By Miriam Raftery
Next up: Alpine General Plan amendments to be considered in 2017
December 16, 2016 (San Diego’s East County)—By a 4 to 1 vote with Supervisor Dave Roberts opposed, San Diego Supervisors on Wednesday voted to approve a Forest Conservation Initiative Lands General Plan Amendment, along with community plan amendments, rezoning and certification of a supplemental environmental review. The action paves the way for development of parcels in the Alpine and Descanso areas that were formerly protected under the Forest Conservation Initiative passed by voters, but that has since expired due to a sunset provision in 2010.
Travis Lyon, chair of the Alpine Community Planning Group, reports that the Supervisors “took all the recommendations ACPG made at the last meeting.”
Jack Shu, president of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, said after the hearing, “The bottom line is that the County has moved to do away with what the voters – two thirds of them—wanted in 1993 to protect our local Forest."
Shu further argued that since the County’s Climate Action Plan was thrown out by the courts due to a Sierra Club lawsuit, “They do not have a General Plan. You cannot amend a GP that is not in effect.”
Dr. Michael Soule, climate change expert, SDSU graduate and professor emeritus of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz, had argued in a written statement that “Cleveland National Forest, which encompasses small communities like Alpine and Julian, is the last foothold for a tremendous diversity of wildlife in the county. It is home to more than 20 plant and animal species that are at risk of extinction.” Preventing division of property into smaller parcels protects key wildlife corridors, he argued.
But at community meetings in Alpine, the majority of those who turned out supported changes, arguing in favor of private property owners’ rights to reasonable development of their lands. Many of the properties in question are near already developed properties such as Viejas Casino, proponents argued.
Next up, the County’s Department of Planning and Development Services is preparing to update the Alpine Community Plan next year as a continuation of the General Plan 2020 update.
Lyon, in a statement released through the Alpine and Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce, elaborated:
“The Alpine Community Plan has not been updated since 1979 and a lot has changed in almost 40 years! The Community Plan Update (CPU) process will provide Alpine an opportunity to outline a set of goals, objectives, and principles for what types of public and private goods and services the community needs/wants. This includes planning for improvements to roads, parks, & schools among other things. The CPU process will then review the current land use and zoning for property within the Alpine Community Planning area and determine what updates should be made to achieve that vision. Included in this CPU process will be an infrastructure study for the areas of East Alpine along Alpine Blvd, between the West Willows and East Willows freeway off ramps. A number of town hall meetings will be held regarding this process over the next year. It is important for the Alpine Chamber of Commerce and the entire community of Alpine to be engaged in this process from the beginning. Please come to learn more at the Chamber's January 10th, 2017 Hot Topic Breakfast.”
George Barnett, a member of the ACPG, notes, “The community plan update process, which may take 18 months, will include the input of the County’s special infrastructure study on the 2,000-acre portion of former FCI lands to the east of Alpine township.”