Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Another massive project threatens rural Escondido, Scoping Meeting October 5th at 6:00 pm

Speaking of keeping our areas rural, here is another huge and inappropriate project on the books.  This project, if built, will have devastating impacts to our back country areas.

Safari Highlands Ranch
Monday, October 5, 2015
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Mitchell Room
Escondido City Hall

Meeting Purposes:  This notice is to inform you and all those interested that a second scoping meeting will be held for the project described below.  The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the proposed project and to solicit input regarding environmental issues to be addressed in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), in accordance with CEQA Section 21083.9.  This meeting will be the second public scoping meeting and has been primarily scheduled for the convenience of the public.  City staff will host the meeting and a City consultant will provide an overview of the proposed project.  After presenting information, staff and the consultant will be available to answer any questions and receive any comments.  The meeting will be informational only and no decisions about the project will be made.

Project Title:  Safari Highlands Ranch Environmental Impact Report (ENV 15-0009).

Project Location:  The Safari Highlands Ranch (SHR) is located at 23360 Old Wagon Road, Escondido, San Diego County, California.  The proposed project is located on 1,098 acres of vacant land east of Rancho San Pasqual, northeast of the Rancho Vistamonte Community and just north of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in unincorporated San Diego County. 


Project Description:  The project proposes to amend the City’s Sphere of Influence and annex approximately 1,100 acres order to construct 550 single family residential units along with new public and private parks and open space, a new City fire station, a community center, and on-site sewage treatment plant and a system of new private and public streets.  A complete description of the proposed project, additional project information and technical studies are available at:  http://www.escondido.org/safari-highlands-ranch-specific-plan.aspx.

Project Applicant:  Safari Highlands Ranch, LLC

The City of Escondido recognizes its obligation to provide equal access to public services for individuals with disabilities.  Please contact the American Disabilities Act (A.D.A.) coordinator (760) 839-4643 with any requests for reasonable accommodations at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.  The City of Escondido does not discriminate against persons with handicapped status.

All interested persons are invited to attend.  For further information, please call John Helmer at (760) 839-4543 or email at safarihighlands@escondido.org.

Jay Petrek
Assistant Planning Director
City of Escondido

Dated:  September 23, 2015

Sunday, September 6, 2015

ENU tries to stop City land grab, Impacts to Felicita Park, Hearing on Oct 5th

On October 5, the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will determine the fate of the popular Felicita Park.  LAFCO is a little-known, state agency designed to provide assistance to local agencies in overseeing jurisdictional boundary changes.  

We filed a letter with LAFCO last week urging them to deny the request for annexation of property planned for Oak Creek housing development.   ENU Letter to LAFCO opposing Oak Creek annexation. In addition, the County staff still have concerns. County July 10, 2015 letter to LAFCO.

The Commission goals, in theory, are good ones.  Any boundary changes should:
·         Encourage orderly growth
·         Promote logical and efficient public services for cities and special districts
·         Streamline governmental structure
·         Discourage premature conversion of prime agricultural and open space lands to urban uses. 
Unfortunately, the LAFCO staff recommendation is to approve, with some tweaking,  the annexation of land for the Oak Creek housing development.  The Oak Creek project goes against all of the stated goals of the commission. 

In order to do the development, land currently in the County, must be annexed or transferred to the city of Escondido.  The Oak Creek annexation is not orderly, is not logical, confuses local jurisdictions, and converts prime agricultural lands and open space into development of houses.  It is unfathomable how this project can be supported within compliance of LAFCO rules.

Further, it will remove part of Felicita Park to accommodate flood control easements for the development and the developer failed to provide city parklands in accordance with the city of Escondido requirements.   This will leave a smaller Felicita Park being used by hundreds more residents.  The County staff has raised consistent issues with the project related to the Park and transportation.

As you can imagine, we are strongly opposed to this project for reasons we have stated frequently in the past.  It has too high a density  for the area, will cut down or encroach on 200 oak trees (including 100 with ‘protected’ status), increase runoff into two branches of Felicita Creek, has an unprecedented zero-foot minimum buffer between natural resources and development, and wall-off the neighborhood with a high wall around the project.

Once developed, negative impacts to the creek, the park, the riparian forest, and the neighborhood can never be reversed.  In fact, once developed, the moniker Oak Creek will just be a memory of what used to be there.

We understand that environmental and community impacts are not the primary purview of LAFCO.  Mayor Abed (who also serves on LAFCO) and Councilmembers Morasco, Gallo, and Masson who are apparently unconcerned with environmental or community issues have already ruled in favor of the project.   

Again, we offer our gratitude to Councilmember Olga Diaz for trying to secure improvements and a less damaging alternative for the project.  

But, LAFCO is supposed to be our defense against these kinds of city ‘land grabs’ merely to intensify development.  LAFCO is explicitly supposed to prevent the creation of ‘islands’ of jurisdictions.

One look at the proposed annexation maps tells the story pretty clearly.   Map of Proposed Annexation Currently there are no ‘islands’ in this region.  If the annexation is approved, there will be two jurisdictional ‘islands’ where none exist now.      

The stated rationale that contiguity exists across the I-15 for the county island (Monticello neighborhood) is not rational.  There is no way to access the neighborhood physically from County land after the annexation.   The new city development will be surrounded by County on all eight sides of the annexed area. The rationale that a ‘point-to-point’ is acceptable is more theoretical and is not the basis of orderly development.

We hope that residents who live in the Monticello neighborhood are paying attention.   If this passes, they will now be an island in the city—making them a sitting duck for future annexation.

Once this mistake is made, it cannot be undone.  We are strongly urging the LAFCO Commissioners to deny the annexation of Oak Creek and maintain the integrity of our neighborhood, our creek, and our Park.

Please attend the October 5, 2015 LAFCO hearing at 9 am in Room 310, County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego and oppose the Annexation of Oak Creek.  

There are more reasonable alternatives.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

State Clarifies Response to Escondido Neighbors United.

Please see the DTSC September 1, 2015 Clarification letter correcting the units on the OEHHA public health goals for 1, 4-dioxane.  We appreciate this correction.
Here is the original letter DTSC Response to ENU July 13 2015.

This correction is very important. Units matter a lot.  In this case, since 1,4-dioxane has been measured at 290 ug/l underneath the Chatham Yard itself and has been measured in wells south of Via Rancho Parkway at 36 ug/l, it is clear that 1,4-dioxane is a concern related to the Chatham cleanup.  DTSC has also confirmed that the 1,4-dioxane in our local groundwater plume comes from the Chatham site.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) sets the public health goal at 3 ug/l.  According to OEHHA's 2009 Public Health Goals for Chemicals in Drinking Water for TCE the general statement is made ....

Each primary drinking water standard adopted by DPH shall be set at a level that is as close as feasible to the corresponding PHG, with emphasis on the protection of public health. Each primary drinking standard adopted by DPH is required to be set at a level that is as close as feasible to the corresponding PHG, with emphasis on the protection of public health....  

We think this should also apply to 1,4-dioxane.

According to DTSC, it is the domain of the Regional Water Quality Control Board to set any cleanup level for 1,4-dioxane in accordance with Resolution 92-49.    ENU will be asking the Regional Water Board to establish that level soon.

Also to report that the regulatory agencies and the PRPs for Chatham met in August to discuss methods to preventing the discharge of Chatham pollution into Felicita Creek.  We are anxiously awaiting the results of that meeting.

Have a great and safe Labor Day!

News of worldwide deforestation severe: more reasons to oppose Oak Creek

Alarming news today.  The rate and amount of deforestation in the world has resulted in fewer trees on the planet than ever before in human history.  This is yet another reason we oppose cutting hundreds of mature trees on the Oak Creek development site.   SDUT article on Deforestation   
The report also notes that if  deforestation hadn't occurred to such an extreme degree, the climate impact would be lessened.  An article in the Los Angeles Times notes that rampant deforestation in South America is still occurring to raise cattle for the US market.  One of the most important, and easiest, thing we can all do to reduce climate change is eat meat less--or not at all.  That, and stop cutting down our trees.