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Newport Banning Ranch Owners Say Coastal Commission Staff Report is "De-facto Denial" of Project--Eliminates All Public Benefits, Coastal Access, Open Space, Native American Programs
Vows to Challenge Report Because of False Assumptions on Impacts Commission Staff Relied Almost Solely on Data from Project Opponents
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Aug. 29, 2016
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Aug. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Saying the most recent California Coastal Commission staff report is a "de-facto denial of the project," Newport Banning Ranch property owners say they will challenge the report's conclusions which are mostly based on false assumptions provided by experts representing project opponents.
The 172 page staff recommendation released late Friday would allow development on less than 10 acres of the 401 acre property, essentially killing the project which proposed using approximately 70 acres for homes and commercial uses and permanently preserving about 300 acres for natural open space, hiking and biking trials, and nature and Native American educational programming.
"We negotiated in good faith for four years and believed we had reached a compromise that met environmental regulations and economic realities," said Michael Mohler, Senior Project Manager for Newport Banning Ranch. "We are deeply troubled that staff wants to eliminate all proposed visitor serving programs and favors keeping a fence in perpetuity that blocks coastal access to the public and, in particular, under-served neighbors in Westside Costa Mesa."
"We have invested years and spent millions on planning, engineering, and working with Coastal Commission staff," said Mohler. "Our proposed plan is based on over 20 years of site research, provides appropriate habitat for the one burrowing owl that has appeared on the site for no more than three to four weeks annually. This is a de-facto denial of the project that will result in the oil field remaining in place for decades to come."
Mohler added Newport Banning Ranch's conservation plan not only provides habitat for the burrowing owl, but is a multi-species protection plan that restores the natural flora and fauna of the coastline. The site is currently a degraded industrial brownfield from years of oil exploration and drilling.
"We have done everything asked of us over the past decade to meet or exceed all requirements," Mohler added. "This is only one issue in the Staff Report that needs to be addressed. We have worked in good faith to respond to direction received from the Coastal Commission in October last year, and overcome the obstacles placed in our path to do the right thing. We will continue to advocate for the accelerated abandonment and remediation of the oil field and creation of more than 300 acres of public open space that would result from implementing our proposed plan."
A vote by the Commission on the project is scheduled for Sept. 7 in Newport Beach.
About Newport Banning Ranch
Newport Banning Ranch proposes permanent preservation of 80% of the property (about 300+ acres) and creating 20% housing and commercial (about 70 acres) of the 401 acre property. The money from this limited development (895 housing units and a 75-room hotel, 20-bed hostel and a small 45,100 sq. ft. neighborhood/visitor-serving retail center) effort will establish funding for the Newport Banning Land Trust and its restoration and educational activities, including community parks and recreation areas, an nature and Native American education center and 7 miles of hiking and biking trails.
The project is endorsed by many elected and community leaders as well as the Gabrieleño Band of Mission Indians (Kizh Nation) and Tongva Ancestral Territorial Tribal Nation (TATTN).
SOURCE Newport Banning Ranch
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