ORANGE COUNTY — The California Coastal Commission has decided to review the latest Crystal Cove housing development, a move that could delay the south county project or stop it--unless the developer agrees to added conditions protecting the environment.
The move was sparked by concern that the type of permit that the Irvine Co. requested from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to alter the course of a stream bed was "almost the equivalent of a waiver," said Coastal Commission President Sara Wan.
Such a permit does not show that construction of 800 upscale homes along the coast south of Newport Beach would not harm the area's sensitive ecology. "The process was short-circuited," Wan said. "That's why the commission needs to review it."
The commission was alerted to the problem by a citizen's complaint, which included a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency opposing the permit. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also had complained to the corps about the permit.
The concern is whether diverting a stream to deal with runoff from the development will harm habitat and species down the hill and at the beach in Crystal Cove State Park.