Election returns Tuesday evening showed San Diego County voters evenly split on a ballot measure that would require public approval of most housing developments in unincorporated areas, while rejecting a planned development north of Escondido.
Measure A would require a countywide vote on any major housing project that would involve a change to the county’s general plan. Vote totals showed the measure losing by 51.0% against to 49.0% for.
Measure B asked county residents to decide the fate of the Newland Sierra housing project north of Escondido, along Interstate 15 and north of Deer Springs Road. Early vote totals showed the project being rejected, with 58.4% voting no to yes’ 41.7%.
If Measure A passes, developers wanting to build six homes or more would need permission from voters — rather than the approval of just three county supervisors — if the project is outside the general plan guidelines for urban growth.
Also known as the Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside Initiative, Measure A is supported by environmental groups including the Environmental Health Coalition, land-use groups and activists opposed to urban and suburban sprawl.
According to the Save Our Countryside website, the Measure A campaign is led by San Diegans for Managed Growth, which describes itself as a “pro-smart growth” organization.
Elected officials backing the measure include outgoing county Supervisor Dianne Jacob; Georgette Gomez, the San Diego city councilwoman now running for a Congressional seat, and the mayors of Encinitas, Escondido and Solana Beach.
Backers say it will make the development process fair, while opponents describe Measure A as anti-growth and anti-housing.
According to an official website, Measure A opponents include the Democratic and Republican parties of San Diego; numerous law enforcement organizations; building groups; two county supervisors; and three city mayors, including San Diego’ Kevin Faulconer.
Measure B, also known as the Better Choice Measure, would uphold the county supervisors’ approval of a general plan amendment that allows the Newland Sierra project to go forward.
Newland wants to build 2,135 homes on the 1,985-acre site. The development would also feature 81,000 square feet of commercial space, a six- acre school site, 35.87 acres of public and private parks, 19.2 miles of multi- use community trails, an equestrian staging area and 1,209 acres of open space.
Supporters say 60% of the new homes will be affordable for working families, starting in the $300,000 range.
After a public hearing in December 2018, the board voted to place the Newland Sierra project on the ballot. Opponents collected roughly 117,000 signatures of North County residents hoping to block the project.
Measure B supporters include The Republican Party of San Diego County and several mayors, including Paul McNamara of Escondido and San Marcos’ Rebecca Jones.
Opponents include the San Diego Sierra Club, San Diego Democratic Party, San Diego Democrats for Environmental Action and other regional environmental groups.
— City News Service
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