Escondido, CA


Why a countywide vote?



Is it fair to go up against somebody with one hand tied behind your back? Both hands tied behind your back? Talk about fair! That’s how those Valley Center-area residents must feel about the deep-pocket, money-bags developer who wants to develop the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch. It’s an unfair fight. It’s all about Measure B on the November 8 General Election ballot.

The County has a General Plan for development in its unincorporated area, which includes Valley Center. “General plan” means something that would generally be planned for a specific area. The General Plan calls for the 608-acre Lilac Hills area to maintain a semi-rural atmosphere, allowing for up to (a maximum) 110 homes on the project site and “no” commercial development.

But the greedy developer is not satisfied with those conditions. He wants to build 1,746 homes and three commercial centers on a site that is now labeled “agricultural,” thus destroying the rural atmosphere that now prevails.

All this means amending the General Plan (I cannot avoid reiterating) to permit the developer to construct 1,600 more homes – let’s repeat that; 1,600 more homes – than now allowed, plus a commercial center. That’s what Measure B would do: amend the General Plan. The county Board of Supervisors, with jurisdiction over unincorporated areas, declined to amend the Plan. So, the developer used his deep, money-containing pockets to buy his way onto the ballot initiative.

Here is where it becomes unfair. Why should somebody living way out in Jamul have the right to decide whether an area of Valley Center should be developed? Or some resident of Jacumba? Or Boulevard? Or even Borrego? Some of the people living in those communities may not even know where Valley Center is. Why even people living in Chula Vista, Point Loma, La Jolla, Encinitas, even Oceanside? This is a measure that will primarily impact Valley Center and, to a lesser degree, the neighboring communities of Bonsall, Pala Mesa, Pala and Escondido.

Why the developer’s idea of a county wide vote? He probably sensed that most Valley Center people were opposed to his grandiose plans. Therefore, all those tens of thousands of county voters living miles and miles from Valley Center might be inclined to mindlessly vote “yes,” maybe giving him the millions in potential profit he would reap. Okay, to be fair to the developer, the measure also would require him to construct 25 acres of parks, which would include a 13-acre public park, 10 private parks and 16 miles of trails.

Now, even the mayor of Escondido, whose campaign to gain a seat on the Board of Supervisors was aborted in the primaries, is trying to get in on the act. He recently endorsed Measure B and exhorted Escondido voters to vote “yes.” It is beyond me to understand the mayor’s rationale. He must be cognizant of the unfairness of a countywide vote. It was an arrogant act in an attempt to use his position to influence the outcome of an issue that should have been decided exclusively by Valley Center residents.

The shenanigans of the developer in circumventing the Board of Supervisors and the General Plan requirements are in themselves enough to make you want to vote “no” come Nov. 8.

Defining Legislative Districts

I understand that drawing the boundaries for legislative districts to assure a nearly equal as possible number of registered voters in each can be a demanding and difficult chore. The committees that draw the boundaries are supposed to be independent and are not to be concerned with political partisan registration. Their only concern is to be how many people live in a proposed area and if that number is a close equivalent of the next district to be considered. But, color me cynical; I still believe that legislative districts are gerrymandered to protect the incumbent whenever possible. There seems to be little concern for communities of interest.

I sometimes wonder how nonsensical a given legislative district can be. Take the 50th Congressional District in which Escondido is located. What the heck do we have in common with Alpine, except both communities are in San Diego County? Yet, Alpine, way out there in East County, and Escondido are in the same congressional district. And don’t forget Lakeside and Santee. Okay, the sarcasm is showing. But you get the point.

And what about the county’s supervisorial districts? Escondido is in the Third District, which includes Miramar and the coastal communities of Encinitas and Leucadia. Yet, our neighbor Valley Center, whose residents are oriented toward Escondido, is in the Fifth District¸ which includes the coastal communities of Oceanside and Carlsbad. Go figure!

Speaking about the Board of Supervisors, is there a more plush elective job in county politics than a seat on that five-member body in its impressive edifice that overlooks the harbor in downtown San Diego? Just asking?

A Huge Number of Registered Voters

I recently came across an interesting statistic: There are 18,251,826 registered voters in California. Let that sink in for a minute: 18.2 million. That’s 47 percent of the state’s 38.8 million population; almost half.

But, what makes that 18.2 million really interesting is this: It is more voters than there are residents in 46 of our states. Think about that. There are only three states in the Union that have a larger population than California has registered voters. Wow!

Those states are Texas, population 29.96 million; Florida, population 19.89 million; and New York, population 19.75 million. California remains the largest populated state with its 38.8 million. No wonder our state carries such a clout in a presidential election with its 55 Electoral College votes.

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Ron Kenney was a reporter and editor with the former Daily Times-Advocate from 1952 to 1979 and was a copy editor on the pages of the San Diego Union-Tribune from 1985 to 1997.

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