San Diego Supervisors
COUNTY PLANNERS APPROVE SOITEC SOLAR PROJECTS IN BOULEVARD DESPITE SERIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL AND FINANCIAL ISSUES
Feb. 4 hearing set before Supervisors; rural group vows to sue if approved
January 19, 2015 (Boulevard) – Rural planning group chairs and environmentalists are blasting county planners for approving Soitec Solar’s controversial industrial scale solar projects. Planners largely ignored evidence that the projects could deplete groundwater supplies, threaten wildlife and create fire hazards—as well as Soitec’s precarious financial position.
Next up, San Diego Supervisors will hold a hearing on the project February 4th. At least one citizens’ group, Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD) has promised to file a lawsuit against the County if Supervisors approve the projects, which would cover 1500 acres with approximately 8,000 massive solar trackers, each 30 feet high.
September 1, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—San Diego Supervisors meet Tuesday and Wednesday this week, with many important items on the agendas impacting East County and our region overall.
County News Service
August 7, 2014 (San Diego) -- San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously directed County staff Wednesday to start working on a program to promote agriculture. Ultimately, the program could open up nearly one-third of the unincorporated county to wineries.
The proposed Agriculture Promotion Program would also streamline County planning and land use regulations to expand and promote other agricultural pursuits. Those include microbreweries, “agritourism,” cheese-making, beekeeping and onsite retail horticultural sales.
By Nadin Abbott and Miriam Raftery
June 27, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego Supervisors heard heated testimony on Wednesday regarding plans to change densities for lands on private property within the Cleveland National Forest boundaries. The Forest Conservation Initiative (FCI) passed by voters in 1993, which limited development on these lands to one home for each 40 acres, expired in 2010. The County has rejected calls to enact the FCI protections into law. Instead, Supervisors directed staff to create an Environmental Impact Report based on staff recommendations that would increase densities in some areas and reduce them in others.
The hot potato is Alpine, where the Alpine Planning Group’s majority called on Supervisors to allow increased densities and development that could double the size of their rural town. That has drawn opposition from environmentalists, board member Lou Russo, the Cleveland National Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service itself, which raised concerns over fire dangers and preservation of federally protected wild lands adjacent to proposed development.
COUNTY BOARD RENEWS GILLESPIE FIELD DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL FOR 4 MORE YEARS OVER OBJECTIONS OF SOME NEIGHBORS
By Nadin Abbott
June 25, 2014 (San Diego)--The San Diego County Board of Supervisors renewed the Gillespie Field Development Council, despite serious concerns raised by several members of the public.
The council runs the day to day activities at the Gillespie Field airport for both El Cajon, which appoints two members, and the County, which appoints three.
Robert Germann told the Board that he opposes the agreement since it does not include the City of Santee. He told Supervisors,“Santee should have a seat on the board. I am surprised they are not here demanding one.” The airport has one gate exiting into Santee, built at Santee’s expense.
CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST FOUNDATION PRESIDENT ASKS PUBLIC HELP TO SAVE FOREST LANDS: SUPERVISORS TO VOTE WEDNESDAY ON DEVELOPMENT ENCROACHMENT PROPOSAL
East County News Service
June 23, 2014 (Alpine) – A proposal before the San Diego Supervisors on Wednesday would weaken protections for federal forest lands by allowing development encroachment in East County. The plan could double the size of rural Alpine, putting forest lands at risks, conservationists warn.
Now Jack Shu, president of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, has issued a plea for the public to contact Supervisors and urge them to support protections granted by the Forest Conservation Initiative that was approved by two-thirds of local voters but recently expired. Below is the letter he sent to conservationists countywide.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: HOT LAND USES ISSUES IMPACTING EAST COUNTY ARE AMONG AGENDA ITEMS THIS WEEK
By Miriam Raftery
June 22, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--Here are highlights of important issues on the agenda this week impacting San Diego's unincorporated areas as well as residents in the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa and Santee.
The San Diego Board of Supervisors meets on Tuesday and Wednesday this week with many important items slated to be heard. On Tuesday, Supervisors will deliberate the county budget and a joint powers agreement with Caltrans for the Next Generation regional communications system and more.
On Wednesday, supervisors will hold a public hearing on proposed changes to the Forest Conservation Initiative Lands General Plan amendment. This is a controversial issue that will determine what sort of development will be allowed on properties in the vicinity of Cleveland National Forest in East County.
By Miriam Raftery
April 23, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – A lawsuit filed against San Diego Supervisors asks the court to set aside the County’s new wind energy ordinance and an amendment to Boulevard’s community plan. The case will be heard on Friday, April 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Superior Court, Department C-72, with Judge Timothy Taylor presiding. The courthouse is located at 220 West Broadway, San Diego.
The suit was filed by two community groups-- the Protect Our Communities Foundation, Backcountry Against Dumps-- and by Donna Tisdale, chair of the Boulevard Planning Group. Plaintiffs seek to half industrial wind development in their backcountry community. They contend that such projects pose serious impacts to wildlife, water resources, human health and safety that the Board ignored.
By Miriam Raftery
March 17, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Could big energy projects proposed in East County lead to the decimation of federally endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep?
From 1972 to the present, the Carrizo Gorge band of these bighorns has plummeted from about 120 sheep to less than 40. “Off-road vehicles, trespassing cattle, poaching in the 1960s and ‘70s, drought, disease and Mountain Lion predation have worked together to push this population o the edge. We hope we can save this group before it is too late,” Mark Jorgensen, advisor to the Bighorn Institute and former Superintendent of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park wrote in the Desert News.
In his comments submitted on four solar projects proposed by Soitec in Boulevard, Jorgensen writes that “Construction of yet another group of solar projects will further impede the free movement of wildlife by reducing habitat connectivity and ruining wildlife corridors.” He further notes that Soitec’s sites are very near lands purchased and set aside specifically to protect species the endangered bighorn, golden eagles and other species in peril.
SOITEC FAILS TO DISCLOSE TRUTH ABOUT SOLAR PROJECT IMPACTS, HIRES FORMER SD PLANNER WHO WORKED ON SOITEC PROJECTS
Why doesn’t San Diego County end revolving door situation?
Photo: Soitec's Newberry Springs project, which promised minimal enviornmental impacts, graded all vegetation on the site.
By Miriam Raftery
Updated March 5, 2014 with clarifications from Soitec
March 1, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—Developers frequently put “spin” on project descriptions to emphasize benefits rather than negative impacts. But certain statements by Soitec representatives regarding its proposed solar projects in Boulevard and a recent project in the desert fall into the “Pinnochio” category. In fact Soitec representatives misrepresented glare issues and the amount of land that is disturbed by their projects.
During a Soitec community meeting at the Manzanita Diner last month, ECM’s editor asked Soitec media and communications advisor Karen Hutchens specifically about a moratorium on solar projects approved by San Bernadino County Supervisors amid concerns about glare in Newberry Springs, where Soitec built a project very similar to its proposed Boulevard sites. Hutchens responded, “That had nothing to do with our project. The moratorium was passed before our project was even built.”
But Robert Berkman, head of a citizens group in Newberry Springs called CEQA-NOW, told ECM that statement was a bald-faced lie. “The moratorium came out because of the Soitec project—after it was built,” he said, adding that citizens invited Supervisors to visit the site. Supervisors said, “’`Good grief, what has happened here? ‘ “ Berkman stated. “The moratorium occurred because we were able to bring them out and say `This is an example of solar done wrong.’”
Soitec's Hutchens concedes that she erred in her statement on the timing of the moratorium, and agrees it was imposed after Soitec's project was built, but says Soitec's project was not the reason for the moratorium. ECM is seeking clarification from San Bernardino County's Land Services Department.
That's not the only disputed statement by Soitec.
Photo: Proposed Chaparral County, shown in green
By Libby Belle
Why rural East County communities should secede from San Diego County
February 14, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – In more ways than I can count, San Diego Supervisors have shown disdain for the people of East County, the environment, and the character of our communities. Supervisor Dianne Jacob is a notable exception, fighting to protect us from fire hazards and destructive energy projects. But time and time again, she’s outvoted by four Supervisors who don’t live in East County, and don’t care if they destroy what makes our region special.
So why should we continue to give them our tax dollars?
Let me list just a few of the ways that the County has abdicated its responsibilities to East County residents:
By Roy L Hales
February 10, 2014 (Boulevard)--Yesterday, we reported how three authorities state Soitec's consultant is wrong, Boulevard does not possess enough water for their proposed solar project. Now a video from the February 6 community meeting, at Boulevard, reveals that Soitec's consultant, Dudek, recently underestimated the amount of water needed at SDG&E recent ECO substation project by more than three times what would be the final total. (The original estimate was 30 million gallons and the actual amount was closer to 100 million gallons.) Dudek is also alleged to have seriously underestimated the amount of water needed for the Ocotillo Wind Project. If this is true, how can we assume that Dudek's estimates for the Boulevard project are correct?
January 8, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- People living in or visiting San Diego County’s unincorporated communities may soon start seeing a lot more signs — welcoming them to town; telling them about special events; or directing them to local attractions — after County Supervisors unanimously approved new sign rules Wednesday.
“I think the new sign and banner ordinance is going to help distinguish the unique characteristics of each of the unincorporated communities,” said Board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob. The board’s vote Wednesday will repeal the County’s current policy of banning community signs on County roads and create new rules that allow a number of different kinds of signs and banners — permanent and temporary.
Because the rule changes will create a new County ordinance, the action must be approved by the Board again when they meet Jan. 29, and would take effect 30 days after that.
Source: County News Service
January 8, 2014 (San Diego) -- Supervisor Dianne Jacob was named chairwoman of the County Board of Supervisors for 2014 Tuesday in the Board’s first meeting of the new year.
Board members voted unanimously to appoint Jacob as chairwoman, Supervisor Bill Horn as vice chairman and Supervisor Dave Roberts as chairman pro tem for 2014.
By Miriam Raftery
January 6, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- What's on the agenda this week for the County Supervisors, Councils in Lemon Grove and Santee, Lakeside's Community Planing Group and Helix Water Board? Find out below.
November 6, 2013 (San Diego)--The popularity of electronic smoking devices is increasing and on Tuesday the Board of Supervisors directed staff to review the County’s smoking and tobacco use policy to determine how “e-cigarettes” fit into it.
County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) staff were asked to come back to the Board in 90 days with recommendations to address electronic vapor devices. The battery-operated devices vaporize liquid nicotine into an aerosol mist that can be inhaled or “vaped.”
By Miriam Raftery
November 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Here’s a heads up for some key items coming up soon on the agendas in Lemon Grove, El Cajon, and at the San Diego Supervisors.
Lemon Grove’s City Council meets on Tuesday, November 5. This week, the agenda includes proposed locations for a dog park, an expert panel on community gardens, and a report on economic development challenges and opportunities in Lemon Grove.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: SUPERVISORS WEIGH INCREASING OUTREACH TO RURAL VETERANS AFTER ECM INVESTIGATION
Highlights of El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee and San Diego agenda items for this week
Update October 24, 2013: Supervisors unanimously approved the feasibility study on bringing veterans' services to libraries countywide.
By Miriam Raftery
County Supervisors and local city councils have several significant measures on their agendad impacting East County this week.
On Tuesday at 10 a.m., Supervisors will hear a proposal by Supervisor Dianne Jacob to extend the county’s outreach to veterans. This proposal is being introduced in response to an East County Magazine investigation that found a lack of County veterans’ services in rural East County.
Supervisor Jacob’s proposal asks the County’s Chief Executive Office to report back in 120 days on the feasibility of using county libraries for veterans services, which would add 34 additional locations for County Veterans Services representatives to meet with veterans.
See what’s on the agendas for city councils in El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee, and the San Diego Supervisors this week
By Miriam Raftery
October 7, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) - Chickens, term limits, renaming a theater, the Castlerock housing project, a regional water plan and a proposal to boost beekeeping in the backcountry are among the hot items impacting East County that will be heard this week.
“We supported the renewable energy plan but we wanted it done in the right. The stakeholders advisory group is biased and stacked. It’s all industry…” – Donna Tisdale, Chair, Boulevard Planning Group
By Alex Riggins
September 26, 2013 (San Diego) – The County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Wednesday to approve a work plan for a comprehensive renewable energy plan. The plan includes options for creating an alternative to SDG&E such as a publicly owned utility district, as well as plans for the type, scale and location of energy development. A cost analysis and comparison of various energy options was removed, however.
The work plan will analyze ways in which the county can move forward with renewable energy options. It was approved unanimously after the Board heard public comments and deliberated for nearly two hours on Wednesday morning. The plan drew support from the energy industry and concerns from rural residents.
By Miriam Raftery
September 11, 2013 (San Diego) – Today, Supervisors approved the acquisition of over 14 acres of vacant land adjacent to Borrego Valley airport. The purchase aims to create a buffer zone between the airport and private properties to protect approach and departure routes. The property is listed for sale at $20,000.
No one spoke in favor of the measure. One speaker, Robert Germann of Lakeside, spoke against, calling it a “waste of taxpayer money.”
Update September 11, 2013: This agenda item has been postponed until September 25th due to the absence of Supervisor Greg Cox.
Hear ECM’s radio interview with Supervisor Dianne Jacob on this issue: http://k002.kiwi6.com/hotlink/uuv0z6n9db/diannejacob-energyplanhearing.mp3
By Miriam Raftery
September 7, 2013 (San Diego) Updated September 8, 2013 –On Wednesday morning, Supervisors will consider approval of the first phase of a “Renewable Energy Work Plan” to support renewable energy development – and determine just what types of renewable energy the County should pursue. This includes an overview of energy resources available in the unincorporated areas including East County, a cost analysis of renewable energy options, and consideration of consumer choice alternatives for purchasing power from a source other than SDG&E, such as through community choice aggregation.
MEASURE TO AID VULNERABLE RESIDENTS IN EMERGENCIES, REPORT ON DISATER PREPAREDNESS ON SUPERVISORS’ AGENDA TUESDAY
By Miriam Raftery
September 8, 2013 (San Diego) – After visiting the Rim Fire (photo, left) to learn more about large-scale disaster responses, Supervisor Dave Roberts announces he is introducing emergency preparedness legislation on Tuesday, September 10, along with Supervisor Ron Roberts.
“Our initiative seeks to assist our most vulnerable residents in the event of a disaster,” said Dave Roberts in a newsletter to constituents. Also on Tuesday, the County’s Office of Emergency Services will update Board members on community preparedness and improvements made since the 2007 firestorms as the height of fire season approaches.
Vulnerable residents include those with physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities. A survey by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found a staggering 26 percent of San Diego County residents report they are disabled due to a physical, mental or emotional condition. A 2009 survey asked if people were prepared for a major disaster and among those who replied “not prepared, 30.3% said they were disabled. County records also list 25,000 individuals who need a personal care assistant to be independent.
August 6, 2013 (San Diego)-- The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday moved to ensure that low-risk prisoners remain on the front lines of backcountry firefighting.
By unanimous vote, the board authorized county staff to complete an agreement with state officials that would house qualified inmates at local fire camps operated by the state. The move came at the urging of Supervisor Dianne Jacob, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, Sheriff Bill Gore and county Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer.
By Miriam Raftery
June 6, 2013 (San Diego)--In August 2012, as part of its Red Tape Reduction Task Force efforts, San Diego’s Supervisors established a Land Development Performance Review Committee to “improve the land-use processes for the County's unincorporated areas.”
On April 24 the Board unanimously appointed seven new members. They are to work with county staff on developing ways to measure land-use performance “to show that permitting-process improvements are occurring — making the system faster and less expensive without compromising quality,” according to a county newsletter.
The first meeting will be June 20 at 10 a.m.
By Sholeh Sisson
May 17 2013 (San Diego)-- On May 15, the San Diego Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance waiving building permit and plan review fees for disabled veterans who need home modifications to accommodate their disabilities.
"We are always looking for ways to improve the lives of those who risk their lives to protect our country," said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who introduced the measure along with Supervisor Bill Horn.
“The Boulevard Marathon is like the Boston Marathon...[Residents opposed to the wind ordinance] are “like people with a pressure cooker and ball bearings with a bomb, trying to stop the projects…This is economic terrorism.” – John Gibson, Hamann Companies
“You should choose to save our communities, not destroy them—and I was not paid to come and talk today.” – Wendy Shannon, Boulevard resident and neighbor of Hamann’s proposed project
By Sierra Robinson; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report
May 10, 2013 (San Diego)—After more than three hours of heated testimony on Tuesday, San Diego Supervisors opted to delay a decision on a controversial wind ordinance and changes to plans for two backcountry communities until May 15. The postponement came after a lawyer representing rural residents sent a last-minute letter claiming that approval of the project would be illegal.
By Nadin Abbott
April 12, 2013 (San Diego)— County Supervisors directed the Chief Administration Officer, by a 3-2 vote, to come back in 120 days with options for a comprehensive renewable energy plan, including time and cost estimates. The measure was introduced by Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who believes it is time to stop the ad hoc way of authorizing each proposed energy development.
Jacob, who represents the 2nd district in East County where most of these projects are proposed, said before the vote that this is “a double edge sword” for her. Projects already underway will be grandfathered in and not affected, according to Jacob’s instructions. She emphasized this point to Industry members present who raised opposition to this plan.
Wind ordinance on agenda for May 9
April 8, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – On May 8, County Supervisors will hear a controversial wind ordinance that would make it easier to build wind turbines in some areas of East County.
But this Wednesday, April 10, the agenda will include a proposal by Supervisor Dianne Jacob for staff to develop a comprehensive renewable energy plan including options to integrate the proposed wind ordinance into a renewable energy plan, as well as examining options such as the San Diego Energy Foundation's proposal with emphasis on rooftop solar. Supervisors meet at 9 a.m. at the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Coast Highway in San Diego. If approved, staff would then have several weeks to come back with proposed language.
Below is the exact language from the agenda:
By Janis Mork
January 11, 2013 (San Diego)- On January 9, San Diego Supervisors unanimously agreed to direct the chief administrative officer to work with Borrego Water District to design a plan to address long-term sustainability of groundwater in the Borrego Valley and to report back with potential recommendations.
The ordinance states that “groundwater is being pumped at rates that exceed natural replenishment. This situation referred to as an ‘overdraft condition’ has existed for several decades…. It is the cumulative impact of all users that has resulted in this condition.” An amendment has been proposed to the Groundwater Ordinance to require that private projects fully offset their water use.
At the meeting, a first reading of the groundwater ordinance amendment was read. On January 30, it will be read for a second time and be considered for adoption for the board.