Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Group sues water district, says it broke law in 130-acre annexation


The Gaviota Coast Conservancy has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court alleging the Goleta Water District failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act when it initiated the process of annexing 130 acres on the scenic coast during a meeting six months ago.
At the heart of the lawsuit is an Environmental Impact Report that was conducted in 1993 for the proposed development of a golf course on the site.

Marc Chytilo, an attorney representing the Gaviota Coast Conservancy, said the Water District erred when it based its decision to move forward with annexation on the prior EIR. He said any decision to annex the property under its umbrella of services would require the EIR to be based on the current project, which is a residential development.
“It’s not clear that they really considered this project and its impacts to the Gaviota Coast,” he said. “They can’t just make these decisions without considering the CEQA compliance.”
By moving forward with the annexation process before a new EIR could be conducted, Chytilo said the water district went out of order, and simply needs to follow the rules.
Attempts yesterday to reach the Goleta Water District’s legal counsel for comment were not successful.
According to Mike Lunsford, president of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy’s board of directors, if the land in question is annexed, he fears the floodgates of development on the coast would open.
He said the current project, which has been proposed by Makar Properties LLC., an Orange County firm, calls for two large homes, one on a 65-acre lot and the other on 77 acres. It also includes 25 smaller lots, which are part of the unbuilt Naples township.
Lunsford said one of the main reasons there aren’t homes on this land now is the difficulty of getting water and other utilities there. But if the Local agency Formation Commission approves annexation, he fears homes could start popping up.
Lunsford said it was “blatantly improper” for the Water District to rely on the prior EIR and said the purpose of the lawsuit is to get the Water District to take a step back and consider their actions.
A prepared statement from the Gaviota Coast Conservancy says the civil suit, which was filed in court on March 19, seeks a court order that would prevent annexation until compliance with CEQA occurs.
“Obviously the Gaviota Coast is something that’s near and dear to all of our hearts,” Chytilo said. “The Gaviota Coast Conservancy [is] concerned that if we start bending the rules for this development, then what happens next could be even worse.”
Chytilo said LAFCO, the agency ultimately responsible for making a decision on any annexation, is expected to discuss the issue at their May 1 meeting in Santa Maria.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good to hear it. It's amazing to me how some people in California always seem to want to recraft one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world into something of their own image. The plan seems to be: start with something beautiful and healthy that everyone can enjoy, divide it up, and end up with something that is degraded and that benefits only a few.