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Bolsa Chica Land Trust drops lawsuit against city, vows to raise funds to buy Ridge property

Kim Kolpin, Bolsa Chica Land Trust executive director, speaks as she stands on Ridge property in Huntington Beach, near Bolsa Chica Street and Los Patos Avenue, on Wednesday. The trust agreed to drop its lawsuit challenging development of the property and is working to buy it.
Kim Kolpin, Bolsa Chica Land Trust executive director, speaks as she stands on Ridge property in Huntington Beach, near Bolsa Chica Street and Los Patos Avenue, on Wednesday. The trust agreed to drop its lawsuit challenging development of the property and is working to buy it.
(Kevin Chang / HB Independent)

The Bolsa Chica Land Trust announced Wednesday that it has dropped its lawsuit against the city of Huntington Beach and will begin fundraising to purchase and preserve 11.1 acres of the Bolsa Chica Mesa, an area reportedly home to 9,000 years worth of Native American artifacts and remains.

The trust sued the city in 2010 after the City Council approved changing the land-use designation earlier that year on a five-acre parcel of the mesa known as the Ridge, near Bolsa Chica Street and Los Patos Avenue. The area had been rezoned from open park space, a designation it first received in 1976, to residential so that developer Signal Landmark could build 22 homes there.

By June 2014, Signal had withdrawn its development plans, and that August, the Land Trust and city officials began discussing how to settle the trust’s ongoing litigation. The negotiations lasted 19 months.

Land Trust organizers said they will attempt to raise money for the next 18 months to purchase the Ridge property from Signal, which owns 4.9 acres, and the Goodell Family Trust, which owns the remaining 6.2 acres. If they are unable to do so, Signal will be allowed to develop homes on 2.5 acres, with the remaining 8.6 acres donated and preserved as permanent open space.

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The trust’s initial goal is $1 million.

The total value of the land will be determined by an independent third party, said Kim Kolpin, executive director of the Land Trust.

Though advocates have pointed to the Ridge’s Native American roots, a city-paid study of the land by Scientific Resource Surveys Inc. was less certain. The Orange-based archaeological consultant reported that it was an unlikely scenario to find artifacts or remains in that area.

Jill Hardy, the mayor pro tem in 2010, was the only council member who opposed the rezoning at the time. She cited concerns about Scientific Resource Surveys’ professional abilities after it determined that the Brightwater site, an adjacent development to the Ridge, had no Native American remains when in fact it did.

Hardy said Wednesday that she was pleased to hear about the agreement.

“I’ve never supported changing zoning from open space parkland to residential,” she said. “What was amazing about that particular vote is there were three hours of public comment, and the only one for this was the developer. The council ignored the public.

“It’s great news that the right outcome is likely to happen where we can save this property.”


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