SAN DIEGO — Two measures on the March 3, 2020 ballot will determine the future of housing development in San Diego county.
Measure A would affect housing developments countywide. Measure B is simply a "yes" or "no" vote on a major development planned for the North County.
If Measure A passes, voters would decide the fate of some housing developments seeking density increases in rural areas. As it stands now, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors votes on these so-called General Plan amendments.
“For 30 or 40 years, developers have had a stranglehold on the county politics,” said JP Theberge, a spokesperson for the Yes on A measure.
“The goal of the initiative is to enforce the rules that are already put in place, that the public had input into. And whenever there's going to be a change in the zoning of the unincorporated area, and particularly the high fire risk zones, the public gets to weigh in on it,” said Theberge.
Not surprisingly, housing developers and the Building Industry Association are opposed to Measure A.
The No on A folks say San Diego County desperately needs more housing.
“If you're building affordable housing, you're trying to keep costs low. The cost of mounting a campaign to 1.6 million voters is huge, and that is an enormous expense that would be added to any project that would be proposed,” said Tanya Castaneda, with the No on A campaign.
Measure B will also be on the March ballot. The measure deals only with one development: the Newland Sierra housing project proposed for the Merriam Mountains off Interstate-15.
The project seeks to build more than 2,100 homes on a site currently zoned for 99 estate homes.
“The existing (County) General Plan – that this Measure B would try to change – protects the Merriam Mountains. If you look at the site, it's rugged. And the way the current county regulations are they would not be able to blast those mountains,” said Chris Garrett with No on B.
Supporters say Measure B would include affordable housing, with ten percent of the homes falling within the price range for low-income families.
“We’re providing a sustainable and thoughtful community where we've actually set aside open space, as well as trails for our families, and parks that are not there right now,” said Devonna Almagro, with Yes on B.
“There is currently a housing crisis in San Diego, in California, and throughout the nation. This development, voting yes on B, is supporting the opportunity to build homes, which are much needed here in San Diego for our working families,” said Almagro.
Opponents call the Newland Sierra project sprawl development that will lead to more traffic congestion on I-15.
Making matters even more confusing, many people will cast a yes vote on one measure, and a no vote on the other.
“If they want affordable housing and more control, they vote yes on measure A, and no on measure B. And they tell the developers, come back with projects that have affordable housing in them,” said Garrett with Yes on A.
Best advice is to read both ballot questions carefully, so you know exactly which way you are voting.