The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved two controversial housing developments in the rural communities of Eden Valley and Harmony Grove.
Critics of the Valiano and Harmony Grove Village South projects said the pair of developments would irrevocably alter the character of the communities, perched south of San Marcos and west of Escondido, while exacerbating traffic and fire concerns.
But supervisors on July 25 voted 4-0 to approve each development — part of a bundle of projects approved as a single amendment to the county’s general plan — which they said would help ease the region’s growing housing crisis.
“I’ve accepted the fact that we have grown over the years,” District 4 Supervisor Ron Roberts said. “We are going to continue to grow, I think, because San Diego is a very attractive place. With that literally comes requirements to provide housing opportunities for people who are here and people who may come here.
“We need housing and I am not going to qualify it any more than that,” Roberts said. “If we are going to approve housing projects, I want them to work.”
The approval paves the way for developers to build 453 units of new housing on 111 acres with the Harmony Grove Village South project, which is billed as an extension to the 742-home Harmony Grove Village Development approved 11 years ago by the board.
Integral Communities, with county approval, is going to build the 326-home Valiano project on 238 acres in Eden Valley and Harmony Grove.
The two communities, generally south of San Marcos and west of Escondido, lie in a rural enclave of the county not far from Lake Poway.
Residents have protested the projects on a number of fronts, including concerns about the increased density in the rural area, the lack of adequate infrastructure to support an evacuation during wildfires in a historically fire prone area, and the introduction of apartments into a landscape dominated by rural estates and single-family homes.
Supporters of the project argue that these developments, along with several others in the planning pipeline, are sorely needed to help the county emerge from its housing crisis, arguing that opponents simply don’t want the housing in their backyard.
Both projects received the near unanimous blessing from the Planning Commission, despite large crowds of opponents at both hearings.
The same scenario played out during the seven-hour hearing on July 25, which also included a third, much larger project in east unincorporated Chula Vista. Opponents outnumbered supporters in both the North County items.
But elected officials said that staff had vetted the projects and any concerns raised by the residents, siding with the need for more housing in a region starved for it.
Opponents hinted that they may sue to force the developer and county to address the fire dangers with a more thorough environmental review.