Thursday, September 08, 2016

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!
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.

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.
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.
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!
 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.

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Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Costa Mesa was represented by Sandy Genis, who spoke in opposition to development.

9/08/2016 07:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

The Newport bosses probably knew what was coming and ordered their puppets Riggy and Mensy to stay away.

9/09/2016 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Honeyman said...

As did Jay Humphrey.

9/09/2016 07:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

FYI-- maybe I read that last incorrectly, but Jay and Sandy were there.

An interesting thought: The motion made was to APPROVE the development, with a "NO" vote recommended. It was not to DENY the application. I think this makes a difference to the time period that must elapse before a re-application may be made, though it remains a little unclear to me. Thus the vote was nine to one against approval, Uranga dissenting. His comment was, "If we're gonna get sued either way, I might as well vote for it."

The Acjachemen tribes were far better represented at the hearing than they were on the Banning Ranch site. Apparently the Nibbers consulted only two of the tribes involved; the other seven dissented, and said so at length and compellingly at the hearing. Archaeological data are classified, but there was enough disquiet on that front to indicate that NBR (Nibber) had planned to trespass on hallowed ground.

Staff, advised by Professor Bloom, ascertained that there are fewer than twenty buildable acres on the ranch, due to Environmentally Sensitive Habitat, burrowing owls, gnatcatchers, and suchlike. They in effect eliminated the south complex and Bluff Road (WAS it a bluff, after all?) and left only the northern complex, with no through route (entry and exit by the same route). This is good news for cut-through traffic in Costa Mesa: There'd be some at 17th Street, but none on 16th, 15th, and 19th. The footprint, and thus the sale price, of the ranch has thus been reduced by roughly 95 percent. I still know of no offer to sell, but having taken a hit like that, it may be coming.

I got to say hi to Steve Lopez, and tell him how much I've enjoyed his columns of late. It was a marathon, though; we got there at 6:30 AM, and there were busloads of blueshirts from Bakersfield, employees of Aera, we think, already there. The doors got opened by some NB councilman at 7:30, and the blueshirts seized the righthand half of the auditorium. The Conservancy got the left side, the one not on camera while people were speaking. They adjourned at 11:00 PM, so you could say it was a long day.

Seems as though we won a skirmish. There's a war brewing ahead.

9/10/2016 04:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Tom Steyer is supposed to be for environmental causes. It would be nice if he'd throw a few bucks in the pot to help buy some of the land to keep it natural. Howard Ahmanson, Donald Bren, have you got any loose change?

9/11/2016 09:11:00 AM  

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