2 Groups File Suit to Halt Sea Cliff Project

Times Staff Writer

In the battle over one of Southern California’s last undeveloped promontories, two environmental groups have filed a lawsuit challenging state approval for luxury homes, commercial space and a hotel atop the Dana Point Headlands.

The Surfrider Foundation and the Sierra Club argue in the suit that the California Coastal Commission’s 2004 approval of the 121-acre project violates state law.

The groups say the project would destroy 11 acres of sensitive habitat. The suit also says that plans to replace an old seawall with one 2,000 feet long should be considered new construction and would violate the state Coastal Act.

“I believe it’s a frivolous lawsuit,” said developer Sanford Edward of Headlands Reserve LLC, which is named in the suit along with Dana Point and the Coastal Commission. The City Council in early 2002 approved the project, which also required approval from the Coastal Commission.


The project would include 118 custom homes, retail space, a hotel and about 70 acres of public parks and open space.

The Surfrider Foundation and the Sierra Club filed the suit Thursday in Superior Court in San Francisco, where the Coastal Commission is headquartered.

Attorney Todd T. Cardiff, who represents the environmental groups, said they intended to seek a preliminary injunction to block construction until the matter could be heard in court later this year.

The case could affect the entire California coastline, said Mike Lewis, chairman of the South Orange County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.


“If projects like this are allowed to go through, it sets a bad precedent for future development proposals up and down the coast of California,” he said.