San Diego County Administration Building
The San Diego County Administration Building is shown on Jan. 12, 2021. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

The county Board of Supervisors agreed unanimously Wednesday to advance a program designed to protect communities where large-scale projects such as renewable energy plants or hospitals are proposed.

County staff will research how to apply mandatory and voluntary “community benefits agreements” for business parks, housing, warehouses “and other types of projects (which) can have a significant impact on surrounding communities,” according to a statement from board Chairman Nathan Fletcher’s office.

Staff members will look at proposed options — including community participation and whether the county or a third party will handle administration — before returning to the board with a formal proposal at a future date.

Fletcher said CBAs can offset some economic, environmental and social impacts on neighborhoods. Benefits can include community facilities, local hiring, parks and recreation opportunities and prevailing wages.

The board’s action Wednesday comes after considerable public opposition to a large solar farm in Jacumba Hot Springs, which supervisors approved in August 2021. Numerous residents said the project would harm their community and affect overall growth.

Last December, supervisors directed staff to investigate whether a CBA program was feasible.

“We want to be able to ensure neighborhoods and residents remain whole once a new large-scale project is proposed and built in their community,” Fletcher said.

City News Service contributed to this article.