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San Diego County OKs new equine zoning that portends revitalization

From Horsetrader staff reports - September 19th, 2013 - General News

Supervisor Dianne Jacobs

Supervisor Dianne Jacob

SAN DIEGO — Owning and boarding horses in San Diego County became easier Sept. 11 when the Board of Supervisors approved a revised, tiered horse ordinance that could reinvigorate the region’s equestrian industry.

In the works for several years, the Equine Policy and Ordinance Development project updated the county’s zoning ordinance with regard to equine uses in unincorporated areas. With the Board’s vote, a long-standing need to obtain a major-use permit for small stables was eliminated — only operations with more than 100 horses on 10 acres or more now face such a requirement.

“The zoning ordinance hadn’t been revised in more than 30 years, and it was needed,” said Michell Kimball, who created the San Diego County Equestrian Foundation in 2010 to work with county staff and equestrians to see the changes through. “This is exciting. Horse activites can increase in the county now.”

Kimball said that in the 18 months prior to the SDCEF’s founding, 69 San Diego County ranches had closed. County representatives and staff were receptive to public input, including complaints that regulations were stifling the industry and leaving many stable owners out of compliance.

The new system requires no permits or fees for stables of three horses or fewer. A second tier allows up to 50 horses on at least 10 open acres and a fee of $1,023.

A relatively simple administrative permit is required for 50 to 100 horses at a cost of about $10,000. A major-use permit is required for more than 100 horses with the cost to get that approval starting at about $15,000.

East County Supervisor Dianne Jacob supported the updated equine zoning ordinance.

“In the end, these changes equate to a streamlined process, which will lower costs while still ensuring that any new or expanded stable will not adversely impact the surrounding properties,” she said. “It also creates another element in our agritourism economy.”

Kimball shares the optimistic outlook for industry growth with the new regulatory climate in the county.

“The equestrian industry involved a lot of people — shoers, veterinariasns, stores and so much more,” she said. “The economic benefits are there, and we certainly did not want to lose this segment of the receration income that comes to California. Now the money will start flowing back from other states that it left to go to — and it’s an improved environment for everybody where everyone will have the chance to legalize and permit their uses.”

Community planning groups throughout the county have endorsed the new ordinance, which does not affect stables in place before the late 1970s. Those were “grandfathered” in when the original equine ordinance was adopted. It also doesn’t apply to far backcountry expanses where zoning regulations differ from the urbanized area and no permits are required.

MORE ONLINE: http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/pds/advance/Equine.html

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