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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Santa Cruz unbuckles greenbelt

August 2006

On Tuesday, July 11, the Santa Cruz City Council approved the EIR for a bridge over Hagemann Gulch, ramp spanning Arana Creek, and intersecting paved east-west/ north-south 8-11'-wide trails through critical habitat in the coastal zone portion of the Arana Gulch Open Space property on the city’s eastern edge.

Extensive comments against the proposal by Coastal Commission staff, California Department of Fish and Game staff, US Fish & Wildlife staff, professional botanists, an attorney retained by the Sierra Club and the California Native Plant Society, and concerned residents were sent to the City Council before the meeting because the project violates the California Coastal Act and the federal Endangered Species Act and because the EIR does not fulfill the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The project, if allowed to proceed, could undermine the significant Bolsa Chica legal decision regarding Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas as well as present a destructive precedent for future development in the city’s other Open Space areas: Pogonip and Moore Creek Uplands. These Greenbelt properties and Arana Gulch were all acquired after a citizen initiative in 1979 for their habitat, watershed, viewshed and passive recreation potential, not to accomodate transportation projects at the cost of habitat values.

The Sierra Club, the California Native Plant Society, as well as community groups and residents are considering both an appeal to the Coastal Commission, which would have to approve the project, and a lawsuit to address the numerous inadequacies and inaccuracies in the EIR.

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