18 June 2008

It's Only 166 More Homes!

If you've driven Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) and have enjoyed its rustic beauty, prepare for some of that to change, if the City of Brea approves the Canyon Crest housing development!
This 166-home tract of luxury homes on large lots is proposed for the north side of Carbon Canyon between Olinda and the Orange/San Bernardino counties line.
Even though the recirculated draft Environmental Impact Report (yes, this means it has gone through a few versions over nearly a decade) filed by the developer indicates several significant, unavoidable adverse (how many adjectives do you need to know this does not sound good!) impacts relating to the loss of ever-shrinking oak and walnut woodlands; the airborne pollutants from one year (yes, a whole twelve months) of grading; and, surprise, on traffic for Carbon Canyon Road, which is well beyond its capacity--DESPITE THIS, the planning staff for Brea has recommended the city issue a "Statement of Overriding Considerations." This would effectively green-light the project.

This is even after dozens of Brea residents (and one Chino Hills resident that I happen to know really well) spoke out vehemently against the project at a 22 April Planning Commission meeting. Meanwhile, there was one half-hearted endorsement of the development.

The matter was continued at the 13 May meeting and will be taken up again by the Planning Commission at its meeting next Tuesday, 24 June @ 7 p.m. in the council chambers at Brea City Hall (Birch and Randolph) adjacent to the Brea Mall.

If approved by the Commission, the matter can be appealed to the City Council. Someone (maybe that Chino Hills resident I know) should ask what I consider to be the $64 million question:
"Why is the city enabling this project through its statement of overriding considerations?"
If city staff, Planning Commission members, and City Council members are sworn to represent the City of Brea in what it does, AND if 98% of persons who spoke in public comment before the Commission disapproved of the project, meaning that the constituents of these city representatives have let their elected and staff officials know they DO NOT want this project to happen, why has the city apparently disregarded its constituency and given a helping hand to the developer, the Shopoff Group?
It seems obvious that the unavoidable significant adverse impacts cited in the EIR are enough to squash this project without any liability on the city. YET . . .
Does the City of Brea believe that this is a financially sound project for the city?
Does Brea believe that luxury homes will boost the image of the city?
Well, we don't yet know until someone within city government explains why the need to override significant environmental impacts AND the will of its citizens to get this project built is so necessary?

You know, I haven't even mentioned water! Even though the developer uses several-years old data to argue that there's plenty of water, we now are hearing (after 2007 was the driest year EVER since official records were begun in 1877 and 2008 was below average rainfall) that rationing is a very real possibility. Homes in the 6,000 square foot range on lots averaging near a half-acre are about the least water-friendly kinds of residences you'd want to consider building in our current situation, seems to me.

Finally, the main entrance for this development is intended for a part of Carbon Canyon Road at which there is a significant curve. Can you imagine the excitement when cars are trying to turn into this development from the road or vice-versa? Especially at night or when drivers are testing the limits of their motorcycles, cars and trucks. Brea police, fire, and EMT personnel are likely going to be kept pretty busy!
So, if anyone happens to read this before Tuesday--click the links I've provided to the City of Brea, where you can do a site search for "Canyon Crest" and read all about it and for "Hills for Everyone," a great non-profit group that seeks to preserve what little is left of the Puente-Chino Hills wildlife corridor.
If you care about what this project portends, come to the Planning Commission meeting next Tuesday or stay tuned for developments at the City Council level.
Oh, and don't forget--there are proposals for an additional 114 homes on the Chino Hills side, too!
But, don't worry, that would only be 280 more homes in Carbon Canyon (even considering the depressed housing market, the potential sounds depressing!)

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