Public comments due soon on tiered equine ordinance

By Karen Carlson

Residents of Ramona and other rural areas have until Feb. 17 to comment on documentation on San Diego County’s Tiered Equine Ordinance which could affect horse keeping and horse boarding in unincorporated areas throughout the county.

The project proposes amendments to the County of San Diego Zoning Ordinance for equine uses and will implement ministerial and discretionary tiers of permitting for horse stables.

A group called the San Diego County Equestrian Foundation (SDCEF) and county staff worked together to update regulations regarding horse keeping and boarding. A tiered ordinance, similar to the winery tiers discussed for Ramona several years ago, was proposed that took into consideration the proposed use, size of lot and location, and traffic that may be generated from horse keeping and boarding in areas like Ramona.

SDCEF was formed about 1 1/2 years ago when a group of equine owners gathered to discuss the county’s General Plan Update and to express their concerns about changes, or lack thereof, to the zoning regulations regarding horse keeping and boarding. The group was formed in Valley Center but soon included residents from Ramona, Alpine, Descanso and other unincorporated areas of the county. The group grew rapidly and has approximately 500 members.

As equine owners, the intent was and is to “protect equine owner interests, whether they own one horse or more anywhere in San Diego County,” according to SDCEF President Michelle Kimball.

“Horse keeping regulation is in place and the rules vary depending on location and designation of properties (zoning). Horse boarding is more strictly regulated and a major use permit has been required for pretty much any horse boarding facility whether it’s someone boarding one horse for a friend, or hundreds of horses kept as a place of business and everything in between. A major use permit is extremely expensive and time consuming, often running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” stated another SDCEF member.

According to the San Diego County website: “The update was directed by County Board of Supervisors action in July 2011 to develop a tiered permitting approach for the commerical Horse Stable use type in areas where a major use permit is required by the Zoning Ordinance.”

The Department of Planning and Land Use has drafted a Notice of Preparation which gives a project description and probably environmental effects. It can be viewed at http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/ceqa_public_review.html.

The document is also available at the Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU), Project Processing Counter, 5201 Ruffin Road, Suite B, San Diego, California 92123. Comments on the Notice of Preparation must be sent to the DPLU address listed above and should reference the project number and name.

Public comments opened Jan. 19 and will close by 4 p.m. on Feb. 17.

More information will be available after the public scoping meeting, consistent with CEQA statutes, that was scheduled for Feb. 6. For more information and maps visit www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/advance/Equine.html.

The Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) drafted a Notice of Preparation Documentation on Jan. 19 as follows:

Project Description:

The project proposes amendments to the County of San Diego Zoning Ordinance for equine uses. The amendments consist of clarifications, deletions, and revisions to provide an updated set of definitions, procedures and standards for review and permitting of equine uses, specifically for commercial horse stables. The amendments will implement a new tiered system of permitting for a horse stable with both ministerial and discretionary tiers of permitting.

The project consists of the following amendments to the County Zoning Ordinance:

Definitions (1110s):

Add a definition for:

•Animal Enclosure – to clarify specifically what an Animal Enclosure is

Revise definitions for:

•Barn - indicate that animal enclosures, such as open horse corrals, are not included in the agricultural building square footage and a barn is not considered an animal enclosure by regulation. A barn is a structure that is regulated separately from an animal enclosure.

•Horse - indicate that a horse is an equine that has reached the age of 12 months rather than 8 months. 12 months is in line with the State definition of a horse. Clarify that a horse in the ordinance may also include donkey, mule or burro.

•Horsekeeping - clarify horses are not required to be kept in an accessory structure.

•Horse Stable - merge the two previous stable use types (Boarding/Breeding or Public) into one simplified use type.

•Zoning Verification Permit – new permit type that is ministerial (not discretionary) with a checklist of clearances for permit approval at the zoning counter.

Use Types Section (1400-1700):

Use Classifications - revise “Animal Sales and Services: Horse Stables” and revise “Animal Raising” in accordance with new tiers for horse stables and horse uses.

Animal Regulations (3000s):

Animal Schedule (Matrix)

Animal Schedule revisions to “Horsekeeping”, “Boarding or Breeding” and “Public Stable” pertaining to use permits and instituting a tiered process for horse uses. Tiered permitting for Horse Stable as follows:

•First tier - 10 horses per acre up to a maximum of 50 horses on 5 acres of usable area allowed with a Zoning Verification Permit.

•Second tier - 10 horses per acre from more than 50 horses on 5 acres of usable area up to a maximum of 100 horses on 10 acres of usable area allowed with an Administrative (AD) Permit.

•Third tier - more than 100 horses or more than 10 acres of usable area allowed with a Major Use Permit (MUP).

•Horses counted under the tiers include both horses under Horsekeeping uses and Horse Stable uses combined. Additional regulations will be in the new Horse Stable section to follow the Animal Schedule.

Animal Enclosures (Matrix)

•Animal Enclosure Setback Table revisions for clarification, indicating horse corrals and stalls (where horses are permanently kept) must meet setbacks. Clarify that riding areas are not required to meet the setbacks. Change the fenced pasture (or riding area) limitation from the current 2 acres down to a 1 acre pasture that does not have to meet setbacks.

Create New Horse Stable Section

•Horse Stable section with specific standards and requirements for horse stable permits under all tiers. An application for any permit (Zoning Verification, AD, or MUP) will include a plot plan that shows and describes the useable area, additional setbacks for a Horse Stable, allowance of horse events, best management practices, manure/vector management, outdoor lighting, signs and adequate living area for horses. The usable area will be defined as the space that can actually be used for horses on the property for keeping or riding areas. For example, homes, other accessory structures, pools, driveways, landscaping, etc. will not count as usable area.

Accessory Structures (6156):

•Revision to the Barns and Agricultural Buildings section to indicate animal enclosures, such as horse corrals, are not included in the calculation.

•Revision to Farm Employee Housing to clarify that an employee of an “Animal Sales and Services: Horse Stable” is not considered a Farm Employee pursuant to County codes (and state law).

General Regulations (6200-6800):

•Signage - Allowance of signs for a Horse Stable (similar to winery signs)

•Fencing - Clarify how animal enclosures are regulated by fencing regulations and the height of corrals allowed.

•Parking - New parking regulations for a Horse Stable in the parking schedule including a requirement for oversized parking for trailers and turn around areas.

•Enclosure Matrix - Revisions to enclosure exemptions for horses and animal enclosures.

•Farm Labor Camp - Revision to the section clarifying that an employee of a Horse Stable is not considered a Farm Employee.

Project Location

The project is located within the County of San Diego which is in Southern California bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean, to the east by Imperial County, to the north by Orange and Riverside Counties, and to the south by Mexico. The project covers the unincorporated portions of the County of San Diego over which the County has land use jurisdiction.

Probable Environmental Effects:

The probable environmental effects associated with the project are detailed in the Environmental Initial Study. All questions answered “Potentially Significant Impact” will be analyzed further in the Environmental Impact Report. All questions answered “Less than Significant Impact” or “Not Applicable” will not be analyzed further in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

The following is a list of the subject areas to be analyzed in the EIR and the particular issues of concern:

Aesthetics

Agriculture and Forestry Resources

Air Quality

Biological Resources

Cultural Resources

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Hazards and Hazardous Materials

Hydrology and Water Quality

Land Use and Planning

Noise

Transportation and Traffic

The actual process began in March 2011 and here is the latest as of January: POD 11-011, Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report public review Jan. 19 - Feb. 17.

For more information and maps visit: http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/advance/Equine.html

   
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