The Coast News Group

Sides claim victory in judge’s Lilac Hills ruling

REGION — Both sides of the Lilac Hills Ranch debate declared victory after a Superior Court judge ordered several changes to a ballot statement opposing the project.

Supporters of the 1,700-home project west of Valley Center sued the county registrar of voters over the opposition statement regarding the project, which they said contained several key misrepresentations about it.

Judge Eddie Sturgeon on Sept. 13 announced a series of mostly minor changes to the wording of the opposition statement, but supporters of the project latched on to one major change and opponents claimed victory after several key arguments remained largely in tact.

The project is proposed by San Diego-based Accretive Investments. The County Board of Supervisors placed the item on the Nov. 8 ballot in August after supporters of the project collected more than 100,000 signatures to force the item on the ballot.

Supporters said a key section of the opposition statement was struck down involving a claim that the project would not result in a school being built in the development. Accretive recently signed a binding agreement with the Bonsall Unified School District that guarantees a school will be built in connection with the development.

Opponents said that Sturgeon’s ruling left three key assertions largely in tact: the project doesn’t provide affordable housing, that it is inconsistent with the county’s general plan and that the developer has significantly understated the total cost of needed freeway improvements to support the project.

Of the 25 points argued, Sturgeon ordered revisions or slight wording changes to about half.

In addition to homes, the project would build a village-style commercial center in the community’s hub that would contain roughly 90,000 square feet of commercial space. The project reportedly would generate about 19,000 daily car trips, thousands more than the area currently generates.

But supporters said that the development is critical to address a housing crisis in San Diego created by a shortage of new homes. Opponents argue that the project is a poorly planned urban outpost that will exacerbate traffic on Interstate 15 and create fire hazards in an area poorly equipped to deal with the exponential growth.