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Commission set to decide on Bolsa Chica development

December 30, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • A vacant dirt lot located at the southeast corner of Bolsa Chica Street and Los Patos Avenue in Huntington Beach. Currently classified as an open park space, developers want this location to build homes but preservationists believe there are Native American remains and artifacts in this area. (Kevin Chang/ HB Independent)
A vacant dirt lot located at the southeast corner of Bolsa… (KEVIN CHANG / HB…)

A state coastal agency could decide soon whether Huntington Beach can rezone a site in the Bolsa Chica mesa, an area that opponents say is home to Native American artifacts and remains, to allow for a housing development.

The California Coastal Commission is set to vote Jan. 8 on whether the city can amend its Local Coastal Program — local governments' guide to development in the coastal zone — to allow for new homes on the northwest portion of Bolsa Chica.

In a report, commission staff recommends denying amendments because the changes would "eliminate a higher priority land use designation and does not assure that significant culture resources and sensitive habitats will be protected" under the California Coastal Act. The move would also violate a part of the Local Coastal Program that the commission has already approved.

The Bolsa Chica Land Trust has argued, along with residents and others, that the development would destroy 9,000 years of Native American cog stones and artifacts.

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Amigos de Bolsa Chica President Tom Livengood declined to comment on the issue, and Bolsa Chica Conservancy Executive Director Grace Adams could not be reached by press time.

"The trust absolutely agrees with the commission staff, that as submitted, the project needs to be denied," said board member and City Councilwoman Connie Boardman.

The council in 2010 approved changing the land use designation of a 5-acre parcel known as the Ridge, at the southeast corner of Bolsa Chica Street and Los Patos Avenue, from open park space to residential use.

Property owner Signal Landmark and developer Hearthside Homes planned to build 22 "green" homes on the site.

The land trust sued the city and the developer in 2010 to stop the project and force a proper analysis of its potential effects. The lawsuit is on hold under a mutual agreement among the three parties until coastal commissioners hear the issue, Boardman said.

"Sadly, [Native Americans] didn't leave gold-laden tombs or majestic monuments," land trust Executive Director Kim Kolpin said, comparing the Ridge site to the treasures of Egypt. "What they left here, though, was the story of early civilization here in North America."

She added that the most appropriate way to study the artifacts would be to leave them where they are. Removing the items from the site would reduce its significance and value, Kolpin said.

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