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$10M from state for tiny homes in jeopardy after county board kills Spring Valley plan

Posted at 6:49 PM, Jun 25, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to call off the plan to build 150 tiny homes in Spring Valley during its meeting on Tuesday. The board plans to try to build the homes elsewhere, but the state has already approved the funding for the project at the Spring Valley site.

As a result, that funding is now in jeopardy.

San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas, who initially proposed the plan, brought forth the vote to cancel it.

In 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state was allocating $10 million to San Diego County to build the tiny homes. Vargas' idea was approved earlier in 2024, but in a 3-1 vote, the board agreed to pull it off the table.

Gilbert Chavez lives near the Spring Valley location and was one of the people pushing for this decision.

"We came and we protested, we did all of our things that we thought would get attention and it worked," he said.

With that idea gone, now the question: How did the supervisor choose that location in the first place?

"Had you not seen the property before you took it off the table?" ABC 10News reporter Spencer Soicher asked Vargas.

"We have seen the property before, but the way it looked on the map was very different and there was, in the map, there had been a barrier... and the barrier looked like... it wasn't as close and it had a fence," Vargas replied.

Following that answer, another reporter asked for further clarification. A staffer for Vargas attempted to end the interview session, saying that was the final question. Vargas still answered though, adding, "I had seen it in person but I think once you start looking at where the places, the houses were at, it wasn't I think feasible for me anymore."

With Spring Valley in the rearview mirror, the supervisors are considering another location. This time, it would be a smaller site near Sweetwater Road and Troy Street in Lemon Grove.

"I think more community engagement should have happened to people that were the most impacted," said Supervisor Monica Montgomery-Steppe.

Montgomery-Steppe suggested the new location.

But as far as the original $10 million from the governor's office, it could be gone. There's no guarantee the state won't take its money back and walk away.

"I'm definitely concerned, but engaging the governor's office again," Montgomery-Steppe said.

"Is this a massive screw-up on the part of the county?" Soicher asked.

"I think we can find solutions," Montgomery-Steppe replied.

Tuesday's decision allows the county to look at other sites, including an emphasis on Montgomery-Steppe's suggested Lemon Grove location. The supervisor says the site would be smaller than the initially proposed Spring Valley community.