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    San Diego County horse owners urged to attend board meeting on July 13

    `Equine Options' forum before Supervisors pushed out two weeks

    From the Newstrader - June 16th, 2011 - Newstrader

    SAN DIEGO — A San Diego County equestrian  determined to see changes to a 30-year-old ordinance for horse facilities is calling out the cavalry for a July 13 meeting of the County Board of Supervisors.

    In this case, the cavalry consists of horse owners who engage in neighborly “best practices” so they can persuade the board to pass a new, less onerous proposed horse facility ordinance. The proposal is the result of meetings and collaboration between Cobb and other horse owners along with the county Department of Planning and Land Use.  At stake, says Sally Cobb of Valley Center, is the enactment of the new revised ordinance because of a counter-equestrian effort by non-horse owners eager to persuade the board into voting down the relaxed horse ownership revisions. Previously, the meeting had been scheduled for June 29.

    “There are horse-haters in our midst who are currently fighting against the new ordinance,” Cobb said. “Without horse advocates to counter their influence, we may not get what we want in the ordinance.”

    A major difference between the existing and proposed horse facility ordinances is the removal of the current requirement for boarding stables to exist under a major use permit, an onerous proposition that has proved a detriment to perpetuating the area’s recreational equestrian heritage. Cobb is concerned that parts of the county without active equestrian representation can lose ground when non-horse representation appeals to the county to keep the ordinance as it is. For example, she says, the San Dieguito Planning Group “is adamantly opposed to any change to the current Major Use Permit requirement for owners of a boarding stable to acquire a of any size — they do not want a new ordinance.”

    “A group of equestrians needs to get involved with this planning group and work to form an equine subcommittee which will provide another perspective on the issues,” she says. “Because every horse owner will be affected by the new ordinance, and every horse person seems to have their own unique perspective on how the ordinance should read and what it should allow, it behooves each of us to get involved and express our perspective.”

    County areas with good horse representation include the Elfin Forest community group, Ramona, Lakeside and Valley Center. But, she says, that is just four of 26 groups throughout the county.

    “When examples of horribly-managed horse properties are given, we need an equestrian advocate to point out the clean well-managed horse properties and use them as examples of what can be done to improve the quality of care and to effectively mitigate the impacts of horses,” Cobb said. “We need every equestrian to get involved at some level because this new ordinance may not be looked at again by County staff for another 30 years.”

    Cobb is willing to educate and even coach equestrians who are willing to step up to the next level of involvement. First steps include finding out if there is an equine subcommittee appointed in the area’s sponsor group — and if not, explain how to arrange the appointment of one. The normal commitment of a subcommittee is a monthly, 2-hour meeting.

    Cobb also advises horse facility operators to learn about “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) and to implement them because they will likely be part of any new ordinance.

    “You are responsible for the impacts your commercial horse operation causes to your neighbors, so talk with your neighbors and do your best to cultivate a good relationship,” she says. “Develop a storm water management plan, making sure your rain water stays on your property, a vector control plan, and dust, noise, and odor control plans. BMPs will be required in the new ordinance.”

    The Board of Supervisors meeting will be held Wednesday, July 13, at 9 a.m. Cobb urges anyone interested in speaking at the meeting for up to three minutes to arrive by 8:30 a.m. The address is 1600 Pacific Highway, Third floor, San Diego, 92101.

    Carl Stiehl of the DPLU said issues encountered during the “docketing process for the Board Letter”  pushed back the equine options in front of the board an additional two weeks. He said even if “Equine Options” appears on the June 29 meeting agenda, it will be listed as “continued”  to July 13.

    Cobb says the DPLU will present possible options to the current Major Use Permit requirement, and she expects the Board to direct the DPLU to begin drafting a new equine ordinance based on a tiered system of permitting, based on levels of impacts.

    The DPLU staff are currently touring horse facilities throughout the County, she says, taking pictures and getting to know horse properties, the ratio of horses to acres and types of activities, and this research will assist them with the new ordinance. Several equestrian groups and various stakeholders will be involved with the new ordinance process.

    For a list of online resources, visit the websites –

    Community planning groups or sponsor groups:
    http://www.co.san-diego.ca.us/dplu/docs/plngchairs.pdf

    The DPLU equine ordinance website page:
    http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/advance/Equine.html

    Equine zoning:
    http://www.equinezoning.com

    Cobb can be reached via email at salcobb@live.com.

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