Excerpt of letter
Backcountry Against Dumps, The Protect Our Communities Foundation, East County Community Action Coalition and Donna Tisdale (hereinafter "Conservation Groups") submit the following Comments on Tule Wind LLC's ("Tule Wind's") June 1, 2011 applications for (1) a San Diego County General Plan Amendment Authorization ("PAA") and (2) an amendment to the San Diego County Zoning Ordinance for wind energy (Zoning Ordinance section 6951). Conservation Groups also comment on Tule Wind's July 1, 2011 PAA supplement, containing proposed amendments to the October 2010 version of the Mountain Empire Subregional Plan for the Boulevard Subregional Planning Area ("Boulevard Plan").
Tule Wind's proposed amendments would specifically exempt the East County Substation, Tule Wind and Energia Sierra Juarez Gen-Tie Projects (collectively, "ESJ Project" or "Project") from (1) San Diego County's ("County's") General Plan Land Use Element Policy (18), Multiple Rural Use, (2) the Mountain Empire Subregional Plan Policy and Recommendation 11, (3) the Boulevard Plan Policies LU 1.1.1, 1.2.2 and 6.1.4, and CM 8.5.1, and (4) section 6951 of the County Zoning Ordinance. Each of the provisions from which Tule Wind seeks exemptions would limit in some form ESJ Project development.
At the outset, Conservation Groups firmly oppose Tule Wind's attempts to amend the County's General Plan and Zoning Ordinance without the requisite environmental review. Approval of Tule Wind's proposed amendments - or even allowing them to be heard by the County Board of Supervisors - would not only set a regrettable precedent undermining the County's planning and zoning laws, it would violate the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA"), California Public
Resources Code ("PRC") section 21000 et seq. The proposed amendments are "projects" under CEQA and cannot be approved without first undergoing adequate environmental review. Furthermore, as currently constituted, the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance provisions Tule Wind seeks to amend are beneficial to the environment and public health and should not be altered in the manner Tule Wind suggests. If anything, the provisions should be strengthened. In particular, the setback requirements for wind turbines provided in Zoning Ordinance section 6951 should be increased not reduced, as Tule Wind has proposed.
Additionally, Conservation Groups wish to express their opposition to the ESJ Project as an unnecessary industrialization of pristine desert wilderness areas. As discussed below, the Project is unnecessary and will likely have numerous significant and potentially unmitigable environmental and health impacts. Thus, echoing a growing chorus of opinions on this subject, Conservation Groups suggest that the County consider as an alternative to the Project the development of wide-spread nonfossil fuel distributed generation projects near demand centers in already-disturbed areas.
The full letter can be accessed by clicking on the link below.