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Sponsor Group Discusses: Capital Improvement Projects, "Smart Growth" and Water Issues

 

Last updated 9/28/2021 at 2:40pm

The Sponsor Group has the opportunity to consider and provide input to the county on "Smart Growth" in Borrego Springs. The shaded, demarcated area along Palm Canyon Drive has estimated vehicle miles traveled (VMT) below the San Diego County average and could qualify as a "Smart Growth" area.

At the Sept. 2 meeting, the Sponsor Group approved a 2021 Capital Improvement Project (CIP) proposed priority list. Traffic calming, and, pedestrian and bicycle safety, continue to be the primary concerns. The first two items on the priority list below are currently in progress and being tracked by the Borrego Springs Revitalization Committee. Items 3 and 4 below are the highest priority new projects recommended to the County.

1. Village core sidewalk and curbing along Palm Canyon Drive and Sunset Road.

2. Village core bikeways along Palm Canyon Drive.

3. A traffic circle at the intersection of Ocotillo Road, Country Club Road and Palm Canyon Drive.

4. Median safety improvements along Palm Canyon Drive between Country Club Road/Ocotillo Road and the Christmas Circle.

5. Longstanding flooding issue at Lazy S and Montezuma.

6. Roundabout at Country Club and Sunset Road near the Post Office, Library and County Park.

San Diego County is preparing an updated Climate Action Plan (CAP) for final adoption by the County Board of Supervisors in 2023. The new CAP must exceed Senate Bill 32 (2016) greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets without the purchase of carbon offsets and meet net-zero carbon emissions by 2035-2045. Emphasis must be on environmental justice and equity.

Kelly Bray, Chief, Sustainability, Planning and Development Services and consultant Darin Neufeld, from Harris & Associates, presented a Climate Action Plan Update to the Sponsor Group. The new CAP must focus on reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) via "Smart Growth" alternatives. According to the current analysis, new development around the village core along Palm Canyon Drive could have VMT below the current county-wide average (see map). A much larger area in Borrego Springs could be designated as "Smart Growth" if the selected criterion is VMT below the average in the unincorporated areas of the county. Borrego Springs is also a low risk for fire.

On the other hand, other criteria may eliminate additional development in Borrego Springs, namely, limitations on new water connections, as well as the additional vehicle miles traveled by residents to get to grocery, shopping and medical care in Indio, El Centro or Ramona. These trips must be accounted for in the VMT calculations.

As the county develops the new climate action plan, the Sponsor Group has the opportunity to consider and provide input to the county on "Smart Growth" in Borrego Springs. As an example, "Smart Growth" policies that permit new development in the village core along Palm Canyon Drive that includes residential development and incentivizes a healthcare facility and retail. The process is at an early outreach stage and a Draft Climate Action Plan is targeted in early 2022.

To learn more and to subscribe to email updates: https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/sustainability/climateactionplan.html. For questions and to participate in the process, send an email to CAP@sdcounty.ca.gov, as well as participate in future Sponsor Group discussions on the topic.

The Water and Land Use/Planning Standing Committee (WATCO) of the Sponsor Group studied the Borrego Springs Subbasin 2020 Annual Report and determined that the report prepared by West Yost Consultants has inaccuracies and shortcomings in the estimation of "change in groundwater storage" that is inconsistent with previous years' data and creates a likely inaccurate rosy picture of the state of the overdraft. Using only three wells to monitor an area of almost 30 square miles seems inadequate and has likely resulted in errors. There are additional existing wells in the valley that can be used for monitoring. With additional monitoring, more accurate estimates with a higher degree of confidence should be possible. Accurate and timely data is critical to ensure that our groundwater sustainability plan can be compliant with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The Sponsor Group has sent a letter to the Watermaster Board and the California Department of Water Resources communicating these findings and recommendations.

The Sponsor Group also approved a communication to the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) documenting serious concerns with the proposed Regional Conveyance System (RCS) Alternative 3A proposal (i.e., the proposed pipeline and tunnel through the mountains from Salton Sea to San Diego going through Borrego Springs and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park). The letter was prepared by the Water and Land Use/Planning Standing Committee (WATCO) of the Sponsor Group. The alignment along La Casa del Zorro with a tunnel portal in Tubb Canyon would have significant impacts on Borrego Springs and ABDSP. Tunnel boring will require a constant and reliable supply of water, and disposal of 1.6 million cubic yards (114000 truckloads) of waste.

The letter also describes the complexity and cost of using water from the RCS to recharge the Borrego Springs Aquifer. The letter also requests that the Sponsor Group (BSCSG) be added as a stakeholder and included in future meetings and correspondence regarding the proposed project.

The next meeting of the Sponsor Group will be on October 7, 4:30 p.m. at the Borrego Springs Library Community Room, 2850 Country Club Road, Borrego Springs, California, unless state directives require continued virtual meetings. To be added to the Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group email list for agenda and agenda packets, send a request to rebfalk7@gmail.com.

The County Programs and Regulations (CPRS) Standing Committee will meet on September 20, 4:30 p.m. Email Chair Rebecca Falk at rebfalk7@gmail.com to be put on the email list for the agenda and link to attend.

The Water and Land Use/Planning Standing Committee will meet on September 15, 3 p.m. Email Chair John Peterson at petersonenv@hotmail.com to be put on the email list for the agenda and link to attend.

You can submit suggestions for roads in Borrego Springs that need road resurfacing to the Road Maintenance Standing Committee. Any suggestions for next year's recommendations should be sent to Bill Haneline at desertwrx15@gmail.com.

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