Andrew Hamlin 11 a.m., May 29
Rancho Guejito served with cleanup order
Controversial developer, backer of county GOP and downtown San Diego lobbying group, must comply by November, state agency says
Giant North County developer Rancho Guejito Corporation has been hit by a Cleanup and Abatement Order issued by the state's Regional Water Quality Control Board, requiring the firm to fix environmental damage caused by unauthorized road grading on the 22,500-acre spread, which its wealthy New York owner wants to develop.
According to water control board's April 23 order:
On or about July 25, 2011, RGC graded a new approximately 6,000 foot (1.14 miles) long road through the property. The road is approximately 20 feet wide; however there are portions that are up to 100 feet wide. Grading disturbed 8.59 acres of which 6.49 acres were designated as critical habitat for the Arroyo Toad.
In order to surmount the tributaries impeding road grading progress, [Rancho Guejito] placed earthen fill material in at least five tributaries to Guejito Creek to allow passage; thus obstructing the natural flow of the tributaries.
During road grading, material excavated from the roadbed was "side-cast" off the downward edge of the road, resulting in the discharge of dirt and sediment into Guejito Creek and its tributaries.
Furthermore, "side-casting" perched mounds of material (dirt and sediment) at the top of steep slopes thus threatening to cause future discharges of dirt and sediment into Guejito Creek and its tributaries.
The state's order calls for implementation of an "Erosion and Sediment Control Plan for the Rancho Guejito Farm Road" by the end of May and submission by the developer of a restoration and mitigation plan by June 28, with further follow-up by a November deadline.
Rancho Guejito has been handing out big cash to local politicos of late, giving $27,500 to county Republicans in March of last year and sponsoring the downtown business lobbying group San Diego County Taxpayers Associations' annual banquet this year.
The corporation is controlled by New York City heiress Theodate Coates, whose late father Benjamin, an oil millionaire from Philadelphia, acquired the sprawling rancho in the early 1970s.
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