By Miriam Raftery
July 22, 2017 (Lakeside) – In a strongly worded “Eye on East County” column, Californian editor Albert Fulcher has criticized a proposal before the county to close three public trails in Lakeside, a proposal that he calls a “recipe for disaster.”
The proposal involves Lakeside Downs (parcel S302) west of State Route 67 near Eucalyptus Hills and Oak Creek Drives. This land has been acquired by the Endangered Habitat League (EHL), which has previously shut down other public trails on land that it has obtained.
Now EHL seeks to rezone seven parcels from semi-rural residential/village residential to open space. While preservation of open land has merit, shutting off three key trails to equestrians and hikers is “not acceptable,” Fulcher states, particularly in a community where EHS director Michael Beck has already removed other trails from public use.
In a SANDAG video of the Lakeside Downs property, Beck states that the plan is part of ambitious 20-year plan to save open space from the Mexican border to the Orange County-Riverside County borders, or what he calls “green infrastructure.” The rock-studded rolling hills are home to endangered species such as gnatcatchers. (View video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSUSytNn7Ms)
But Beck, who also serves on the County Planning Commission, is described by Fulcher as “the man that said you have to destroy to protect the environment” regarding his support for a highly unpopular proposal to sand mine El Monte Valley in conjunction with a sand mining company with the Orwellian name “El Monte Nature Preserve LLC.”
After decades of mining, that valley would be restored as wildlife habitat, according to the El Monte proposal. But not before destroying clean air, peace and quiet, and habitat that already supports a diverse array of wildlife., which is why the community has voiced outrage over that plan.
Hence the residents of Lakeside are similarly angered over the newest proposal Beck is putting forth for the Lakeside Downs 412-acre site.
Trails that would be closed under the Lakeside Downs proposal are L22 that starts at the Lakeside Sports Park and two trails in connects with, Trail L21 and L21A, which Fulcher calls “vital trails” that connect to many other trails for public use and equestrians.
The Lakeside Downs land where public trails may soon be closed was purchased with public money --$4 million from SANDAG and $4 million from the Department of Defense-- with EHS now the sole owner.
Having hikers and horseback riders on trails can benefit more than trail users, keeping an eye out for hazards such as fire risks, for example. The area is rated a Fire Hazard Severity Zone. Lack of public monitoring is a “recipe for fire disaster” according to Fulcher.
How can you voice your views? Contact Joshua Nevielle, Joshua.Menvielle@sdcounty.ca.gov or write to him at Planning and Development Services, 5510 Overland Ave., Suite 310, San Diego, CA 92123, or call 1-858-495-5451 by July 31st.
Find links to key documents the Lakeside Downs proposal in Fulcher’s “Eye on East County” column at http://www.eccalifornian.com/article/public-input-needed-july-31-preserve-lakeside-trails