Judge strikes down EIR for Adara at Otay Ranch in San Diego County
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
David Bryant, California Native Plant Society, 916-738-7628, email@example.com
By Frank Landis
Yesterday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Richard S. Whitney sided with a coalition of environmental groups and the California Attorney General, striking down the county’s approval of Adara at Otay Ranch. His ruling cited a range of issues, including inconsistencies with San Diego’s Multiple Species Conservation Plan (MSCP), wildfire risks, climate change, protection of the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly, and lack of affordable housing.
This victory protects numerous native plant species, a wildlife corridor, vernal pools, and populations of the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly
– Frank Landis, Conservation Chair for the San Diego Chapter
CNPS was part of the coalition that included Endangered Habitats League, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, California Chaparral Institute, and Preserve Wild Santee. The California Attorney General’s office intervened in the case, focusing on wildfire issues.
Adara, originally known as Otay Ranch Village 14, would have included 1,119 upscale homes, storefronts, and no affordable housing. The site, east of Chula Vista in Proctor Valley, has burned at least seven times in the last century. It contains three parcels that were originally set aside as mitigation for the development of Chula Vista years ago. They were intended to become part of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge as MSCP preserved lands, but the transaction was never completed and the parcels remained privately controlled, albeit designated as “no take” lands that could not be developed. In his ruling, Judge Whitney noted that the EIR had improperly ignored these legal complexities and wrongly asserted that the development was both allowed and consistent with the MSCP.
The State Attorney General has become involved in litigating against developments that have unacceptable wildfire risks. In a press release, Attorney General Bonta stated: “The land use decisions we make now will have consequences for years and decades to come. Today’s ruling by the Superior Court affirms a critical fact: Local governments have a responsibility to address wildfire risks associated with development projects at the front end. Doing so will save dollars – and lives – down the line.”
“This victory protects numerous native plant species, a wildlife corridor, vernal pools, and populations of the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly,” said Frank Landis, Conservation Chair for the San Diego Chapter. “We hope that this land becomes part of the Wildlife Refuge sooner rather than later.”
The California Native Plant Society is a nonprofit organization working to save and celebrate California’s native plants and places via plant science, advocacy, education, and horticulture. CNPS has nearly 10,000 members in 35 chapters throughout California and Baja to promote its mission at the local level.