Judge halts Santee housing project amid wildfire fears

Welcome to the California dichotomy. On the one hand, there’s a massive push to build new housing to accommodate population growth and quell the affordable housing crisis. On the other, there’s the increased threat of wildfire.

“A judge has ordered the Southern California city of Santee to throw out the approval of a long-planned housing project, the latest major development in the state to be sidetracked over concerns about destructive wildfires,” according to the Associated Press.

“The Santee City Council in late 2020 approved the Fanita Ranch project, giving the green light to 3,000 new homes in hills northeast of San Diego.

In her decision, Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal wrote that Fanita Ranch developers hadn’t adequately considered how the new homes could affect potential wildfire evacuations.”

Judge Bacal said Santee must throw out eight resolutions and ordinances that gave approval to the project. She expressed concerns that residents would not have enough time to evacuate in the event of a wildfire.

This is one of a number of housing projects recently halted by the courts amid wildfire fears. A 1,100-home Otay Ranch project in San Diego County was also halted in October.

Fanita Ranch developers say they will submit a revised report to address the concerns raised by Judge Bacal.