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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Two North County Measures. Two Different Results

 November 5, 2020 at 10:33 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 Two ballot measures that would have built over 700 new homes in San Diego. North County got very different receptions from voters in this week. Selection in Poway voters approved a new housing development to be built on the old stone Ridge golf course. Well in Oceanside voters solidly rejected a plan development on what is currently farmland in Morro Hills here to tell us more about why the measures met such different fates is KPBS North County reporter Tanya thorn. Tanya. Welcome. Thanks for having me, Alison. So now these measures had a lot in common didn't they, they both even had the word farms in their names, North river farms in Oceanside and the farm in Poway, but how were they different? Why did one pass in one fail? Speaker 2: 00:42 Yes, they were both very similar, but measure Ella notion sides. Um, the North river farms project would have gone into a neighborhood already dominated by commercial farming. So there's already tons of farms in place. The yes on L side argued that their development would have preserved farming as well as, um, adding new housing opportunities. But, you know, the opponents argued that the housing wouldn't be affordable and that the new homes would actually create an infrastructure problems, um, as well as pose a fire hazard due to the, the roads that are there now. And in Poway, you know, residents are currently dealing with a deteriorating country club that is really an eyesore. I mean, it's graffiti, that's abandoned, there's overgrown plants, the windows are broken, so they're just not happy with what they currently have there. And it does pose a fire hazard because of all the overgrown plants. And so their project, the farm, it presents a better opportunity for the building that currently is being used for nothing. Speaker 1: 01:42 So let's look at the Oceanside measure. L the developer spent around $2 million on the campaign, and yet the opponents still defeated it with, uh, just like $10,000 in campaign funding. What made Oceanside residents so determined not to see this project build? Speaker 2: 01:58 Yeah, I mean, I live here in Oceanside and I saw yes on L marketing everywhere and their graphics, their marketing, everything was on point. You can just tell that they poured money into this project. And it really was a big project. I mean, supporters of measure owl, you know, propose that the farming area that they were going to build was going to be 68 football fields. So that is a pretty big farm, you know, but the thing is that the area already serves an agricultural purpose. So there's already farms and fruit being grown there. And I think, you know, the Oceanside residents were just really hesitant about change being brought to an area that has gone unchanged in such a long time. They feared, you know, the traffic congestion, wildfire hazards and just developments overtaking this last agricultural land left here in ocean side. And I really think that's what kept it from passing. Speaker 1: 02:51 No, in the case of the stone Ridge country club golf course in Poway that was owned by LA-based real estate developer, Michael slash ginger, who bought several courses in San Diego County and then shut them down as unprofitable. And he did make himself pretty unpopular. Didn't he? And yet voters finally decided to approve this project. Why? Speaker 2: 03:09 Yeah. Schlesinger is definitely, isn't very popular around here because it's not the first time that, you know, he's let a property sit and get to the condition that stone Ridge is. And now, um, and you know, with, with the farm project, I think his partnership with Eric McNamara, you know, really helped move this project forward. Um, it's not just a new housing development, which is what Schlesinger has usually proposed. The farm comes with parks that I think really intrigued Poway residents. Um, this time around, um, planners say that they have a specific plan and environmental impact report and city council approved maps that are pretty set in stone. So I think that this time around, because it's not just the housing development, it comes with perks for Poway residents. It really helped move this forward. And I think just the scale of the project itself, I mean, we're only talking about 160 new homes compared to his usual thousand proposed homes being built into this new development. Speaker 2: 04:11 Will any of those homes be affordable? You know, well, what is affordable nowadays in San Diego? Alison, if you mean, will they be low-income housing? I don't think so. Um, their website States that there will be a maximum of 160 new homes in the development. If they were to be priced in today's market, they would be ranging from $800,000 to $1.4 million. And so now those home options will range from five bedrooms to three bedrooms. So there are some options and, you know, I'm not really sure when we'll see them. It really depends on the market. If, and let's say three years from now, the market goes down. We may be, we may be seeing some more affordable pricing, but as far as low-income housing, I don't think they will be Speaker 1: 04:54 Probably not. Yeah, it's very difficult to get a master plan community passed by voters these days. You know, we heard about the new and Sierra project up North of San Marcus, for example, that was rejected. Do you think the Poway development buck to trend here? Speaker 2: 05:08 I mean, definitely these big developments rarely ever get passed. And I think in Poway, you know, I think it's just that this project itself just came in a much smaller scale compared to the North river farms and the Newland Sierras in San Marcos Oceanside's measure L proposed 585 new homes. And that was a number that they already reduced from the original, nearly thousand homes that they propose to build Newland Sierras proposed over 2000 new homes. So because this project itself is proposing 160, I think the project itself just landed on voters a lot easier than the bigger, you know, 500 and new homes. So I think the scale of it, what was really, really resonated with voters, Speaker 1: 05:53 Right? So now that the voters in Oceanside have, um, measure L what do they say about how the city will be able to meet its state mandated requirements to build hundreds of new homes in the next few years? Speaker 2: 06:07 That's one of the arguments from yes, on L they said that, you know, the need for housing and Oceanside is it, there really is a need for it in Oceanside, and this would have brought, this would have met those needs. And so now I think it really, you know, it goes back to city council, of course, we're in the middle of election. So it just really depends on the new council members and new mayor. You know, they need to find a places that voters will be happy where these new developments will go in. And I know that the developer of North river farms already built a, an affordable housing development here in Oceanside. So I think they just, you know, maybe need to look into other, other pieces of land that maybe don't hold such sentimental value to ocean siders. Speaker 1: 06:51 We've been speaking with KPBS, North County reporter, Tanya Thorne, Tanya, thanks so much. Speaker 2: 06:56 Thanks for having me, Alison.

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Poway residents have approved Measure P while Oceanside rejected Measure L.
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