A large residential and commercial development in Upland is back on track after an appellate court lifted an order that halted some grading. Although litigation filed by the San Bernardino County Flood Control District against developers of the Colonies Crossroads continues, construction is proceeding.

The two sides are in a dispute regarding the cost and design of 65 acres worth of flood control facilities on the property along the 210 freeway in far western San Bernardino County (see CP&DR Local Watch, December 2003). After losing in Superior Court, the county appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which blocked further grading for new flood control facilities. But in late December, the court ruled that halting the flood control work threatened public safety, and the court lifted the injunction.

Construction resumed full speed shortly thereafter, and, in January, the City of Upland approved a final map and amended development agreement for the 440-acre, 1,150-unit project. Although the county and the developers have fought vigorously in court and in the press, Scott Sommer, an attorney for The Colonies Partners, said the dispute could be resolved.

"There are some serious settlement discussions getting started," Sommer said.

DEVELOPERS OF A "NEW TOWN" development in the San Joaquin County city of Lathrop have settled a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club by agreeing to fund a new agricultural land trust.

The River Islands project calls for 11,000 housing units and a 325-acre employment center on 4,800 acres just west of Interstate 5 (see CP&DR Local Watch, March 2003). The Sierra Club — which also sued over earlier proposals for a theme park on the site — filed a lawsuit in early 2003 regarding the River Islands environmental impact report.

Under the settlement, Cambay Group will pay the Modesto-based Great Valley Center $200,000 to establish a new trust to preserve farmland in the project’s vicinity. Cambay Group must also pay $2,200 per acre (the amount will be adjusted for inflation) for every acre it develops, including about $900,000 up front. The developer could eventually pay more than $8 million into the trust fund.

River Islands still needs some state and federal wetlands, flood control and endangered species permits. Construction remains at least one year away.

DURING A SEVEN-HOUR HEARING attended by about 400 people, the Coastal Commission approved a housing and commercial development proposed for the Dana Point Headlands in Orange County. The commission voted 7-5 for developer Sanford Edward’s proposal for 122 houses, a 90-room hotel and 40,000 square feet of commercial development on the promontory.

Controversy over development of the property has been around for about 15 years. In 1994, the city approved 370 houses and a 400-room hotel, but voters overturned that decision with two referenda (see CP&DR Legal Digest, February 1997; CP&DR, December 1994).

Among the issues for the latest proposal were habitat for the endangered Pacific pocket mouse and the threatened California gnatcatcher, and the need to move and rebuild a seawall. Environmentalists led by the Surfrider Foundation and the Sierra Club opposed the project and threatened litigation after the Commission voted.

The Commission majority contended the proposal was a balanced plan that would protect and enhance open space on half of the 121-acre site. Commissioner Mary Nichols, who was state Resources Agency secretary under Gov. Gray Davis, said that habitat and species would be better off with the project than without it.

MARYSVILLE MAYOR DICK HELDER resigned in January while under pressure from Yuba County District Attorney Pat McGrath. Six months earlier, a Yuba County grand jury accused Helder of 20 counts of misconduct for acquiring interests in property within Marysville’s redevelopment project area and failing to disclose that interest. McGrath alleged that the mayor hid his interest by using a "straw buyer." After Helder resigned, a Yuba County judge dismissed the grand jury’s accusation because loss of office was the only potential penalty.

COMPETING STREAM PROTECTIONS MEASURES on the Napa County ballot in March appear be dividing residents and interest groups into three camps.

Major winemaking groups and most county supervisors support Measure P, which would establish setbacks of 25 to 150 feet between farms and streams depending upon the terrain and waterway (see CP&DR In Brief, May 2003). Property rights activists call Measure P a "land grab" that could prohibit farming and logging on 53,000 acres.

Environmentalists say Measure P does not go far enough, and they have thrown their weight behind Measure O, which calls for setbacks as large as 325 feet. Environmentalists say the restrictions are necessary to prevent further conversion of hillside forests to vineyards that are susceptible to erosion.

CORRECTION. A story in the January edition on the proposed Las Lomas development near Santa Clarita mischaracterized the seismic issues. According to state maps, no fault runs directly through the site. However, territory that qualifies as special study areas under the Alquist-Priolo Act virtually surrounds the Las Lomas site.