In order to preserve San Diego’s countryside and rich habitats, EHL criticized the “preferred project” in comparison with a land use map developed by planning staff and stakeholders.

For many years, EHL participated on a stakeholder advisory group, and was integral in shaping a sustainable path for this path-breaking update. Review of the massive draft Environmental Impact Report was thus a milestone in this long-term effort.

A sound land use map was developed that shifts growth toward towns and villages and limits further subdivision in rural and habitat land. This map saves money on infrastructure and services, reduces fire risk, and lessens greenhouse gas emissions. However, a “Referral” map that, at the behest of landowners, creates large and numerous exceptions to good planning, became the “preferred project.” EHL’s comments – prepared by staff attorney Michael Fitts – show that this map fails to meet project objectives and for many compelling reasons should be rejected under the California Environmental Quality Act.

A controversial part of the Update is a proposal for “Conservation Subdivisions” that consolidate development and preserve open space. EHL believes that community concerns over smaller lots can and should be addressed, and that the Conservation Subdivision is an essential mitigation measure.

Public hearings are anticipated in 2010. EHL is fully committed to an outcome that protects San Diego’s natural and agricultural resources and that, by reducing sprawl, helps address climate change.