Written by Hannah Schmidtler
San Diego development company Baldwin and Sons is being sued by conservation groups like the Sierra Club, Endangered Habitats, the Center for Biological Diversity, and others for their most recent development project in Otay Ranch Resort Village.
The development project, which is in the Jamul Mountain region, aims to build a gated community with 1,881 single-family homes, 57 multi-family units, a 200-room hotel, 40,000 square feet of commercial and office space, a sheriff’s storefront, a fire station, and an elementary school.
The lawsuits claim that there is a significant wildfire risk in the region which makes it dangerous to construct new houses. To address this concern, the developers highlighted that the construction is supported by the local fire chief and will include an additional fire station in the area. Baldwin and Sons also argues that the construction will protect over 1,100 acres of open space from fires by developing it.
Borre Winckel, president and CEO of the Building Industry Association of San Diego County states, “Not a damn thing is getting built out in the areas where we face all this opposition from folks who use the fire argument. These projects are all stuck in litigation.”
The conservation groups also assert that if the proposed construction proceeds as planned, plant and animal species native to San Diego, such as Quinto checkerspot butterflies, will be threatened. The proposed development site is home to multiple endangered species such as the Gold Eagle and the California Coastal gnatcatcher which are special-status wildlife species.
The lawsuits also states concerns over an increase in carbon emissions that additional housing in the region will produce. It has been speculated that residents commuting from the proposed development would drive 76 million miles per year.
Despite the potential environmental consequences, Baldwin and Sons has provided a lengthy list of benefits that the development would provide. They include:
Providing the type of desirable single-family housing that people in the South Bay are currently commuting to Riverside County for.
Providing much-needed housing for the continued expansion of business and industry in the southern portion of the County,
Providing move-up housing for families in Chula Vista and surrounding communities who desire to remain in the area.
It has been reviewed and approved for public safety by the San Diego County Fire Authority and Sheriff’s Department. Resort Village 13 Alternative H includes funding for the construction and operation of a new fire station to enhance public safety in the Village and surrounding communities.
The resort and commercial uses will provide good jobs.
It’s a smart, walkable, net-zero community with energy sustainability features.
It will enhance the region with a network of public trails all around the development perimeter that connect to existing trails in the County and City of Chula Vista.
It will include the construction of an on-site public elementary school to meet education demands.
It will include a 10-acre public park open to everyone, not just the residents of Resort Village 13 Alternative H.
It will preserve and protect over 1,100 acres of sensitive habitat that is home to many species.
More information on the development can be found on this website, which is run by Baldwin and Sons.
Photo via Otay Ranch Resort Village 13