30 July 2008

Canyon Crest Appeal: Could Come Faster than Originally Thought

Here's a new item appearing on a bulletin board at the top of the horseshoe curve on Carbon Canyon Road, as you head east in Chino Hills towards Brea.

An appeal submitted following the Brea Planning Commission's 3-2 vote approving the 165-home Canyon Crest development may be heard by the City Council as early as mid-August, only about 3 weeks from now.

Anyone who lives in or uses the canyon regularly for commuting or a nice weekend drive ought to consider lending their voices in opposition to this project if they are at all concerned about:

  • 1,650 or so additional car rides on an already well-beyond capacity road;

  • or the destruction of 1,800 trees in an oak and walnut woodland community mainly destroyed by decades of nearly uninterrupted development region-wide;

  • or one year's worth of grading that would send tons of particulate matter in the air, heading east with ocean-borne breezes or west with Santa Anas and other interior-originating winds

These being the three unavoidable, significant adverse impacts cited (and, consequently, overrriden by the Planning Commission) in the Draft Recirculated Environmental Impact Report. Despite claims to the contrary, water looms large over this and all other development plans in the region. Folks in Chino Hills will learn soon, if they haven't already, that the city is implementing a next stage of water conservation, including the banning of watering between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and other measures (admittedly, these will not be enforced by code officers unless there are complaints, which are likely to be very few and far between.)

Why this matters is because Canyon Crest, like Vellano on the Chino Hills side, and like developments with very large homes and large lots, is going to involve water use about triple that of the average home in Brea. Global climate change, drought, fire, water scarcity--all of these go hand-in-hand, even if there are some who refuse to or are unable to connect the dots.

Developments like Canyon Crest are going to almost certainly be archaic, outmoded, and completely unsustainable if current climatic trends continue.

Not that the Brea City Council will take such "big picture" issues into consideration (who does in government, anyway?) That shouldn't stop those who are concerned about these issues from expressing them, along with the specific questions of traffic, natural habitat destruction, and pollution generation. Having a "high quality" (whatever that means) housing stock, a new fire truck, some money for affordable housing and other cited benefits just aren't enough and the City Council should hear that.

Let's not wait for someone else to speak for us: take a few hours of your time and attend that council meeting at which this item appears on the agenda. Sign up to speak. Make your points succinctly, clearly, calmly, and without attacking anyone. There's no guarantee this project will be approved, but the only hope for defeating it will be galvanized citizen action (the kind of action that actually makes democracy truly work, rather than through the executive and legislative branches, as in city staff and council.) After all, this is the time to find out if the Brea City Council and staff works for its citizens or for developers--let's not forget, above all, that there was absolutely no legal grounds or basis for staff to recommend and for the planning commission to approve the "statement of overriding considerations." It was not an imperative, it was a choice. It seems that it is now imperative for citizens to respond and demonstrate the consequences of that choice.

Time for bed.

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