Ridge/Goodell Preservation Agreement
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Closer Than Ever to Reality
The historic agreement brings BCLT’s vision for this property closer within reach than ever. We shared our vision originally two years ago in this illustrative designed by Guy Stivers of Stivers & Associates. As you can see, we envision a beautiful passive park offering expansive views of the ocean. It is BCLT’s collective vision … one of open space and wildlife, of thriving habitat, of respect for the land’s 9,000-year-old archaeology and a cultural landscape where tribal members can connect with their ancestral homeland. It is an inspiring vision that, working together, we can finally make a reality.
In 2010, BCLT filed a lawsuit against the City of Huntington Beach challenging the approval of a proposed housing development called the “Ridge” on Signal Landmark’s 4.9-acre property. BCLT’s lawsuit alleged that the City Council violated the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to prepare an Environmental Impact Report. All parties involved agreed to table the litigation until the Coastal Commission acted on the proposed development. In June 2014, during the Coastal Commission meeting, the City/Signal Landmark withdrew their development application for the Ridge project. In August 2014, Signal, BCLT and the City agreed to enter into discussions with a goal of settling the litigation. BCLT retained Terry Watt as the facilitator of the negotiations and asked TPL to initiate discussions with Signal regarding the acquisition of the 11.1-acre property for passive open space, passive park and or/ passive recreation uses that protect the property’s archaeological and natural resources.
- Bolsa Chica Land Trust (BCLT) – Local nonprofit working to acquire and protect the last 11.1 acres at Bolsa Chica.
- Trust for Public Land (TPL) – A national nonprofit that works with communities to preserve open space. TPL will work to acquire all 11.1 acres for permanently protected open space.
- Signal Landmark – Owner of 4.9 acres at Bolsa Chica.
- Goodell Family Trust – Owner of 6.2 acres adjacent to Signal Landmark’s property at Bolsa Chica Signal has entered into an option agreement with Goodell Family Trust to purchase the Goodell property.
- City of Huntington Beach – Government agency responsible for approving entitlements/development.
- California Coastal Commission – Government agency responsible for issuing local coastal permits to allow development.
The issues surrounding the Ridge and Goodell properties are complex. To get to this point required multiple legal agreements, but the critical element is that the landowner needed to be a willing seller. BCLT has always understood that the landowner would need to be compensated for the property. Thus, in our lengthy negotiations two ‘tracks’ were created.
Taking the lead is Trust for Public Land, which will secure the significant funds necessary to purchase the property. Once purchased, the land will have a conservation easement placed over it and ownership will be transferred to either BCLT, an accredited Land Trust, or an appropriate state agency — with the sole purpose of protecting and conserving the
land’s archaeological, cultural and biological resources.
Per our agreement, the Ridge and Goodell properties will be merged and permanently protected, with only passive open space, passive park and passive recreation uses. The native habitat will be restored to serve our wildlife.
Trust for Public Land, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust and Signal Landmark are in complete agreement that the full acquisition of the Ridge and Goodell properties is the desired outcome, and Signal Landmark will assist in the fundraising.
The Development Alternative
If funding for purchase of the properties cannot be secured and the acquisition fails, Signal Landmark will have the right to develop 2.5 acres (half of the Ridge property) for homes. The remaining half of the Ridge property and all of the Goodell property will be donated to either BCLT, an accredited Land Trust or an appropriate state agency, with the same goals as set above: the protection and conservation of the land’s cultural, archaeological and biological resources as passive open space.
If development were to occur, mitigation and avoidance of potential impacts to archaeological and adjacent biological resources during development of the 2.5 acres will be assured, in compliance with the strict and detailed measures set forth within the agreements.
This agreement is the best opportunity BCLT has to protect these last two pieces of threatened open space at Bolsa Chica. We do not support development, however if our efforts at full acquisition fail we still will have successfully saved the majority of this property and ensured that all significant archaeological resources that may be found during development will be left undisturbed. With the land donation and these protections in place, if acquisition fails, BCLT will not oppose the development of 2.5 acres under the restrictions of the agreement and the development will be subject to the
review and approval by the Coastal Commission.