Commentary: Developing Banning Ranch is wrong on many levels

Banning Ranch development will adversely impact thousands of residents living in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and surrounding communities for more than 10 years of construction and will be ongoing after project completion.

We, the undersigned, respectfully urge the city of Newport Beach to halt any further action on this project. We ask the city to immediately assign city resources to focus on a plan to preserve all of Banning Ranch as open space, which is the priority land use option as stated in the city of Newport Beach general plan.

The proposed development will result in major traffic congestion that will severely impact 15 major intersections in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, and as far north as the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway corridor.

Arterial roadways should not be designed to be in close proximity to residential communities. The city's assumption that the 19th Street Bridge will be built as an integral feature of traffic circulation for this project is an inaccurate and costly assumption.

This issue has gone on far too long. The bridge will never be built, given the massive community opposition that currently exists in Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa.

Additionally, Banning Ranch is a 68-year-old oil field with nearly 500 wells. It has not been adequately tested for hazardous waste. Crude oil production creates wastes that harbors deadly toxins including benzene, which is a known carcinogen and mutagenic.

Furthermore, the construction and increased traffic will create unsafe levels of several dangerous air contaminants, including nitrogen oxide, ozone and particulate matter, which are all known to cause asthma, lung damage, respiratory illness and premature death.

The proposed project will result in the loss of the last coastal open space in Orange County and is the largest and most dense development in the county's history.

Noise and night light pollution impacts will be at unsafe levels. This will gravely impact thousands of people who treasure the peace, quiet and tranquillity that exist today in our coastal communities.

Lower property values will be another serious outcome of this project. Ten or more years of heavy construction, excavation and remediation will drive down property values and discourage potential buyers and renters. Additionally, property values will be permanently depressed by ongoing impacts from noise, congestion, and a loss of views and quality of life.

The city's claim that there are project benefits that outweigh health and quality of life is wrong and unacceptable. Please do not ignore the city's general plan that designates all of Banning Ranch as permanent open space.

The overcrowding, noise, and health and safety hazards will destroy the privacy and peace of mind for many thousands of people in Orange County.

DOROTHY KRAUS lives in Newport Beach. She and multiple other signatories signed this letter and sent it to elected officials in Newport and Costa Mesa.

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