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Land Trust sues over Ridge

Group says city needed an EIR to approve 22-unit housing tract near wetlands.

August 11, 2010|By Britney Barnes, britney.barnes@latimes.com

A local environmental organization filed a lawsuit today to stop a housing development on a portion of a former archeological site near the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and to order the city to properly analyze its impacts on the area.

The Bolsa Chica Land Trust is suing the city for allegedly violating the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) on a 22-unit development known as the Ridge.

Land trust President Connie Boardman said the project should have had an EIR under state guidelines because there is conflicting expert testimony on the development's impacts on cultural and biological resources.

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City Atty. Jennifer McGrath said she hasn't seen the lawsuit as of Wednesday afternoon.

The City Council approved the project July 6 5 to 1, with Mayor Pro Tem Jill Hardy voting against it and Councilman Devin Dwyer absent, during a three-hour public hearing in which more than 30 residents spoke against the project.

The council gave Hearthside Homes approval to build a 22-single-family-home tract on a 5-acre section southeast of Bolsa Chica Street and Los Patos Avenue, a portion of which is an archeological site.

The development is slated to be the city's first "green" housing tract with solar panels, "smart" irrigation controllers and drought-tolerant landscaping and be built using sustainable materials, according to staff reports.

The tract will also have porous pavers for the streets and driveways, which will absorb rainwater into a storage tank and then filtered back into the ground.

The project will have "significant impacts" on the wetland ecosystem that couldn't be properly analyzed without the EIR, according to the lawsuit.

The development would reduce raptor foraging habitat, effect the nearby eucalyptus environmentally sensitive habitat areas and create suburban run off, according to the lawsuit.

The land trust is also concerned about destroying archeological remains on what they said could be Native American burial grounds, according to the suit.

City staff have said it is "unlikely" that any artifacts will be found intact on the site.

"There is a whole host of issues we've raised," Boardman said. "We're really hopeful that we can get an EIR."

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