Supervisors approve modifications for De Luz, Palomar Mountain FCI land

The controversy over a general plan amendment for lands whose density had been regulated under the Forest Conservation Initiative (FCI) focused on allowing increased density in the area near Alpine, but the San Diego County Board of Supervisors hearing Dec. 14 did not prevent the reclassification of two De Luz parcels and an amendment to the North Mountain Subregional Plan to allow for zoning and building type changes for five Palomar Mountain parcels.

“When considering changes to the general plan, it is important to me that the property owners are treated fairly,” said supervisor Bill Horn.

The county supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the overall changes Dec. 14 with Dave Roberts casting the dissenting vote. Roberts and Horn voted against the California Environmental Quality Act findings which also included a mitigation and monitoring program with Greg Cox, Dianne Jacob, and Ron Roberts in favor.

In November 1993 the county’s voters approved the FCI, which stipulated a density of one dwelling unit per 40 acres for lands within the Cleveland National Forest boundary but outside of existing community town areas. The FCI covered approximately 286,000 acres and prevented general plan land use designations from being changed until the FCI’s expiration date of Dec. 31, 2010.

The hearings on the update on the county’s general plan began prior to the expiration date, so the FCI lands were not included in that update which was approved in August 2011 although during the update process county Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) staff began a separate effort on new maps for FCI land based on the principles of the general plan update. (The Department of Planning and Land Use became the Department of Planning and Development Services in 2012.)

DPLU staff did not pursue significant changes when the new maps were developed, and most of the planned additional development is near the Viejas Indian Reservation in Alpine. (Viejas had a casino on the north side of Willows Road, which is parallel to Interstate 8, in 1993, but the Viejas Outlet Center mall on the south side of Willows Road did not open until 1998 and the hotel annex to the casino opened in 2013.)

In addition to developing the maps Department of Planning and Development Services (PDS) staff identified alternatives, and the county’s Planning Commission held hearings in October 2013 and November 2013. In November 2013 the Planning Commission recommended the rezones on a 5-1 vote, with Michael Beck opposed due to concerns regarding Alpine and Lake Morena proposed changes and John Riess absent.

Three De Luz parcels are included in the update. Two will have new densities of one dwelling unit per ten acres and the third parcel will remain at one dwelling unit per 40 acres.

The maps went before the Board of Supervisors in June 2014, although the action was to choose a preferred map for the Environmental Impact Report rather than to adopt the general plan amendment for the densities. Ron Roberts was absent that day and the other four supervisors voted on the staff and Planning Commission recommendations for each community involved before casting the vote for the overall motion.

The supervisors supported the recommendations for the De Luz parcels by a 3-1 vote with Horn opposed due to the recommendation that the third De Luz parcel remain at one dwelling unit per 40 acres. The overall motion passed on a 3-1 vote with Dave Roberts in opposition. The supervisors’ vote returned the update to PDS for environmental analysis and also directed staff to prepare a scope of work for a special study in eastern Alpine.

The development of the environmental documentation was complemented by a proposed modification to the North Mountain Subregional Plan’s community policy which would limit new commercial areas to sites within the Rural Village boundaries except for highway-related uses. The change makes the subregional plan policy consistent with the Rural Commercial land use designation of the updated general plan.

The building type designators for two Palomar Mountain properties were changed from C to L; a C designator allows non-residential use on the ground level and basement only and the L designator allows for non-residential use on any level of the building. Both properties had A70 Limited Agriculture zoning which was changed to C40 Rural Commercial. C40 zoning is intended for commercial centers which serve predominantly rural or semi-rural areas with a broad range of goods and services.

Two other Palomar Mountain parcels were changed from Residential Commercial (RC zoning is intended for mixed residential-commercial areas where residential use predominates and limited commercial, office, and sales activities are allowed by a use permit) to C40, and the other Palomar Mountain parcel was changed from Rural Residential (family residential uses permitted with group residential, limited packing and processing, and other uses allowed with a use permit) to C40.

The Planning Commission took several votes on the proposed final plan Oct. 14 since four votes in favor are needed for any Planning Commission recommendation and three commissioners were absent that day. Votes on four Alpine land use adjustments were separated from the remainder of the actions, but the reclassification of two De Luz parcels and the change to the North Mountain Subregional Plan had no opposition.

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