Settlement of multiple
lawsuits is major victory for Soquel Creek
For nearly a decade,
there have been battles over development proposed adjacent to Soquel
Creek in the City of Capitola. Continued development threatened
to further degrade this invaluable steelhead and riparian habitat.
In 1995, the groups Save
the Habitat and Working to Advance the Village Environment (WAVE)
beat back a proposal by developers for a major box store development
on Bay Avenue. Since then, public objection and litigation has stopped
development. In 2004, the property owner returned with proposals
Also, since 1996, the
Rispin Mansion Property, which was owned by the City, has been proposed
for a bed & breakfast and additional development. The project
as originally conceived significantly intruded into Environmentally
Sensitive Habitat for overwintering Monarch Butterflies. Save the
Habitat has fought the proposal and the sale of City-owned property
for private development. The Council approved the project in 2004.
By the latter half of
2004, Save the Habitat had filed four new lawsuits against the City
of Capitola concerning creekside development, and another one was
about to be filed. WAVE joined in the lawsuit on the new Bay Avenue
project. Recently Save the Habitat, WAVE, the City, and the developers
were able to settle these lawsuits.
In exchange for dropping
the ever-growing numbers of lawsuits, the plaintiffs achieved a
laundry list of protections for Soquel Creek and Monarch Butterfly
habitat along the creek. Among some of the significant protections
- Permanent Conservation
Easements for riparian and Monarch habitat on both sides of Soquel
Creek from Hwy. 1 to Rispin Mansion. These easements ensure significant
setbacks from Soquel Creek for any new development.
- Permanent Public Access
Easement on the Rispin Mansion property.
- Removal of exotic
species and restoration of riparian habitat.
- A contribution of
$5000/year for salmonid monitoring for a period of seven years.
- Stormwater and lighting
standards for new development.
- Additional protections
for Monarch Butterflies.
- Creation of the position
of Environmental Officer within the City of Capitola. The officer
will be responsible for enforcement, will formally report to the
City Council every six months on the state of Soquel Creek, will
coordinate pollution data, and be a point person for grant money
to restore and enhance the creek.
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