California Supreme Court Sides with Conservationists

The following is a press release from an organization unaffiliated with Voice of OC. The views expressed here are not those of Voice of OC.

CONTACT:

Claire Schlotterbeck, Hills For Everyone

Office: (714) 996-0502, Cell: (714) 470-9644

Claire@Schlotterbeck.net

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 15, 2018

California Supreme Court Sides with Conservationists

Dangerous Hillside Project to be Overturned by City of Brea

Brea, California - After a 17-year long land use battle to stop a poorly planned hillside development, the California Supreme Court rejected the developer’s request to review the Madrona case—effectively ending all litigation. In earlier court decisions, the proposed 162 unit Madrona project was found to violate local laws, affirming the position of conservation groups. The landowner, Old Standard Life Insurance Company, is in bankruptcy in Idaho—the second bankruptcy attached to this problematic parcel of land. The City of Brea will now be ordered to revoke all project approvals it granted in June 2014.

The Madrona project, formerly known as Canyon Crest, sits atop ridgelines deep in the canyons of eastern Brea adjacent to Chino Hills State Park. It relied on one daily access point for residents in a steep, narrow canyon plagued by traffic jams, motor vehicle accidents, and road closures. In addition, the property has a long history of wildfires—burning four times in 30 years—which was a key reason Hills For Everyone filed suit. The ability to safely and quickly evacuate was of paramount concern for the group. With recent catastrophic wildfires, loss of life and property, and subsequent mudslides; it is continued proof that building homes at the Wildland-Urban Interface can have dire consequences when fires start during Santa Ana Wind days.

Hills For Everyone, a regional non-profit that created Chino Hills State Park, filed the lawsuit. California Native Plant Society; Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks; and Sierra Club joined the petition. Sara Clark and Gabriel Ross of Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger, consistently and clearly represented petitioners on this case. Both the Third District Superior Court and Fourth District Court of Appeal sided with petitioners on the case.

Claire Schlotterbeck, Executive Director of Hills For Everyone remarked, “Caretaking and stewardship has a stronger toehold in our little corner of the world tonight. All we ever asked was that Brea follow its own rules.”

The project shares a boundary with the 14,100-acre Chino Hills State Park and would have disrupted the only documented mountain lion corridor between Orange and Los Angeles County. To build on the ridgelines, 1,400 oak and walnut trees would have been removed. In an attempt to keep fires at bay, a green vegetation moat would have been built to buffer houses from wildfires. Keeping the vegetation green meant Madrona residents would have consumed more than five times the average daily water use of other Brea residents. Finally, if constructed, Madrona would have put over 1,600 more cars a day on the overburdened two lane Carbon Canyon Road.

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For more than 40 years, Hills For Everyone has worked to preserve the unique and disappearing landscapes of the Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor. California Native Plant Society focuses on conservation of California native plants and their natural habitats. Friends of Harbors, Beaches, and Parks works to protect the natural lands, waterways, and beaches of Orange County. Sierra Club’s mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth.

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