Coastal Panel Is Upheld

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A judge has defended a California Coastal Commission decision to bar construction on portions of the Bolsa Chica mesa near Huntington Beach, yet the battle there between a developer and environmentalists is by no means over.

In a decision that one lawyer described as "95% good for the Coastal Commission," Superior Court Judge Sheridan Reed in San Diego announced Friday that he was dismissing portions of a lawsuit filed by a mesa landowner. That owner, Signal Landmark, stated in the suit that the commission had unlawfully "taken" property by allowing Signal to build on only 65 of the 230 acres it owns.

In his Friday ruling, Reed said it had not yet been proved that the commission acted improperly, and he dismissed the claim. However, the judge said that Signal could ask to argue the matter again or file a new motion within 20 days.

Signal Landmark and developer, Hearthside Homes, hope to build more than 1,200 homes on the mesa, which has an upper and lower tier. At a November hearing, the Coastal Commission voted to bar construction of homes on the lower tier, saying it was too close to wetlands and coastal birds that forage in the area. The vote reduced the development's potential size by two-thirds.

Signal Landmark and Hearthside Homes, which are corporately connected, protested and asked a court to overturn the decision.

Following Friday's ruling, a state lawyer for the Coastal Commission hailed the decision.

"They didn't get what they wanted," Deputy Atty. Gen. Jamee Jordan Patterson said about the developers, who would not comment.

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