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Campaign Underway Asking Voters To Approve 2,000 Home Development In North County

A rendering of the proposed Newland Sierra development in San Marcos.

Credit: Newland Communities

Above: A rendering of the proposed Newland Sierra development in San Marcos.

A campaign asking voters to approve building more than 2,000 homes in rural North County is underway. Supporters of "Yes on a Better Choice" rallied at the registrar of voters office near Kearny Mesa Friday. They said the development would bring much needed affordably priced homes to the area but opponents do not buy that and said they want to keep the area rural.

"Newland Sierra is a better choice because it brings critically needed housing that benefits our workforce, local businesses and everyone that calls San Diego County home," said San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders.

Most of the homes in the development would cost between $500,000 and $900,000 with some near $400,000. Backers of the project include local fire and deputy sheriff labor groups — whose members could benefit from the lower priced homes.

Reported by L. Matthew Bowler

"A $400,000 house is attainable for our public safety employees and that’s an important thing along with school teachers," Sanders said.

Not everyone is in favor of the proposed development located near Escondido and San Marcos.

"We have a motto in Twin Oaks Valley — it’s called keep Twin Oaks Valley rural," said Abigail Scriven who lives near the proposed development. She drove to Kearny Mesa Friday to protest the rally in support of the project.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the Newland Sierra development last year, but more than 100,000 signatures forced the project onto the 2020 ballot. The Golden Door, a world-renowned spa near the proposed project, paid for the signature gathering.

"There were over 100,000 signatures obtained all across the county using not factual things about this project," said Rita Brandin of Newland Communities, the site's developer. "In our mind this referendum is going to give us a chance to talk the public ourselves versus having paid signature gathers tell whatever story they need to tell to get somebody to sign that petition."

RELATED: Battle Over North County Housing Development Enters New Phase

Opponents of the project said the public has already spoken.

"The fact that they’re here telling us all that 117,000 people were duped into signing a petition is just asinine to me — it’s ridiculous," Scriven said.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman

The Golden Door is funding the Committee Against Newland Sierra and Bad Development.

"Newland is a huge developer who got the board of supervisors to change the rules for this development," said Rick Schloss who is a spokesman for the Committee Against Newland Sierra and Bad Development. "Let’s be clear — there is not one single unit of affordable housing in what was approved and will now be voted on in March. The developer stands to make more than a billion dollars, and the vast majority of homes will require a six figure salary to afford."

Newland Sierra developers announced Friday that the project will include 200 affordable housing units for seniors and families. It’s estimated millions of dollars will be spent on campaigns for and against the development before voters take it up in March 2020.

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Aired: July 29, 2019 | Transcript

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