County supervisor banned from voting on Lilac Hills Ranch Project
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – County Supervisor Bill Horn has a problem.
He’s been forced to abstain from voting on a development project in his district because of a conflict of interest.
Horn said if he can’t vote, residents in his district will be disenfranchised, raising a constitutional question and he’s angry about it.
The Lilac Hills Ranch Project is in Valley Center where Accretive Investments wants to build 1700 homes on 600 acres of farm land.
The conflict is Horn happens to own 37 acres of land some distance away.
There is no small matter to Supervisor Horn.
"I see it as a constitutional issue as to my right to represent my constituents, I mean if I lived next door I could understand the opinion but that’s not what this says," he said.
He refers to a letter from the Fair Political Practices Commission, telling him he cannot vote on the Lilac Hills Ranch Project because he owners property 2.7 miles away.
He doesn’t see that as a disqualification.
"I don’t think the 645 thousand people I represent need to be disenfranchised," Horn said. "I don’t feel I should have to abstain, I thin I ought to be allowed to vote."
Elected officials often vote on issues that have an economic impact on a community.
"I think this here affects every supervisor in the state of California. Are you gonna tell us because we own ranches or apartments or whatever we can’t vote in our jurisdiction because we have some kind of economic impact?"
Horn will appeal the ruling which he said has no guidelines for the supervisors to follow.
This project requires an amendment to the county’s general plan for growth, there’s been strong opposition from environmentalists and community groups, so this is sort of a test for future development in the back country.
The project has 903 single family homes, 211 mixed-use units, 164 condominiums and 486 senior residences, including commercial space and a school.
It’s been approved by the County Planning Department.
The other problem is the board is split, with Horn abstaining the vote could be a tie killing the project and much needed housing.
Horn will go back to the FPPC and ask them to reconsider. If he’s turned down, he will request a hearing before the full commission.