Conservation Update, 2014 Feb | Saddle Crest, Chino-Puente Hills, Banning Ranch, Fairview Park

SADDLE CREST UPDATE: Developer Rutter Santiago LP’s brief for its appeal of the Superior Court’s denial of the Saddle Crest Homes project is due in the Appeals Court on Jan. 2, 2014. The Saddleback Conservancy et al‘s answering brief is due 30 days later. See the Nov–‐Dec 2012, Jan–‐Feb, Sept–‐Oct and Nov–‐Dec 2013 Newsletters, and references therein, for background on OCCNPS/CNPS involvement and its preceding actions. Saddleback Canyons Conservancy and Rural Canyons Conservation Fund are still spearheading the environmental coalition (which also includes Audubon California, CNPS, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks) on this side of the battle.

ACTION NOW: Donate to help defend the Superior Court’s ruling, at Donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.

CHINO–‐PUENTE HILLS: The Hills continue to be threatened by proposed developments that would nibble away private lands that should be part of the State Park. See details of the proposed developments and comment deadlines at

ACTION NOW: Especially if you live in northern OC, tell the City of Brea and Orange County that the proposed developments’ sites have burned multiple times in the past 30 years, that it is irresponsible for developments to be allowed in such a fire–‐ prone corridor.

ORANGE COAST RIVER PARK/Banning Ranch: The Banning Ranch Conservancy won its lawsuit against the Newport Beach City Council, for its approval of the Newport Banning Ranch project. In 2006, Newport Beach residents voted to prioritize the acquisition of Banning Ranch as open space for public use. The Conservancy’s goal in taking legal action was to compel the City Council to honor that vote.

ACTION NOW: Much remains to be done before Banning Ranch is fully preserved. Especially if you live in the Newport Beach area, see to help.

FAIRVIEW PARK: In about 1994, OCCNPS members discovered a 2–‐acre vernal pool site in an undeveloped area of 208–‐acre Fairview Park in Costa Mesa. Amazingly, this pool complex was still there and functioning in a popular city park that is home to several active non–‐plant interest groups and surrounded on three sides by established suburbia. Mapping of the pools area found Navarretia prostrata (CRPR 1B.1), in its 4th known site in CA. The vernal pool site was soon declared to be a jurisdictional wetland, officially protected under the Clean Water Act. The pools were also found to be home to a population of the rare San Diego Fairy Shrimp, adding protection under the Endangered Species Act. The 1998 Fairview Park Master Plan emphasized that Costa Mesa citizens’ will was that Fairview would be a passive park and that its undeveloped portion was to be restored as typical coastal–‐mesa habitat, incorporating and protecting the vernal pools and the fairy shrimp.

The Fairview Park Advisory Committee recently issued a list of proposed Master Plan changes ( Of the 35 proposed changes, 15 would add athletic fields, etc, that cumulatively would turn Fairview into an active park. SIx proposals would enhance the vernal pool area and the enjoyment of nature. The remaining proposals’ effect would depend on how they are designed and implemented. The Advisory Committee is currently evaluating the proposals; see the Work Plan and background info at

ACTION NOW: Especially if you live in or near Costa Mesa, speak up for the nature in Fairview Park. The next scheduled Advisory Comm. meeting is Feb. 5, 2014, 6–‐7 PM, at the Neighborhood Community Center (NCC), Victoria Room, 1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa.

—Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

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