Coastal Commission votes down Shea project

The California Coastal Commission on Thursday voted down a housing project near the Bolsa Chica wetlands, putting a new wrinkle in a decade-long battle between the developer and environmentalists.

The ruling marks a significant victory for protectors of the wetlands, Councilwoman Connie Boardman said.

"I'm just really happy," said Boardman, who is also the president of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust. "I voted against the Shea project when I was on the council in 2002. I'm really glad the Coastal Commission has finally agreed with me."

The City Council originally approved Corona-based Shea Homes' 50-acre, 111-home project and related infrastructure, including roads and public access trails.

The development, slated to be located at 17301 Graham St. north of Wintersburg Channel, passed in a 4-3 vote in 2002.

Since then, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust worked around the clock to prevent the development, which they say would have grave environmental impacts and endanger neighboring residents.

"This is part of the Bolsa Chica ecosystem," Boardman said. "It's like building anywhere in Bolsa Chica."

The project would require the developer to dig out into the property below sea level and bring in clean fill dirt. Digging below sea level would also lead to dewatering, lowering the water table in the surrounding neighborhood, Boardman said.

The Coastal Commission, in voting down the project, sided with the Land Trust's arguments.

— Mona Shadia

Twitter: @MonaShadia

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