NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — California coastal regulators are preparing to review hotly contested plans to develop what is considered to be the largest remaining privately-held coastal property south of Los Angeles.
Developers want to build 895 homes and a 75-room hotel on a 401-acre swath of land in upscale Newport Beach long used for oil drilling. Roughly 80 percent of Banning Ranch would be restored and preserved as open space.
But environmentalists say the property includes critical bird habitat and vernal pools that fill with rainwater each spring and house the endangered San Diego fairy shrimp. They want a bigger chunk of the site to be protected.
The California Coastal Commission is set to consider the project on September 7. Commission staff are recommending the project be downsized and confined to a smaller area.
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