoning of the city's open space and rural residential lands must be approved by city voters. Poway City Council will decide Tuesday whether to put the Maderas project on the ballot.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.