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County Extends Joint Powers Authority that Oversees San Dieguito River Valley Regional Open Space Park

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors today voted to temporarily extend the joint powers authority that oversees the San Dieguito River Valley Regional Open Space Park to give officials more time to work out an amended agreement.   

The 25-year-old joint powers authority that governs the 55-mile corridor running from near Volcan Mountain to the river's mouth in Del Mar was set to expire June 12.

Last year, the county and cities of Del Mar, Escondido, Poway and Solana Beach approved an amended agreement that would have stipulated that voting rights be suspended if payments were not up-to-date. The city of San Diego has not signed on, necessitating the extension.

The vote gave county staffers six months to meet with the JPA members and officials to assess the agreements before reporting back. If an alternative agreement is not approved, the JPA's term will be 50 years, or as long as at least two agencies continue membership.

However since the county was first to adopt the extension, another member will have to sign on for it to take effect.

County staffers warned in a report that a dissolution of the JPA could bring about problems with the distribution of assets and management.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer's initial budget proposal did not include the city's $254,000 annual contribution, equal to the county's payment, but he wrote in a letter last week to Supervisor Dave Roberts that he would add the funds to a list of revisions.

Faulconer said that he does not favor an open-ended extension for the JPA, and wants the city to have a voting weight more in line with its funding portion. According to U-T San Diego, the city gives 31 percent of the JPA's money but has 22 percent of its voting weight.

Roberts said Faulconer's concerns would be addressed at the next JPA meeting.

"Between that funding and this extension, this river park has a great future here in San Diego County," Roberts said.

San Diego did not make any financial contributions to the authority for three years when its budget was constrained by the recession, but funding was restored last year by ex-Mayor Bob Filner.

Since its inception in 1989, the JPA has purchased more than 2,975 acres of open space lands, formed cooperative agreements with public agencies to plan, fund and implement restoration of natural habitats, restored historic structures, and constructed miles of trails including over 34 miles of the Coast to Crest Trail, according to the county.

—City News Service

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