Monday, the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO) will consider a ‘special study’ status for Harvest Hills. Sierra Club, Endangered Habitats League, and San Pasqual Valley Preservation Alliance filed the following comment. Please stay tuned as this issue develops.
Dear LAFCO Commissioners,
The wildfire this week, in the Witch Creek area again, is an on-going reminder that development in high-risk fire areas is unacceptable and unsafe. Harvest Hills is one of the worst and most dangerously located development projects in the region. It is opposed by over 50 organizations.
Although we have not fully reviewed all of the documentation, we recognize the need for the Escondido MSR and, in general, we support the recommendations in the LAFCO staff addendum with one exception. While Recommendation 9(a) is sound, we recommend elimination of 9b.
A major change in municipal services, such as for the HH project, should be part of a comprehensive services and sphere review rather than considered in a piecemeal fashion.
This project has failed to advance over a multi-decade period. The reasons for this include recent information on the project’s insurmountable fire and evacuation issues. There is even more evidence of the severe threat that this project would pose to existing neighbors and neighboring communities, including the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Please find three attached reports highly relevant to the fire situation of Harvest Hills,
- Fire Risk Assessment of Harvest Hills, August 26, 2021. Rohde and Associates was commissioned by the city of Escondido for a Fire Risk Assessment of the project and to review Harvest Hills’ Fire Protection Plan. They found it grossly deficient. The findings are devastating and the ‘fixes’ and highly expensive and have not been evaluated in any of the environmental review. Fire Risk Assessment, August 26, 2021.
- We also attach a review of the Rohde report by expert firm Griffin Cove Transportation Consulting, February 17, 2022. This analysis looked at several scenarios and found gridlock, stranding, and failures of evacuation. It demonstrates that, even with the Rohde recommendations, …none of the evacuation scenarios provide sufficient road capacity to allow for safe evacuation of Harvest Hills or the neighboring communities.
- A Memorandum from Chief Rick Vogt in response to the Rohde Report listing nine major areas of concern. September 21, 2021
The problems with Harvest Hills are insurmountable and the project is dangerous. It should not be fast-tracked in any way and only considered as part of a comprehensive review.
Thank you for considering our input
Laura Hunter, Sierra Club NCG
Dan Silver, Endangered Habitats League
Scott Graves, San Pasqual Valley Preservation Alliance
Additional comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org to be read at the meeting