Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

County Board Of Supervisors Rejects Lilac Hills Development

The San Diego County Administration building is shown in this image from Nov....

Photo by Brad Racino / inewsource

Above: The San Diego County Administration building is shown in this image from Nov. 8, 2015.

UPDATE: 2:10 p.m., June 24, 2020

The county of Board of Supervisors on Wednesday rejected a housing development that was already rejected by voters in 2016.

The board voted 4-1 to reject the Lilac Hills development. Supervisor Jim Desmond was the dissenting vote.

Fire safety was one of the reasons county voters rejected Measure B in 2016, but Desmond said he thought the project could be fixed.

Cal Fire San Diego Chief Mecham said it is not fixable.

Original Story:

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will on Wednesday vote on a housing development that has already been roundly rejected by county voters.

Developers hope supervisors give them the OK to build in the rolling hills north of Valley Center. The Lilac Hills project would build 1,700 homes in a master-planned community.

Voters rejected the plan to reshape the agricultural land in 2016, defeating Measure B with about 65% of the vote.

“It’s not just NIMBYs and people who are against development the entire county from pretty much every district voted against this project,” said J.P. Theberge, director of the smart growth group Grow the San Diego Way.

The San Diego County planning board voted five to four to put the issue back in front of supervisors.

Reported by Erik Anderson , Video by Mike Damron

RELATED: San Diego Is Shrinking Carbon Footprint During Coronavirus Shutdown

County staff and Fire Protection District officials say they think the project should be rejected. They worry that people will not be able to get out of the area if a wildfire happens.

Developers tried but failed to secure easements to clear brush along the road.

“Even with that brush clearance,” Theberge said, “that road is a two-lane road. And there’s going to be another 5,000 people using that road to get out during a fire.”

The vote is a test for Board Supervisor Jim Desmond. He has frequently sided with developers looking to build in San Diego County’s rural areas.

But when he was running to replace Bill Horn, who backed the project, Desmond told voters the development needed major changes before he would back it.

RELATED: Two San Diego Housing Developments Under Court Scrutiny

“Unless it comes with that infrastructure and brings you the extra benefit of emergency access and is adequate for the city and the fire department signs off and says yes, this is good, then I would approve it. But if it’s the same old thing, it’s not going to come through,” said Desmond at a 2016 campaign debate.

The core of the project remains largely the same.

The measure before the county asks supervisors to reject the development.

Calls seeking comment from project backers were not returned.

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.