By Miriam Raftery
September 21, 2015 (Alpine)—A proposed Forest Conservation Initiative Lands General Plan Amendment was heard by Supervisors last year, when Supervisors directed staff to work with the Alpine Community Planning Group, U.S. Forest Service and property owners to develop boundaries and scope of work for a special study area. That information will be used to determine land use densities for thousands of acres of private property near or within Cleveland National Forest in the Alpine area, opening the door for major development of lands east and south of Alpine.
On Thursday, September 24, County staff will provide an overview of the draft scope of work for the Special Study at the Alpine Community Planning Group meeting in the Community Center at 1830 Alpine Boulevard. An agenda will be posted prior to the meeting at: http://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/pds/gpupdate/comm/alpine.html
Protections for these areas expired after the 20-year Forest Conservation Lands Initiative approved by voters ended due to a sunset clause, and Supervisors declined to extend it. The Planning Commission has indicated it supports proposed higher residential densities in east Alpine, though Supervisors had concerns about fire protection, water, infrastructure and other issues.
Environmentalists including the Cleveland National Forest Foundation have voiced concerns over expanded development putting increased pressures on the forest, potentially harming wildlife and habitat, among other concerns. Some residents have also opposed the proposed changes due to concerns over loss of rural character or views.
George Barnett, an Alpine Community Planning Group member who voted for residential expansion in the area, says the Supervisors’ call for a special study area is “both prudent and needed.” He believes some 3,000 new residences could be supported in the Special Study area, but wants to know more about infrastructure cots and how that would be paid for.
The rift points up a core issue that transcends the specific properties in question.
“The real issues include what is good planning,” Barnett concludes, “and what is in the best interest of the overall Alpine community?”