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By Miriam Raftery

August 27, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – A proposed tiered equine ordinance aimed at making it easier for backcountry property owners to stable horses will be on the agenda for Supervisors to consider on Wednesday, September 11.

“When it comes to allowing stables, we need to take a more sensible, tiered approach so more people can take part in equine activities,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents East County, has said.  “As a former horse owner and long-time rider, I think these changes will also strengthen the economic vitality of our rural areas.”

Property owners  had objected to Major Use Permit costs of $60,000 or so to stable horses, among other issues.

The measure, which has been recommended by the County Planning Commission, would do the following:

  • allow a property owner to board “by right” up to three horses that are not his (or her) own;
  • allow  a property owner to own a maximum of 10 horses per acre, or 50 horses total with a Zoning Verification permit, meaning the owner need only show that the use complies with Zoning regulation;
  • require a discretionary Administrative Permit for 51 to 100 horses and no more than 10 horses per acre.  This requires public review but only requires a hearing if a party requests one;
  • require a discretionary Major UsePpermit  for more than 100 horses or for more than 10 horses per acre. This would require a Planning Commission hearing;
  • Combine the current designations for public stables, boarding and breeding stables into a single use type: horse stable; 
  • Stipulates that for Administrative Permits and Major Use Permits  a limited number of competitions or horse shows be allowed;
  • Requires properties to comply with odor, manure management, grading, stormwater and watershed protection, fire protection, vector control, setbacks and other regulations.  One parking space is required for every five horse corrals, paddocks or stalls and one loading space for every three parking spaces required.

The new tiered ordinance has been in the works since 2011 and has gone through environmental review with public comments earlier this year. 

The measure has drawn some opposition.  Robert  Davis is one of two members of a stakeholder group who does not own horses.

“Most property owners have not learned the details of the Tiered Equine Ordinance and that, if enacted, it lacks important safeguards to prevent lowering neighbors’ property values and denying them quiet enjoyment of their homes,” he wrote in an editorial published August 21 in the Valley Roadrunner.  “It allows people to put a horse boarding stable in a residential area with no input from neighbors. They will be allowed to run a commercial horse boarding business, give riding lessons, and as long as they comply with minimum sanitary requirements, neighbors will have no right to object…I doubt many existing owners would want up to 50 horses next door with riding lessons and all the associated noise and increased traffic.”

Davis said he asked planners to require approval by neighbors and that costs of increased road maintenance be paid by stable owners, but his proposals were rejected.

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What public comment period?

I cant believe the BOS is sneaking by another major change to my rural property use without sending out notices to ALL rural property owners. When any other outfit wants to do a commercial use on non commercial zoned property every property owner in the area is notified. Why are the horse people different? We already have people all over the place in the rural areas who own horses they NEVER RIDE. Now they want to setup a commercial business boarding other peoples horses that will never get ridden. 10 horses per acre is madness! I am real tired of the city people messing with the back county.