An appellate court ruled Friday in favor of the opponents of the Fanita
Ranch project, a 1,380-unit development that would cover thousands of acres on Santee’s northern edge. That decision comes in the wake of two earlier legal setbacks for Fanita Ranch.
The city of Santee approved the latest iteration of development at Fanita Ranch in 2007. Subsequently, after legal challenges by Preserve Wild Santee, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Endangered Habitats League, a superior court judge twice ruled that the city failed to adequately consider the project’s fire safety impacts. Friday’s California Court of Appeal decision adds to these rulings, finding that the city improperly deferred dealing with the project’s effects on the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly and did not properly consider the project’s water supply demands.
As a result of the decision, the city will have to re-evaluate these concerns, as well as fire safety, if it decides to pursue the project in the future.
“Today’s decision is the third strike for this sprawling, unnecessary development in the heart of rich habitat for plants and animals,” said John Buse, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This ruling should be a clear message to the city and the developer that the project overreached.”
The 2,600-acre Fanita Ranch site is now almost entirely undeveloped open space that contains chaparral, coastal sage scrub and vernal pool habitats, and supports many rare plants and animals.
“Fanita Ranch is a regional treasure that deserves Santee’s highest priority for
conservation,” said Van Collinsworth, Preserve Wild Santee’s executive director. “Today’s decision lends further support to this priority.”
This post is based on a press release submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity.