Newport Banning Ranch
|Summary||The long-awaited and much dreaded Newport Banning Ranch hearing finally arrived. Many questions awaited answers. Would the proposed development of the Newport Banning Ranch property be approved? If the project was approved, what message would it send? What precedent would it set? These questions dominated much of the pre-hearing conversation. After all, the Coastal Commission exists to enforce the Coastal Act and the proposed development of Newport Banning Ranch brought into question major Coastal Act issues: Do we evaluate “tiers” of sensitive habitat – that is to say, is some habitat more worth protecting than others? How well are Native American tribes included in project development and proposed management? Would a denial of the project result in a “takings” claim?
All these matters came before the Commission during more than 10 hours of public comment, testimony and deliberation. Ultimately, Commissioners voted 9:1 to deny the project.
|Outcome Description||As Commissioner Bochco said, the proposed development is a good project –somewhere else. The most recent version of the proposal (there have been a number of iterations along the way) would have impacted approximately 38 acres of sensitive habitat and wetlands making it noncompliant with the Coastal Act. In addition, there was questionable integration of tribal concerns and those only within the last three months. This brought into question whether the project developers had done their due diligence to protect cultural resources. Staff proposed a version of the project that would not impact or encroach upon habitat, but would further decrease the size of the project below what the applicant was willing to accept. On the matter of “takings,” the Commission’s legal staff clarified that issue did not apply in this case as the staff-approved development would not deprive the applicant of all property value as it would still have allowed for hundreds of homes.|
|Why You Should Care||There are a number of reasons why citizens should be aware of this project and the potential ramifications if it had been approved. The Coastal Act is a legal tool to protect sensitive habitat – it does not differentiate between the “good” sensitive habitat and the “not-so-good” sensitive habitat. Had the applicant’s proposed project footprint been approved, sensitive habitat would have been impacted, which is in no way compliant with the Coastal Act. The argument was that it was “degraded” habitat and thus did not warrant the same protection as other sensitive habitat; approval would have set a destructive precedent for future projects. In addition, the late and minimal inclusion of tribal representatives showed little concern for protecting cultural resources – also a stipulation of the Coastal Act. Denial of the proposed project showed that the Commission understands that there is only one chance to do things correctly (development can’t typically be undone) and that Commissioners want to see things done right – in accordance with the Coastal Act.|
|Decision Type||Coastal Development Permit|
|Staff Recommendation||Approval with conditions|
|Lobbyist/Agent||Mike Mohler, Brook Street Consulting|
|Opposition to Project||Molly Wiehardt, Larry Blugrind, Patricia Rudner, Robert Somers, Ed Van den Bossche, John Landre, George Lesley, Ryan Long, Newport Shores Community Association, Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, Banning Ranch Conservancy, Peter Bloom PhD, Nature Commission, David Coffin, Endangered Habitats League, Petition from Change.org, Cindy Black, Elizabeth White Flowers, California Cultural Resource Preservation Alliance Inc, Darris Nelson, Karen Donaldson, David Kelly, Theresa Fernald, Brian Benoit, Center for Biological Diversity, Christine Grocki and Todd DeMond, Robert Orbe, Costa Mesa Westside Coalition, Flo Martin, Lea Lowe, David Theriault, Deborah Koken, Terry Powell, Barbara McElheny, Jennifer Cameron, Bill Trigwell, Robert Hamilton, Susan Skinner, Mike and Dorothy Kraus, Lyle Abbott, Barbara Thibault, Thomas and Margaret Schottmiller, South Laguna Civic Association, Newport Crest Board of Directors, Tom Falvey, Bill McCarty, Gabrielle Weeks, Arlis Reynolds, Save Banning Ranch Together, Green Peace Orange County, Nova and Stephen Wheeler, Angeles Chapter Sierra Club and petition with 869 signatures, Newport Shores Community Association, Sandra Petty-Weeks, Ann Denison, Janet Millian, Merle Moshiri, Tony Guenther, Marinka Horack, Suzy Briggs, Marion Coddington, Meridee Thompson, Norman J. Suker, Patricia Rudner, Georgia Mahoney, Carl Mumm, Lori Wenger, Helen Maurer, Bill Harader, Sandie Frankiewicz, Carol Furutani, Ron Frankiewicz, Kevin Walt, Judy Meade, Shannon Crossen, Karen Sas-Arnold, Lisa Lawrence, Ryan Long, David Weinstein, Lynn Friedman, Robert Snyder, Mary Clarke, Constance Spenger, Loreen Strope, Wayne Weber, Scott Tracy, Birute Ranes, James and Nancy Turner, Gerard Proccacino, Rebecca Hart, Miguel Zamarripa, Gail Millage, Andrea Stone, Brad Moore, Amanda Schwer, League of Women Voters of Orange Coast, Patrick O’Sullivan, Mary Carlson, Nancy DeLong, Dr. Michelle Ferry, Sylvia Marson, Jack Eidt, Steve Tyler, Donna Birge, Geri von Freymann, Ivars Ozolins, Carol Mason, Gary Hartung, Costa Mesa First, Dorothy and Helmut Golz, Roger Hinkson, William Dunlap, John McMahon|
|Coastal Act Policies||Chapter 3 Policies|
Voting Detail for Newport Banning Ranch
|Mary K. Shallenberger|
View Meeting Page for the meeting where this issue was discussed/voted on.