Otay Ranch Resort Village takes up east of Chula Vista.
Otay Ranch Resort Village, east of Chula Vista. Image via sandiegocounty.gov

A judge Thursday vacated San Diego County’s approvals of proposed Otay Ranch projects near Chula Vista, citing faulty environmental documents.

The court found that the county’s Environmental Impact Report did not adequately disclose nor analyze the projects’ impacts, especially potential wildfire risks.

Several environmental groups, supported by the California Attorney General’s Office, filed suit to challenge the Otay Ranch Resort Village 13, Otay Ranch Village 14 and Planning Areas 16/19 projects, part of a 23,000-acre residential development, the largest in San Diego County’s history.

The plaintiffs, including including the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, allege the EIRs for the proposed projects fail to properly account for wildfire impacts at the project sites, which are “located in a very high fire-hazard severity zone.”

The Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that 68 fires have been recorded within five miles of the sites, including the 2007 Harris Fire, which burned 90,440 acres.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta noted the potential for “another record-breaking” wildfire season to explain that it is “more critical than ever that we build responsibly.”

“The land-use decisions we make now will have consequences for years and decades to come,” Bonta said. “Today’s ruling by the Superior Court affirms a critical fact: Local governments have a responsibility to address wildfire risks associated with development projects at the front end. Doing so will save dollars – and lives – down the line.”

The nearly 700-acre Otay Ranch Resort Village 13 project includes nearly 1,900 single-family units in addition to 57 multi-family units, 20,000 square feet of commercial space and a resort with 200 guest rooms.

The Otay Ranch Village 14 project, at 1,284 acres, includes construction of 1,119 single-family residences and mixed-use site with 10,000 square feet of commercial space, parks and a fire station.

The county approved the project in 2019. The AG’s Office said county officials concluded “despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, that the introduction of structures and people would not increase wildfire risks.”

– City News Service