As part of a long struggle to curb unneeded sprawl development and to protect vital wildlife corridors, the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and California Native Plant Society filed a motion to defend a Calabasas City Council’s denial of a residential and commercial development proposed for the city’s fire-prone hillsides.
The intervention, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, is in response to lawsuits from the Building Industry Association of Southern California and the project’s developers. The lawsuits seek to force the city to approve the project.
In May city leaders unanimously voted against the 180-unit West Village at Calabasas project—only 10% of which would be classified as affordable housing—citing wildfire risks and the loss of open space. The entire site burned in the 2018 Woolsey fire and is anticipated to burn again at least every 20 years.
Further, the project is not tailored to housing demand in Calabasas—which is a predominantly wealthy community outside of Los Angeles—making it not a direct or significant solution to housing affordability in California or in Los Angeles in particular.
In the greater Los Angeles area, sprawl into open spaces destroys wildlife habitat and natural spaces, increases greenhouse gas emissions from car dependence, and puts communities in the path of worsening climate disasters like wildfire. While our region is in dire need of new housing, the Sierra Club supports development in resource-rich areas close to transit, jobs, infrastructure to support the development.
Typical of sprawl projects, the negative impacts of this plan will be amplified by inducing and encouraging other similar plans that will, as in this case, open up more of the protected side of Calabasas’ growth boundary to incremental development.
“City leaders were right to protect their community from unneeded sprawl developments, which increase wildfire risks and local air pollution,” said Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Director Morgan Goodwin. “Instead, Calabasas should focus on building the infill housing Californians need desperately near resource-rich areas close to transit and jobs. This is the only realistic way to prevent sprawl.”
Read the joint press statement with the Center for Biological Diversity and California Native Plant Society: https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/legal-motion-defends-rejection-of-harmful-southern-california-development-2021-11-23/