Dr. Welsh is the President of the Banning Ranch Conservancy and Chairperson of the Sierra Club Banning Ranch Park and Preserve Task Force.
Developers are trying to hoodwink California’s Coastal Commissioners into transforming 401 acres of wetlands -- stretching inland from Newport Beach to Costa Mesa-- into an exclusive master planned development of 1,375 beach homes, even as the California Supreme Court is poised to consider whether that’s legal.
Next week interested residents should show up to the Coastal Commission public hearing in Long Beach and let commissioners know why it’s a bad idea to vote for this development.
You get three minutes. Your voice can make a difference. Politicians notice when people show up.
Here are a few things to think about when you talk to commissioners:
- Banning Ranch is the largest unprotected coastal open space remaining in Orange County.
- It is home to more than 19 special status species, including critical habitat for the endangered San Diego Fairy Shrimp and the threatened California Gnatcatcher.
- This area contains irreplaceable remnants of pre-historic Native American peoples.
- It’s one of only two coastal vernal pools remaining in Orange County. Development would destroy 80 percent of the vernal pool complex, as well as much of the habitat for the Burrowing Owl, and other sensitive species.
- This proposed build out is four times larger than the Bolsa Chica development.
- The project requires massive grading to the mesa, extensive habitat destruction, generate over 15,000 car trips daily and use an estimated 200 million gallons of water per year.
In 2012 the City of Newport Beach approved the 1,375-home development. The Banning Ranch Conservancy, a citizen’s group, challenged those approvals in court. In 2013, the Superior Court found that the City of Newport Beach violated its own General Plan by going forward with the development.
The City ignored state law, which requires working with State and Federal agencies to properly identify habitat and wetlands on the property. Rather, they worked with the developer’s consultants and selected others which resulted in an under-reporting of biological resources. But, earlier this year the Appellate Court overturned the lower court’s decision. Banning Ranch Conservancy appealed this controversial decision to the California Supreme Court. In August, the court unanimously agreed to hear the Banning Ranch matter.
Despite the legal uncertainty the developer is moving forward with the Coastal Commission. The hearing will occur at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, at the Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd, Long Beach.
Here’s how you can make a difference:
Send a letter to the Coastal Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org (refer to application 5-13-032).
Sign the petition to stop this development www.banningpledge.com/brc/.
Petitions will be presented to the commissioners at the hearing.
Need a free ride to the hearing? Reserve a seat on the bus at www.banningranchconservancy.org.
Please join the local community, led by the Banning Ranch Conservancy, to preserve the entire Banning Ranch as open space.
Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue please contact Voice of OC Engagement Editor Julie Gallego at email@example.com.