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San Diego County Voters To Decide Fate Of Newland Sierra Housing Project

Speaker 1: 00:00 Of the ballot measure. San Diego County voters will have to decide on in the March primary, one of the most contentious is measure B. Measure B deals with the Newland Sierra project located in Northern San Diego County. Last September County supervisors voted to amend the general plan to allow the project to be built. It would include a community of more than 2100 homes, a school site, 81,000 square feet of retail, 36 acres of parks, and more than 1200 acres of open space. After the supervisors vote, opponents of the project filed a referendum petition against it. They gathered the requisite amount of signatures needed and that forced the matter to a vote of the people. We're going to hear from people on both sides of the issue. First, Eric [inaudible], CEO of the San Diego North economic development council, which supports measure B. Then cliff Williams representing Vino on B side. We'll begin with Eric [inaudible]. The county's housing policy requires a certain amount of affordable housing. Uh, when a developer request an amendment to the general plan, then folks who oppose this measure say there aren't any affordable homes included. Is that true? And if so, why not? Speaker 2: 01:13 So as my understanding is, is that, um, what's gone on through the process is that Newland has committed, uh, to setting aside, uh, two pools of homes. Uh, they've filed a legally binding covenant with the courts. Some of the houses would be built at 60% of average median income, uh, for the County. Those are people making in the thirties or $40,000 range built by an affordable housing developer, well known that's gotten projects throughout San Diego County, uh, and restricted to people who meet that income requirement. Another set of homes would be restricted in terms of their initial sales to people making between 60% to 120% of average median income. And those would be for, uh, the kinds of folks that work in public safety or public education. And again, that has been a deed restriction that has been filed. Speaker 1: 02:11 If the Newland Sierra project is built, it will result in thousands more trips on the 15 every day. Yet the developer hasn't offered to do anything to mitigate the gridlock. Why is that? Speaker 2: 02:21 So? That's not true. Here's the facts. Since the end of the great recession for every seven new Whoa new jobs we've added in North counties, seven new jobs, we've built only one new home. So seven new jobs are chasing that one new home and those jobs don't get been beamed up by the star ship enterprise. At the end of the day, they get on the road and they go to Southern Riverside County or they go to East OTI or they double up or they drive rents higher and higher and higher as people try and work multiple jobs to make ends meet. So this idea that it adds traffic is just false. The bottom is is is that there's going to be traffic if we, because of the job growth that we've seen in North County. And the real question for people is, is do we want to reconcile those that don't have homes right now for living in Menifee or points North? Or do we want to have them live somewhat closer to the job centers in North County? Speaker 1: 03:16 And there is concerns surrounding the wellbeing of wildlife in the area. Opponents of the project say if Newland Sierra is built out, Mo, uh, movement of wildlife will be restricted in the area and that will be detrimental. Has the developer proposed anything to mitigate that? Speaker 2: 03:32 So the majority of the site is being set aside as open space. Um, the wildlife agencies, uh, uh, provided comments and Newland responded to them so that the County did not have to have a finding that there were unmitigated negative, uh, impacts upon the environment and environmental, uh, species, uh, survivability or species flow. So I feel confident that the project meets its needs in terms of the environmental and open space requirements that is making a major Speaker 1: 04:02 concern raised by project opponents at the supervisors meeting centers around the ability for Newland Sierra residents to be evacuated in case of a wildfire. The plan only includes two evacuation routes for thousands of people and animals. Opponents say that's completely inadequate. What do you think? Speaker 2: 04:20 So you know [inaudible] first of all is that Cal fire and other fire safety agencies have looked at this project and signed off of it. But you know in the end, let's just talk about some real world experiences and anecdotes. I live in a home that was also built by Newland about 10 years ago. That's for S ranch. And let me tell you what happened in 2007 that fire came through. It burned the older homes that surround my community and stop dead at the ice plant that was required to be built. That would be similar to the kinds of firebreaks and mitigation measures that are going to be required at Newland Sierra. Not a single home was damaged in the slightest at forest ranch in that fire. So there is a problem with fire. It's for these older homes that are around, which haven't upgraded, which don't have box Steve's which haven't created defensible space around them. Those people do need to take care of fire, but these newer communities have proven that they're able to survive in the kinds of fires that we have in San Diego County. Eric brew involved with the yes on measure B campaign. Thank you for being here. Thank you. Speaker 1: 05:21 Now to cliff Williams, who supports a no vote on measure B. cliff, welcome. Thank you. The vote by County supervisors last year was unanimous in support of the Newland Sierra project. At that time, supervisors heard from people opposed to the project, but they approved it anyway. Uh, we elect supervisors to make those kinds of decisions for, so why not abide by their vote? Speaker 2: 05:45 We do elect people to make these types of decisions, but we also reserve for ourselves the right of referendum so that if we feel that those four people made a mistake, we can pull back decision. Speaker 3: 05:58 And shortly after the board of supervisors approved that 117,000 people signed signature referendum petition signatures to essentially pull that a decision back and put it on the ballot because the people of San Diego decided we don't like these types of sprawl projects that don't have any affordable housing that are going to cause massive traffic impacts. We want a decision on those. Speaker 1: 06:24 As we all know, there is a housing crisis in San Diego County. The Newland Sierra development will provide more than 2100 homes. It is supported by police and firefighter unions who say it will provide a tenably priced homes. Why is that not a good enough reason to support it? Speaker 3: 06:42 This project is a 1980s sprawl development and in the 90s in San Diego we decided to grow in a different way. We decided to employ smart growth, which puts housing, jobs in transit all close together so that people can live, work, ride transit, go to the grocery store, all within a short drive, not having to create level of service F on the freeway. Um, smart growth is the way that we've decided to grow in San Diego. Uh, it isn't going out into the hinterlands and yes, we have a housing crisis in San Diego and we need, um, housing, but we need affordable housing. This is a luxury development that is going to blow off the top of a mountain, uh, and try to put the city a city of the size of Del Mar, basically 6,000 residents up into this area. There are not attainable prices in this project. Uh, if you read the planning commission report on this project, it says the project does not include an affordable housing component. Uh, it's very definitive and that's the project that's on the ballot. Speaker 1: 07:42 And you know, the main supporter and financer of the no on B campaign is the owner of the golden door spa. Uh, the backers of Newland CRSA say the campaign against them is just due to a rich spa owner who doesn't want any neighbors. What's your reaction to that? Speaker 3: 07:57 That's just absolutely untrue. Um, the golden door has been a 60 year resident of this area. And, um, this is a rural Valley where we're also supporting our, our neighbors, the twin Oaks community group, the hidden Meadows community group, the Bansal community group. All of the community groups of the people in this area have voted unanimously against this project. We also represent on the deer Springs Oaks mobile home park, which is right next door to this area. Uh, and they could potentially lose their park because of the new interchange that would have to be built, uh, for this project. So these are seniors on fixed incomes that would lose their homes because of this project. We're fighting for our community and we're fighting for all of North County, uh, say no on measure B. Speaker 1: 08:43 And I've been speaking with cliff Williams with the no on measure B campaign. Cliff, thank you for joining us. Thank you.

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San Diego County’s registered voters are in a position to decide the fate of the Newland Sierra housing project, along Interstate 15 north of Escondido.
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