Written by Sidiqa Atria
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is considering the purchase of two parcels of land in El Monte Valley. El Monte Valley is located in the heart of Lakeside and boasts a rather large area of wildland habitat. Should the Supervisors choose to purchase this land, it would consist of 96 acres with each acre priced at $30,000. The entire project is projected to cost almost $3 million.
El Monte Valley is known for various specific types of wildlife like butterflies, lizards, frogs, snakes, bats, owls, roadrunners, eagles, mountain lions, and others. Locals find the valley provides great trails for biking, hiking, and horseback riding.
Along with the wildlife and fauna, the site is also known to offer a rich source of naturally formed sand mining materials. Investors in the area have their eyes on this type of land and have already purchased some land adjacent to El Monte Valley. Take Horizon Hill El Monte Investors, for example. Their plan is to open a facility to annually mine 650,000 tons of sand for up to 15 years and when finished, they will allegedly open the site back up as open space.
Many groups fear these types of business ventures, concerned that they will destroy the rural character of the land. Petitions have circulated in the area to conserve the land. Billy Ortiz, Lakeside’s unofficial mayor, says that groups like “East County Land Use Watchdogs” are doing what they can to raise awareness. The conservation groups want the current County Supervisors to support the causes that former-County Supervisor Dianne Jacob championed.
Sources indicate that the newly elected Board officials; Joel Anderson, Nora Vargas, and Terra Lawson-Remer, may not have the same mindset about preserving such vast amounts of land as Jacob did.
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Sarah E. Aghassi, who is also in favor of the county preserving the valley, chimed in that acquiring the property would enrich the lives of locals, provide better outdoor experiences, and would build a better region.
Recently, a group of 100 locals hiked 2 miles carrying signs that read: “Save El Monte Valley”. Those in attendance from Native tribes chanted and sang along the hike.
Photo by Billy Ortiz