Judge strikes down envisioned Otay Ranch housing project, citing wildfire, climate change

The Sierra Club and a host of other environmental teams, backed by the California lawyer

The Sierra Club and a host of other environmental teams, backed by the California lawyer basic, have notched their latest victory against a spate of rural housing developments proposed in superior-hearth spots of San Diego County.

San Diego Sport Exceptional Courtroom Judge Richard S. Whitney sided with the groups Thursday, hanging down county approval of Adara at Otay Ranch. In his ruling, he cited fears about everything from greenhouse gases to wildfire to economical housing.

The Jackson Pendo Growth Enterprise prepared to develop the 1,119-property task east of Chula Vista and south of Jamul on Proctor Valley Highway. The envisioned growth provided upscale housing, business storefronts, an elementary college and a new fireplace station, demanding building on several unconnected parcels.

The enhancement organization could not be arrived at for remark by press time.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the challenge in 2019 with the assistance of regional fireplace officers. Cal Hearth San Diego Device Chief Tony Mecham assured the board at the time that the task was harmless in spite of becoming positioned in an location which is viewed recurring blazes, including seven given that 2003.

Specifically, Whitney located that the county’s environmental effect report did not thoroughly disclose or assess quite a few impacts of setting up new houses on the chaparral-coated countryside, such as the destruction of habitat for the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly.

The judge also discovered that the county’s prepare to make it possible for builders to acquire so-termed carbon credits to stay clear of limitations on greenhouse gases was troublesome because the county had not devised a suitable framework for oversight. The finding echoes a condition appellate court docket impression that invalidated the county’s Climate Action System in 2020.

“This court docket determination confirms that regional authorities has to actually guarantee that jobs reduce their local weather impacts, not merely count on defective offset strategies that plainly violate environmental regulation,” stated Josh Chatten-Brown, the lawyer symbolizing the Sierra Club.

The environmental teams — which also incorporates The Heart for Biological Range, Endangered Habitat League and California Chaparral Institute — have effectively challenged several other housing projects on very similar grounds. All those have bundled Newland Sierra, Valiano and Harmony Grove Village South.

“We simply cannot retain approving initiatives in distant areas, in wildlands, in higher-fireplace hazard regions that have high greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Dan Silver, chief govt of the Endangered Habitats League. “We’re in yet another planet now.”

The California lawyer basic joined the lawsuit previously this yr, echoing environmental and safety concerns and noting that the developments never established apart any models for very affordable housing.

“California is on track for however another history-breaking, local climate-fueled wildfire year,” Lawyer Standard Rob Bonta explained in a statement late Thursday. “As these mega-disasters come to be the norm, it is additional important than at any time that we construct responsibly. We can not hold generating the identical blunders. The land use choices we make now will have consequences for decades and a long time to appear.”