Development of the 400-acre Banning Ranch, located inland of West Pacific Coast Highway at the Santa Ana River in Newport Beach, has hit another obstacle – this time a court order to stop moving forward with processing because the city of Newport Beach, in approving the project, “failed to consult certain environmental regulators before giving its approval.”
The judgement is the result of a suit by the Banning Ranch Conservancy, which seeks to stop any development of the Ranch by landowner and developer Newport Banning Ranch LLC. The Conservancy is concerned about retaining wetlands, native plants and wildlife on the former oil field parcel.
In the judgement, the court admitted that the developer did not violate the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), nor that the environmental impact report (EIR) was flawed, but merely that the developer failed to contact certain environmental regulators. The development still requires the approval of the California Coastal Commission, but city council approval typically precedes such approval. The development is within the city’s general plan.
Newport Banning Ranch LLC seeks to develop 1,375 homes, a boutique hotel and limited retail on a portion of the site, leaving 76% of the site as open space.
One-third of the 15 hotels cited by the Automobile Club of Southern California as top-tier five-diamond Southern California hotels are in Orange County. Los Angeles County also scored five hotels, San Diego County three, Ventura County two, and Santa Barbara County one.
Orange County hotels awarded the five-star honor are the Island Hotel and The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach; The Ritz-Carlton and the St. Regis Monarch Beach, Dana Point; and the Montage Laguna Beach.