Developers Try To Skirt County's New General Plan
At least two major developers in North County are taking steps to find ways around San Diego County’s new General Plan, even before it is approved.
County Supervisors may vote soon on their new General Plan, which will guide growth in unincorporated areas over the next 40 years.
Howard Rupp is CEO for the Guejito Ranch Corporation, which owns the last remaining Mexican land grant. It is thousands of acres east of Escondido that environmentalists have called the jewel in the crown of San Diego’s undeveloped back country. Rupp says the county’s new plan would only allow them to build one house per 80 acres, instead of one per 40 acres, as it is now.
"We would be derelict in our duty," Rupp said, " if we didn’t try to do something to stop them from devaluing the private property that we hold."
Rupp said the company has commissioned a poll to ask what people think about their plan to preserve 16,000 acres of Guejito Ranch as open space, in return for building thousands of homes on the other 6,000 acres. The new general plan would only allow a few hundred. The issue may end up on the ballot.
Another developer, Accretive, wants to build 1,700 homes north of Escondido in an area where the new plan only allows 200 homes. The county has designated the land a “Special Study Area.”
Lael Montgomery is a member of the Valley Center community planning group, which opposes development on land designated as farm land. She says the strategy undermines the plan the community has spent years working on.
"You can amend the general plan - it costs a fortune. You might get the amendment, you might not: they probably will not," she said. "But if they designate their land a “Special Study Area,“ it’s a designation that is used by the communities, it’s not private-enterprise generated."
The company said it did not ask for the land to be designated a "Special Study Area." Rather they applied for a "Specific Planning Area" to allow it to design a master planned community on the land.