Labor leaders, community members, housing advocates, fire safety and law enforcement officials call for San Diego County residents to vote “Yes for a Better Choice”
SAN DIEGO (July 26, 2019) – A diverse coalition of business leaders, community members, labor representatives, law enforcement and fire safety officials gathered today to announce the launch of a countywide campaign to vote Yes on the “Better Choice” measure, affirming the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ unanimous approval of the Newland Sierra housing community. The coalition also announced two new endorsements — the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of San Diego County and the Cal FIRE Firefighters Local #2881 — as well as an expanded commitment to provide affordable housing and set aside affordably-priced workforce housing options to benefit all San Diegans.
“Today we’re calling on San Diegans to vote Yes for a Better Choice that will benefit all residents countywide,” said Devonna Almagro, campaign spokesperson for the “Better Choice” measure. “The Newland Sierra plan is the better choice because it provides much needed housing, creates significant open space and parks, sets a new precedent for smart-planned and sustainable communities, and sets a higher bar for fire safety standards.”
The “Better Choice” measure asks voters to affirm the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ unanimous approval of the Newland Sierra plan to create affordably-priced homes and preserve open space on privately-owned land in northern San Diego County, just 500 feet off I-15, instead of the previous General Plan designation permitting up to 2 million square feet of commercial retail and office and 99 estate home lots.
“It’s no secret that San Diego is in the middle of a housing crisis that is having a large impact on our workforce and regional businesses,” said Jerry Sanders, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. “By delivering critically-needed housing that benefits our workforce, local businesses and everyone who calls San Diego County home, this project is the better choice for our region and our economy.”
Specifically, the “Better Choice” measure provides 2,135 homes to address San Diego County’s housing crisis, 62 percent of which will be affordably-priced for San Diego’s working families, with a commitment to include 10 percent of housing units for families with incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income. The measure also sets aside critically-needed workforce housing for teachers, firefighters and police officers, among others, and contributes $3 million to advance the County of San Diego’s affordable housing programs. The community will include 80,000 square feet of neighborhood serving retail amenities, all centrally-located along the I-15 corridor adjacent to Escondido, San Marcos and Vista.
“Newland Sierra is the better choice for residents who live in every part of our County because housing anywhere in San Diego County helps everyone,” said Ken Sauder, an affordable housing advocate and President and CEO of Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation. “I’m proud to be here today in full support of a project that provides an excellent choice to address the critical housing shortage in San Diego County.”
The measure is also a better choice for the local community, providing numerous benefits for nearby residents and increasing public safety standards. Included in these benefits is $56 million in local road improvements and $4.4 million in funding for fire prevention, among others. Newland Sierra’s state-of-the-art fire protection plan has also earned the approval of the County’s Fire Marshall, the Deer Springs Fire Protection District and other leading fire safety experts because it will enhance protection for surrounding communities.
“Cal FIRE Firefighters whole-heartedly endorse the Better Choice measure because of Newland Sierra plans and extensive fire safety measures,” said Patrick D. Walker, Cal FIRE Fighters of Local #2881 Vice President. “The plan includes creation of an unprecedented 250-foot buffer zone around the entire community, which would significantly help prevent the spread of fire; the addition of critically-needed fire safety infrastructure and staff; and life-saving evacuation routes, which would allow for the rapid evacuation of thousands of residents in the event of fire or any other type of emergency.”
Additionally, the measure is a better choice for the local environment, setting a new standard for smart-planned and sustainable housing communities while also preserving more than 60 percent of the site as permanent open space. It will be one of the first carbon-neutral communities in San Diego County, providing solar panels on every roof and electric vehicle car chargers for every home, along with solar-powered and streetlights. It will also preserve 1,200 acres as permanent open space, about the size of Balboa Park, and create 34 parks and 19 miles of walking and biking trails for San Diego County residents and visitors to enjoy.
“Laborers Local 89 is proud to stand in support of sustainable and smart-planned housing community like the Newland Sierra plan,” said Val Macedo, Business Manager and Secretary-Treasurer of Laborers Local 89. “This measure is the better choice because it provides needed workforce housing, while balancing protection of open space and the environment.”
The coalition has launched the betterchoicesd.org website to provide additional information on the measure and explaining why it is a better choice for San Diego. Voters are encouraged to visit the website to learn more about the measure and ways to get involved.