May 18, 2022

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Judge halts 3,000-home project in Santee over wildfire concerns


A California court docket has briefly blocked a lengthy-planned work to establish 1000’s of households in Santee, a victory for environmental groups who argued the city hadn’t carried out more than enough to guard versus wildfires.

San Diego Remarkable Courtroom Judge Katherine Bacal ruled this month that the Fanita Ranch job unsuccessful to entirely think about how an inflow of folks could affect a location at possibility of fireplace.

It is “not distinct dependent on the details offered no matter if inhabitants and people in the surrounding local community would be in a position to well timed evacuate,” Bacal wrote in a March 3 conclusion.

The ruling will come as cities wrestle to equilibrium weather improve dangers with a absence of housing. Quite a few current proposals during the county have been struck down, together with just one very last yr in Otay Ranch.

“This challenge should really by no means have been accepted, and officials throughout California will need to prevent letting sprawl travel up fireplace threats,” Peter Broderick, a lawyer with the Heart for Biological Range, stated in a assertion.

The Arizona-centered nonprofit has challenged multiple proposed developments, and joined with Maintain Wild Santee, the California Chaparral Institute and the Endangered Habitats League to combat Fanita Ranch.

The development would contain close to 3,000 households in the hills outside of Santee Lakes and was permitted by the Santee Metropolis Council in late 2020.

The proposal is overseen by HomeFed Fanita Rancho, LLC, and a project leader reported the ruling was only a setback.

“We have these kinds of a enormous housing shortage,” Jeff O’Connor, vice president of the Carlsbad-centered HomeFed Corporation, claimed in an interview. He mentioned his corporation is weighing no matter whether to attraction the determination or work with the choose to handle her problems.

“We require to do some much more get the job done on hearth evacuation,” he additional.

The judge also faulted the job for not supplying the public far more time to take into account a important change: The elimination of a planned extension to Magnolia Avenue, a person of the offered escape routes.

Nonetheless, the court docket turned down arguments from environmentalists that new properties posed dramatic threats to the gnatcatcher, a sort of songbird, and the spadefoot toad.

The up coming listening to is scheduled for March 25, though the circumstance could effectively be rendered irrelevant if voters reject the proposed development this November.

Messages remaining with Santee’s mayor, city manager and metropolis attorney had been not immediately returned.





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