East County News Service

File photo: Cottonwood Golf Course, site of the proposed sand mine along the Sweetwater River

March 7, 2022 (Rancho San Diego) – Several community groups have sent letters to the county strongly criticizing the RIE project over the proposed controversial 10-year surface sand mining operation proposed at the site of the land of Cottonwood Golf. Groups providing detailed comments on the report’s inadequacy include the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, the Sierra Club, the Valle de Oro Community Planning Group, and Stop Cottonwood Sand Mine, a coalition of concerned residents.

As the Feb. 28 deadline for providing comments to San Diego County neared, dozens of residents and organizations sent in comments of concern and opposition, including a detailed analysis of the EIR document by several groups.

Here are excerpts from some comments:

“The Project as proposed will have significant adverse impacts on the natural and human environment in San Diego County. These impacts include, but are not limited to, potentially devastating effects on: local hydrology and water quality water, habitat for terrestrial species and aquatic fauna, local traffic, air quality and noise.

“Furthermore, the Project is inconsistent with the San Diego County Multi-Species Conservation Program (“MSCP”). But none of these Project impacts or inconsistencies can be discerned from reading the DEIR. Regarding each of the substantive requirements of the CEQA – a complete and stable description of the project, a thorough analysis of the significant impacts, the identification of feasible and applicable mitigation measures, an analysis of a reasonable range of alternatives – the DEIR is terribly insufficient.

“As a result, the DEIR fails to meet CEQA’s fundamental objective of publicly disclosing the environmental effects of the Project. The County and the Applicant must start over – beginning with revised Project Objectives that allow for a reasonable range of consideration. of alternatives that would be consistent with the general plan – and to prepare and release a new legally adequate DEIR. –Shute, Mihaky & Weinberger LLP, attorneys for the San Diego Sierra Club Chapter, in a 206-page response

“(Sycuan) submits comments in opposition to this proposed project and expresses its deep disappointment with the flawed, inaccurate and incomplete draft environmental impact analysis. The county DEIR does not acknowledge that the impacts of the project will completely erase all cultural resources currently at the site, causing irreparable harm to the sensitive cultural landscape and threatening the erasure of much of our history and current connection to this place as the Kumeyaay people.

“Furthermore, we are deeply disappointed that the county believes this irreparable damage can be ‘mitigated’ by providing speculative plans to monitor (witness) its destruction. Monitoring and witnessing the unnecessary removal and destruction of resources culturally sensitive is not a mitigation, and is contrary to the protections provided by CEQA.” –Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, in a 49-page letter

“The Valle de Oro Community Planning Group opposes development that is inconsistent with our community plan, established land uses and existing quality of life. We oppose projects that have a high potential for reducing the quality of life, increased health risks and reduced economic stability of our properties.

“We maintain that the community can only thrive if development and land use within the planning area is compatible with surrounding land uses and consistent with the community plan. The project contravenes the Community plan. Therefore, the VDO Community Plan should be adequately and appropriately considered in the environmental review process for all proposed new developments that will impact the community, such as the Project. » –Valle de Oro Community Planning Group, 45-page response

“The draft RIE concludes that there would be significant and non-mitigable aesthetic impacts, but determines that all other impacts can be mitigated to a less than significant level. Several key impacts and areas of analysis have been overlooked. In In several cases, the analysis was not provided because the project would comply with laws and plans. Compliance with laws and plans does not guarantee that there will be no significant impacts. It must be considered on a case-by-case basis, particularly when evaluating something as particularly problematic as a sand mine Where plans are deferred until after RIE certification, such as the development of the Cultural Resource Treatment Agreement and the Preservation Plan, it is not possible to determine whether the plan adequately mitigates the impact. –Elizabeth Urquhart, President,, 37-page letter

Several other letters can be found here:

More information on the Stop Cottonwood Sand Mine, Org:


The February 28, 2022 deadline marked the end of the 75-day period for the public to comment on the draft EIR, which was published on December 16, 2021.

After the publication of the document, the The board sought community input and reiterated the significant concerns raised by area residents about the proposal.

The Cottonwood Sand Mine is offered by New West Investment and investor Michael Schlesinger, who bought the Cottonwood Golf Course in 2015, four years after the golf course filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. originally filed, the proposal is to mine 4.7 million cubic yards with approximately 3.8 million cubic yards (5.7 million tonnes) of construction aggregate produced over ten years, in phases with planned reclamation after each phase. Approximately 214 acres of the approximately 280-acre site are proposed for extractive use which would take place in a total of four phases. The project application was submitted in November 2018.

The proponent argues that the sand is needed to supply construction and road building projects in our region, reducing the need for expensive imported sand.

In the case of the major use permit sought by the proponent, the detailed list of requirements previously released by the county underscores concerns expressed by the community regarding a long-term mine along the Sweetwater River, particularly in the middle of a established residential area. surrounded by homes, schools and shops.

These concerns include traffic, safety and noise, health risks, environmental impacts and declining property values.