Friday, October 23, 2015

Jewel of Escondido: The Farm Stand Harvest Festival Saturday and Sunday Oct 24-25

If you haven't been to The Farm Stand on Miller Ave you want to go right away!  A long-time family business sells locally grown and produced produce, jams, jellies, eggs, hydroponic greens, fresh squeezed juices, fabulous mustard, and other fun things.  For sure, you want to get your pumpkins there!  They even sell on the honor system when they aren't open.  Who else does that??!!
A good way to check it out is to go for the Harvest Festival from 10am to 5pm this Sat and Sunday.  Enjoy this jewel of Escondido

Located at 2115 Miller Ave @Citradcado Pkyway and I-15.  (760) 738-9014
Follow them on facebook at FarmStandWest and Twitter FarmstandWest

Thursday, October 22, 2015

ENU, Environmental Health Coalition, and San Diego Coastkeeper weigh in against Gregory Canyon Landfill

Escondido Neighbors United has filed the following letter ENU Opposition to Gregory Canyon Dump on the Gregory Canyon landfill issue.  Other leading environmental organizations have also filed multiple letters against this project. Environmental Health Coalition letter  and San Diego Coastkeeper letter.
Both group have previously filed extensive comments on the project.
EHC April 2013 comments on DEIS
SD Coastkeeper 2013 comments
These are both amazing organizations and all are urged to join and support them.
Everyone is urged to write their own personal letter as well.  As North County residents, we need to speak up and stop this unnecessary degradation of our region.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Jewels of Escondido: Visit Queen Calafia's Magical Circle on Oct 10th

A most amazing sculpture garden is located in Kit Carson Park.  Queen Calafia's Magical Circle is an art installation worthy of Paris or Florence.  But, we ar e so lucky that it is here is our community.  It is the last and only American installation of world-reknown artist Niki de Sainte Phalle.
The 12th “birthday” celebration of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle will take place on October 10, 2015, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Weather permitting,  this sculpture garden in Kit Carson Park (3333 Bear Valley Parkway) will be open to the public, with Queen Califia docents on site to answer questions. Free Mardi Gras beads will be given to the first 50 visitors. 

Learn more about the Queen here Queen Calafia's Magical Circle

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Meet the San Pasqual Valley Preservation Alliance! Please Join and help them oppose Safari Highlands Ranch

Another day, another sprawl development, and another new community group arises to fight back!  

Yes, yet another rural community in Escondido is under threat from encroaching sprawl development.  This time, it’s called Safari Highlands Ranch.

Neighbors have once again organized themselves against the project.  The San Pasqual Valley Preservation Alliance is the newest community organization in town.  Please check them out and sign up to stay informed. STOP SHR Website

The second Scoping meeting was held last night and it was well-attended.  Once again, dozens of concerned residents came to learn about the process of permitting a project that is outside the sphere of influence of the city and exceeds the County General Plan densities by an insane amount.  Another case of the city parachuting a high-density development into a rural area.

This project is another example of a non-transit oriented, non-sustainable, and habitat destroying project.  Its leap-frog pattern of development will threaten additional sensitive areas now and in the future.

What was clear to us Monday night was that the City intends to fast track this project so that it is voted on by our current pro-development City Council before elections take place in November 2016. 

We have lessons learned from our recent defeat regarding Oak Creek and we look forward to sharing, neighborhood to neighborhood, with our new allies at the San Pasqual Valley Preservation Alliance.

Please sign up and keep informed. Go here to sign up Sign up for updates It will take all of us to save our community from development interests. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

LAFCO Ignores Community Concerns and Approves Oak Creek Housing Development

On October 5, 2015 LAFCO unanimously supported the annexation of the Homeland property into the city of Escondido.  This action will allow a high-density, walled development to be constructed on existing farmland and open space, adjacent to Felicita Park.  It will result in the destruction of hundreds of oak trees and the rural character of our neighborhood.

There are many concerns Escondido Neighbors United raised about this project and few of them were ever addressed.  Reasonable development alternatives and protective mitigations put forth by the neighbors were rebuffed.   

The Commissioners negotiated a while over the inclusion of 565 feet of Hamilton Lane that will remain in the County while the rest of the street will be in the City.  In the end, Supervisor Horn tried to secure commitment by the city to maintain the road (which makes sense) but others didn’t support him.  It leaves only about 5% of the Lane in the County jurisdiction (rest in the City) and no one really willing to maintain the road.

Commissioner Abed, unfortunately, once again took aim at Escondido Neighbors United accusing us of opposing ‘all development everywhere in Escondido’.  This is not true.   ENU had proposed more than one reasonable alternative to this project and there are many developments we have not opposed in the city.

What is true is that we oppose (or try to improve) inappropriate and poorly planned development—like Oak Creek.  

At the hearing, there seemed to be an inability to distinguish between theory and common sense reality on several issues.

For example, while in theory, the County General Plan allows more dwelling units on the site (80), in reality, only up to a maximum of 20 units or less could actually be built there due to sewage constraints.  The County does not offer sewer hook-ups in this area so any housing would have to be on septic (like the rest of the area) or the developers would have to build an on-site sewage treatment plant that would take up a lot of land. 

No matter what the theoretical number is for the area, in reality only around 20 could be built under County rules therefore, in reality Oak Creek is a significant increase in density enabled by the sewer services of the city.

ENU expressed the point that what we really have here is another case where developers are merely shopping around to see which jurisdiction can give them the highest density and easiest permitting.  This is not good planning.

As another example, annexations are not supposed to create jurisdictional islands.  In theory, the Monticello neighborhood is shown on the map as linked to the County-- across I-15.  The reality is that there is no way to access the neighborhood physically from County land after the annexation because I-15 cannot be crossed.  

In reality, the annexation leaves this neighborhood completely surrounded by the City.  The reality of the new city development is that it is surrounded by the County on all eight sides.  The only link is the width of Felicita road.  This annexation leaves a jurisdictional mess in the area.

We were very disappointed when City staff told the Commission that the project's "Proposed stormwater management design creates a better situation for downstream property owners along Felicita Creek by moderating peak flows.”  We beg to differ.  One of our highest concerns is that increasing the hardscape of an area by around 60% and widening the culvert will worsen the situation for us downstream.  It may stop the flooding of the road, but only by directing the water into the creek and down on us. 

We will be ground-truthing this claim over time.   Everyone who lives along the creek, is encouraged to take photos and video of the creek during the rains this winter so we have a baseline to compare future conditions once the project is constructed. 

In the 'needs-better-information' category, one staffer represented the Chatham Brothers Barrel Yard as being a location where they ‘made barrels’.  Apparently, we need to do more education of governmental staff about the Chatham site.  (Chatham Brothers took barrels of toxic industrial waste to 'recycle' in a still that didn't work and then let it flow into an on-site pond--polluting the groundwater for over a mile from the original site.  This pollution plagues us today). 

In the end, LAFCO easily approved an annexation that does not meet LAFCO basic goals of orderly development and preservation of open space and prime agriculture lands, does not resolve County staff concerns related to the park, has not resolved many community issues.

It was a sad day for all of us and for our rural community.

It is also a warning for other neighborhoods about the damage this City Council can do to your neighborhood and quality of life.

We look forward to supporting other communities in their struggle. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

ACTION ALERT: October 5th, 9 am LAFCO to decide Oak Creek Housing Development- PLEASE ATTEND

As reported earlier,  LAFCO to Decide Oak Creek this Monday, October 5, is the final decision related to the Oak Creek housing development at the corner of Hamilton and Felicita.  If you have concerns, which many of us do, please plan to attend if you can.  

This is our last chance to speak out!

The time and location of the meeting is difficult for working people so, if you cannot attend, please write a letter or email and send to Chair Bill Horn and LAFCO member Dianne Jacob .

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.  

ENU's letter of concerns and opposition to the project is here   ENU Letter to LAFCO opposing Oak Creek annexation
In addition, the County staff still have concerns. County July 10, 2015 letter to LAFCO.  

The Updated staff report is here Final LAFCO staff report

The city of Escondido's request is still not in alignment with the LAFCO staff or County staff positions.  The project still needs to be revised to be supportable.  We are calling on the LAFCO commission to deny the project as not meeting essential LAFCO goals.  

This project as proposed does not meet basic LAFCO goals, especially that 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. 

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.  

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.  

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 and they have not, so far, been resolved.

ENU is strongly opposed to this project.  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.

There are more reasonable alternatives.  In the spirit of compromise, ENU  proposed a compromise alternative Reduced Density, Reduce impact alternative and we ask, again, that it seriously be considered.  Until New Urban West is will to engage in real dialog about a more reasonable alternative and sensible mitigation measures, we must continue to oppose this 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.

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.

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.  In the spirit of compromise, ENU  proposed a compromise alternative Reduced Density, Reduce impact alternative and we ask, again, that it seriously be considered.  Until any dialog occurs about a more reasonable alternative and sensible mitigation measures, we must continue to oppose this project.