EDITORIAL: San Diego County: ‘No’ on Measure B; ‘yes’ on Measure A

North Coast Current

For several years now, proponents of mass housing have insisted that the way to make housing more affordable is to build more of it. This argument is simplistic enough as it is in light of continued skyrocketing local housing prices, despite new high-density projects in San Diego and developments in smaller communities with window-dressing density bonuses for so-called affordable units, among other recipes.

Proponents of San Diego County Measure B — clearing the way for the Newland Sierra project northeast of San Marcos and north of Escondido — would have voters believe that the development would help solve the housing crisis using the same kind of window dressing, despite the fact it’s not located near any hubs of major employment or serious mass transit (a single freeway — the already congested Interstate 15 — doesn’t cut it anymore), and despite the fact it will be placed in a mostly rural area serviced by two-lane community roads with questionable emergency access.

Housing stock is in short supply, but sprawling more dwellings where the vast majority have starting prices vastly higher than today’s median $585,000 — with exclusive community services requiring homeowner fees — is an unsustainable solution to the current problem.

Measure B supporters note that 60% of the housing would be affordably priced for the working class. But assuming Newland Sierra is built, what would that “affordable” price be at completion given the continuing rise in prices, up 8% over the past year alone? Moreover, what’s their definition of “working class?”

The most troubling concern about such developments is the placement. As a smaller example, drive through Elfin Forest, a largely rural area west of Escondido. One will come upon Harmony Grove Village, a community of $900,000 homes sandwiched in a valley with no mass transit, tight valleys with narrow roads, poor fire escape access, located away from major employment hubs. The development was approved by San Diego County supervisors against area residents’ concerns of overpopulation for the land its placed on.

From San Elijo Hills in San Marcos to Scripps Ranch, memories are still fresh about the jammed roads residents were stuck on as they fled their neighborhoods during wildfires.

Newland Sierra’s development will likely go forward in some form down the line, and there are of arguments for why it should. But its current configuration is still too large for its location and should return to the drawing board.

It is with these considerations in mind that the North Coast Current supports a “no” vote on Measure B.

The increasing encroachment of massive housing developments on the remaining rural areas of the county — especially in fire-prone areas where escape access is infeasible — demands open debate and consideration by voters themselves, not just elected officials and bureaucrats who might cave to developer interests against the will of residents.

County Measure A calls for residents to vote on future projects similar to Newland Sierra, which will help guard against General Plan amendments that could favor developers’ bottom lines over community interests.

The North Coast Current recognizes the value of voter involvement in this process and therefore supports a “yes” vote on Measure A.

Editorials solely represent the opinions of North Coast Current ownership. The Current welcomes letters to the editor and longer commentaries sharing opposing points of view.

encinitas current, cardiff current