Anyone who attended the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting concerning the Santa Margarita Ranch shamefully got to see the& “three amigos” of Lenthall, Ovitt, and Achadjian act true to form.&
Riding to the rescue of a troubled project, and coming to the aid of the financial interest of their friends who own the ranch, they voted to certify an EIR that has 10 class 1, severe environmental impacts in the areas of traffic, water, ag land conversion and compatibility, air quality, noise, cultural resources, and biological resources. This approval was given, in spite of the fact that they had not even gone through the issues in a public forum because& to do so would have taken too long, and would have put the decision in front of the& new board in January.
The three amigos also went against their own planning commission’s action that denied the project because it did not adhere to& the County General Plan and various& planning policies. They also ignored their planning staff’s recommendation of denying the project because it was out of compliance with these plans and policies in 11 areas.&
In simple terms, this project broke the rules, but in spite of this, the amigos upheld the ranch owner’s appeal and directed staff to reverse its view and come back with& findings that would get& around these policy inconsistencies.
Although the vast majority of public comment and public agency response was for a denial of the project, the three amigos voted contrary to these wishes. One can only assume that they must feel they know what’s best for the public good even though the public thinks otherwise.
Hopefully, the new board will see themselves as public servants and not as proponents of large profits. Fortunately, the Santa Margarita Ranch battle is not over, and the three amigos have done a good job of leaving a very tarnished and incomplete record that can be contested in a court of law. Of course, this will have to be funded by the general public who have nothing to gain financially from this project, but have everything to lose by letting this decision stand as a precedent setter for the future development of our agricultural lands of this county.
Because& the voters of our county are sick of this type of biased, pro-growth decision making, they have spoken clearly, and the era of the three amigos is coming to its end. Mr. Lenthall and Mr. Ovitt will soon be riding off into the sunset, and Mr. Achadjian’s influence and future political aspirations will be greatly diminished. As we approach this change in leadership, we can all take a deep breath and finally say “Adios, Amigos.”