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Local News September 30, 2004

Grading Issue Prompts Meeting between San Marcos City, Developer and Media

 

In an apparent move to head off any potential controversy concerning the development of San Elijo Hills and its Cerro de las Posas project, the city called a meeting between the media, the developer and city staff and elected officials.

 

“We’re here today to give the media accurate information,” said City Manager Rick Gittings.  “There have been discussions and allegations that are simply not based on fact and we felt it wise to give all the information we had to the media so you can respond based on actual fact and not rumor or incorrect assumptions.” 

 

The city maintains that the grading presently going on is in conformance with the Specific Development Plan and all subsequent EIR’s (Environmental Impact Reports).  In spite of this, the developer has indicated a willingness to mitigate any concerns the public may have by landscaping the area when the road (which is the primary reason for the present grading) is completed.  The landscaping and installation of a berm, together with lowering the house pads, should alleviate the visual impact concerns said Curt Noland, San Elijo Hills General Manager, and agreed by San Marcos officials, both staff and elected.  “I voted against this initially,” said San Marcos Mayor Corky Smith, “but I’ve seen the amendments, the EIR’s, and am satisfied that everything is in conformance with our General Plan.  I also think the developer is showing his cooperation by attempting to respond to concerns.  Frankly, this is an election year, if it weren’t, we wouldn’t be here today.  Several candidates are pointing fingers and trying to make political capital on something that should be a non-issue.”

 

Jerry Backoff,  Planning Division Director, pointed out that:

 

·        The 1997 adopted Specific Plan preserved the primary ridgeline and established a ridgeline setback for all residential pads/structures.

 

·        The current residential development areas comply with this ridgeline setback.

 

 

·        The Specific Plan allows for grading for trails, regional park improvements, access roads, and public improvements.  The Specific Plan’s Conceptual Landscape Plan also shows the regional park access road.

 

·        The FSEIR (Final Subsequent EIR) identified “limited portions of Planning Areas (which) would be visible over the ridgeline from SR78.    It further indicates that visibility would be from over 1 mile and up to 5 miles. 

 

 

·        Conclusions drawn from the FSEIR were that project impacts would be unavoidable and unmitigable, and orverriding considerations were adopted.

 

·        That when the 1997 San Elijo Hills Amendment was approved, the General Plan was also amended, incorporating the San Elijo Hills Specific Plan standards for the project site as part of the General Plan.  This made the Specific Plan internally consistent with the General Plan.

 

One of the more vocal critics of the site plan and the grading is Bill Effinger, a candidate for the Vallecitos Water Board.  He lives in Discovery Hills and complains the visual impact of the grading activity on top of the mountain disturbs him.  Effinger founded and headed up a website: www.restoretheridgeline.com  

 

The website shows 13 members.  Effinger says he will appear before the Vallecitos Water Board of Directors on October 20th.

 

“I’m pissed,” he said, “and you can quote me on that. . . . and there are a lot of others who are pissed as well.” If necessary, he said, “we’ll file a lawsuit against the city, but only as a last resort.”

 

Asked on what grounds he would pursue a lawsuit, what legal theory he would employ, he responded, “There's been enough public statements made in meetings by the council and the past council that "they didn't know what they are doing."  They have violated their own EIR.  We can bring things to a halt if we file suit.  An injunction would be immediately issued that would bring everything to a halt.  Will it be costly?  Yes.  It'll cost the developer.   Should it cost the developer?  Yes. 

 

But I’d only file a lawsuit as a last resort.  I’m attempting to explain to Mike Preston and Corky that I have a viable solution . . . I’m not interested in a moratorium, I’m not interested in stopping the developer, I’m interested in restoring the ridgeline.”

 

Meanwhile, Darrell Gentry, a former Planning Director for San Marcos, former Council Member, and also a candidate for the Vallecitos Water Board said, “Misrepresentations and threats of lawsuits are not a workable or responsible strategy leading to solutions. Those individual motives should be questioned.    There must be remedial solutions based on public debate, disclosure and actions, not lawsuits, chest pounding and political motivations.  All elected officials from all affected agencies also should be involved in this process.  What is needed are reasoned, thoughtful strategies plus elected political leadership to forge new regulatory guidelines and procedures to preserve ridgelines.  A ridgeline/hillside ordinance is one such new strategy to consider.”

 

Escondido Humane Society Raises $45,000 at Annual Gala

 

The Escondido Humane Society's annual "Tails at Twilight" gala Sept. 18 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn drew a crowd of more than 200 and netted an estimated $45,000, the amount the society had targeted as a goal.

 

The winner of the raffle for a .58-carat diamond was Heidi McBride, of Escondido.  She and her husband, Tim, also purchased a South African Safari, as did Timothy Gillis of San Marcos; Mike and Madeline Grerety, of Rancho Bernardo; and David and Suzanne Wilson, of San Diego.

 

"We are extremely appreciative of the support the community continues to provide to the EHS," said Phil Morgan, the organization's president and CEO.  "We could not continue our mission without it.  Our animal clients are grateful, too."

 

 

Cathy Jones (left) and Jennifer Moody, event chairwoman and auction chairwoman, at the Escondido Humane Society's annual "Tails at Twilight" gala Sept. 18 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. The event raised $45,000 for the organization.

 

 

 

Congregation B’nai Tikvah presents guest Rabbi Moshe Halfon.

 

Moshe Halfon will be a guest Rabbi, leading services at Congregation B'nai Tikvah on October 2, 2004.  

 

Rabbi Halfon, formerly with Congregation B'nai Jacob in Bakersfield, is currently a director at Am Or Olan Spiritual center in Long Beach and a Special Education Teacher in a Los Angeles High School. He is an accomplished international singer, guitarist and percussionist having performed in the US, Israel, Italy and Brazil. 

 

Services start 10 AM. B'nai Tikvah is located at 1600 Buena Vista Drive, Vista.

 

For further information please call 760-941-9858.

 

LSM Republican Women To Meet

 

The Lake San Marcos Republican Women will meet at ll:30 a.m. Ocotber 4, at the  Lake San Marcos Country Club, 1750 San Pablo Drive.

 

Mrs Bill Jones, wife of the Republican Senate Candidate will speak on his                         behalf.

 

Captain Steven Braatz, United States Navy, will apeak about his experiences caring for our troops in Iraq.

 

Miss Ashley Stewart, Chairman of the Republican Club at Cal State San Marcos, will also speak.

 

Those interested in attending are asked to send their check to verify your reservation by October 1st, to Mary Howard.  Call 471-6746. Cost is $13.00/members, and $15.00/ guests.