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Opponents of ‘Desert Rose' development seek High Court review
Jared Whitlock, Decenber 10, 2015

Those looking for further environmental review for the “Desert Rose” development in Olivenhain recently appealed the case to the California Supreme Court.

The California Court of Appeal in October stated the developer behind the 16-home development isn't required to complete an environmental impact report, reversing an earlier trial court's decision.

“The Court of Appeal held that there was no substantial evidence of a fair argument of a significant environmental impact, despite the written and oral testimony of experts and area residents,” wrote attorney Everett Delano in a petition to the California Supreme Court.

Delano is representing Save Desert Rose, a group of residents arguing that an environmental impact report would shine a light on the project's negative traffic and wetland impacts.

His petition goes on to say that the Court of Appeal's opinion conflicts with a “low threshold” for requiring an environmental impact report, adding High Court review is necessary to decide important questions related to the California Environmental Quality Act.

Marco Gonzalez, an attorney for project developer Woodridge Farms Estates, said in November he doubted that High Court review would prove to be a viable option. Gonzalez at that time also stated the project would result in environmental enhancements and affordable housing, and thus an environmental impact report is not necessary.

Bill Butler with Save Desert Rose said in an email that the Building Industry Association of San Diego and other groups have petitioned the Court of Appeal to publish its ruling.

“Were this to happen, it would have statewide ramifications and most likely, make it more difficult for cities and citizen groups to require environmental impact reports from builders and developers,” Butler wrote.

Butler also stated that Delano's California Supreme Court petition strengthens the case that the city should have required an environmental impact report. After the Encinitas City Council approved the development in 2013, the organization filed a lawsuit.

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