North County Split Over Newland Sierra Development in Escondido

A North County community is split on a housing project that calls for seven new neighborhoods and about 2,000 homes off Interstate 15.

Businesses and labor leaders support the proposed Newland Sierra development near Escondido, while some neighbors reject it because they fear it will put the community at risk.

Project leaders say the homes will help the county's housing shortage. They say project will offer affordably priced homes for working families, which is a better option than luxury homes or commercial development.

The project calls for about 2,100 homes, plus 81,000 square feet of commercial space, a school site and park space.

On Friday morning, law enforcement and North County city leaders began a campaign for the "Better Choice" ballot measure regarding the Newland Sierra housing plan.

“I'm standing here mainly as a mom supporting this project because we need more homes in San Diego County,” supporter Corrie Lott said. “Just having that many more new homes in the community gives some breathing room.”

Lott says the development will help the area.

“They’re going to clear the brush, going to have homes, have fire mitigation, they're improving the Deer Springs Fire department,” she said.

But, not everyone agrees.

“They want to put 2,000 homes the size of the city of Del Mar on top of a mountain range in a high fire hazard area,” Abigail Scriven said.

Scriven lives in Twin Oaks Valley. She's one of the thousands who signed a petition against the development.

“117,000 voters went and signed that petition for a reason, so that our voices would be heard,” she said.

Scriven argues the homes will be marketed for median to low-median income families are too expensive.

“They have absolutely zero affordable housing in their development. Zero,” she said. “People that are maybe in their starter homes now or in older homes in or around Escondido can move into this community and that frees up a starter home for somebody else. “

The project will be voted on next March. If approved, it would affirm the county Board of Supervisors' vote last fall in favor of the housing project.

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