September 25, 1998
by Brian P. Devine
Maybe the people of Fairbanks Ranch thought no one would notice as they spent $600,000 to defeat a ballot measure that would improve I-15 and create 10,000 jobs.
Maybe they thought no one would notice that never in the history of San Diego had people so few people from outside of San Diego spent so much money on such an obscure election.
Maybe they thought no one would notice and their efforts would not subject the residents of this privacy-obsessed village to unprecedented scrutiny.
Is so they were wrong. Because when the people of Fairbanks Ranch decided to assess themselves $1,000 per household for a total of more than $600,000 to spend on an upcoming election, they poked their stick into a hornets nest the likes of which has not been seen in San Diego. Ever.
That is what they discovered outside their locked and guarded gates when members of the Sierra Club, the San Diego Black Contractors Association, Citizens for I-15, and several community planning groups gathered this week at Fairbanks Ranch to protest the efforts of the people of Fairbanks to damage road improvements and destroy jobs.
"We are here to tell the people of Fairbanks Ranch that we will not be denied in our efforts to improve our roads and create more jobs," said Abdur-Rahim Hameed, founder and executive director of San Diego Black Contractors Association. "These people of Fairbanks Ranch are spending all this money for such a bad cause because they are afraid a new master planned community near them will create congestion. They are wrong. This project, Black Mountain Ranch, is donating $25 million for improvements to I-15 and SR-56. And that will improve circulation. They are just NIMBY's. And we cannot allow their selfishness and wrong-headedness to destroy the 10,000 jobs this will create for people who need them the most."
Hameed spoke to a crowd of more than 20 protesters in front of the gates to Fairbanks Ranch. Hameed's group, the San Diego Black Contractors, is known nation-wide for creating an apprentice training program in San Diego neighborhoods hit hardest with unemployment. Not that this seemed to matter to the drivers of the luxury autos that sneered at Hameed and other during the demonstration.
Joining Hameed was longtime community activist, Kevin McNamara, representing Citizens to Improve I-15. "The voters of San Diego are going to have to choose between Fairbanks Ranch an I-15," McNamara said. "Fairbanks is raising over $600,000 to defeat Black Mountain Ranch. This is a travesty and we won't let it stand without exposing them for who they are."
"We have all worked over 10 years on this project. FinallyFinallywe have a landowner willing to spend money to improve our freeways and we're not going to let a few people from Fairbanks hide behind their fancy gates and attempt to buy an election in the city," said McNamara.
Black Mountain Ranch is proposing to build a new community on approximately 900 acres north of Rancho Pinasquitos. As part of their proposal, they have agreed to commit to $25 million dollars to assist in the completion of SR-56 and the improvement of Interstate 15. This proposal represents the first time a private party has agreed to provide money for a regional highway.
Black Mountain Ranch is also the largest contributor of open space to the city's program to preserve habitat for endangered species. This the unusual coalition of environmentalists, builder's, community activists, and others who are working to support Black Mountain Ranch, proposition K.
"The Sierra Club is supporting Black Mountain Ranch because of the open space, the high density development that encouraged better transportation, and the willingness of the landowners to support improvements to the road system outside of the project," said Paul Blackburn, conservation coordinator of the Sierra Club. "That's why this ballot measure is so important, and why it is so wrong that a few people are trying to buy this election."