Chamber Abandons Consensus on Rudyville
Last updated 7/2/2018 at 9:57am
By J. David Garmon, MD
President, Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy
For 12 years the residents and institutions of Borrego Springs have unanimously opposed a proposed residential development on pristine desert land that goes by various names. Its out-of-town owners/investors call it Borrego Country Club Estates; San Diego County calls it DS-24. And the citizens of Borrego Springs know it as Rudyville.
On June 21, Borrego’s unanimous opposition to Rudyville came to an end when the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce became the first community voice to officially support Rudyville. Citing its support for “development and investment in Borrego Springs,” a “super majority” of the Chamber board voted 1) to support Rudyville’s request for increased zoning density on its 170 acre parcel and 2) to rescind the Chamber’s April 7, 2016 letter of opposition to the Rudyville request.
The rationale for the Chamber’s policy reversal on Rudyville was explained by the Chamber’s executive director Linda Haddock, in a “personal” editorial that appeared in this paper June 14, 2018. In her editorial, Haddock stated she “fear(ed) for the return on those investors capital much less profits should the same fate befall their properties as is looking to be coming down on Rudyville in 2018.”
Haddock noted she “had not heard one solitary voice of a Borrego Springs property owner speak up ‘in Borrego Springs’ for Rudyville. Including Rudy, a person I have never met as far as I know. Not in the Borrego Sun. Not at a CSG meeting. Not around town.”
She labeled and dismissed those Borregans who have opposed Rudyville as NIMBY’s (Not in my back yard), and she bemoaned the “deafening silence” from those people invested in Borrego Springs who have never spoken in support of Rudyville.
The “deafening silence” was broken June 21, when a Chamber board more sympathetic to Haddock’s views on Rudyville made her “personal opinion” the official opinion of the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce. Previous boards, composed of members who had opposed Haddock’s personal views, had voted to keep the Chamber aligned with the expressed sentiment of the residents and institutions of the community. Those board members were not present at the Chamber’s June 21 meeting, as they had resigned, moved away, or been told their terms had expired.
On June 22, Haddock traveled to San Diego to personally present the Chamber’s new position on Rudyville at a hearing before the San Diego County Planning Commission. The Chamber’s new position on Rudyville proved to be consequential.
At the hearing, the Planning Commission considered two separate requests in Borrego Springs for increasing zoning density – one was DS-24, aka Rudyville, and the other was DS-8. No one at the hearing spoke in favor of DS-8, and the Planning Commission voted 7-0 to accept the County staff recommendation to deny the DS-8 request for increased zoning density. The staff recommendation to deny the DS-8 request for increased density was based on Borrego’s water crisis and DS-8’s nonconformity with Borrego’s Community Plan.
In a 4-3 vote, the Commissioners rejected the staff recommendation to deny Rudyville’s request for increased zoning density, even though the rationale for the staff recommendation on Rudyville was the same as the rationale for rejecting the DS-8 request: water scarcity and Community Plan nonconformity.
The next motion before the Planning Commission was to accept increased zoning density of 20 acres of Rudyville’s 170 acre parcel. The Planning Commission approved this motion by a 6-1 vote.
More than 50 Borregans traveled to San Diego to attend the hearing of the Planning Commission to speak to the Commissioners about the many reasons why Rudyville’s request for increased zoning density should be denied. Haddock was the only Borrego resident to speak in support of Rudyville.
Since Rudyville was first proposed in 2006, it has been, until now, uniformly opposed by the residents and institutions of Borrego Springs. Residents of Borrego Springs have turned out in unprecedented numbers at meetings of the Community Sponsor Group to oppose Rudyville, and the Community Sponsor Group has formally opposed Rudyville on multiple occasions: 2007, 2016 and 2018.
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park issued its letter of opposition in 2015. The Borrego Water District most recent letter of opposition is dated June 19, 2018. The Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy, and the Anza-Borrego Foundation have all consistently opposed Rudyville.