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Equestrians score win with S.D. County

From the Newstrader - July 21st, 2011 - Newstrader

SAN DIEGO — Changes to 30-year-old regulations of horse operations within the unincorporated areas of San Diego County appear imminent — but not immediate — after the Board of Supervisors July 13 unanimously agreed to have staff prepare new rules.

The new ordinance is expected to provide greater flexibility for smaller stables to pursue permits without public hearings, environmental reviews or onerous major use permits, and it likely will be a “two-tiered system” that divides equestrian operations into different tiers based on the quantity of horses and the lot size.

After the 5-0 vote to approve $350,000 for the Department of Planning and Land Use to proceed, staff said enactment of the new ordinance will require a 24-month period that will include completion of the Environmental Impact Report.

“The progress we are making toward revamping the equine zoning ordinances is going in the right direction and is heartily supported by staff, planning commission and supervisors,” said Sally Cobb of Valley Center, who attended the board meeting along with dozens of other equestrians.

Cobb added that board Chairman Bill Horn indicated he is not comfortable with hard limits on numbers of horses, rather that each situation needs “to be investigated on a case-by-case basis.”

Supervisors agreed that major use permits costing upwards of $500,000 cripple equestrian businesses and are onerous to property owners. Supervisor Greg Cox called the major use permit the “kiss of death,” although Supervisor Diane Jacobs noted that much of the cost of an MUP stems from Federal and State guidelines that the county is required to implement.

New regulations would encourage owners to operate within the guidelines instead of operating under the radar without a permit, say supporters. Horse-keeping for private or personal use will continue without the need for a permit, although “best practices” guidelines for private operations would be clear.

“The fight for a new and reasonable ordinance is what I and others have been working on for the past five years and what a journey it has been,” said Cobb. “Our petition for a new and reasonable ordinance has over 2,000 signatures.”

She expects the new ordinance to be enacted by December 2012, and that it will only apply to stable owners whose property is up to current code with permits. Even grandfathered-in structures will have to be brought to current code and permitted by the building department, she said.

“The future of most San Diego County equestrians is looking very bright!,” she said.

One comment has been made on “Equestrians score win with S.D. County”

  1. Anne Hempy Says:

    That’s great news! The trend here in southern Calif has been to push horse owners out since land is at such a premium here. Places where I have boarded in the past were constantly battling to keep their land. Developers were always looking to build (yet another) golf course. Congrats to San Diego!

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