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Extreme Commuters’ Gather To Oppose Measure A

A view of the Valley Center countryside where the Lilac Hills Ranch was plann...

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: A view of the Valley Center countryside where the Lilac Hills Ranch was planned, with 1,700 homes. The project was not consistent with San Diego County's General Plan for growth, and Measure B on the November ballot failed.

A group of San Diego's "extreme commuters" Monday urged voters to reject Measure A when it comes up for a vote on March 3, contending that requiring a countywide vote on major development projects would make San Diego's strained housing market even worse.

Measure A, if passed, would necessitate a countywide vote on every major project that has been granted a General Plan amendment that increases housing density in rural and semi-rural lands in the unincorporated area. Previous public votes on large projects have tended to fail.

The commuters, some of whom travel daily from Tijuana or Riverside County to work in San Diego, were brought together in a City Heights park by the "No on A" campaign. They said they have largely been priced out of San Diego County and the measure would exacerbate the issue.

RELATED: Measure A Would Dramatically Change How Rural Land Is Developed In San Diego County

"The thought of leaving San Diego, a home where I've built a career and family, is heartbreaking to me but I can't ignore the fact that rents and home prices are rising faster than my income," Kourosh Toumadje, a father of four who works as a production planner in a laboratory, said at the news conference. "To my family — this is home. But if Measure A is approved, I may eventually have no choice but to move my family from the only place we know."

Any project adding more than six homes needing a county General Plan amendment would come to a vote. According to the "No on A" organizers, this limitation is just on residential homes, not on casinos, resorts, hotels or factories. Measure A supporters say the general plan amendments being proposed in the county are residential in nature, not for casinos, resorts, hotels or factory developments.

The "Yes on A" faction said the ballot measure would limit sprawl into fire-prone areas.

Supporters of the measure say politicians are influenced by the building industry — which is adamantly opposed to Measure A — and the General Plan should be followed.

Susan Baldwin, president of San Diegans for Managed Growth, said developers are buying cheap land in rural and semi-rural areas with plans to build high-density housing in areas that are not zoned for it.

“The areas zoned for low density are purposeful because of fire, habitat or lack of infrastructure,” she said. And Measure A only applies to rural and semi-rural areas and does not affect incorporated cities or county villages, such as Lakeside, Ramona or Spring Valley, she said.

Baldwin said she and her group are for affordable housing, just not sprawl — especially in fire-prone areas. Some of the proposed housing developments in those areas are not affordable, she said.

In the county’s 18 incorporated cities combined and the county unincorporated areas, there is zoning for 340,000 units, Baldwin said.

According to the commuters, the 20-year measure is "riddled with loopholes" and would dramatically reduce home building in the county. "Yes on A" campaign material said the measure would end "back-room deals" and let the public decide.

Early voting began Monday, and the last ballots are due March 3.

Editor's note: This is story has been updated to clarify the positions of Measure A supporters.

Election 2020 news coverage

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