Mayor Jim Desmond has been cleared of wrongdoing after an independent investigation found no “probable cause” to validate claims he violated campaign finance laws concerning his bid for the District 5 seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.The complaint was filed on May 29 by Realtor Ana Rosvall, among others, who claimed Desmond violated the city’s municipal code (2.16.010), which prohibits votes within 12 months of receiving a donation or receiving donations within 12 months of a vote. Rosavall’s complaint alleged Desmond accepted campaign donations from several sources prior to votes on development projects in the city.“Unfortunately, it was a last-minute campaign hit,” Desmond said. “An independent Elections Council was able to determine very quickly that there was no wrongdoing and I’ve been cleared of all allegations. So, we’re going to continue full speed ahead with the campaign.”Desmond, a republican, is running against Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern, also a republican, and Democrats Jacqueline Arsivaud and Michelle Gomez. Many consider Desmond the frontrunner for the June 5 primary. On June 2, Desmond continued his campaign by reaching out to voters.“We are phone calling, we’ve got several people walking precincts,” Desmond said. “We’re making sure people are going to get out and vote.”A letter to Desmond from investigators dated June 1 confirmed he did not violate any ordinances. The independent Elections Council verified what Desmond and his campaign believed since the complaint was filed. John Hoy, Desmond’s campaign consultant, said on May 31 the municipal code in question does not apply to elections outside the city. The code, he added, only applies to candidates running for election in a city race, and not any other jurisdiction.Also, Hoy said Desmond’s attorney, who is also his campaign director, did not send a formal letter to the Elections Council or have any contact with investigators.“Our position is it just simple doesn’t apply to him,” he said on May 29. “That’s a City of San Marcos ordinance drafted to regulate elections in San Marcos. He’s running in the county of San Diego for supervisor under the rules of the County of San Diego. This ordinance is just not applicable in this situation.”A letter from the law firm, states the alleged violations in question are not covered in the municipal code, are barred by the statute of limitations or will be by next Tuesday (June 5) and no sufficient facts to “demonstrate probable cause.” In addition, the letter states the amount of campaign contributions apply only to municipal elections, which has been the position of Desmond and Hoy since May 29.The complaint alleged Farouk Kubba of Vista San Marcos LLC donated $800 to Desmond’s campaign on June 6, 2017, and Desmond voted for the controversial San Marcos Highlands project on Nov. 15, 2017. In addition, $650 was donated to Desmond by David Hammer and Eric Armstrong, who worked on the Brookfield project.“I’m pretty disappointed,” Rosvall said of the investigation. “I feel that these laws should be applied to all elections. It seems like no matter what you do, they’re one step ahead of you.”
Tag Archives: Highlands Project
Defending Open Space: San Marcos’ most valuable resource
Guest Post by Lesley Blankenship-Williams, Ph.D.
Next time you are outside in San Marcos, look up. Chances are, expanses of undeveloped terrain will be in your line of sight. Whether your gaze falls on the infamous “P mountain” or the undeveloped hills framing Cal State San Marcos, open space is San Marcos’ most valuable resource.
San Marcos’ unique topography is a boon to residents who cherish their proximity to nature. For us, open space provides therapeutic respite from the claustrophobic and frantic lifestyle of urban cities.
With close to 90% of San Marcos land already developed, open space is now a precious commodity.
Unfortunately, developers feel the same way. And if developers continue to have their way, the sanctuaries that characterize our City will be permanently mutilated.
The irreversible loss of San Marcos’ most valuable resource begins with the highly controversial Highlands Project, a high density housing development that destroys one of the most environmentally sensitive plots of undeveloped habitat left in North County. Just as the San Elijo Hills community works to conserve 502 acres of open space, residents to the north recognize that the Highlands Project will cause irreparable damage to the last expanse of open habitat in the Northern face of the city.
The Highlands Project has no redeeming features. It places 198 high-density homes directly on top of habitat of exceptional value; such habitat is an ecological gold mine. These 262 acres, owned by real estate investor Mr. Kubba, is the biological corridor connecting the last large blocks of coastal sage scrub habitat in North San Marcos.
The development will practically eliminate the corridor, irreversibly fragmenting the habitat. Moreover, the habitat is riparian – supporting the fragile headwaters of Agua Hedionda Creek. But the negative impacts of the project are not limited to wildlife. The Highlands Project endangers its new residents with an extreme fire hazard risk, further burdens our schools which are already beyond capacity, and saddles the Palomar College area with additional congestion. The community outrage surrounding the Highlands project is well-deserved and aptly described in this 2006 article. The project is, and always has been, designed to maximize the developer’s profit at the expense of the environment and the citizens of San Marcos.
Two-thirds of the proposed housing development are beyond City boundaries and thus subject to County zoning laws. In 2011, San Diego County zoned Mr. Kubba’s land as SR10; the property should support no more than 1 house per 10 acres. For a 262 acre plot, 198 proposed homes is a far cry from prescribed 26. And yet the project is moving forward as if nothing is amiss. And discussions with every City Council member strongly indicate they back the project as is, despite the community opposition.
Why would such an ill-conceived plan, plagued with a myriad of severe issues, be supported by our elected officials?
Because it’s about the road. It’s about the money.
To serve the new homes built in the Highlands area, Las Posas Road (currently a dead end that terminates in Santa Fe Hills) must be extended north. The multi-million dollar price tag on the extension is cost-prohibitive for City coffers. But Mr. Kubba can afford it, especially as he stands to make a hefty profit on the high density development of the Highlands Project. A classic quid pro quo deal. Mr. Kubba pays to extend Las Posas north towards Buena Creek Road. In return, the City looks the other way.
Why is a Las Posas extension important? The City’s end game, detailed in 2006 City Council meetings and confirmed by a recent meeting with City Planners, is to create a major arterial by connecting Las Posas to Buena Creek. The arterial will divert traffic into the historically rural communities in northern Vista, San Marcos and Escondido.
Proponents of the so-called Las Posas “punch through” deceitfully argue that the extension is a cure to our congestion problems on Twin Oaks Valley. Residents in the north need to “share the traffic” burden by diverting more cars onto Las Posas Road, even if it is at the expense of pedestrian safety, noise and community character. Residents who oppose the Las Posas extension are often labeled as selfish NIMBYs.
The devil is in the details. Who are the proponents of a Las Posas “punch through”? Ultimately, those with a financial tie to development. And here is why. Las Posas would complement Twin Oaks Valley as the second major arterial into the northern tri-city area, increasing access to these historically rural and isolated communities. This rural area, now characterized by estate homes, would be ripe for new high density development. If you build it, they will come – as evidenced by the thousands of new homes the developers propose for Merriam Mountains. Any traffic relief would be ephemeral as this study demonstrates. The new road would pave the way to high density housing. With new housing comes more cars and lots more traffic. Ultimately, the extension of Las Posas is the gateway for additional congestion.
San Marcos is at a crossroads. Citizens of San Marcos need to decide if San Marcos is going to be the reckless playground of a few rich developers or if San Marcos is going to respond to its current citizens and invest undeveloped open space, our most precious commodity. It is time to ask, just who do our City Council members serve? Us or the developers?
Send a strong message to our City Council that you value the remaining undeveloped open space as enhancing our quality of life and its role in preserving endangered wildlife and ecosystems by adding your name to this petition.