In its first foray into the Central Coast, EHL has joined forces with San Luis Obispo-based North County Watch to save the pristine 14,000-acre Santa Margarita Ranch from development.

EHL and North County Watch have filed a legal challenge to the County’s approval of a 111-lot subdivision of luxury estate lots, which would be the first phase of a larger conversion to non-agricultural uses. Santa Margarita Ranch is the lynchpin of an intact working landscape and home to the federally threatened red-legged frog made famous by Mark Twain. If allowed to stand, this project would set a precedent for other ranch and farmlands in the iconic Central Coast. The need for affordable housing in the area would not be addressed, while perpetuating greenhouse gas-intensive development patterns.

Staff had disclosed an unprecedented number of major unmitigated impacts, yet the project was hurriedly pushed through on a narrow 3-2 vote by a lame-duck pro-development majority of the Board of Supervisors. Alleging violations of the California Environmental Quality Act and numerous inconsistencies with the County’s General Plan and ordinances, the lawsuit seeks to vacate the approval. EHL’s ultimate goal is to work with the newly elected Board, the landowner, the community and other stakeholders to develop a more conservation-oriented, sustainable solution for the Ranch that will preserve northern San Luis Obispo County’s rural landscapes for future generations.

EHL is represented by staff attorney Michael Fitts.