Thursday, September 08, 2016

Coastal Commission rejects Banning Ranch project

Banning Ranch

NEWPORT BEACH – After a more than 13-hour marathon meeting of the California Coastal Commission, a room packed with some 100 demonstrators exploded in cheers Wednesday when commissioners voted to deny a proposed development in Newport Beach on Banning Ranch, an oil field covered in vernal pools, scrub and grassland and home to endangered species.

“This is a project we have to get right,” said Commissioner Mary Shallenberger. “We’ve heard this is the only intact coastal bluff ecosystem in Southern California. It is the largest concentration of endangered and threatened species in Orange County....You can’t make a mistake with that and turn back when you find you haven’t had it quite right. If we don’t get it right, things will be lost forever.”

The commission’s vote of 9 to 1 to deny the proposed development halts a 20-year battle between preservationists and developers---if only for a while. Developers can resubmit another set of substantially different plans to the commission in six months with a fee of at least $250,000.

Earlier in the day, project managers for the proposed housing and retail project at Banning Ranch described the latest recommendation from the California Coastal Commission staff for Banning Ranch as an illegal land grab.

The agency’s leader, Jack Ainsworth, however, urged commissioners to consider the environmental impact of a big development on the property...

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