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Judge vacates San Diego County approvals of Otay Ranch projects

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Posted at 6:31 PM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 21:31:06-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — A judge Thursday vacated San Diego County's approvals of the proposed Otay Ranch projects near Chula Vista, finding that the county's Environmental Impact Report did not adequately disclose or analyze the projects' potential wildfire risks and other impacts.

The Otay Ranch Resort Village 13 and Otay Ranch Village 14 and Planning Areas 16/19 projects are part of a 23,000-acre residential development -- the largest in San Diego County's history -- which was challenged in litigation filed by several environmental groups and supported by the California Attorney General's Office.

Plaintiffs allege the Environmental Impact Reports for the proposed projects fail to properly account for wildfire and greenhouse gas impacts at the project sites, which are "located in a very high fire-hazard severity zone."

The Attorney General's Office said in a statement that 68 fires have been recorded within five miles of the project site, including the 2007 Harris Fire, which burned 90,440 acres.

"California is on track for yet another record-breaking, climate-fueled wildfire season. As these mega-disasters become the norm, it is more critical than ever that we build responsibly. We can't keep making the same mistakes" said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

"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."

The nearly 700-acre Otay Ranch Resort Village 13 project envisions nearly 1,900 single-family units in addition to 57 multi-family units, 20,000 square feet of commercial space, and a resort with 200 guest rooms.

The Otay Ranch Village 14 project is slated for 1,284 acres and involves the construction of 1,119 single-family residences, a mixed-use site with 10,000 square feet of commercial space, parks, and a fire station.

The county approved the project in 2019, which the AG's Office said county officials concluded: "despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, that the introduction of structures and people would not increase wildfire risks."