The long saga of Fanita Ranch in Santee took a positive turn.
Proposed development of Fanita Ranch would carve up a unique and beautiful 2,600-acre block of coastal sage scrub, riparian habitat, and meadow. Instead, the property should become part of the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program. The site is important for the California gnatcatcher and many other species.
Preserve Wild Santee, as local group, has led a multi-decade fight against the project. Endangered Habitats League joined the opposition in 1999, when the project was overturned by a ballot measure. In 2008, we filed suit against a reapproved project, and tried unsuccessfully to purchase the project during the real estate recession that followed.
The latest iteration of the project had the same biological flaws. Litigation was led by the Center for Biological Diversity. Preserve Wild Santee, EHL, and other plaintiffs challenged the environmental impact report. In April 2022, the judge ruled that the project failed to disclose the most basic information about fire evacuation and that the public had not had adequate time to review major changes made by the applicant at the last minute. All approvals were rescinded, and due to a ballot measure previously circulated by Preserve Wild Santee, the project will automatically face a vote of the people even if the pro-development City Council reapproves it yet again.
EHL hopes to work with all parties on an acquisition that is beneficial to all parties.