Board of Supervisors OKs general plan update - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Board of Supervisors OKs general plan update

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Board of Supervisors Wednesday approved a comprehensive update to its general plan for unincorporated areas of San Diego County, bringing an end to a process that took more than a decade.

The document is the overall zoning plan for the county's unincorporated areas and will guide future development.

County staff devised the guidelines to concentrate new construction closer to existing infrastructure, which will result in numerous backcountry and desert properties being down-zoned to lower densities.

Board Chairman Bill Horn opposed down-zoning without compensation to owners of the affected properties.

"We're changing the equity positions of a whole lot of people," Horn said. He also reasoned that since less land will be available for development, future property tax revenues will be lower than they could have been.

Horn was the lone dissenter in the 4-1 vote to approve the update in an unusually tense meeting that saw Horn and Supervisor Dianne Jacob exchange words on several occasions. The board also split 3-2 when voting to meet Nov. 9 to review unresolved issues regarding a number of specific properties.

The board members, who have served together since 1995, usually display a united public front and vote unanimously most of the time.

Supervisor Pam Slater-Price pointed out that there are no changes to the density levels of 70 percent of the parcels in unincorporated areas, and densities were increased in some of the rest.

"A lot of things aren't changing that much," Slater-Price said.

The county has been operating under a general plan that's been in effect since 1978, and officials have been working on the update for a dozen years to bring it into conformity with state law and 21st century conditions. It was before the board for 10 months.

The document itself was downsized, from more than 1,000 pages to less than 300.

Slater-Price also touted the updated plan for environmental benefits that will discourage development in sensitive biological habitats, floodplains and areas where groundwater needs to be protected.

Horn had another take.

"Today, the board has sided with the environmentalists over the property owners," Horn said. "I'm proud to stand with the farmers and property owners."

He later added that he feared his community of Valley Centers would soon see "more high-rise condos than avocado trees."

Supervisor Ron Roberts said it was "painful" in how long the process took.

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