More than 125 residents and community activists gathered in Costa Mesa to discuss Banning Ranch, a proposed development in West Newport that opponents argue will burden humans and wildlife.
The Thursday night meeting at the Neighborhood Community Center was organized by the Banning Ranch Conservancy, a grass-roots group that has long fought the project, which calls for 1,375 homes, commercial space and a small hotel within portions of the 400-acre, privately owned property.
Terry Welsh, president of the conservancy, called Banning Ranch the "largest parcel of unprotected coastal open space remaining in Orange County." The group aims to make the area into a nature preserve that would abut Talbert Regional and Fairview parks to the north, a wetlands area and Newport Beach's Sunset Ridge Park to the south, and other wetlands west in Huntington Beach.
Welsh and others contended Thursday that the development would permanently harm the landscape, which contains the San Diego fairy shrimp, an endangered species, and other notable birds and plants.