Banning Ranch Development Denied!
Better late than never, right? In what is certainly the biggest story in our little slice of the world in many moons, the California Coastal Commission overwhelmingly denied the ddevelopment plans for the Banning Ranch oil field in West Newport Beach at the end of many hours - some reports say 8 hours, others say 13 - of discussion and testimony late last night. The vote was 9-1!
LOTS OF FREQUENT REPORTS
I confess that I was not watching the live stream of the event, although several friends did text me with highlights and I did see a few images and videos via Facebook throughout the day. But, that's OK, because there were plenty of very smart folks onsite, poised to report the results of the event.
LOTS OF TIMELY, EXCELLENT COVERAGE
When I head the news - just before 11:00 p.m. last night - I immediately began checking media for reports. First up was Hannah Fry's excellent coverage, just before 11:00, HERE. I also checked the Orange County Register and found Lauren Williams' report, HERE, that was timestamped just after 6:00 p.m., so it had been modified for the final result without changing the timestamp. Win to the Daily Pilot. There is also a Los Angeles Times story, HERE. Television was all over the story. Channels 2/9 had the story at 11:03. KABC had it a couple minutes later.
Nobody yet knows what the future holds for that chunk of land. Murmurs of lawsuits, or re-filing in 6 months, float around the ether. I guess we'll see.
The fact remains that, for those activists at the Banning Ranch Conservancy and many others who have battled tirelessly for years trying to save that piece of coastline from development won a huge victory last night. And it wasn't just a squeaker, either. Kudos to all those folks who have worked on this issue over the years, and to those who attended this final meeting on this issue yesterday. Rumors of "cheating" - a Newport Beach official, or former official, may have permitted early admittance to the auditorium so prime seats could be occupied by imported "supporters" of the project - floated around. It apparently didn't make any difference.
STEVE AND JIM WERE NO-SHOWS
An interesting sidebar - Mayor Steve Mensinger and Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer apparently had filled in speaker cards but failed to present themselves when the time came. I'm not sure what to make of that - maybe they actually can read public opinion and chose not to oppose it in this case.
OOPS... TIMING IS EVERYTHING
In a bit of ironic timing, the first issue of Stu News Newport - the latest venture for former Daily Pilot publisher Tom Johnson - came out today and there was a featured interview with a Mike Mohler, Senior Project Manager of the Banning Ranch development. This was the same fellow Tom had on his radio show last Sunday. Oops!
A BELLWETHER? WE'LL SEE...
Regardless, this is a huge victory for those who would preserve open space for future generations. And, this may actually be the beginning of a broader movement that will influence the upcoming election in Costa Mesa.