TERI Center for Research & Life Planning Agricultural Study
HELIX Environmental Planning (HELIX) prepared an Agricultural Resources Report under County of San Diego Guidelines to evaluate a proposed private research and educational facility in an unincorporated portion of the County near the Community of Twin Oaks. This analysis included Project assessment under the County Local Agricultural Resource Assessment (LARA) Model, which incorporates six factors including water, climate, soil quality, surrounding land uses, land use consistency, and slope, in determining the importance of agricultural resources. The Project site was also within an area encompassing extensive current and historical agricultural uses, including large areas of mixed-use orchards (mostly avocado and citrus), greenhouse operations for high-value products such as flowering/foliage plants and gourmet food products (e.g., mushrooms), commercial nurseries, and field crops including active strawberry cultivation on an adjacent site. Specific impacts identified in association with Project development included: (1) the loss of approximately 13 acres of on-site agricultural resources identified per County Guidelines (i.e., the LARA Model), and a corresponding area of “prime agricultural land” as defined by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO); and (2) interface conflicts with off-site agricultural operations, including potential restrictions to fumigant application on the adjacent strawberry cultivation. These (and other applicable) potential impacts were addressed through a number of project design measures and regulatory conformance requirements, including: (1) permanently retaining appropriate areas of on-site agricultural uses including orchards, groves and gardens; (2) installing security fencing along the Project site perimeter, and using on-site setbacks, agricultural areas and landscaping to provide transitional uses/buffers and screening; (3) conforming with applicable regulatory standards including National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) hydrology and water quality criteria; and (4) including a design measure (as a condition in the Project Major Use Permit) to allow agricultural operators to apply fumigants in proximity to the school site, along with requirements that school sessions be relocated off site at the request of surrounding agricultural operators to allow for the required fumigation time periods and fumigant buffer zones. Based on the described Agricultural Resources Report and related measures, the TERI Project was approved and has been successfully implemented without substantial interface conflicts to/from surrounding agricultural operations.