La Habra City Council Votes 3-0 to DENY Lennar’s Application to Build 400+ Houses on City’s Largest Open Space
A Victory for Open Space more than Five Years in the Making
(LA HABRA, CALIFORNIA) Last night, the La Habra City Council voted 3-0 to deny a major change to its General Plan, which would have enabled the development of 400+ luxury houses and multi-family residences on the largest remaining Open Space in La Habra, the Westridge golf course.
Opposition to the development was led by SaveLaHabra.com, a grassroots coalition of residents dedicated to protecting La Habra’s Open Spaces. Residents allied with Save La Habra spoke out in overwhelming numbers to the City Council last night and the Planning Commission last month, voicing their concerns about traffic, overcrowding and environmental harm. Last month, the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend denial of the project, on many of the same grounds.
Following the Council’s decision last night, Save La Habra founder Jim Lees said, “The Council clearly got this one right. They spoke for their citizens tonight, and they didn’t give into the strong pressure from Lennar and its desire to extract profits. We commend the Council tonight for a job well done. Their long-term vision and faithful stewardship of our Open Space, combined with the likely passage of Measure X, will ensure that these beautiful green spaces are around for generations to come.”
The very public battle between open-space advocates like Save La Habra and the housing developers and their surrogates has been playing out for over five years. In addition to actively opposing the Rancho La Habra project through the environmental review and public hearing process, the group also created a longer term vision to protect these Open Spaces for the future.
“We realized that whether we won or lost this battle, we needed something permanent to protect the very few remaining Open Spaces we have left in the city,” said Maribelle Lopez, co-founder of Save La Habra. “We needed to find a way to protect these Open Spaces for our children and their children. So that’s why we created Measure X.”
In late 2018, the Save La Habra group authored the Citizens’ Initiative for Preservation of Open Space (now entitled Measure X). It would require a vote of the people of La Habra before any future Open Space can be developed. It does not change any current zoning in the city, nor does it prohibit development. It maintains the Open Space designations that are currently reflected in the La Habra General Plan.
“This just shows how determined citizens’ voices can be heard, once they organize and speak with one voice,” said Sue Ham, co-founder of Save La Habra. “In 2015, there were only a few of us. In 2020, thousands of citizens sent comments about Rancho La Habra to our City Council. And in just two weeks, tens of thousands will go to the ballot box and make their voices heard with Measure X. I’m really proud of our City tonight!”