Conservation Update, 2016 Mar | Esperanza, Madrona, Orange Citizens, Banning Ranch, Coast to Cleveland Corridor


See past Newsletters and the indicated websites for background on these lawsuits.

1.Esperanza: Settlement negotiations were held last summer but no agreement was reached. The petitioners (our side) filed their brief on Jan. 15. The defendants, Orange County and developer Esperanza Hills, filed theirs on Feb. 29. The trial is scheduled for April. Background:

2. Madrona: On Feb. 19, the landowner/developer filed an appeal of the Superior Court’s overturning of the project approvals. The City of Brea did not choose to join the appeal. The trial is expected to be in 18 months or so. Background:

3. Orange Citizens: OCCNPS is part of an amicus curiae suit, which is awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision to review.

4. Banning Ranch: OCCNPS is part of an amicus curiae suit, which the Supreme Court has decided to review.

BANNING RANCH: The Coastal Commission hearing on the permit for development proposed for Banning Ranch has been re­scheduled to May; it will be in the LA/OC area. Stay tuned.


1. The West Alton Project: The Project’s EIR is expected to be released soon. A multi­story, 970­unit residential project is planned for a 44-acre, triangle-shaped County-owned parcel in Irvine, adjacent to the Great Park and the FBI Complex. A strip of about 11 acres, bifurcating the parcel, has been designated as wildlife corridor as mitigation for another project in the area. Enviro groups are concerned that such a large­scale development, sited on both sides of the corridor, would deter animals from using it. No additional protective measures are being considered (such as noise or light reduction) to minimize impacts to wildlife. Enviro groups have urged the County to consider alternate possible land uses, especially those that would be more compatible with the function of the wildlife corridor.

2. The Undercrossing at Bake Parkway: Where it goes under I­5, the wildlife corridor narrows drastically into a large, long culvert, which curves such that light from one end can’t be seen from the other end. Animals generally are reluctant to enter a dark tunnel such as this. So the undercrossing is a major obstacle to the corridor’s function: to enable wildlife dispersal between the Coastal and Central portions of the NCCP reserve lands. Laguna Greenbelt and several technical experts will soon view and discuss potential solutions for this obstacle. For background on this portion of the corridor, see­-southern-reach/.


—Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

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