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County poised to buy 571 Hellhole acres

The County will probably purchase 571 acres for Hellhole Canyon for $4 million January 9 – or $7,005 per acre and which includes two separate large parcels  – assuming the Board of Supervisors approves the purchase, which is the first item on Tuesday’s agenda, the first item for the new board, which includes Fifth District Supervisor Jim Desmond. 

The land will be added to the Hellhole Canyon Preserve. It includes 251 acres to be purchased from J.P. Birdland, LLC And Paradise Mountain Ranch LLC) and 320 acres from Friends Of Chabad Lubavitch San Diego.

On December 12, the Board of Supervisors set a hearing for January 9, on the purchase.

Since 1998, the County of San Diego (County) has acquired more than 21,000 acres of open space land for the County’s Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) to ensure the long-term survival of sensitive plant and animal species and balance the public need for development, open space, and passive recreation. 

The County identified two properties available in Valley Center east of the County’s Hellhole Canyon Preserve within the MSCP Draft North County Plan Pre-Approved Mitigation Area (PAMA), an area important to conserve for sensitive species. One property, located at the end of Sierra Verde Road southeast of the preserve, is approximately 251 acres. 

The other property, located at the northeast end of Hell Creek Road, is about 320 acres. In June 2018, the County was awarded a State of California Habitat Conservation Fund (HCF) grant to acquire the Sierra Verde Road property. The grant will cover $200,000 of the purchase price of the land. The HCF grant is competitive and requires a dollar-for-dollar funding match.

The property would be acquired at the appraised value of $3,000,000. With staff, transaction and land improvement costs, the total project cost in Fiscal Year 2018-19 is $3,353,000, based on budgeted appropriations of available prior year General Fund balance in the Capital MSCP Acquisition Fund. 

The board is also requested to authorize the purchase of the Hell Creek Road property, Assessor Parcel Numbers 191-060-01, -02 and -06 from Friends of Chabad Lubavitch San Diego at the appraised value of $1,000,000 based on budgeted appropriations of available prior year General Fund balance in the Capital MSCP Acquisition Fund. With staff, transaction and land improvement costs, the total project cost in Fiscal Year 2018-19 is $1,163,000.

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