Opponents of San Marcos Highland produced this before and after image. Image via santafehillssanmarcos.com

An annexation agreement for a North County housing development resulted in a tie vote Wednesday when brought before the Board of Supervisors, which will reconsider it next month.

Supervisors Jim Desmond and Kristin Gaspar voted in favor of the agreement, which calls for the county to annex 124.7 acres to the city of San Marcos, while Chairwoman Dianne Jacob and Supervisor Nathan Fletcher were opposed.

Supervisor Greg Cox was in Washington, D.C., for a San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce event.

The board will discuss the agreement at its next regular meeting on Oct. 16.

Developers want to build San Marcos Highlands on 293.3 acres on Las Posas Road. The project calls for 187 single-family residential lots, one public park, two private parks and nearly 211 acres of biological open space. About 141 acres are located within the city of San Marcos, while the remaining 152 acres are in the county.

County Planning & Development Services recommended that the board find that the environmental impact report is in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and related guidelines.

Planning & Development staff also said the annexation agreement would not change the San Marcos Highlands project or have any significant new environmental impacts.

Jim Simmons, who represents a property owner involved in the development, told the board that the project was “not something that happened overnight,” and that developers had to get numerous approvals.

“The bottom line is we have met those requirements, and are asking for the county to acknowledge that,” he said.

Fletcher said he was previously unaware of the housing project, and needed more information on the environmental impacts.

Desmond said that as a former San Marcos mayor, he is very familiar with the project and noted that the board was being asked to approve an annexation and not evaluate the merits.

“We’re here to approve compliance,” Desmond said. “All of the wildlife agencies have signed off on it.”

Desmond said San Marcos Highlands’ developers have already made numerous concessions, and when it comes to building more housing in the county, “all of the easy projects are done, and this one has met all the requirements.”

But Jacob said the project is inconsistent with the county’s General Plan, and there’s no guarantee that it wouldn’t negatively affect the Multiple Species Conservation Plan.

She also contended the applicants were “jurisdictional shopping” by asking the county to give its blessing to the annexation.

“I don’t believe the county’s General Plan has been respected by the city of San Marcos,” she added. “I’m not (going to) change my position today.”

Gaspar said the San Marcos Highlands project is a “win-win situation” for the county.

San Diego County was supposed to build 160,000 units over the past 10 years, but has fallen short, she said.

“Where are we? We’ve built 60,000 units,” Gaspar said, adding many of those homes are not in the moderate price range.

Opponents of the project have a website titled “Stop the Destructive San Marcos Highlands Project.”

Updated at 2:45 p.m. Sept. 25, 2019

— City News Service

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