The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday rejected the Lilac Hills Ranch project that had been forwarded to it by the Planning Commission.
The supervisors voted 4-1 to follow the recommendations by the County Fire Authority and the planning department, which had both said the project’s fire evacuation plans were inadequate. Kristin Gaspar, Nathan Fletcher, Diane Jacob and Greg Cox voted for the motion. Jim Desmond voted no.
The Fifth District Supervisor initially made a motion to allow the developers to go back and work with the County Fire Chief and community to make the project work. A substitute motion was made, so Desmond’s motion was not voted on. He voted against getting rid of the project completely but was outvoted.
Project Mgr. Jon Rilling reacted to the vote with a statement that sounded very much like the developer might finally be giving up after all these years: “We are obviously disappointed by the vote because after a year and a half of implementing every fire safety recommendation, this denial was based upon the tools to ensure vegetation management, not fire safety,” said Rilling. He added, “We are deeply appreciative of all the tremendous support that we have received over the years but the reality is that the State and local governments have created far too many road blocks and hurdles to support meaningful housing production. Thank you to everyone that has been part of this process.”
Asked if this means the developer had thrown in the towel, Rilling replied, “No decision has been made as to the next steps.”
James Gordon, a member of the Deer Springs Fire Protection District board, and a longtime foe the project, told The Times-Advocate: “The Community should be proud. They stuck together and never backed down. Great credit also goes to County Staff and County Fire. They listened to the Community, took their job seriously and did what was right despite political powers trying to get them to back down. This is a great success story for how the process can work when both the Community and the County work together.”