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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.”


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Alpine Community Plan Update

The person "1angelpuppy" does indeed have a point about protecting those aspects of Alpine's character that people want. Nobody has to worry about allegations of what "THEY" are doing. After a number of years of public hearings here in Alpine, hosted by the Alpine Community Planning Group and conducted by the County Staff, the current base plan for Alpine was approved by the elected and appointed members of the Alpine Community Planning Group by 13:2 (as I recall). The plan was subsequently approved by the Planning Commission and recommended up to the Board of Supervisors. The BOS has approved the vast majority of the plan, with the farthest eastern plans for Alpine being held subject to the out come of a "Special Study" on infrastructure needs for that area. That Special Study may take 18 months to complete. The Planning Group voted unanimously for a concurrent comprehensive update of the almost 40 year old Alpine Community Plan which is available here: That update will be hosted by the Alpine Community Planning Group and conducted by the professional staff of the Department of Planning & Development Services. The best way to learn about the Alpine Community Plan is to participate in its comprehensive update over the coming 18 months. In the interim, everyone interested in Alpine should be attending the regular monthly meeting of the Alpine Community Planning Group. There is going to be ample opportunity for people to participate, and tp participate on the basis of fact. No one needs to consider innuendo or ill-considered 3rd party option about what "THEY" are doing while Alpiners sleep. My Dad was fond of saying, "Don't believe anything you hear"! Everyone reading this, Please come and be part of it. George Barnett

All about site plans

Mr. Russo is member of the Alpine Community Planning Group. He should know better! Apollo indeed has a "site plan" for its portion of Wright's Field. That "plan" is part of a formal residential subdivision application to the County. It has been presented to the Planning Group more than once, and has never been approved. At its last presentation, the owner's engineer and the 'plan' was remanded by the Planning Group board back to the Private Actions Subcommittee for further negotiations and review - because the plan did not provide for promises made to the community. In addition, the subdivision application has not progressed in the County review and approval process because the applicant has been unable to satisfy the conditions for development stipulated in the California Environmental Quality Act. Those conditions were detailed in a County "scoping letter" to the applicant some years ago. That information and the status of the subdivision application is available to the public at the Department of Planning & Development Services. It is identified as TM-5433, and it contains the various iterations of the proposed site plan. There's another problem with the plan, and that is the inability of the soils on Wright's Field to percolate - to be able to support septic systems for waste sanitation. Conceptually the plan is for about 48 homes in two clusters fitting the general layout of the property as an exercise "dumb bell". Because of no "perking", the plan calls for TWO taxpayer funded sanitation sewer extensions - one running south along South Grade Road and then west onto the eastern lobe of the dumb bell; the other extension running south on Tavern Road and then east onto the western lobe of the dumb bell. The boundaries of the County Sanitation District exclude Wright's Field, and the Local Area Formation Commission for San Diego County has rejected the idea of extending the district's operating boundaries to Wright's Field. I was told by LAFCO that the current District rate-payers and taxpayers will not be funding any sewer infrastructure needed for private property development. The current policy of the County is to not provide infrastructure that will induce higher residential densities than exist now south on Tavern Road and on South Grade Road. Just on the basis of the inability of the land to percolate for septic systems, it seems wildly speculative to think that the County will change development policy towards higher densities from homes, let alone for condos and apartments in southern Alpine. The purpose of the coming effort by the Planning Group to host community input into the updating of the Alpine Community Plan is to define the character Alpiners want for their town into the future. It is not about specifically setting land use designations on individual properties or individual projects. A copy of the current Alpine Community Plan is available here:

The development Plan for Alpine and FCI related issues

The way things are going it wouldn't surprise me if future development in Alpine could end up resembling the city of Santee. Some of us appreciate Alpine in a way that others do not. Some of us have a long term relationship with Alpine and its surrounding areas. We remember what Alpine looked like before the development in the early 80's transformed it. Some of us see ourselves wanting to live here for the rest of our lives and maybe even see our children living here. It means something to us that what we hold dear will not disappear. The seeds are being planted now, and now is when we have an opportunity to protect this area. I remember Alpine before apartments, shopping centers, Albertson's and stop lights. I remember Alpine when the creeks flowed with clean water. I worried a great deal when the County Board of Supervisors voted for un-doing what the FCI did to protect the Cleveland National Forest. It has worried me when I see that so many residents have given up on the idea that their voices will ever be heard and so have given up. This is one big reason the attendance at the ACPG meetings is so pitifully low. I can imagine Alpine as a beautiful, well planned area with its forest protected and wildlife and water abounding. I can also imagine what may happen if things go the other way. If you live here and if you either own property here or do not, but are commited to this area, have a history with this area, please take the time to find out what "THEY" are planning while you sleep. And come out and SAY SOMETHING. How many times have I been asked, "What are THEY planning ?" "What are THEY going to do about ... " ? It takes time and effort to get up and get out and attend a meeting, write a letter, or what have you, but if these efforts are not made, then don't complain about the decisions THEY have made or are making.

To answer George...

The Apollo group is rumored to have a site plan, I have never seen it, just as I have never seen the site plan that is rumored to exist for Campbell Creek Ranch nor the Augustyn/Kaderabek parcels next to Lazy A. As to Apollo and its private property, the update to the GP will give it the opportunity to ask for increased density, perhaps even condos and/or apartments. Imagine how this would give a real shot in the arm to the student population of Joan McQueen Middle School/Alpine Union School District. Not only that, the children could safety transit Wright's, enjoying a safe route to school as well as enjoy the natural, environmental beauty of it. Yes, George does live just down the street, as does Jim Easterling, but Travis Lyon is right across the street (about 100' or so). Doesn't it make sense that additional density, to increase student population/create customers for our businesses/provide positive income for realtors and builders/etc. come right in the center of our beautiful town...and area with water/sewer/dual fire access/etc. (e.g. everything Travis, George, et al keep pounding the table for) WITHOUT tax outlays for infrastructure. It's a win-win for all.

Wright's Field

The concerns of the "Eastern Alpine" group headed by Mr. Lou Russo were addressed a couple of years ago when the Board of Supervisors approved land use designations for the property. The Apollo Growth Group owns that property, about 141 acres of Wright's Field. The approved land use designation for that land is "Semi-Rural Residential"; meaning it can be residentially developed. Indeed, Apollo Growth Group has an active residential subdivision map application on that land filed with the County. The proposal includes building about 47 homes in two clusters. All information on the proposed application is available to the public at the County's Planning & Development Services' office. Mr. Russo should know all this in quite detail as he is a member of the Alpine Community Planning Group - before which the owner's engineer/designer has appeared a number of times presenting the project. As the crow "flies" - by walking the streets and rolling a flat tire - my house is about 1.2 miles from the Apollo Growth Group property; a route that crosses maybe 20 other home lots on the way. The property cannot be seen from my house. George Barnett

Community Plan Update

The Community Plan Update will enable the community of Alpine to look at ALL of Alpine, including those lands around Wright's Field owned by the Apollo Group. Although we are all aware these lands are in close proximity to Mr. Lyon's and Mr. Barnett's homes, those of us in Eastern Alpine feel it only right and appropriate for these lands be examined with a view toward addressing Alpine's housing issues with estate homes in this area of Alpine.