So, the County passed Newland Sierra, and...

Photo by Miguel Viera of Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii) in Briones Park

By Frank Landis, Chair Conservation Committee

CNPS will be joining the litigation against the Newland Sierra Decision. We have grave problems with its treatment of native plants, problems with wildfire issues for both the plants (with increased ignitions), for existing residents and for new residents, all of whom will have trouble evacuating, and problems with the way they want to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by buying offsite carbon offsets somewhere else (as if there’s an infinite market of these things). We will be joining a coalition of local businesses, institutions, residents, and environmental groups in this suit.

In late September, a judge overturned the County’s latest Climate Action Plan, ruling in favor of Sierra Club and the Golden Door, who had sued on the way that the County wanted to allow carbon offsets outside the County (does this sound familiar?). The plaintiffs wanted the judge to find the County in contempt of his ruling before it could approve Newland Sierra (thereby blocking it), but the judge refused, allowing the County to approve the project. in a hearing right before Christmas, the court will decide whether the County is in contempt of court in moving forward on Newland, Otay Ranch Village 14, Lilac Hills Ranch, and others. And undoubtedly the County will appeal. Exciting, no?

In the meantime, the County is moving ahead to approve Otay Ranch Village 14, Lilac Hills Ranch, and the rest in mid-December. To me, this smacks of chutzpah if not hubris, but we’ll see what happens. It’s possible that in December, the judge will forbid the County from approving any projects until they come out with a third Climate Action Plan that passes legal muster. AlthoughI’m sure the County will scramble to rewrite their Climate Action Plan, they’ll probably push it so that it’sgetting approved in spring, 2020, right around the time we get to vote on the Save Our San Diego initiative to take General Plan Amendments to the voters. As I said, it’s getting exciting here. Yay (?)(!)

In other news: VOTE!
Okay, I’ll expand on that: VOTE NOVEMBER 6.

What, you want to know who and what to vote for? That’s more complicated.

As many of you know, CNPS is a 501(c)(3) organization, which means we can advocate on issues, but not for or against people. CNPS advocates for the native plants of California and the California floristic province in Baja. As a result, we deal with issues like conservation plans, preserving open space for native species during an economy that favors building lots of 20th Century-style subdivision, building resilience to climate change and adapting to its realities, creating a border that migrating species can cross, working to minimize both the ignition and effects of human-caused wildfires, both on native plants and on people, educating people about native plants, and making it easier to use native plants in gardens of all kinds.

Thus, while we will not advocate voting for or against any particular candidate, you may find that some candidates are more friendly to CNPS’ issues than are others. For example, you might conceivably consider voting against candidates who are funded by developers, no matter what party they belong to, although we take no position on whether or not some particular candidate deserves this treatment. If you’re weighing who to vote for, hopefully your values will mirror those of CNPS.

When it comes to ballot measures, I can suggest how you might vote. The CNPS-SD chapter board has not taken a position on any measure, so I am applying the principles above to what’s on our ballot. Only some measures deal with CNPS issues.

One big issue is affordable housing. While this doesn’t sound like a native plant issue, it is. Plants that grow near the coast often are rare, as their habitat has been largely built over. Some of the parks they live in are, unfortunately, sites where homeless folk camp. Thus, if we want the plants to continue to exist, we need to work on finding homes for those currently living in wild areas. The most humane way to do this is to find ways to promote affordable housing. Since the County General Plan calls for substantial affordable housing, I’ve been lobbying for it on behalf of CNPS.

With that preamble, onto statewide ballot measures. Propositions 1 and 10 deal with housing. Prop. 1 is a $4 billion bond for various affordable housing measures, while Proposition 10 repeals the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, allowing local establishment of rent control. In theory, all of these should favor more affordable housing. I’d suggest voting yes on 1 and 10.

Proposition 3 is a water bond, and it’s supported by an array of democratic luminaries, such as Dianne Feinstein and Toni Atkins. Against it are groups like Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters. The environmentalists’ concern is that Prop. 3 uses taxpayer money to cover repairs to agricultural irrigation systems that should, historically, be repaired by local water agencies and by the people who benefit from them. Moreover, the money would be automatically appropriated, without any input from the legislature. Only 10% goes towards providing water to disadvantaged communities. I’d suggest voting no on this one, especially since the numerous previous water bonds we’ve approved have somehow not managed to pay for things like repairing the Oroville Dam.

Moving down to City of San Diego Measures, we’ve gotE (Soccer City) and G(SDSU West). The language forSoccer City (E) includes gems like: “the City’s planning documents and land development regulations to exempt the development from existing regulations that conflict with this measure, provide new regulations, and create a specific development plan” and “No public hearings are required for development applications that are consistent with the specific development plan. ”Because of this, Measure E gets a “Vote NO” from me.

Measure G...about the only reason to support it is if you believe that it’s better to move forward with something than to vote down both Measures E and G and to hope that something better shows up. It is true that, if both pass, the one that has the higher number of votes will win. And I didn’t find the kind of objectionable language that E has, so SDSU West at least isn’t scared of the normal planning process. Can I get much more tepid in my support? Possibly, but you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Finally, if you happen to live in Oceanside, vote yes on Measure Y, the Save Open-space and Agricultural Resources Intiative.

And wherever you live, VOTE FOR NATIVE PLANTS! THANK YOU!