Measure B seeks voter approval of large North County development

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VALLEY CENTER, Calif. -- One of the major initiatives before San Diego County voters Tuesday will be Measure B, which concerns Lilac Hills Ranch, a controversial proposed development north of Escondido.

“They’re looking to put the homes out here because the land is cheap,” said James Gordon, who lives right above the proposed development.

Measure B will determine whether to allow the developer to build some 1,700 homes in a rural area that currently only allows for 110.

FOX 5 Guide to Nov. 8 Ballot Initiatives

“Measure B is a bad project,” said Gordon, who wants a "no" vote. “There’s no sewers out here and there’s no street lights."

He said another concern is traffic.

“The county did an independent traffic study before putting it on the ballot, before determining if the project’s approved. It will have a significant impact on regional gridlock,” said Gordon.

He said the congestion would bring dangerous conditions to smaller, local roads.

“The road is a bunch of "s" turns and whoop-de-doos over and down the hills,” said Gordon. “You’re changing a road that has a couple hundred cars a day to almost 7 million car trips a year -- it’s suicidal.”

"The developer has a binding agreement to pay $16 million dollars for all necessary road improvements," said Jeff Powers, Spokesman for Yes on Measure B.  "That's  $2 million more than the County of San Diego has requested."

Gordon said there is also a concern for emergency response, he said there is currently only one fire station to serve the area.

“You’re looking at 15 minutes before you can get an ambulance or fire truck up here to serve this project,” said Gordon.

"The County's own staff report noted the project is surrounded by fire stations and could respond to any issue in under 5 minutes," said Powers.

“It’s just an amazing place,” said Nancy Lane, a proponent of the project who also lives nearby.

Lane wants a "yes" vote. As a real estate agent, Lane said the development will offer affordable new housing within San Diego County.

“So when you talk about homes that are starting in the 3’s for a three-bedroom, two-bath, brand-new home,” said Lane.

Since Lilac Hills Ranch is a master planned community, she believes it will actually relieve traffic and congestion.

“You can walk to shopping, there is community, there’s parks, there’s schools, there’s all sorts of things,” said Lane.

Lane said with a serious shortage of housing, it’s hard to find a home in San Diego, but Lilac Hills Ranch could make it possible.

“I’m not saying it’s the answer to everything, but it’s a start. You have to start somewhere.”

The Lilac Hills Ranch project hit two roadblocks late last year. The first was that a state watchdog told Supervisor Bill Horn, who was expected to vote in favor of the project, to recuse himself from the vote on the project. Horn owns nearby property whose value would increase if the project were approved. The other was a decision by the California Supreme Court on another large, sprawling development in the Los Angeles area that left all similar projects statewide uncertain as to how they should measure and disclose their potential greenhouse gas emissions.