Otay VIllage Ranch

READER’S EDITORIAL: SAN DIEGO SUPERVISORS SHOULD JUST SAY NO TO FIRE-TRAP DEVELOPMENTS



By Peter A. Andersen, PhD, and Daniel H. Silver, MD

Photos by Miriam Raftery:  State Route 94, the primary evacuation route for Proctor Valley and communities from Jamul south to Barrett Junction, has been previously shut down for hours or even days by the Harris Wildfire, flooding, and serious accidents.  A Border Patrol station, casino and high school along the highway (not shown) all add to traffic back-ups and congestion at peak times, drawing frequent complaints from residents in recent years.

May 23, 2019 (Jamul/Proctor Valley) -- Deadly fires scorched California in 2017 and 2018, destroying thousands of homes and killing 44 people in wine country and 86 in Paradise. Emergency warning and evacuation systems failed. People burned in their cars trying to escape the flames. Homes built to new fire-safe building codes burned anyway in the intense heat. Rapidly moving fires overwhelmed safety systems and careful planning.

The County Board of Supervisors will vote in June whether to approve a major housing development in Jamul, a community already ranked in the bottom 1% of hard-to-evacuate locations in the state. What will convince the Board to apply the lessons of the massive northern California fires to local land-use decisions? At what point does willful ignorance of the risks become negligence?