17 September 2017

Chino Hills to Sue City of Industry Over Tres Hermanos Ranch Sale

The Chino/Chino Hills Champion reported in its edition yesterday that the City of Chino Hills intends to file a lawsuit challenging the late August sale of the 2,450-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch, immediately north of Carbon Canyon, to the City of Industry, which has been planning for a large solar farm on the ranch.

This development came after a closed door session of the Chino Hills city council meeting last Tuesday night. City Attorney Mark Hensley cited a "number of issues" including Industry's not presenting the proposed solar farm to the Chino Hills Planning Commission, which determines appropriate use to the city's general plan.

City Manager Rad Bartlam decried a lack of transparency in the process, telling the council that the city had to file public records requests for thousands of documents in order to learn of the plans for the ranch. Mayor Ray Marquez observed that the farm would cover most, if not all, the property and be visible from Grand Avenue.

A City of Industry spokesperson responded that going to the Chino Hills planning commission before a purchase "would have been premature" and added that Industry was committed to following all applicable laws and regulations from the local jurisdictions up to the federal level.

A view from the south of Tres Hermanos Ranch, March 2016.
Jim Gallagher, a Chino Hills resident and member of the grass roots organization Save Tres Hermanos Ranch, told the city council during the open portion of the meeting that people [most, presumably] in Chino Hills are against housing and the traffic it would bring to the area if these were built. Chino Hills and Diamond Bar together allow nearly 1,100 units (meaning a few thousands new residents) on their respective portions of the ranch.

Gallagher went on to say that "Tres Hermanos is a critical natural area with a natural waterway. Our residents say yes to open space and green infrastructure." This latter refers to the publicly stated intention of Industry to build a large solar farm on the ranch and Gallagher told the council that it was too big, noting he mentioned this to Industry officials. He then observed that there are misperceptions in the public mind about what solar farms are.

Chino Hills council member Cynthia Moran stated that the idea of the sale was "not necessarily a good one" and that she would like to see a public meeting to explain how the decision to sell the ranch will affect the city. She also said that while "people are quick to say they don't want houses," there is also the matter of residents comprehending "the reality of the situation."

Stay tuned as this issue ramps up!

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