Project Name: Red Rock Gardens
Location: Along Santiago Canyon Road, County Unincorporated
Lead Agency: County of Orange
Threat: Residentially-zoned property proposed for commercial use for outdoor special events (weddings, anniversaries, parties, and fundraisers) with live entertainment and up to 20 event staff and 200 guests per event for a maximum of 12 events per year adjacent to Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park.
Description of the Issues: Failure to comply with County’s General Plan, Silverado-Modjeska Specific Plan, and zoning for the site, all of which prohibit commercial use, failure to properly analyze environmental impacts including noise impacts, traffic and traffic safety impacts, impacts on air and water quality, impacts to wildlife, fire hazard, and cumulative impacts, and Santiago Canyon Road is a designated scenic corridor, a rural two-lane highway, known for high frequency of fatal accidents, yet cumulative traffic impacts were not analyzed.
Lead Organization: Save the Canyons Coalition, which comprises the Saddleback Canyons Conservancy (an FHBP-fiscally sponsored non-profit group), Rural Canyons Conservation Fund, and Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks (FHBP).
- FHBP objected to the project at Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors hearings and joined a lawsuit against the County and real party-in-interest (property owners).
- Save the Canyons Coalition filed a lawsuit against the County and real party-in-interest in May 2018.
- The Superior Court ruled in favor of the Save the Canyons Coalition in March 2019, finding that the project’s approval was inconsistent with the County General Plan, the Silverado-Modjeska Specific Plan, and the zoning code. The court also held the project violated the California Environmental Quality Act because the County failed to prepare an environmental impact report analyzing the project’s potentially significant traffic safety impacts.
- The County has since rescinded all approvals.
- An appeal filed by the property owners has been dismissed.