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Planning Commission Makes No Decision on Quail Brush, Says CEC Has Ultimate Power

A vote to effectively deny the re-zone of the site to industrial fails, and the Chairperson suggests opponents focus efforts on CEC.

Read more about the Quail Brush Power Project | Watch the full video of the June 28 San Diego Planning Commission Hearing

The San Diego Planning Commission (SDPC) met for nearly six hours Thursday for a hearing focused on the proposed Quail Brush Power Plant that would be constructed near Santee and , but came to no conclusion and will have to meet again on the matter.

An anti-climactic vote failed on a motion that would effectively deny the re-zoning of the site from open space to industrial use, but the advice of SDPC Chairperson Eric Naslund drew the most interest from the crowd.

"For those in orange shirts (opponents of the project)- concentrate your energy on the California Energy Commission, regardless of what happens here. That's your next line of attack... they have a potential override of anything done locally," he said.

Naslund was referring to a fact that was made clear at the meeting: The CEC can override the SDPC and San Diego City Council if they decide not to re-zone the area to industrial. According to the CEC, such overrides are rare, but one such override occurred just this year in approving the Carlsbad Energy Center Project.

Representatives of the CEC confirmed that if the City of San Diego conclusively decides not to proceed with the amendment or approval process, it might put CEC in the position of overriding them.

After a long haul of hearing testimony from Cogentrix, SDG&E, many environmental and business organizations, the public, city staff, and other interested parties, SDPC still needs to decide whether to initiate an amendment to the East Elliot Community Planning Area. They are scheduled to meet again on the matter at the July 19 meeting.

Nearly 200 speaker slips were submitted at the beginning of the meeting, and speakers in opposition included Santee City Councilmember , Santee's Deputy Manager and Planning Director, with Preserve Wild Santee, , and a lot of residents of Santee. It was pointed out at the meeting that every elected official and candidate in the project area is opposed to it.

On this issue, of the five commissioners, four must vote for a definitive decision to be made, and the vote to deny the amendment initiation was 3-2.

Check back for more on Quail Brush at Santee Patch

Stephen Goldfarb June 29, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Two Commissioners were absent at today's meeting. The July 19 vote may be more definitive. San Diego is unique among jurisdictions because plan amendments require initiation before an amendment may proceed. In this case, the appointees on the Planning Commission are charged with that responsibility rather than elected City Council members. Van Collinsworth made the sensible suggestion that the Planning Commission could vote *not* to initiate the power plant applicant's proposed amendment so as to bring the matter to the City Council on appeal. There is good reason to do that. The criteria to initiate an amendment (to install a massive fossil fuel power plant on environmentally conserved land) do not appear to have been met. One should not be concerned about what the California Energy Commission might do. The Energy Commission will be influenced by the City's decision. There would have to be an over-riding reason for the Energy Commission to act contrary to the City's determination.
Santee Homeowner June 29, 2012 at 05:48 AM
The proceedings at the San Diego Planning Commission are seriously flawed. The report to the Planning Commission that was prepared by Development Services staff to initiate this process speaks beyond it's authority. The claims by City Planners that the power plant is needed can only be made by the CPUC. The results of any proceedings after the report was issued becomes "fruit of the poisoned tree". Well, that is unless it's a "CEQA on steroids" proceeding then it becomes a fact.
Frank Ferraro June 29, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Who were the jackass corporate interest slugs who voted against the rezoning? Let's bring the heat against them.
TMcC June 29, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Solid point. . . "One should not be concerned about what the California Energy Commission might do." It's a breach of office to not assert authority and oversight to uphold local LORS. City representation is for here, not for Calif State level. Kudos to the 3 SD Planning Commissioners that got the facts and recognize that knowledge is power!
TMcC June 29, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Frank: Many officials don't grasp the fine points. The Commissioners listened and asked good questions. 3 of them, especially "got it" and did NOT give carte blanche to QB Genco/Congentrix/SDG&E/Goldman Sachs. The other two commissioners, may just need more information and to understand the seriousness and tricky methods these top dogs employ to get their way & continue the destruction they're well known for now. Read up more and get involved. The public has civic responsibility too (& we ALL have lives & jobs, including each of those commissioners and our councilmembers).
Steven Bartholow (Editor) June 29, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I just put up the archived video of the June 28 Planning Commission meeting if anyone is interested: http://patch.com/A-v9Jr
Stephen Goldfarb June 29, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Steven: Thank you for posting the Planning Commission meeting video. I thought the Commissioners' comments following public input and before the vote was taken at meeting's end were interesting.

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