July 13, 2001



by Lisa Ross


I received piles of interesting responses to last week's column that took to task County Supervisor Bill Horn's redistricting proposal to trade Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch for his current 5th district holding, Escondido, against the advice of the Supervisors' own independent redistricting commission.

Apparently, the column flew by email around the North County, and I can safely report that even natives in his own northern 5th District are restless, with the notable exception of the ever-territory hungry San Marcos City Council who seem to like the idea very much because they voted to endorse the proposal.

It seems the prospects of scooping up the vulnerably bucolic and unincorporated Elfin Forest lying on the edge of their city into the arms of the very pro-development Bill Horn proved irresistible to the very pro-development San Marcos council members.

Supervisor Horn himself called to give me a much needed history lesson. I had no idea that twenty years ago Rancho Santa Fe was part of the Fifth District, as was Carlsbad and most of the territory just north of Del Mar and Carmel Valley. And, that after the 1980 census and some political wrangling by Del Mar rising political star Roger Hedgecock, the Ranch was joined to Del Mar.

And so, Mr. Horn let me know that he was attempting to "return the orphans to their home." I'd never really thought of those 3000 or more Rancho Santa Fe homesteaders as dangling orphans searching for a real home and identity before, but it only helped me understand why so many of them want to form their own city, not why they would want to attach themselves to Vista.

I have always admired Bill Horn for his chutzpah and willingness to charge into battle, even if it's one that puts him in the eye of a political storm. I had hoped that someone would rise to his defense this week in the interest of balance, but if my mail is any indication, which it is probably not, he's facing a tsunami on this one.

Horn nemesis and former County Planning Commissioner Patsy Fritz, hinting that she'll be running against Horn, again, emailed to express her outrage at the idea that the nice middle-class neighborhoods of Escondido would be jettisoned out of her district for the far more campaign contribution intense Rancho Santa Fe.

Another email from a furious San Marcos resident echoed Ms. Fritz's belief that Horn's intent was to gain control over most of the remaining developable areas in the county that are not within city boundaries and are therefore under the Supervisors zoning rule.

The environmental community weighed in en masse, and with alarm, particularly the Endangered Habitat League, the organization that fights long and hard to create, maintain and make good the countywide Multiple Species Habitat Plans. They worry that Horn will diddle with the county's plan once in charge of the lands between Rancho Santa Fe and San Marcos.

The Supervisors, including Mr. Horn, did a good job picking redistricting commissioners, who include a prominent La Jolla environmental attorney and a very well respected La Mesa City Council Member and communications director for the enormously successful San Diego City Center Redevelopment Agency. He should have let them do their job and stayed out of the territory carving industry.

While the most people who wrote me this week weighed in with political conspiratorial theories, I believe Supervisor Bill Horn—he wants to reunite his fractured district. Trouble is, it isn't broke.