Agriculture

Supervisors: Keep Working on Eye-gnat Ordinance

County supervisors directed their environmental health staff Wednesday to keep working to create an ordinance that would give the County power to deal with eye-gnat pests that have troubled residents in Jacumba and Escondido.

County supervisors directed their environmental health staff Wednesday to keep working to create an ordinance that would give the County power to deal with eye-gnat pests that have troubled residents in Jacumba and Escondido.

The Board of Supervisors initially directed the County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) in November to work with the Farm Bureau and other interested parties to come up with options to address the eye-gnat problems.

The department ultimately created a draft ordinance and put it out for public review in February. The draft ordinance encouraged organic farms that exacerbate eye-gnat problems to create voluntary plans to reduce their numbers. However, the proposed ordinance would have also given the County the authority to order organic farms to use non-organic pesticides or to limit their production if the voluntary measures didn’t work.

At Wednesday’s meeting, DEH Director Jack Miller said the County needs to conduct environmental review on the ordinance before it can be brought to the Board for consideration. DEH officials said it was possible that they could bring back a proposed ordinance for the Board to review as early as July, but that it could take longer, depending upon how extensive an environmental review is needed.

Supervisors, meanwhile, including Dianne Jacob and Pam Slater-Price, who brought the issue to the Board in November, said again Wednesday that the County needed to take action.

Jacob and Board Chairman Ron Roberts said the problem was similar to one the County experienced years ago when chicken ranches were creating untolerable fly problems for nearby residents. Jacob said the County implemented an ordinance that alleviated the problem.

“An ordinance, in my opinion, is absolutely necessary to make sure that the organic farms are good neighbors,” Jacob said.

Slater-Price said, “This is a problem that needs a solution.”

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact