CCC to Consider Archaeological Administrative Permit for Banning Ranch

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The California Coastal Commission will consider an administrative permit for archaeological investigations on the site for the controversial proposed mixed-use project, Banning Ranch, next week.

Mike Mohler, representing Newport Banning Ranch, LLC, submitted the application.

Commissioners are scheduled to hear the actual project, consisting of residential, hotel, retail and open space on 401 acres, next month.

The staff report for the administrative permit application details that the work will include ground disturbance, including hand excavated shovel test pits and potential mechanical excavation using small bucket will be used, resulting in less than 10 cubic yards of soil disturbance, and will include Native American monitors.

Shovel test pits would be dug by hand by a professional archeologist at several locations throughout the site.

The testing work would be completed in approximately one week.

The site supports an array of sensitive coastal species and habitats, the staff report notes.

Ground Penetrating Radar was conducted without the removal of sensitive vegetation and habitat, however some shovel test pits may need to occur in areas very close to documented Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas. But they will not have any negative impacts to sensitive habitat and will not remove any vegetation, according to staff. Under no circumstances are shovel test pits allowed in wetlands or vernal pools, including the documented vernal pool watershed, the report reads.

Next week’s meeting will also include an application from the city for six acres of habitat restoration and water quality improvement at Big Canyon.

Commissioners are scheduled to meet Aug. 10-12 at the Hilton, 6001 La Madrona Dr., in Santa Cruz. Newport Beach items will be discussed on Thursday. The meeting starts at 9 a.m.

CCC is scheduled to meet Sept. 7-9 in the Newport Beach City Council chambers at the civic center. South County and Newport Beach items are typically heard on the second day.
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