The proposed Merriam Mountains housing development in North San Diego County suffered a setback in December when the Board of Supervisors split 2-2 on the project. The tie vote equates to rejection of the project; however, supervisors within 30 days may call for a new hearing, and reconsideration appears likely.

County Supervisor Ron Roberts missed the December 9 meeting at which the board divided on the project, as he was attending a California Air Resources Board meeting in Sacramento. Typically a supporter of growth, Roberts could ask for reconsideration and provide the deciding vote.

Stonegate Development Group proposes 2,700 single-family houses, condominiums and apartments, as well as a 10-acre retail center, on 560 acres of a 2,320-acre site just west of Interstate 15 and north of Escondido (see CP&DR Local Watch, August 2006). Stonegate would preserve more than half of the site as open space.

Area residents strongly oppose the project, which they say would be out of place on land currently zoned for low-density, single-family housing. In addition, questions have arisen about fire protection. Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Pam Slater-Price voted against the project, citing the lack of a fire evacuation plan for residents and concerns over water to serve the project. "It's a wonderful project in the wrong location," Jacob stated.

Supervisors Greg Cox and Bill Horn voted for the project. Since the December 9 meeting, project opponents have questioned Horn's pre-meeting advice to Stonegate that the developer request a continuance until all five board members were present. The project website: