California Riding Magazine • June, 2010

Reining Government
Let your voice be heard by signing the Equine Re-Zoning Petition for San Diego County.

“Get on your horse and ride,” said the deputy (that’s his real title) and he handed me a map. Not exactly the resolve I was looking for but it was an answer based on the zoning matrix doctrine that is the law.
By their own admission the county DPLU (Department of Planning and Land Use) have a soup sandwich of 24 (A-X) animal designators which does not reflect what really exists in rural San Diego County.

I met with staff in December, 2009 with an outline based roughly on what the Ramona wineries had done and dealt primarily with ADT’s (average daily trips, one of their primary concerns) and a formula allowing by-right use for property owners to include equestrian activities from boarding, breeding, recreational events, training and clinics. This would decriminalize these activities and eliminate the need for a costly MUP (Major Use Permit).

Research into what other counties have done reveals some streamlined processes that have worked well for both the equestrians and county governments. San Mateo, Marin and Los Angeles counties have all simplified the process so that an applicant can process the application without the need of consultants and studies.

There has always existed a cottage industry (grandma’s egg money) that revolved around the equestrian community in Rural Agricultural America. With mandated growth and the advent of zoning laws and complicated animal designator ordinances this ability to operate any venture is being destroyed by the MUP and unnecessary government controls.
The negative impact of these controls is far reaching in the “Rural Agricultural Economy” most directly felt by veterinarians, feed stores, farriers, trainers, realtors, boarding, breeding, training and community service oriented recreational facilities.
The resolve is to change by eliminating most of these burdensome requirements to salvage an
existing threated Rural Agricultural Economy thus providing opportunity for people to survive in a struggling economy.
There are thousands of equine related business operations servicing tens of thousands of people and supporting other small businesses operating without the benefit of a MUP, that if lost would change the complexion of many rural communities and have dramatic negative fiscal impact.

The cost and complexity of acquiring a MUP is a deterrent for most homeowner operated ventures to enter into an application process, which is by design a contract with DPLU and puts these operations at risk.

By getting the county and community to recognize the value of these operations and modify the requirements of the permitting process with a streamlined system that has predictability these operations could continue to operate without prejudice.

Our goal is to work with DPLU on zoning changes and animal designator modifications that would better represent what exists in San Diego’s rural communities, which would then protect and stimulate equine and other related small businesses, generate revenue for the county and take the burden off code enforcement, increasing the county’s fiscal responsibility.

To date the VCCPG equine rezoning subcommittee have met with DPLU staff Brian Baca, Joseph Farace and Heather Steven. The subcommittee is in the process of writing a “Board Letter” to the BOS (Board of Supervisors) outlining a new ordinance. The GP update subcommittee has met with Dustin M. Steiner and Joseph Farace as part of the approach to DPLU. The VCCPG has written a letter to DPLU director Eric Gibson to urge him to assign staff to work with us.

What we need is support at every level - veterinarians, feed store owners, farriers, trainers, realtors, facility operators, horse lovers, pro-bono attorneys and equestrian organizations. Take the
time to sign our petition and help with the subcommittee efforts.

There is reciprocity here for community and government; the community will establish a level of care and the county gets to resolve a potentially volatile situation and enjoy some good PR for a change.

Paul Herigstad
Chair/ VCCPG Equine Rezoning Subcommittee

Visit the following website to read and sign
the petition in support of a new Equine Zoning Ordinance that protects and promotes equestrian enterprise with reasonable permit fees and requirements.