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[LAR] Coastal Commission Sued for Seal Beach Hellman Ranch Golf Course

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  • Marcia Hanscom
    NEWS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Marcia Hanscom (310) 457-0300 Re: Seal Beach Coastal Wetlands at Hellman Ranch Environmentalists Take CA Coastal Commission
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 9, 1998
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      NEWS

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Marcia Hanscom (310) 457-0300

      Re: Seal Beach Coastal Wetlands at Hellman Ranch

      Environmentalists Take CA Coastal Commission to Court; "It¹s Not O.K. to Destroy
      Wetlands to Build a Golf Course"


      NOVEMBER 9, 1998, San Francisco, CA...Wetlands Action Network filed a lawsuit
      today against the California Coastal Commission, filing a Petition for Writ of Mandate
      in Superior Court in San Francisco. The suit is based on violations of the California
      Coastal Act and the California Environmental Quality Act for approval of a golf
      course/housing development at the Seal Beach Coastal Wetlands at Hellman Ranch.
      While the Commission decision was made two months ago in Eureka, hundreds of
      miles from the community which would be affected, at least a dozen environmental
      leaders made the trek north to insure their objections would be heard.

      The decision the Coastal Commission made was contrary to its own staff
      recommendation that stated very clearly that the California Coastal Act does not
      allow coastal wetlands to be destroyed in order to construct a golf course. Hellman
      Ranch developers crafted outlandish arguments that even suggested the golf course
      was the same as a boating facility, in order to convince the Commissioners of its
      "environmental sustainability." Environmentalists, however, do not agree that the
      language of the Coastal Act can be altered to fit a particular developers' scheme and
      decided the need to file suit was crucial, given the bad precedent this decision could
      have on future development projects brought before the Commission.


      "With less than 5% of California¹s historical coastal wetlands remaining, it is ludicrous
      to allow the Seal Beach Coastal Wetlands to be displaced by a golf course. There is a
      shortage of wetlands; not a shortage of golf courses in this state!" exclaimed Marcia
      Hanscom, executive director of the Wetlands Action Network.

      David H. Williams, of San Francisco's Public Interest Lawyers Group, is the attorney
      who filed the petition for the environmental group. The petition filed by Williams not
      only invokes the portion of the Coastal Act that precludes destruction of wetlands
      for golf courses, but also states that mitigation measures were not taken to protect
      important archaeological and cultural resources that are of great historical
      significance to the Shoshone Gabrielino Native Americans. The housing development
      proposed by Hellman would be built directly on top of a significant burial ground and
      sacred site, known as "Puvugna East." Another lawsuit was filed earlier this year
      against the City of Seal Beach, brought by Seal Beach residents concerned with these
      archaeological issues.

      While the City of Seal Beach has supported the Hellman development, many
      resident of the area were outraged at the proposal, prompting them to contact
      Wetlands Action Network for assistance. The development would preclude a
      complete, scientifically-sound wetlands restoration for the former estuary at the
      mouth of the San Gabriel River and only allows for a token restoration, dependent on
      development, similar to those proposed at Bolsa Chica, Ballona and other sites along
      the Southern California coast.

      "Wetlands Action Network has done a great public service in helping to save and
      restore all of the Hellman Ranch Wetlands. All residents who care about the
      environment hope the Courts will enforce the law, and that these wetlands will
      someday be restored as beautifully as Bolsa Chica," stated Doug Korthof, a long-time
      resident of Seal Beach, who, with his wife, Lisa, traveled to Eureka after the
      Commission declined to decide on the issue at a hearing earlier in the year in Santa
      Barbara.

      Others who testified and pleaded with the Commission to not approve this project
      included Ellen Stern Harris, co-author of the original proposition that led to the
      landmark Coastal Act; Mark Massara, director of Sierra Club's California Coastal
      Program; Don May of California Earth Corps; and Bruce Monroe of Sierra Club Angeles
      Chapter's Coastal Protection Committee.
      # # #

      Wetlands Action Network
      protecting & restoring wetlands along the Pacific Migratory Pathway
      29170 Heathercliff Rd., Suite 1 € Malibu, CA 90265
      (310)457-0300 € fax: (310) 457-0302
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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