Commentary: Why the SOS measure safeguards region’s blueprint
Trusting yourself and your neighbors rather than politicians and developers is a good general rule. When it comes to deciding San Diego County’s future, it’s imperative.
In 2011, a General Plan for the unincorporated county was approved after 13 years of hard work and hundreds of meetings with extensive community and stakeholder input.
The General Plan was — and is — the blueprint for how the county will grow into the future. It is the master plan for regional infrastructure (including roads, transit, schools, water and wastewater) that saves taxpayers billions by placing housing where these services are already available. It encourages building housing in places that are more affordable than sprawl development. It preserves farmland and open spaces for recreation and wildlife conservation.
After its approval, the General Plan immediately came under assault from big developers. These builders have spent millions to dismantle the plan by pushing for General Plan Amendments (GPAs) that allow them to build mega projects in precisely the wrong places. These GPAs allow housing to be built in places that are in high risk fire-prone areas and remote from transit, overwhelming our entire region with traffic.
Why won’t developers simply follow the General Plan?
The answer is simple: to maximize private profit at the public’s expense. These sprawl developers buy up land that is zoned for agriculture or open space on the cheap and then ask the Board of Supervisors to change the General Plan to allow them to build lots of expensive houses in far-flung parts of the county.
Since the General Plan was adopted, the Board of Supervisors has approved five sprawl housing projects through GPAs. Even with a green light from the county, developers have yet to build a single home. And the county has not required any affordable housing to be included in these plans. The idea that changing the General Plan to allow sprawl housing development will solve our housing crisis is simply untrue.
The development industry is spending millions trying to convince you that sprawl development is needed to supply affordable housing. But the county’s General Plan has been certified by the state housing agency as having more than enough room for housing for all income levels. All we need to do is build it in the right places.