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Ceanothus extension proposed

The area near site in South Laguna where four homes may be built is considered ‘high-value habitat.’

January 31, 2008|By Josh Aden

Ceanothus Drive in South Laguna could be extended by 400 feet under a proposal to provide access for a four-home development in the hillside area abutting a wilderness park.

Laguna Beach planners intend to adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration of environmental impact for the road extension. The public comment period ends Thursday.

A Mitigated Negative Declaration finding would mean the proposed development would not require a full environmental impact report.

If approved, the project would extend the road 400 feet through hillside to reach five buildable lots — that may be combined into four — owned by Santa Monica-based company Coast Royale LLC.

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A Negative Declaration from the city would mean there is no negative impact on the surrounding land. The Mitigated Negative Declaration states there would be minor environmental impacts, but steps can be taken to avoid encroachment.

“This is really new-age planning,” Senior Laguna Beach Planner Scott Drapkin said of the techniques aimed at preserving the surrounding land.

The mitigations will protect area wildlife in a zone the city’s general plan classifies as “high value habitat.”

A survey of the area found a Coastal California Gnatcatcher, a coastal bird native to Coastal Southern California in sage and chaparral environments.

Because it is found in such a small area, the gnatcatchers are listed as a threatened species in the federal Endangered Species Act.

Another find in the area was Euphorbia misera, or cliff spurge. The plant is only found in San Diego and Orange counties, as well as on the Channel islands.

Builders will have to replace the cliff spurge that will be removed. Seed samples will be taken and grown in a nursery. The plants will be replanted later.

Also among the conditions for building are requirements to ease traffic on the winding road as well as prevent noise complaints Ceanothus residents have experienced with other projects.

The Mitigated Negative Declaration classifies the hillside building sites as “steep.”

Drapkin said Coast Royale will likely redraw the property lines of their lots to combine five into four.

These four properties are planned to be developed into single-family residences.

The residences would have a four-acre open space easement that would buffer the properties from the adjoining Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. The “open space” designator will allow for trail access behind the properties.

The Mitigated Negative Declaration is available for review and comment at the Community Development Department in City Hall, 505 Forest Ave.

The Laguna Beach Planning Commission will have a public hearing on the project at their Feb. 27 meeting. The meeting is in the City Council Chambers at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit the city’s Web site at www.lagunabeachcity.net.


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