23 Environmental, Climate Coalition join forces to Oppose Harvest Hills in Escondido

Today,
more than 20 environmental, conservation, and climate organiz
ations sent a letter to the Escondido City Council urging opposition to the proposed Harvest
Hills Development. 

The
groups noted that, in spite of a new marketing position, the project formerly
known as Safari Highlands Ranch is substantially the same when it comes to key
impacts, namely location in a high-risk fire zone, high evacuation hazards for
new and existing residents, and thousands of new cars on the roads in already
traffic constrained areas. 

The
groups noted that, in spite of a new marketing position, the project formerly
known as Safari Highlands Ranch is substantially the same when it comes to key
impacts, namely location in a high-risk fire zone, high evacuation hazards for
new and existing residents, and thousands of new cars on the roads in already
traffic constrained areas.
Also
of concern are traffic and long-term climate impacts from the addition of
67,000 daily vehicle miles traveled in a time when we need to be
reducing VMT in order to comply with climate protection goals. The destruction
of critical habitat areas key for successful adopted and proposed Habitat Management
plans are also a significant impact.  
Fire
is one serious concern. Dan Silver, Director of Endangered Habitats League
said, “Experts have shown that this
project cannot be safely evacuated if threatened by a fast-moving wildfire, and
it will endanger the ability of the surrounding community to evacuate as
well.  Elected officials need to
prioritize public safety and not create a fire trap.”
George
Courser, Conservation Chair of the San Diego Sierra Club stated, “This sprawl
project is one of the worst we have seen proposed. This area is more
appropriate as key wildlife habitat for local adopted conservation plans. As
the state burns, we hope the elected officials will search their conscience
before locating more housing in an extreme fire risk area.”
 
Speaking
on the relationship of development and climate impacts, Sophie Wolfram of the
Climate Action Campaign stated,
“Sprawl
development is one of the key culprits driving the climate crisis. At a time
when we have to be doing everything in our power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
denying this project, which will vastly increase vehicle trips and tailpipe
emissions, is just a no-brainer.”
The groups call out the fact
that the change in marketing of an old proposal fails to address the
fundamental concerns. “Safari Highlands Ranch may have a new name but it
remains the embodiment of reckless urban sprawl and the antithesis of Smart Growth.
When we know better, we must do better. Bottom line: Harvest Hills is the Wrong
Plan in the Wrong Place,”
said
NeySa Ely, President of the San Pasqual Valley Preservation
Alliance, a local community group.
The
organizations signed on to the letter include Sierra Club San Diego, Endangered
Habitats League, San Pasqual Valley Preservation Alliance, Escondido Neighbors
United, Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, Environmental Center of San Diego,
San Diego Audubon Society, Preserve Calavera, San Diego Democrats for Environmental
Action, California Chaparral Institute, Buena Vista Audubon Society, Southwest
Wetlands Interpretive Association, California Native Plant Society, Friends of
Rose Creek, Friends of Agua Hedionda Creek, Escondido Chamber of Citizens,
Endangered Habitats Conservancy, San Diego Coastkeeper, Climate Action
Campaign, North County Climate Action Alliance, The Chaparral Lands
Conservancy, Palomar Audubon Society, and San Diego 350.
###

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