The Planning Commission approved a proposal to allow 22 homes to be built near the Bolsa Chica Wetlands for the city’s first “green” residential project.
The commission approved the plan 4 to 3 with Chairman Blair Farley and Commissioners Elizabeth Shier Burnett and Tom Livengood voting no. The commission also adopted the mitigated negative declaration, 5 to 2, with Farley and Shier Burnett voting against it.
The general plan, zoning map, zoning text and local coastal program amendment will go before the City Council for approval.
Hearthside Homes is trying to build a 22 single-family-home tract called the Ridge on a 5-acre section southeast of Bolsa Chica Street and Los Patos Avenue.
The houses would be four- to six-bedroom, two-story homes between 2,700 and 4,200 square feet. The development would include a 5,776-square-foot park. The project would be the city’s first green residential development, according to the staff report.
The project’s applicant, Ed Mountford, said the homes would have solar panels, “smart” irrigation controllers and drought-tolerant landscaping and use sustainable building materials. The tract would have porous pavers for the streets and driveways, which will allow rainwater to absorb into the ground, get stored in a storm drain water system and then filter back into the ground.
The developer would also improve a city-owned piece of land north of the site to allow access from Bolsa Chica Street to the Bolsa Chica Wetlands by creating a trail.
About 40 residents came to the public hearing Tuesday night, and nine spoke against the project. Residents expressed concern about the impact to biological resources, losing more open space and building on an archaeological site
Dave Singleton, program analyst with the state Native American Heritage Commission, said in a letter to the city that the site is “sacred” and the proposed mitigated measures aren’t adequate.
“Therefore, the likelihood of additional discoveries of Native American human remains and archaeological items associated with burial sites is high,” he said in the letter.
A 2001 study of the land showed there is not likely to be intact artifacts on the site, but as a mitigation measure, an archaeologist and Native American monitor would be required to be on hand during any ground-disturbing construction, said project planner Jennifer Villasenor.
The proposal also called for the commission to amend the General Plan for the land use from open space park to residential low density — a move residents and a commissioner were up in arms about.
Shier Burnett said it was “unconscionable” to take open space and put homes on it.
“They are a developer and they develop well, they have a beautiful product, but should we develop here? Heck no,” she said.