In June of 1995, the dream of the ocean to mountains River Park was almost squandered. Even though the JPA has no power to change zoning laws or the resources to condemn private property, four Republican county supervisors exploited fears in east county ranchers and farmers by passing a 4-1 vote to recommend exclusion of all private property from the planning areas of the park and eliminate almost all County funding. What this meant for the park was that all areas of the park’s design east of Interstate 15 would be removed, including millions of dollars in property purchased for the park earlier in the year around Volcan Mountain. This would have reduced the park to a narrow strip of land around Lake Hodges and west to the river mouth in Del Mar, but even this remaining fraction would be threatened by the County funding cutoff.
In December, Supervisors Pam Slater and Ron Roberts submitted a proposal that would resolve several of these key issues surrounding the park. With a vote being held on December 12, the Board of Supervisors had the opportunity to end this controversy in a way that both preserved private property rights and ensured the future of the San Dieguito River Park. The proposal stated that no private property would ever be acquired by the park unless the landowner agreed to sell or donate the land and that any sale of private property would have to be approved by the governing body of that land, such as the county or a city. The proposal would also unfreeze the county’s portion of funding and transfer title to the JPA $10 million worth of land near Del Mar, Poway, and Volcan Mountain, which had previously been purchased by the county with funds from Prop 70, a state initiative approved by voters in 1988. However, on the day of the scheduled vote, Supervisor Bill Horn requested a 90 day continuance, and the board opted to delay the vote on the River Park until next year on January 30th. To be continued!
Park Ranger, San Dieguito River Park JPA