08/15/08

For the Record - August 15, 2008

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    Supervisor Bill Horn
   Fifth District

  For the Record

  August 15, 2008

   A Road to Understanding

At a regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors on July 23, 2008, there was a report made by the Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) on the County’s General Plan Update progress since September 2007. It presented major issues associated with the project that have been identified during the past several months and provided an opportunity for the public and Board of Supervisors to comment.

I appreciate the many people who attended the day-long meeting. Their comments were helpful, and as a resident of Valley Center, mirrored my desire to do what is best for the community.

One issue centered on a proposed road project in Valley Center that would connect West Lilac Road to Old Highway 395; providing a much needed emergency route; something I have sought for more than 15 years and a road the Valley Center Community Planning Group (VCCPG) approved as late as July 10, 2006.

Based on my commitment to improve public safety and having received positive response from the VCCPG (as noted above), I brought the matter before the Board of Supervisors. On August 2, 2006, the Board voted unanimously to approve a Circulation Element that included the road (designated 3A). My motion was as follows:

“Valley Center:

  • On 3A, this new road is critical for Valley Center.
  • Direct County staff to develop a cost estimate for the road and meet with any willing property owners to develop a Specific Planning Area for the Board Alternative with land use designations necessary to pay for the construction of the road.

Before the Board voted on receiving the General Plan Update progress report July 23, 2008; I presented facts in response to comments and verbal attacks made that day at the Board meeting and what had been reported in print, on television, on Internet blog sites, and word-of-mouth. The following is a summary of my comments July 23, 2008:

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Chairman Greg Cox: “We move on to Board discussion; Supervisor Horn.”

Supervisor Horn: “Thank you Mr. Chairman. I want to explain this road in Valley Center and I will forego the insinuation that I could be bought out for 5,000 bucks and sell some property owner out. That is absolutely false. I’ve lived in Valley Center for 38 years; I have heard of and known of the western connection of Cole Grade road and Old 395 all that time.

When I was President of the Rotary Club and the site selection community chairman for the high school, one of the reasons we located the high school on Cole Grade was because we had a circulation element map that was put out to the public in 1968; the map I have here is 1972.

When I was site selection chairman we were using a map that was produced in 1989, I have a 1995 (holds up map) map and the road is still on there. I point out in 1968 I was not a Supervisor. I was defending a road in Southeast Asia, known as Highway 9.

I think this road that we have in Valley Center, is an appropriate road. For those of you that have lived there and just experienced the last fire we had, I will point out that Cole Grade road to the north of 78—what somebody referred to as an evacuation route, was closed because of the fire in the Fallbrook area and right there on Rice Canyon Road, that road was closed. South to Escondido was closed because CALFIRE had taken over the community center and West Lilac Road at Old Castle. All that area was CALFIRE encampment and we had more than 1,000 fire fighters and their equipment at that road and we were not allowed to move either way. The high school had more than a thousand people in the school. When I called the Sheriff to let them know we had so many people there and we didn’t have water or food for them, he said that was not an official evacuation site. The problem is we had no other way out of Valley Center and so for those who play down that fact and say we already have roads; I was very impressed by the young lady who was on the school bus that passed my house and hit the mountain. It’s not the first school bus that has hit the mountain; it’s a very, very dangerous road and it’s been that way for a long time.

When I first moved to Valley Center, that was a dirt road. Because we owned the center line of the road and it is an irrigations easement for Valley Center water, it is not dedicated road; but they went ahead and paved it and we’ve never complained.

I would point out to you, I think there should not just be one road out of here; there should be two roads. In the old circulation elements before 2000, there was a road out of McNally over to Lilac and there was the road that we are currently talking about all the way out to 395.

Now a lot has been said about the reviewing and the circulation of element maps and the fact that this is just discovered and it was a big surprise. I’m going to read you the record. But first let me go back to 2000 when the old circulation element was taken off and Ivan Holler (former County DPLU employee) was working on the new one. I asked Ivan to leave that road on this map; but he took it off and the reason he took it off was because a TIF (Transportation Impact Fee) was implemented by the State of California and we had to OK it here at the County and he was trying to save money so he took the road off. I didn’t want the road off and so I came before the board specifically in ’05, with a motion in ‘06 to put the road on there.

I am going to read you the time table prior to that.

‘September 29, 2005, the circulation subcommittee adopts response to the County road network planning presentation and the subcommittee recommends the Valley Center Community Planning Group forward for comments to the County, including and recommend that three principals guide the local connectivity planning.

  • Create local connections that renew local traffic on Valley Center, Cole Grade and Lilac roads retaining rural character.
  • Increase the number of escape routes for emergency use.

So, if you don’t like this one here I would tell you; pick out another route to get me out of harm’s way.

When planning for the future and establishing roads needed for 20 to 30 years; as a rule of thumb, ever since I have been on the school board and with the County, my philosophy has been to plan for 50 years, not just for 2 or 3.”

* * * * *

(Supervisor Horn continues timeline)

  • “ ‘October 17, 2005, the staff presents primarily the road network based upon the meeting with the circulation subcommittee. We had one person testify here he had never heard of it, which included the road from Cole Grade to West Lilac road but stops short in connecting to OLD 395.
  • March 13th 2006, the chair announces circulation subcommittee is working with the County on GP2020 circulation plan and the planning group is expected to receive a presentation in April 2006.
  • April 10th the Valley Center planning group was presented with a preliminary staff recommendation for the road network for GP2020 and a list of additions, deletions and widening of roads for future planning in Valley Center. The need to create an alternate route for residents during emergency and the need for additional route to I-15 was discussed. April 24, 2006, staff presents a road network based on April 10, 2006 comments include a west leading connection of Cole Grade, to West Lilac connecting it to Old 395 at Nelson Way. Previously titled New Road A was broken into three segments from Cole Grade to Lilac…from Lilac to West Lilac…and from West Lilac to Old 395. The Valley Center Planning Group votes 10-0-1 in favor of the new road, including the extension of 395. July 10, 2006 the Valley Center Planning Group votes 13-0-0 in favor of the purposed circulation element network for Valley Center including the Cool Valley extension through the Lilac areas and I-15 via Old 395. The San Diego County Planning Commission agrees with the Valley Center Planning Group on July 28, 2006 and the circulation element including the new road is broken into two segments from Old 395 to West Lilac 3A and from West Lilac to Cole Grade 3B.
  • August 2, 2006, the County Board of Supervisors votes unanimously on the circulation element to include this road on 3A. And this was my motion to the Board: ‘On 3A, this is a very critical road to Valley Center, to direct the staff to develop cost estimates for the road and to meet with willing property owners to develop a Specific Planning Area. For the Board Alternative with land use designations necessary to pay for the construction of the road. My thought there and the reason why it is included, is because I didn’t want to raise TIF and I am not expecting the State to pay us back the money they owe us.’

* * * * *

Now that’s the record. For those who say that this was just sprung on us a couple of months ago, it’s not true. And I would read to you the minutes. I resent the speaker who accused me of taking $5,000 bucks to make up this record. I also point out that on April 24, 2006 the Lilac connection was voted on and here are the minutes of your Valley Center Planning Group. On November the 15, 2006, Planning Group member, Hofler specifically said during the testimony, ‘What about the mention of the Board Alternative Map. Please give us more specifics about the SPA (Specific Planning Area) with the land use designations to pay for the east/west road from Old 395 to Hilldale.’

* * * * *

I am a big boy and I ran for this seat and I understand about getting the criticism, but at the same time I don’t appreciate my character being impugned. I don’t mind us having a debate on the issue, and incidentally that is putting this SPA and this road on the map. I don’t align the road. It wasn’t me who said Nelson Way; that came from the Planning Group. I don’t align this road; whatever staff decided this road alignment might be; I couldn’t care less. I want the road to be built if people are going to build homes; whether they build them now or 20 years from now, and I don’t believe I should have to raise TIF to make that happen. If you are going to build homes, I think you should pay for it. So basically, the issue that is here and before us is that I think this road should be left on the map. It needs to go through the environmental review process. When we get the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) back, this is not a forgone conclusion; this is a proposal. If we decide we are not going to put the SPA in there, I still want the road in there, and whether the road goes in West Lilac or Nelson Way, I couldn’t care less. I want a connecting road from Cole Grade to Old 395 and I will tell you right now, except for Old Castle, West Lilac is not a viable option for 400 people an hour to go across it.

I would like to reiterate; I live in the community. My daughter teaches at the school that one of the ladies pointed out; and a very good teacher by the way.

This is my community; I don’t want to destroy my community. If I had my way, I would have kept everything out of there years ago when I could only see four lights from my deck. But that’s not the case anymore. I would reiterate that the SPA is a proposal and I expect staff to come back with what it is going to cost; how many homes would have to be required, and who is going to have to pay for this. There is another SPA right down the road which is down Rancho Lilac, which was put on the map and I saw this before I became a Supervisor. I went to those hearings; if they’re going to build [houses] down there I want them to put money into this road.

I’ll be very honest with you, I don’t want all that traffic on West Lilac and that’s not a convenient way to get out of there.

* * * * *

So I really want to thank you for coming down here. I understand the emotion. I happen to be a farmer; I have been for years. People bring up the water issues which we at the Board of Supervisors don’t necessarily have a say over, but it is a big concern. Most people in the agricultural business have cut down 30 percent of their trees. I am very fortunate; I have put motors in three of my wells. I have enough water to irrigate my property without cutting it back, but what is going to be in the future? They are telling us they need to fix these water exchanges to the South to the Sacramento River area; however, by the time they fix the gates for those smelt, it will be 10 years. I guarantee you our trees can’t wait 10 years for somebody to fix a valve. We are going to be out of business.

While I hear your concerns, I am going to dismiss the personal attacks because I don’t think they are fair. But at the same time we can work with staff and it’s not a done deal and it’s not over with. It’s going to go through the EIR phase. And you’ll see it again and then it will come back again to Valley Center. I would prefer to have the debate on the facts and on the truth and not on what a bunch of people have written into the paper or blogs or everything else, because they are not true. There is no way for me to come back at it, and I don’t want to sit up here and say, foul, foul, foul. I could all day long but that’s not the process. This is a democratic process; this is a public hearing process. This road and this SPA have been on the record since we started, it’s been a public process. This road has been on the map for longer then I have been around here. I moved to Valley center in 1972, it’s been on the map since 1968…never got built but the reason is because nobody has built [houses] out there. All I am saying is if it gets built out there, I believe the developer should have to pay for it.

So with that I will move staff recommendation to review the report.”

* * * * *

The Board voted unanimously to receive the report and I am pleased that the entire road from Cole Grade to Old Highway 395 remains on the circulation element map as we move forward in the General Plan Update process. The Specific Planning Area that had been part of the Department of Planning and Land Use map was removed; however, it will be studied by DPLU in determining how the road would be funded if it is built.

I have great concern over the impact of legally required Transportation Impact Fees (TIF). Right now, those fees are $2,568 per unit for Valley Center local roads. If the proposed local road (3A) is paid for by TIF, it would further burden residents of Valley Center and could more than double the current TIF.

I have always thought that developers should pay for new roads instead of the taxpayers. In the case of the proposed 3A road, the estimated cost is more than $40 million.

This remains a proposal. Over the next couple of years it will undergo extensive environmental review and the public will be able to make comments according to the DPLU during several General Plan Update hearings similar to the meeting that was held July 23, 2008. I encourage all residents to keep participating in those hearings.

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