What is the General Plan?

Our General Plan sets zoning for properties throughout the City of Santee. It designates allowed uses, including housing density and what kind of development – park, residential, industrial and commercial – can take place on any specific piece of property, but the General Plan does not require development. The Land Use Element of the General Plan contains specific Guidelines for the 2,600-acre Fanita site and the Carlton Oaks Golf Course. Deviation requires amendment of the General Plan.

What is a General Plan Amendment (GPA)?

A GPA is a change to the general plan to accomodate deviation from development requirements. Changes may result in massive increases in population density resulting in a windfall of profits for developers who strain infrastructure. State law allows the City Council to approve a limited number of amendments per year. Because the process of seeking and granting these exemptions from general plan law is fraught with unethical campaign contributions, many cities in our region require voter consent after City Council approval of general plan amendments. YES on ___, the Santee General Plan Protection Initiative would allow us to join these cities fighting back corruption inherent in the amendment process.

How do General Plan Amendments (GPAs) work?

Today, developers who wish to build developments that do not conform with the zoning laid out in the General Plan request a zoning change (or General Plan Amendment) by application to the City of Santee. If a majority of the City Councilmembers (3 of 5) vote to support the amendment, the planned development can move forward.

How would YES on Measure N affect the General Plan Amendment process?

Developers would need to make their case to the voters about why their proposed development is beneficial for city residents – not just for their pocketbooks. Significant impacts to public infrastructure could not be ignored by appealing to just 3 of 5 City Council members.

Will the Initiative prevent affordable housing?

The Initiative specifies that none of its language shall be interpreted to interfere with affordable housing laws. Prominent projects like Fanita Ranch do not include affordable housing anyway.

Will the State force Santee to build even more houses on Fanita Ranch or the golf course if we don't allow the current project proposals?

The State does not force housing into Cal Fire designated Very High Fire Severity Zones like Fanita Ranch and does not force housing into floodplains such as the Carlton Oaks Golf Course. The State discourages risky locations because eventually we all must bear the costs of poorly sited developments.

Will the Initiative prevent mom and pop residents or small businesses from improving their property?

The Initiative only applies to improvements so substantial that it requires a change to city land use laws (General Plan Amendment and zoning ordinance). Unless mom and pops are trying to build a condominium complex on their single family home lot, the Initiative does not impact individuals and small businesses that will remain in compliance with General Plan zoning laws as they improve their property.

Where is Fanita Ranch?

Fanita Ranch is about 2,638-acres of open space in northern Santee adjacent to Mission Trails Park eastern expansion. Fanita stretches from Santee Lakes / Sycamore Creek drainage on the west to Lakeside on the east.

How large is the proposed subdivision?

The developer seeks approval for 3,008-units without a school and 2,949-units if an elementary school is constructed.

Is Fanita in a fire hazard area?

Yes - Fanita would put over 8,000 people in a Cal Fire designated “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone” - the same area burned by the 2003 Cedar Fire.

How long would it take for Fanita residents to evacuate?

The developer’s “evacuation plan” did not consider likely ignition points and compare fire arrival times with how long it would take to evacuate residents. Nor did they consider the feasibility of conducting evacuation simultaneous with existing neighborhoods that were evacuated during the Cedar Fire.

Who pays for the school and how much?

The cost of an elementary school is likely to exceed $70 million according to the Santee School District. The public pays all of the cost except a parcel pledged by the developer.

How much traffic will the Fanita Ranch project produce?

Over 25,000 vehicle trips per day would be added to Santee streets. The Environmental Impact Report concludes the impacts to street segments, intersections and highways are significant and unavoidable.

Who owns Fanita Ranch?

Fanita is controlled by The The Jeffries Financial Group of NY who absorbed HomeFed Corporation.

When does the project go to city council for their decision?

Consideration for approval or denial is expected on September 23, 2020. 6:30 pm.

Haven’t we voted down 3,000-units on Fanita Ranch before?

Yes - residents petitioned to referend a city council approval (put it on the ballot) for a 2,988-unit project in 1999. The project was defeated by the voters in a landslide 2/3 vote.

Haven’t the courts ruled against Fanita Ranch?

Yes - a Superior Court ruled against a second project approved in 2007 by the city council. When the project returned to court - it lost again. When the Superior Court’s decisions were appealed, in 2012, the Appeals Court ruled against the project on issues of fire, water supply and endangered species.

Does endangered wildlife exist on Fanita?

Yes - Fanita has been identified as biological core habitat within the Multiple Species Conservation Plan of San Diego County and serves as a strategic biological linkage to adjacent open spaces. Fanita provides habitat for 21 mammal species, 22 species of reptiles and amphibians, and twenty-nine species of butterflies (including the endangered Quino checkerspot) and over 100 bird species including the threatened California gnatcatcher and the endangered least Bell's vireo.

Why hasn’t Fanita been conserved similar to other valuable parcels in the region?

The Santee City Council blocked access to public funding through the Department of Defense “Buffer Program” despite a the desire of a willing seller to conserve the land through program funding.

What can I do to help?

Join our campaign, donate to our effort and contact the city council.

Who is opposing Measure N & Q and why?

Measure N and Q are opposed by developers and the politicians they have recruited and elected. Required financial disclosures reveal a $25,000 contribution coming directly from Lennar Homes to the committee against Measure N. Developer friendly politicians control 4 of the 5 seats on the Santee City Council. A special report, “ A Money Laundering Web: Who is Buying Santee City Council Votes” documents the flow of funds to politicians and PACs against Measures N & Q. The funders common interest is the expectation of profiting by the approval of development projects dependent upon public infrastructure and large profits associated with gaining exemptions from Santee General Plan law.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Plan Protection Initiative Measure N and Fanita Ranch:

What is the current Term Limit for Santee City Council?

Terms are currently unlimited for Santee City council members. Incumbents use their power over the budget to gain the endorsements of Sheriff and Fire Political Action Committees (PACs) and other special interests. Emergency service costs routinely exceed 70% of the budget. Incumbents rarely have a serious challenge due to the advantage they maintain and almost always serve numerous terms. The opportunity for change comes when there is a vacancy / open seat election.

What is the Term Limit proposed by the Santee Term Limits citizens’ initiative?

Three four 4-year terms as a lifetime limit. The limit applies to the mayor and council members. Partial term appointments will be counted as full terms.

Is the citizen’s Initiative retroactive or post dated?

No. The Initiative becomes effective with terms beginning after voters pass it. Shell committee’s for developers are circulating misinformation taking advantage of the fact the citizens’ initiative was intended to qualify for the 2018 election.

How does the Santee Term Limits Initiative compare to Term Limits in other cities?

Residents of La Mesa established the same limit of three 4-year terms in 2014: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/east-county/santee/story/2020-06-19/santee-council-votes-to-put-competing-term-limit-measure-on-november-ballot

For the Santee City Council’s competing measure, what is the Term Limit proposed?

The competing measure adds an additional two 4-year terms for the mayor setting up a potential 20-year career on city council.

Could the competing measure be a strategy to defeat both Term Limits measures?

Unknown, but possible. Confused voters tend to vote against ballot measures, so confusion is a primary political strategy for those on the wrong side of an issue. If enough voters are confused, then both measures could fail. We encourage a YES vote on the citizen’s initiative.

Why do we need Term Limits?

Incumbent politicians in Santee hold a significant advantage in fundraising that has traditionally entrenched officials for multiple terms. Development interests cultivate extended relationships with some officials who themselves have positions that benefit financially from development decisions. Periodically, the City can benefit from a broader base of Council members with the fresh ideas and energy that are generated by competitive, non-incumbent elections.

Santee Term Limits Initiative Measure Q

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