By Will Fritz
Staff Writer 

Measure A and Measure B, explained


Last updated 2/7/2020 at 2:24am

San Diego County’s Measure A and Measure B could have significant impacts on rural North County.

Measure B relates to one specific project off Interstate 15 near the Deer Springs Road exit. Measure A, though, could have a much wider effect – it could change the way the county approves development projects for years to come.

Measure A, also called the San Diego Save Our Countryside initiative, would require voter approval for any amendment to the county general plan to increase population density for rural or semi-rural areas by more than five homes.

Right now, the county board of supervisors can make that decision. If Measure A passes, then effectively, all developments in areas that are currently classified as rural would have to go before voters across the entire county.

Measure A would also ban some types of density transfers and specific plans, a commonly used planning tool that has been used to create housing developments like 4S Ranch and Warner Springs Ranch, Catherine Ferguson, an Escondido land-use attorney, said to Voice of San Diego.

“This is a powerful planning tool in rural areas, as it allows for homes to be built while preserving the open space that draws people to the county,” Ferguson said. “It allows developers to creatively place open spaces and parks within communities and for habitat corridors to be preserved. Under Measure A, the only transfers allowed would be from parcels with lower density to those with higher density. This severely limits the ability to use density transfers by narrowing the pool of eligible parcels to those with the highest density, rather than taking into account factors such as location, topography and the environment.”

Supporters of Measure A argue that it will prevent the San Diego Board of Supervisors from allowing unwanted growth and sprawl development in outlying communities like Fallbrook.

“It’s targeted. It’s surgical. It’s (directed at) the ones, the real bad actors. And it’s not gonna slow down production in San Diego County,” Mark Jackson, a former member of the Valley Center planning commission, said at an anti-Measure A meeting Friday, Jan. 31. “There’s plenty of opportunity to build homes in the right areas.”

But opponents of Measure A said the plan would hinder production of new housing in San Diego County, saying that a similar measure passed in Ventura County in the 1990s led to a lack of adequate housing.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties of San Diego County oppose Measure A.

Measure B is a referendum on the Newland Sierra project, a housing development approved by the board of supervisors in a 4-0 vote north of San Marcos and south of Bonsall. Opponents of that development, which would include more than 2,000 homes and almost 3 million square feet of commercial development, gathered signatures to have the project put before the voters after the board of supervisors’ vote.

Some nearby mayors do support the project.

"I think it is a good compromise. We need workforce housing, we need low-income housing, we need a lot of housing in every category," Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara said in December, according to KPBS.

Opponents, though, said the project would cause traffic congestion and allow homes in a high fire-danger area. The proposed projects sit in rugged terrain surrounded by open space and rural homes east of Interstate 15.

“Don’t put homes where you have the highest fire danger,” Jacqueline Arsivaud of San Diegans for Managed Growth said at the Jan. 31 pro-Measure A meeting in Fallbrook.

The referendum on Newland Sierra is similar to the 2016 referendum on Lilac Hills Ranch, which would have been built nearby, on the east side of I-15, if voters had approved it; instead, they rejected it, and that project was finally killed after years of attempts to get it through the board of supervisors.

The difference, though, is that Lilac Hills Ranch was rejected by the board in 2009 and likely would have been again if its developer hadn’t decided to put it on the ballot instead. Newland Sierra was approved by county supervisors, but opponents are seeking to reverse that decision.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at [email protected]


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