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Lilac Hills opponents mum on money source

Well-funded Measure B proponents file lawsuit to force transparency

Proposed site of development (east of I-15)
  • Proposed site of development (east of I-15)

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).

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Comments

Big bucks developer with millions to spend to buy an election is now howling about pocket change in the hands of the out-gunned opponents? Do I have that right? I suspect that the developer is looking at defeat and watching the $4+ million swirl down the toilet. So, it's time to start to find some excuse or other way to have the failed vote negated in court. If the developer had just gone through the established channels, and spent the necessary time instead of all that money, they might have pulled it off. But when Bulldozer Bill Horn was forced (and it war a matter of force, not his voluntary recusal) to stand aside on the vote the developer tried to go nuclear with a mushroom cloud of funds pumped into a campaign. If you don't care to see development handled that way, make sure you vote accordingly.

Lilac Hills is not a solution to housing. It is closer to Temecula than San Diego Temecula offers homes at reasonable prices and is only a few minutes north of Lilac Hills. While San Diego needs more housing inventory and affordable housing Lilac Hills is not the answer.

Lilac Hills is one of the worst possible uses for the land in that area. Accretive Investments (at least they're named honestly) has been stealthily buying up adjacent properties in Valley Center for several years and hopes to make a huge killing on this deal. The ballot measure represents a cynical end-run around the County General Plan, which was completed at a cost of 10s of millions of $, and specifically prohibits this kind of leapfrog development. The ballot initiative basically would negate the general plan and also let them out of several concessions they had already made in their failed attempt to get this project approved by the Board of Supervisors.

With the millions they've spent on a very dishonest campaign, the pessimist in me has been expecting it to pass. After all why would somebody in El Centro or Chula Vista object to such a "green" project in North County that will provide thousands of units of new "affordable" housing? If the measure is actually defeated it would go a long way to at least partially restore my faith in humanity and the intelligence of the average voter.

Guess what? Even people in Chula Vista can recognize when development is not a good idea! I think what bothers everyone is the proposed scale of the development--and the attempt to manipulate the system.

You're absolutely correct. I was being flip with that statement. Anybody in San Diego County should be bothered by this and, if it happens in North County, they will feel empowered to do the same anywhere else where there's undeveloped land. I was thinking back to the Gregory Canyon Landfill, an idea even worse than Lilac Hills, which was approved by a County-wide ballot. Luckily it still hasn't been built but there are recent rumors that it's being re-activated.

This was one of many Measures that I gleefully (yep, really) voted NO on. I don't think I've EVER enjoyed my absentee ballot as much as I have this year!

I have gotten the pro B literature and have wondered what they consider affordable. Likely a 1000 sq ft townhouse starting in the low $500's. The lovely little walkable village will be the last thing built and will have insufficient parking for the large SUV's that wont fit in the junk filled undersize garages.. I remember when Scripps Ranch North was built making the same grandeous claims.

I agree with the prior comments it will be sweet justice if the proposition fails. One wonders how much profit potential is in this project if the developer is willing to risk $4 million?

Measure B apparently losing big. Some faith in humanity restored.

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