The PAS Board voted unanimously on these issues at their November 2014 meeting. The positions were submitted by the PAS Conservation Committee.
Oak Creek Development Project
Summary of Issue:
Oak Creek is a proposal for a 65-home gated residential development on the Homeland and ‘Duck Pond’ property adjacent to Felicita Park. The property is a 40 acre parcel that is currently open space and farmland bisected by Felicita Creek and bordered by mature live oaks. The development poses significant impacts to wildlife if not reduced in footprint and density. The area is heavily used by birds, especially raptors, egrets, and herons. There is a high level of concern about the impact of dense development along the riparian corridor and the effect on water quality and flooding of the creek on-site and downstream. The site should be re-planned and the density and footprint should be reduced to expand the buffer areas along the creek. The window wall needs to be removed.
Status of Project:
The DEIR has been issued and comment period is closed. The next action will be a Planning Commission Hearing estimated for December and a City Council meeting estimated to occur in January.
Palomar Audubon’s position:
The Board is opposed to the project as proposed for the following reasons:
- The buffers between the proposed home sites and the creek are far too small, a 5-feet minimum in some cases. We are recommending that there be a 100-foot buffer between the high-water line on both sides of the creek and the development areas. This is needed to protect water quality and wildlife habitat.
- Trails and bike paths should be routed to reduce the loss of Oak trees, but should not be routed through the buffer zones.
- The proposed use of a 6-foot wall, (1 foot masonry and 5-feet of transparent glass) outer fence along a riparian zone is unnecessary and will have a significant collision impact on bird species.
- Private Street A should be rerouted from Hamilton Lane and the bridge over the buffer zone eliminated to further protect the buffer zone.
- Conservation committee member will attend Planning committee and City council meetings.
- Conservation committee will respond to final EIR report if wildlife issues are not addressed in satisfactory manner.
- PAS members will be notified of public meetings and are encouraged to attend them.
- Our position will be shared with other environmental groups.
Escondido Creek and San Dieguito Creek Water Quality Improvement Plans
Summary of issue:
The State Regional Water Board, the issuer of storm water permits to governmental agencies in the region, is working with these agencies to upgrade water quality through the development of Water Quality Improvement Plans (WQIPs) that will be implemented over the next five years. There are two areas that are very important to the wildlife we protect and to our membership- the San Dieguito and Escondido Creek watersheds. There already is significant discussion about Alternative Compliance Projects for storm water permits that could be important restoration tools—if done correctly. The first step in this direction is a detailed hydrology study for the Escondido Watershed and a designation of Lake Hodges and Felicita Creek as a priority focused area in the WQIPs. Escondido and the County are also currently soliciting project ideas for potential restoration areas and future projects.
Status of Project:
Government agencies such as Escondido are currently developing the strategies they will use to achieve water quality. There are potential opportunities to support and secure restoration of creeks and habitat areas. There will be a public comment period open in December to comment on the strategies used in each watershed and by each governmental agency. There are Consultation Committees that advise on development of the plans that include industry, building, environmental groups, and residents.
PAS Board Recommendation:
- Support a hydrology study for the Escondido Creek Watershed as a first step in a process of watershed restoration. We will work with other groups like the Escondido Creek Conservancy (TECC) to promote changes that will create a more natural Escondido creek from Lake Wolford all the way to the San Elijo Lagoon.
- Support the designation of Lake Hodges and Felicita Creek as priority areas for water quality improvement projects.
Proposed PAS Actions:
- Submit comment letters when the public comment period is opened.
- Submit letters to the City of Escondido and the County to encourage adoption and support of these actions.
- Identify areas to propose to be included in the list of restoration sites.
- Work with TECC and other environmental groups to support these goals.