Judge: Supervisors Illegally Approved Trabuco Housing – Impacts on traffic and wildlife not properly evaluated

By NICK GERDA : voiceofoc – excerpt

supervisors violated CEQA by not properly studying the impacts to traffic on Santiago Canyon Road, along with impacts to native wildlife and the effect of lifting a requirement that dedicated open space be “natural.”

When the Orange County Board of Supervisors last year approved the controversial Saddle Crest development in Trabuco Canyon, members of the board were called out for a faulty environmental study and the large amount of campaign contributions they received from the development’s backers.

Now, an Orange County Superior Court judge has ruled that the approval was illegal.

The ruling, issued last week by Judge Steven Perk, states that the county failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), state land-use law and the county’s own land-use plans.

Perk prohibited the county “from taking any action to implement the project until compliance with the requirements of CEQA and CEQA guidelines, state Planning and Zoning Laws, Orange County General Plan and the Foothill-Trabuco Specific Plan have been met.”…

In response to the project’s approval by the supervisors, a coalition of conservation groups sued the county, arguing that supervisors violated CEQA by not properly studying the impacts to traffic on Santiago Canyon Road, along with impacts to native wildlife and the effect of lifting a requirement that dedicated open space be “natural.”

When it came to traffic, the activists asserted that the county was under counting actual traffic flows by changing the analysis from the “highway capacity manual” (HCM) approach to “volume-to-capacity” (V/C), which only analyzed a small stretch of Santiago Canyon Road.

“Using the V/C method effectively understates true traffic volumes on rural roads like Santiago Canyon Road,” their petition states.

The judge agreed… (more)

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