Friday, March 21, 2014

Banning Ranch Workshop

GOOD TURNOUT
Thursday night I joined more than 130 interested residents at the Neighborhood Community Center for a workshop on Banning Ranch conducted by the folks at the Banning Ranch Conservancy.  The room was packed and the audience was very focused on the issue.  I was surprised and amused to find the irrepressible Terry Koken sitting inside the Victoria Room, plinking away on his banjo, waiting to greet me.  No, he did not play for us.

COSTA MESA BRIEF ON THE JOB
I arrived early to find Barry Friedland setting up his cameras to cover the event.  Old Barry does an excellent job of providing coverage of many important meetings around town for replay on his Costa Mesa Brief YouTube channel.  Look for the coverage of this meeting soon.

COSTA MESA OFFICIALS IN THE AUDIENCE
Costa Mesa councilwomen Sandra Genis and Wendy Leece attended, as did former councilman Jay Humphrey and current Parks and Recreation Commissioner Bob Graham, although he left very early in the meeting.  I also saw council candidate Tony Capitelli in the audience for a few minutes.  I saw no city staff members in the audience, nor were members of the Newport Banning Ranch development group represented as speakers.  This was a one-sided affair - to stop the development of Banning Ranch.

WELSH KICKS IT OFF
The meeting, which began late, was moderated by the president of the Conservancy, Dr. Terry Welsh, who launched into the reason for the meeting - to educate the public and to get help with the project.  Following his introduction he passed the commentary to various members of the board of the Banning Ranch Conservancy and others to discuss different topics.



FORESTER ASKING FOR DOLLARS
Suzanne Forester spoke twice, hitting up the crowd for contributions and emphasizing the need to reach $25,000 in contributions by the end of the month so an anonymous generous benefactor would pony up his guarantee to match that amount.

KOKEN TO THE RESCUE
Several others spoke, including Terry Koken, who filled in for an absent speaker and joked his way through an unfamiliar slide show.  He actually did a pretty darn good job considering that he was drafted for the task just moments before.

 HENDRICKS ON FAIRVIEW PARK
Among the other speakers was resident Kim Hendricks, who spoke on Fairview Park because of the synergy between that venue and the Banning Ranch.  She emphasized the current discussions taking place by the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee and what she described as plans to develop Fairview Park.

STATUS OF LAWSUIT AND MORE
Steve Ray, Executive Director of the Banning Ranch Conservancy and host of a Saturday morning radio show on KOCI-FM 105.1, spent a good deal of time explaining the current status of the plans to develop Banning Ranch and the status of the lawsuit filed by the Conservancy to halt the development.  We learned that the plans to develop the ranch, while slowed, still move forward.  We learned that virtually ALL the traffic generated by the project will end up on Costa Mesa streets.  We learned that the development agreement agreed to by the City of Costa Mesa won't come close to covering the mitigation costs for that traffic.

WE LEARNED MORE...
We also learned that the Newport Banning Ranch development project may take as long as 15-18 years to complete once begun due to the need to mitigate oil field residue.  We learned that, while the neighboring Sunset Ridge Park project involves moving 50,000 cubic yards of dirt, the Banning Ranch project is projected to move 2.6 million cubic yards!  We learned that the City of Newport Beach was stymied on the project because it conflicted with their General Plan, so they just set about amending the General Plan to accommodate the development of this site.
LEARN MORE...
You can learn much more by visiting the web site for the Banning Ranch Conservancy, HERE.  You can contact Welsh at 714-719-2148 or Ray at 310-961-7610.  They can tell you about their plans for the proposed Banning Ranch Park and Preserve, shown below.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Mike H. said...

Terry! You're supposed to have the case open so we can throw money in there! Sheesh!

3/21/2014 10:35:00 AM  

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