Entrance to Route 125
An entrance to Route 125 near the border. Courtesy of SANDAG

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday received an update on options to approve development projects to comply with a new state law.

After listening to a presentation by Planning and Development Services staff members, supervisors said they would further review options at their Feb. 9 meeting.

Options include revising guidelines using regional geography, a sustainable land use framework, and working with the San Diego Association of Governments, Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District to develop a program to reduce the number of miles driven by the public.

According to the Land Use & Environment office, staff recommended the Board of Supervisors take two steps to implement its transportation plans.

The first step would remove the number of miles traveled as a barrier to development in expanded infill areas within six months, allowing for construction of over 8,000 potential homes in unincorporated areas.

Staffers would also prepare sustainable land use framework options as part of the county General Plan update.

The second step would allow development in other unincorporated areas within three years.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher thanked county staffers Wednesday for “their considerably heavy lift” on the proposals and said more time was needed to review them before making any major decision.

“The county must adopt policies to comply with state law mandating a reduction in the number of miles traveled in an attempt to avoid approving projects that will never be built,” Fletcher said. “We need something that is actually real.”

Fletcher also said that contrary to the myth, the county wasn’t generating thousands of new homes during previous board leadership. For example, he added, just 200 units were produced in 2011, followed by 376 units in 2012.

Fletcher asked, “How do we build more housing than we built before, and in the right areas?”

As he has at previous meetings, Supervisor Jim Desmond stressed that any plan needs to consider a lack of affordable housing that has forced thousands of residents to commute from Riverside County.

Desmond also said a requirement to reduce the amount of miles traveled won’t reduce greenhouse gases, but a greater use of electric or autonomous vehicles would.

Updated miles traveled rules “will crush desperately needed housing in the unincorporated area,” Desmond said. “We should be fighting for our rural communities by (allowing) as much flexibility as possible.”

Updated at 6:12 p.m. Jan. 26, 2022

City News Service contributed to this article.