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Large development proposed in South Bay receives approval from county supervisors

The board voted 4-1 in favor of the Otay Ranch Resort Village project
Posted at 5:08 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 20:08:11-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday voted 4-1 in favor of Otay Ranch Resort Village 13, a mixed-use community to be developed near the city of Chula Vista.

When completed, Otay Ranch Resort Village will feature 1,938 homes, a fire station, sheriff's station, trails, an elementary school, parks and open space, according to a county staff presentation.

"We must have more housing that is well-planned, that is walkable, bikeable, and smart net zero housing such as this proposal," said nearby resident Richard Richardson.

Proposed by developers Baldwin & Sons and Moller Otay Lakes Investments, Otay Ranch Village is located less than a mile east of the city of Chula Vista and 12 miles southwest of the community of Jamul.

The county Planning Commission voted 4-2 in favor of approval, and the county Planning & Development Services department also recommended approval.

Several environmental groups urged the board to table the project until the county resolves issues over its Climate Action Plan, along with species protection concerns and wildfire hazards.

"The amount of greenhouse gas here is substantial," said Dr. Peter Andersen, a Jamul resident and member of the Sierra Club.

Board Chairman Greg Cox said the project has "gone above and beyond" to address greenhouse gas emissions.

Cox said the county is facing a housing shortage emergency, and Otay Ranch Resort Village is "one that's better designed than most I've seen" in terms of fire safety. "I believe this is a good project that checks all the boxes," he added.

Although he praised the overall project, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher cast the lone no vote.

"My reluctance today is that we're very close to resolving a series of lawsuits and there's an effort to get a legally enforceable climate action plan, and then we can assess this project," he said.

The county's plan has been the subject of several legal challenges. In June, a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego also found that reliance on carbon offsets was not legal, and shouldn't be used as a mechanism to allow general plan amendments to move forward.

Fletcher said that while the Otay Village project is consistent with the density requirements in the county General Plan, his concerns over the use of carbon offsets prevented him from voting yes on Wednesday.

Supervisor Jim Desmond said that despite problems with the Climate Action Plan, the county shouldn't have to stop all development.

The board vice chairman also said that Otay Ranch Resort Village 13 complies with the county's Multiple Species Conservation Program, and received the blessing of San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham. "This project of all the projects [brought] before this board is probably the safest from a fire safety standpoint," he said.

"This is fantastic; it's showing real progress and real effort," Desmond added.