Voters get final say on Lilac Hills development near Valley Center

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SAN DIEGO — The Lilac Hills Ranch planned housing community in San Diego’s inland North County will go before voters in November, despite pleas by supporters that the project be approved without a vote of the electorate.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday, after Supervisor Bill Horn recused himself to avoid a conflict of interest because he has property in the area.

If approved in November, the project — which will be known on the ballot as the “Lilac Hills Ranch Specific Plan Initiative for an Eco-Smart Village Providing Housing Opportunities for San Diego Families” — would be built over 10 years and would eventually include 903 single-family homes, 468 age-restricted senior homes, 164 condominiums and 211 mixed-use units.

The project would consist of a mix of residential, commercial and institutional uses, along with parks and open space on 608 acres in the Valley Center area, about 10 miles north of Escondido, and about a half-mile east of Interstate 15.

“You have a chance right now to change the system. San Diego needs this change,” proponent Paul Schumann said before the vote. “You need to pass this initiative and send a clear message to the developers: We need your expertise, we need housing for our kids.”

More than 110,000 signatures were gathered on the petition supporting Lilac Hills Ranch, far more than the 67,837 valid signatures needed to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

“The surprising thing to me, is that such a poorly conceived project that hasn’t respected the general plan or the community plans of Bonsall and Valley Center, much less the community members themselves, has made it this far,” opponent Steve Hutchison of Valley Center said. “This initiative presents a project even worse than the one originally submitted.”

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