Judge halts mega-resort in California wildfire zone, says residents could die trying to flee

By Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler, Sacramento Bee, January 6, 2022

“[A] Lake County judge’s ruling on the Guenoc Valley Resort could have sweeping ramifications for housing and business developments across a state where fires are growing in severity and local officials are under intense pressure to approve new building projects during a housing crisis.

“The ruling, under [CEQA], also represents a major victory for environmentalists opposed to new housing and business projects in areas with extreme wildfire risks.

“The California Attorney General’s Office joined the Center for Biological Diversity in the environmental group’s lawsuit challenging the posh Lake County resort.

“[The Lake County judge] said developers had done a good job of attempting to reduce fire risks. That said, they hadn’t fully accounted for serious problems that could arise if a wildfire broke out.

“The ruling comes as state policymakers struggle to balance the state’s unrelenting demand for new housing and business opportunities, while also seeing lethal fires destroy entire communities nearly every summer.

“It was no no fluke when a portion of the Guenoc Valley development site actually caught fire during the LNU Lightning Complex, the state argued in court filings challenging the project.

“Much of Guenoc Valley lies within spots designated by Cal Fire as highly vulnerable to major fires.

“The Lake County judge’s ruling should force planners and developers ‘to see how absolutely crucial it is to consider evacuation challenges when building projects this risky,’ said [Peter] Broderick, the environmentalist attorney challenging the resort.”

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