Vote on Temecula-area rock mine postponed until Thursday
The hearing capped three full days of testimony and discussion before the board, attracting hundreds of union members in support of the rock mine and community members fighting it.
In September, the Riverside County Planning Commission rejected the application for a massive rock mine amid strong opposition from Temecula and the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.
Watsonville-based Granite Construction, the proponent, appealed that decision to the Board of Supervisors.
Granite Construction wants to develop a 414-acre operation on a mountain that looms over Interstate 15. The proposed Liberty Quarry would mine about 270 million tons of granite from the mountain over the next 75 years, supplying concrete and asphalt to fast-growing northern San Diego County and southwest Riverside County.
Ultimately, the mine would be 1,000 feet deep and more than a mile wide.
Tuesday’s hearing featured hours of dueling testimony from geologists, economists, mining experts and, of course, attorneys.
A study sponsored by the Temecula City Council determined that the rock dust wafting over the valley would lead to 146 premature deaths and that the quarry would devastate the area’s economy.
Granite Construction’s Gary Johnson called the allegations baseless. He played a seven-minute video for the supervisors that featured an epidemiologist and local physicians debunking the city's claims.
Johnson said regional air quality regulators concluded that the project would ultimately improve air quality by taking trucks off the highways. He said the project would create 99 jobs, and hundreds of additional indirect jobs, that would benefit the local economy.
Mark Macarro, chairman of the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians, earlier told the supervisors that the mountain Granite wants to mine is part of a range where the Luiseno people believe life was created. He urged the board to reject the proposal.
-- Phil Willon in Riverside
Photo: The proposed quarry is on private land on Pu`éska Mountain, tucked within a series of peaks that the Pechanga Band and other Luiseno people believe is the cradle of creation and place of origin for all Luiseno. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times