Update: Orange County supervisors report no decision on appealing rural development ruling

Cacti at Trabuco

John Sefton

The prickly pear cactus is home to the imperiled cactus wren in Orange County's Trabuco Canyon.

Update Tuesday, 5:23 p.m.: Orange County supervisors report no decision on appealing rejection of rural development

The Orange County Board of Supervisors emerged from a closed session Tuesday and announced they had no decision on whether to appeal a judge's ruling that derailed a controversial housing development.  The supervisors were scheduled to discuss the ruling which tossed out their approval of a 65-home tract development in Trabuco Canyon, one of the last remaining stretches of open space in Orange County.  

Monday, Sept. 9: OC supervisors consider appeal of ruling that stopped rural housing plan

The Orange County Board of Supervisors is expected to meet behind closed doors Tuesday to consider whether to appeal a judge's ruling that derailed a housing development. The judge tossed out the supervisors' approval of a proposed 65-unit tract home project.

The homes were to have been built in a 100-acre section of Trabuco Canyon -- one of the last undeveloped rural areas of the county.

The area is part of thousands of acres of canyon lands and rural communities located in southeast Orange County, next to the Cleveland National Forest.

Saddleback Canyons Conservancy is one of five groups that challenged the supervisors' approval of the project. 

Conservancy co-founder Gloria Sefton said the proposed housing development would destroy 151 native oaks or oak woodlands on the project site and runs counter to the Foothill-Trabuco development plan approved by the county in 1991.

"The backdrop of the Cleveland National Forest and all these foothill communities should be a buffer to the urbanized areas of Orange County," Sefton said. "That is one goal of the [...] plan -- to create that buffer." 

Sefton said the county supervisors recently amended the  plan to pave the way for developer Rutter Santiago to push ahead with the housing development.

In July, Orange County Superior Court Judge Steven Perk ruled the supervisors had violated California zoning and planning law. 

The decision, which threw out the supervisors' approval of the housing tract, also has potential to impact future development because it rejects the amendments made to the County General Plan as well as the specific plans for the rural canyon areas. 

The supervisors must now decide whether to accept or appeal the ruling. 

The developer could also appeal the ruling.

Along with Saddleback Canyons Conservancy; the Rural Canyons Conservation Fund; Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks; Audubon California and the California Native Plant Society mounted the legal challenge against the supervisors' approval.

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