Opposition to Rudyville

March 1, 2018, the Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group unanimously votes to deny the Rudyville request for increased zoning density.

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Sahara Mustard Eradication Research Advanced by $50K Gift

A $50,000 gift to a non-profit conservancy will launch research designed to lead to the discovery of biocontrol agent(s) for invasive, non-native Sahara . The gift was received from Audrey Steele-Burnand, a long-time supporter of innumerable organizations and activities in Borrego Springs and Southern California.

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KPBS Televised Broadcast

TCDC supporter, Michael Bovee, produced the following video describing one aspect of TCDC’s response to the threat produced by Sahara mustard. This report was broadcast on KPBS television and radio on June 18, 2014.

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Sahara Mustard
Life Cycle Slideshow

Learn how to recognize invasive Sahara Mustard from seeds and tiny sprouts to large, mature plants.

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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

— Margaret Mead


"Don't wait for the cavalry to come over the hill to save you. You are the cavalry and had better save yourselves."

— Robert Lee Paul

Glyph of Sun


Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy

Spring 2018

Sponsor Group Rejects Rudyville …Again

In a unanimous, 7-0, vote the Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group rejected Rudyville’s Property Specific Request (PSR) to increase its zoning density from one home per ten acres to one home per acre. The meeting, which drew a crowd of 60, was held at the Borrego Springs High School on Thursday, March 1, 2018.

Rudyville, officially known as DS-24, is a 170-acre parcel of pristine desert habitat located in a flood plain west of Borrego Springs Road between the mile 9 and mile 10 markers. It is home to an old growth ocotillo forest, a relict sand dune, threatened and endangered species, and forms a large swath of the iconic southern entrance into Borrego Springs. Since 2006, the owners of Rudyville have petitioned the County to zone the property for 170 one-acre residential lots. One of the owners, Chris Brown, formerly served on the staff of Supervisor Bill Horn.

Rebecca Falk, Chair of the Sponsor Group, began the discussion of the Rudyville agenda item by asking if anyone in attendance intended to speak in favor of the DS-24 request for increased zoning density. Not a hand was raised.

Kevin Johnston, project manager for the Department of Planning and Development Services (DPDS), provided context for the discussion of DS-24 by describing the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Rudyville his team has compiled over the past six years. He noted the amount of public input his team has received on Rudyville far exceeds the input for any of the other 41 PSR’s that are part of this countywide General Plan Amendment and Rezoning process. He reminded the crowd that the creation of the EIR for Rudyville was authorized by the Board of Supervisors in July 2012 when they voted to spend taxpayer money for the benefit of a few dozen landowners throughout San Diego County who requested reconsideration of the zoning designation they received when the County adopted the General Plan in August 2011.

In his presentation Mr. Johnston described DS-24’s multiple inconsistencies with the County’s General Plan, as well as with the Borrego Springs’ Community Plan. Because of the number and significance of these inconsistencies, the DPDS’s preliminary recommendation for Rudyville is the “No Project Alternative.” Such a recommendation is a rejection of Rudyville’s request for increased zoning density for the entire 170-acre parcel, and it is also a rejection of the “Minimal Alternative” that would allow increased zoning density on approximately 20 of the 170 acres in question. Mr. Johnston’s team was required to create a Minimal Alternative as a matter of compliance with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Mr. Johnston said the final recommendation of the DPDS will be made later this year in advance of the public hearing at the County Planning Commission in San Diego, and he reminded the audience the recommendations of the DPDS are not binding on the Supervisors who will have the final say on Rudyville. He emphasized the importance of members of the Borrego community attending the public hearings of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors in San Diego later this year, if they wish to make their views known. Mr. Johnston said, “The DPDS is striving to complete our work in time for the Planning Commission to vote on these PSR’s, including DS-24, at their June 2018 meeting. If we make this deadline, the Board of Supervisors could then vote on DS-24 as early as July.”

Following Mr. Johnston’s presentation, the Sponsor Group took comments from members of the community. Mark Jorgenson, former superintendent of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park spoke of the “sin” of destroying the old growth ocotillo forest that covers much of the Rudyville parcel. Betsy Knaak, Executive Director of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, spoke of the ocotillo forest as a “local, state, and national treasure,” iconic for our region much like the Joshua Trees of the national park by the same name. Robert Staehle, a landowner in the Tubb Canyon neighborhood, asserted the private property rights of landowners in the vicinity of Rudyville: “If homes were ever build on Rudyville, it would require taking my land to build a giant flood diversion project on my property and on my neighbors’ properties. Why should our private property be taken so some developer in San Diego can make a buck!”

Several speakers noted there are already thousands of zoned and entitled lots available for development in Borrego Springs. The question of why Borrego Springs would make a special exception for Rudyville to create even more lots at a time when the community is in the midst of reducing water consumption by 70% was a recurring theme.

At the conclusion of 90 minutes of public comment, the seven-member Sponsor Group voted unanimously to deny Rudyville’s request for increased zoning density. Following the voting, Sponsor Group member Linda Haddock commented, “In all the years we have had hearings on this issue I’ve never heard anyone speak in favor of Rudyville.”

First Rejection—2007

In 2006 the owners of Rudyville petitioned county officials for a “Mitigated Negative Declaration,” which would have allowed them to proceed with their plans for creating 170 residential lots without performing an Environmental Impact Report. Mitigated Negative Declarations are used in situations in which “there is no substantial evidence … that the project may have a significant effect on the environment.” (CEQA, Title 14, Ch.3) In their application for a Mitigated Negative Declaration, when asked on a county form if the property contains natural features of scenic value, the owners of Rudyville checked “no.”

Community residents and the Borrego Springs Sponsor Group saw things differently. Opposition to Rudyville solidified, and in 2007 the Sponsor Group officially opposed the request for a Mitigated Negative Declaration “because of its proposed density, impacts to groundwater, impacts to the stabilized sand due that runs through the parcel, and because the development would encourage Borrego to grow to the south when efforts have been made to expand Borrego’s residential district to the north onto current agricultural land.” (Borrego Sun, Vol. 56, No. 13, June 28, 2007).

Second Rejection—2012

In March 2012 the Borrego Springs Sponsor group again formally rejected Rudyville’s request for increased zoning density citing: “1) One of the principals of Country Club Estates LLC (Rudyville) has ties to Supervisor Horn and this suggests a conflict of interest. 2) Sonoran Creosote Bush Scrub does not accurately depict the ‘Ocotillo Forest’ that exists on this property. 3) The underlying sand dune would be disturbed by grating and would not restabilize. 4) There are hundreds of already subdivided lots in Borrego Springs. 5) The largest community outcry in the last decade was generated by this project in 2006.”

Third Rejection—2016

On April 7, 2016 the Sponsor Group again took up Rudyville’s request for increased zoning density. More than 150 community members attended this standing-room-only meeting. Not one person spoke in favor of the Rudyville request. Because of vacancies and recusals, the Sponsor Group did not have a quorum and was unable to vote, but the sentiment of the community was clear.

Fourth Rejection—2018

March 1, 2018, the Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group unanimously votes to deny the Rudyville request for increased zoning density.

The Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy will be coordinating a petition and letter writing campaign in the months prior to the public hearings of the County Planning Commission and the County Board of Supervisors, where the fate of Rudyville will be determined. The dates for these hearings have not yet been set. All interested community members who would like to be informed of the dates, times, and locations of these public hearings and/or would like to participate in making elected representatives aware of community sentiment regarding Rudyville are invited to sign up for the Rudyville Mailing List at www.tubbcanyondesertconservancy.org.

J. David Garmon, MD
President, TCDC


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