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Judge dismisses developer’s suit against Oceanside referendum proponents
By Phil Diehl, August 21, 2020

Second case still pending in battle over North River Farms housing project

A Superior Court judge Friday dismissed the first of two lawsuits filed by the developer Integral Communities against residents trying to stop construction of the 585-home North River Farms project in Oceanside’s rural Morro Hills.

The Integral lawsuit claimed that the opponents of the projects circulated an illegal referendum petition and that it contained “false, forged, or fictitious names.” Judge Gregory Pollock ruled that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. The referendum is Measure L on the Nov. 3 ballot.

“The judge saw through everything about this case,” said Everett DeLano, an attorney for residents Kathryn Carbone and Arleen Hammerschmidt, who are named as respondents along with Oceanside City Clerk Zeb Navarro, San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu, and others.

“He described their arguments ... as ‘so-what evidence,’” DeLano said. “He rejected every argument.”

Ninia Hammond, project manager for Integral, said Friday the company was disappointed in the ruling but continues to believe that “the project will be a great addition to the city.”

The fight over North River Farms has been bitter for years. A ballot measure that could have stopped the project failed in 2018, when the developer vastly outspent opponents on campaign signs, mailings and advertising. Integral bused in people from outside the city to pack the council chambers and keep opponents out last year when the City Council voted 3-2 in favor of the project. Then the company hired people to follow signature gatherers and obstruct their efforts to place the referendum on the ballot.

“This is part of the long-standing pattern of unethical behavior from this developer,” said resident Dennis Martinek, a former city planning commissioner, who helped lead the 2018 effort. “They have tried to harass, bully and intimidate opponents of their project.”

Integral filed a second lawsuit in July that alleges the referendum itself is illegal because it violates the developer’s rights granted by the city and the state to build housing. No decision on that suit is likely until after the election, and it could be a moot point if voters don’t overturn the City Council’s approval of the project.

The proposed 214-acre, farm-themed residential community would have up to 585 homes, a hotel, retail stores, an education center, and 85 acres of open space and agricultural uses such as community gardens.

Opponents say the project would destroy some of the last productive farmland in North County, that it would compound congestion on North River Road, which is the only access route into the property, and it would increase demand on already overtaxed city services such as police and fire protection in the region.

Integral calls it “an enormous economic stimulus package and job creation opportunity.” The project includes $80 million for public infrastructure such as road and bridge improvements, and $5 million for Oceanside Unified School District.



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