Mailbag: Developing Banning Ranch could lead to pollution

The proposed development of Banning Ranch is a throwback to the days of our ignorance regarding the environment and the health of our citizens. I worry that large corporations can still be allowed to pursue their projects, regardless of the cost to the surrounding population.

Threats from the proposed Banning Ranch development to the health of tens of thousands of people living nearby have not been publicized nearly as much as the potential destruction of the natural environment and wildlife.

This is no small matter. Within the vicinity of Banning Ranch there are, in Costa Mesa alone, three public elementary schools and several private schools, including Page School, and Carden Hall and Coastline Community College in Newport Beach; a major acute-care hospital (Hoag) and other health facilities; several large housing tracts; the Costa Mesa Senior Center; a senior housing development with hundreds of residents; a large retirement community; and several senior citizen mobile home parks.

Grading of the polluted soil on Banning Ranch over the planned 10-year period of development could release toxic dust and volatile pollutants. If the dust is not properly removed, prevailing onshore winds could carry those toxins to tens of thousands of people in the homes, schools, health facilities and other sensitive uses downwind.

The circulation infrastructure adjacent to Banning Ranch is extremely inadequate to handle any additional traffic. All the streets that border on Banning Ranch are one lane in each direction, plus parking that is in high demand from high-density apartment developments and businesses with limited off-street parking.

Car, bus and truck drivers, pedestrians and cyclists now contend with heavy traffic at all daytime hours. In addition, the major intersections adjacent to Westside Costa Mesa and West Newport Beach are heavily impacted by traffic generated from the end of the 55 Freeway by commuters and others passing through from surrounding cities. Adding commuter traffic from Banning Ranch could create a huge safety hazard for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as dangerously delaying emergency vehicles.

Every person in this area could potentially suffer from breathing toxic air and excessive congestion from Banning Ranch vehicle traffic. The human impact alone should be enough to make development of Banning Ranch unthinkable.

Diane La Duca
Costa Mesa