Oceanside is one of the few North County cities that currently has zoning in place to help preserve agriculture. Recently, the question has arisen of how important the preservation of our agricultural heritage, present and future, is to the public. An initiative is being circulated in Oceanside that, if successful, would require a public vote whenever existing land zoned for agriculture or open space is proposed for another land use.
The Save Open Spaces and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiative now being circulated in Oceanside is consistent with the League of Women Voters’ position on agriculture in San Diego County related to wise land use to preserve agriculture for the entire region. Furthermore, it is consistent with our long-standing history of supporting the people’s right to vote on critical issues in their community.
The League of Women Voters believes that the San Diego county agricultural industry is of historical, environmental and economic importance to our region. The recent League of Women Voters study of agriculture in the county recognized the value that “open space, fresh foods, wildlife corridors, clean air and visual harmony bring to the overall ambience of San Diego County.”
The situation in Oceanside is a classic example of what the study recognized as a major area of concern. The northeastern portion of Oceanside is mostly zoned as agriculture, and has been for many decades. The rest of the area is zoned low density residential with minimum 2½ acre lots. No city water or sewer infrastructure is present. Additionally, the city of Oceanside has adopted smart growth policies aimed at clustering future growth near the I-5 corridor, which already has infrastructure for utilities, transportation geared to higher volume traffic and ready availability of urban amenities and services.
The League of Women Voters does not take a position on ballot measures without first conducting a study of the issue, developing a consensus position from the study, and evaluating the proposed measure for consistency with that position. A key recommendation of our 2015 study of agriculture in San Diego County is to “Support the preservation and expansion of land used for agricultural purposes through: a) adopted General and Specific Plans; b) zoning; and c) permanent dedication programs in order to encourage the long-term presence and viability of the agricultural industry.”
This is not to ignore or deny the challenges of practicing agriculture in San Diego County. Water costs, labor supply, encroaching pests and plant diseases, high land costs, and climate change are all constant factors which are part of any farmer’s concerns. Yet agriculture has been successful in San Diego County due to our many microclimates, ingenious farming techniques, smart crop choices and increasingly sophisticated use of modern science.
The League of Women Voters therefore supports this initiative. It is an effort to maintain an irreplaceable resource that has significant value to the community. The SOAR initiative will not solve all the challenges related to local agriculture. But we feel that it is an important step in the right direction.
To see the full LWV study, go to http://lwvncsd.org/Studies.html
Open space and agricultural lands are critical for the well being and ultimately even the survival of multiple species including our own. Our coastal north San Diego county has preciously little remaining undeveloped land. Once developed, the negative impacts are permanent. City councils change members frequently but are constantly under the influence of developers. It only takes a simple majority of one particular council to change the zoning of open space or agricultural land to other uses. Such decisions affect all residents of the local community and beyond. Therefore, NCA supports the SOAR initiative to give the residents the right to vote on such consequential zoning changes.
There is an urgent need to protect Oceanside's rapidly dwindling natural open space and farmland; for both the loss of native habitat and the wildlife it supports, and for the loss of our agricultural heritage. The SOAR initiative is a tool citizens can use to weigh the costs and benefits when requests are submitted to the City for conversion of our scant remaining open space and farmland to new development.
We strongly support the citizen’s right to circulate the SOAR petition, which allows citizens to vote on projects that could negatively impact agricultural land and open spaces.
Friends of Loma Alta Creek (Friends) have worked for many years in the City of Oceanside to ensure development in the City is appropriate and will not overly impact the natural resources of the area and will significantly contribute to sustainability of the City. We believe projects should comply with existing zoning, density requirements and the General Plan. Adherence to these principles and rules ensures a continuing quality of life for all residents and taxpayers as well as a steady tax base, without overly impacting open spaces and agricultural lands/operations.
For many years, the City Council has chosen to disregard those fundamentals -- provide for an orderly distribution of commerce, protect natural resources and protect the value of agricultural land in our community. By protecting open spaces and agricultural land, our City will be far better off than they would adding too much housing or densification which is a drain on city services funds. Productive and precious land cannot be replaced once it’s paved over.
Our founder, Ms. Scott, worked in the agricultural field for many years and is well aware of its innate value to a community. This land provides food, jobs, security, value-added products like coffee, wine and can create a vibrant agritourism economy. Further, we understand how open spaces enhance the community’s understanding of its precious natural resources and therefore encourage protection and enjoyment of such spaces by its citizenry.
Again, we strongly support this citizen-driven initiative as the best way to protect our land from encroaching over-development, urban sprawl, and to protect our open spaces.
~ Nadine L. Scott, Attorney & Co-Founder
The SOAR Initiative is a much needed protection for our agricultural land assets. You cannot grow any more land. When it is gone it will be gone and lost forever. The CPPB fully supports this initiative. ~ Carolyn Krammer, Chairperson, CPPB
“The decision for the Coasters to support SOAR is consistent with the Sierra Club’s mission to explore, enjoy and protect our environment. While the Sierra Club recognizes the need for affordable housing and residential growth in North County, we believe that this type of infill should be focused in areas already designated as Smart Growth Sites and not where it will exacerbate climate change and cost millions in additional infrastructure to support sprawl.” ~ Sally Prendergast, Chair of the North County Coastal Group Press Release
The Board of Friends of El Corazon has voted to endorse the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiative.(Yes on Y). For over 20 years we have been promised that a former sand mine would become El Corazon, a park in the heart of Oceanside. But that plan can, and has been, modified by a majority vote of only three members of our city council . SOAR will protect our park by protecting the adopted Specific Plan- and the promise made to the people of this community.
~ Joan Bockman President, Friends of El Corazon
"The League of Conservation Voters of San Diego endorses Yes on Y because for too long our region has given lip service to Smart Growth while continuing to approve projects that move us backwards. Measure Y is an important step in the right direction to reduce sprawl development and slow down climate change."
Lean and Green Kids, an Oceanside based environmentally focused children's nutrition education organization, fully supports the Oceanside Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiative. Oceanside calls on Oceanside city leaders to prioritize rare agricultural lands and open space, both critical for carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat protection - two pillars for a healthier and greener planet for future generations.
On important zoning changes that affect open spaces and agricultural land forever, we think the voters should make the decision, not just 3 people on the City Council.
As one of the largest family farms/landowners in South Morro Hills we support SOAR as a positive for the entire community. Not only will it preserve open space, farmland, parks and recreation it will allow Oceanside voters the right to vote on major changes in our city which affect us all. We look forward to farming for many years to come, have thoroughly reviewed the initiative and see no evidence SOAR will negatively impact farming. All of us share the responsibility to act as honorable stewards of this precious land we are privileged to farm and reside on and to be thoughtful of what we leave behind for future generations.
"I am aware of the SOAR initiatives in Ventura and Napa and I heartily endorse the effort here in Oceanside. I want to express my sincere thanks to all who have worked so hard to preserve our open space and quality of life." ~ Pam Slater-Price