PAST SUCCESS STORIES
There have been many instances in the last thirty years where organized neighbors have waged successful campaigns to keep the rural character of the community. A few are listed below, with more details about the most recent efforts.
In the early 1990’s,
truck traffic on Elfin Forest Road and Harmony Grove Road was slowing traffic to a crawl, creating hazardous driving conditions, and polluting the environment. 2011 Citizen of the Year Jeff Swenerton convinced the County to institute a total ban on large trucks on those two arteries, thereby preserving the scenic drive through the community.
In the 1990’s,
the San Marcos landfill was finally closed after years of delay, and the community defeated a well financed plan to build a trash to energy plant, which would have caused odors, traffic and pollution in Elfin Forest.
In the early 2000’s,
the developer who owned what is now the Sage Hills Preserve tried to donate the land to the
Rancho Santa Fe school district, which was looking for a suitable site for a new school location. The developer
was hoping to benefit from the donation by hooking up to the sewer that the school would have brought to the valley,
therefore gaining the ability to build high density housing. The school was persuaded to refuse the offer, and we
remain grateful to Superintendant Lindy Delaney for turning down this poison pill.
In 2009 the County of San Diego along with SANDAG and the State of California, purchased the 234 acres formerly known as the Sage Hills project as a key habitat conservation area. This is the area on the North side of Elfin Forest Road including where the parade starts to the Altman property almost to San Elijo Hills. To the East the property borders Questhaven Retreat and the Seedco farm and nursery.
In the late 2000’s,
a development (Bridges Unit 7) that would have brought sewer and higher density housing to our Southern flank was all but approved by the County, when 2010 Citizens Of The Year Jacqueline Arsivaud-Benjamin and Eric Anderson undertook an aggressive campaign to defeat it. They first derailed the application of the Bridges to encroach into Elfin Forest with sewer, and then worked to support an acquisition effort. The 100 acres under consideration also happened to be home to some of the most pristine habitat for the gnatcatcher, a federally endangered little bird you might hear “meow” when hiking around. Jacqueline and Eric built strong linkages with the Los Angeles-based Endangered Habitats League, who brought in the Conservation Biology Institute, the Nature Conservancy, and other heavyweights to get the Bridges to withdraw the application they had been working on for seven years at that point. Friends of The Creek, a non-profit organization started in early 2008 by Eric and Jacqueline, then led the effort to first initiate a lawsuit against the County and the Bridges to demonstrate our community's seriousness and commitment to keeping sewer out of our borders, and then brought in the Endangered Habitat Conservancy to help negotiate an acquisition of this property. A $6 million grant was approved by the Wildlife Conservation Board, the largest for a single project in San Diego County County to date, for funding this habitat conservation project. The acquisition will be completed in September 2011 after five years of effort. In turn this grant became the catalyst to many other acquisition efforts around our community.
The Town Council ‘s Conservation Committee led the way to defeat the application at the County for Cielo Azul, a development at the top of the Elfin Forest Reserve, which would have marred the Reserve with access roads and homes on the ridge. The 100 acres were subsequently purchased for conservation through the efforts of the Escondido Creek Conservancy.