Commentary: A developed Banning Ranch will make us miserable

I recently attended the Newport Beach Planning Commission meeting where the draft environmental impact report for the Banning Ranch development was approved ("Planners send review onward," March 24).

This was hardly a surprise given the current city management's unrelenting focus on pushing this development through and the commission's makeup, where newest member Tim Brown had already blogged before his appointment to the commission that the proposed development of the 400-acre parcel was a win-win for the city of Newport Beach and that the open space initiative by the citizens should be ignored.

Unless you are one of the few, like the Newport Banning Ranch LLC or anyone else lining their pockets with the large amount of money this development will generate, there is nothing about this proposal that is a win-win. This is not another welcome and productive addition to Newport as was Newport Coast.

The addition of 1,735 new residences, the preponderance of which are high-density, three-story condos, will mean excavation of millions of tons of highly toxic soil from the old oil fields, 10 years of nonstop construction with noise, dust, congestion and the corresponding negative impact on existing property values. There is nothing about this development plan that could be considered a win for Newport and certainly not for Costa Mesa.

Just the traffic implications are a nightmare, especially in light of the formal cancellation of the 19th Street bridge in Costa Mesa ("OCTA removes bridge from plan," March 13). The traffic has to either use Superior Avenue, Pacific Coast Highway or surface streets in Costa Mesa, all of which are already congested.

Estimates are that if this development is allowed to go forward as planned, it will add about 4,300 cars to the area with some 34,000 trips per day, not including additional traffic from the hotel and accompanying strip mall. The cost in time and frustration will add to the commuting misery for all residents, making each day like a summer weekend.

This development as proposed will increase Newport's population by almost 10% while providing no funding for additional schools, police, fire or other critical city support services. Newport Beach residents will have their essential city services diluted, which will raise costs in the long term.

Throw into the mix that one of the last large tracts of open land along the coast from here to San Diego is going to become a high-density community and a glorified strip mall, it just doesn't make sense.

Newport Beach residents have made it clear on several initiatives over the last decade that the preference is for Banning Ranch to be used as a park and open space.

At one time, I supported a limited and modest development of this parcel, but after careful examination, this development as it currently stands is not acceptable. I urge all Newport Beach residents to take a close look at what is proposed, forewarned is fair-warned.

This is a quality of life issue for all Newport and Costa Mesa residents. This development will present nothing but headaches and problems for every citizen to deal with long after the developers have made their money and left.

GARY REASONER is a Newport Beach resident.

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