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Coastal Commission staff urges rejection of park plan

November 2, 2011 |  6:14 am

Citing concerns about endangered bird habitat and wetlands, California Coastal Commission staff members have recommended rejecting Newport Beach's plans for Sunset Ridge Park.

The fate of the 20-acre public sports park rests in the hands of the 12 commissioners when they meet Wednesday in Oceanside.

Compared to other parts of town, the city's west side has fewer soccer fields and baseball diamonds, which are both proposed at Sunset Ridge, but this facility, which would have sweeping views of the coastline, has been stalled in legal and administrative wrangling.

The commission's central issue is the park's access road, proposed to be just west of West Coast Highway and Superior Avenue. While the road would avoid sensitive habitat, it follows the path of a larger arterial road planned for the adjacent Banning Ranch property.

Commission staff members sought an agreement preventing future expansion of the road onto sensitive California gnatcatcher habitat, but the ranch owners declined, and now the city's plans hang in the balance.

Both the city and Banning Ranch developers argue that the commission should focus on the application at hand, according to the Daily Pilot.

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--Mike Reicher, Times Community News

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