Lilac Hills Ranch is a proposed master-planned community that developer Accretive Investments hopes to build east of Bonsall in northeastern San Diego County.
Yesterday (November 2), proponents of the development filed a formal legal complaint, accusing Measure B's opponents of funneling money into their campaign without proper disclosure, as required by state law.
If approved, the project would add 1700 homes as well as commercial and retail space to a 600-acre plot of land. The problem: the land is currently zoned for just over a 100 homes and would, as proposed, be in violation of the county's general plan.
In order to bypass the plan and ease zoning restrictions, Accretive Investments decided to forego seeking board approval and instead put the question to voters, in the form of Measure B.
In recent weeks, as reported by the Reader and online news organization inewsource, money has flowed to campaigns for and against the development. The largest donor is Accretive Investments, which has thrown in over $4.2 million to get the ballot measure passed; the "no" campaign, meanwhile, has received under $300,000.
While the two sides are not on an even playing field in regards to campaign cash, it is the proponents of the project who say the "no" campaign is illegally laundering campaign money in order to avoid transparency.
At issue is an early October donation of $110,000 from the nonprofit California Local Energy — Advancing Renewables (CLEAR) to Save Our Forest and Ranch Lands (SOFAR), the nonprofit that was organized to oppose Measure B. SOFAR then made a series of donations to other Measure B opponents.
According to the November 2 lawsuit, neither nonprofit has disclosed exactly where that $110,000 came from or the identity of the original donors.
When pressed on the matter, according to the lawsuit, California Local Energy — Advancing Renewables has stated that the group will make the donors public when the state Fair and Political Practices Commission requires them to do so.
In response, Nancy Layne, the most outspoken proponent of the Lilac Hills development, filed complaints with the commission, informing them of the violations. According to the lawsuit, the nonprofits have still not acted, which gave Layne no alternative other than to file a lawsuit against the groups and its officers.
Layne is asking that a judge order the two nonprofits to file the necessary disclosures immediately as well as pay for all attorney fees.
UPDATE 11/4, 12:15 p.m.
According to a source close to the case, a San Diego Superior Court judge on November 4 dismissed the lawsuit due to insufficient evidence showing wrongdoing by Save Our Forest and Ranch Lands (SOFAR).