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Elfin Forest Run Raises Money To Fight Proposed North County Project

JP_Theberge.jpg
Elfin Forest Run Raises Money To Fight Proposed North County Project
Elfin Forest Run Raises Money To Fight Proposed North County Project
A group of about 100 runners and hikers will gather in the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve for a race to advocate against future development in the area.

It's rare that a weekend passes in the San Diego region without a running race organized to benefit a cause, usually to raise money for research on curing diseases.

But this Sunday a group of about 100 runners and hikers will gather in the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve for a different kind of race. They're running to advocate against future development in the area, an unincorporated part of the county that lies between Encinitas and Escondido.

The Keepin’ It Rural 5K and 10K hike and trail run will raise money to hire traffic and environmental consultants to fight against developers looking to build in the area, said JP Theberge, the race's organizer and vice chairman of the Elfin Forest Harmony Grove Town Council.

Theberge said he and his neighbors in Elfin Forest and Harmony Grove compromised and allowed San Diego County to put one major project in their rural community: Harmony Grove Village with 750 homes and retail space.

Now they want to stop more developments.

"I think we can’t be branded as what they call NIMBYs, not in my backyard, because we have a development in our backyard now," he said. "And we didn’t have that for 15, 20 years."

There are plans for more housing in the neighborhood. Developer David Kovach has put in an application to build another 450 homes next to Harmony Grove Village, in a development that would be called "Harmony Grove Village South."

The plan would require an amendment to the General Plan Update adopted by the county Board of Supervisors after 15 years of work. Kovach could not be reached for comment.

Another controversial North County development, Lilac Hills Ranch, will soon go before the supervisors for approval.

"Unfortunately it takes money to, I don’t want to say fight, but advocate for the community," Theberge said. So proceeds from his race will go to the nonprofit Elfin Forest Harmony Grove Town Council.

As the race organizer, Theberge won’t get to participate in Sunday’s run, but he is an athlete. He’s training to qualify for the next Paralympic Games and says planning this race has detracted from his training.

In addition to raising money, he hopes the run will increase awareness about the threat of more development.

"Having people come out here and view the spectacular views that we have, there’s this wonderful resource we have for the community, North County, and make people want to preserve it," Theberge said.

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