Rancho Los Robles

The Rancho Los Robles subdivides two parcels totaling 33 acres and constructs 54 residential units in the Elkhorn Slough watershed.

LandWatch Position: Filed a Lawsuit
Project Status: Appellate Court Overturned Project Approvals

Quick Facts

  • The current owner is Heritage Western Communities, Ltd.
  • The project includes the construction of 54 residential lots on 33 acres within the Elkhorn Slough Watershed.
  • The County of Monterey is the lead agency under CEQA.
  • The project was appealed to the California Coastal Commission, where it was reviewed and approved in November 2017.
  • The project is governed by the policies of the 1982 Monterey County General Plan and the North Monterey County Land Use Plan and the North County Local Coastal Plan.

Project Status

  • LandWatch and Friends, Artists and Neighbors of Elkhorn Slough filed a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission in December 2017, which was won at the Appellate Court in November 2021. See the Certification of Decision.
  • The Coastal Commission ignored the staff recommendation to deny the project and approved it in November 2017. View the Coastal Commission Staff Report and Supporting Materials.
  • The project was appealed to the California Coastal Commission after the County Board of Supervisors approved the project in a 3-2 vote in December 2008, ignoring staff’s recommendation.
  • The Monterey County Planning Commission denied the project in October 2008.
  • A Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report was re-circulated for review between March and May 2008.
  • The project received a recommendation for approval by the Monterey County Subdivision Committee in April 2008.
  • A Draft Environmental Impact Report was circulated for review between August and October 2007.
  • The Monterey County Subdivision Committee held workshops in December 2000 to review the project.
  • The project application was deemed complete in September 2000.

Project Location Map

The proposed project sits within
the Elkhorn Slough Watershed.

Full Size Image (149K PDF)
Credit: California Coastal Commission, Staff Report (November 2017)

The project is 33 acres and is between Sill
and Hall Roads in North County.

Full Size Image (147K PDF)
Credit: California Coastal Commission, Staff Report (November 2017)

Resources at Risk

Lack of Compliance with the Local Coastal Program

  • The project is out of compliance with the Local Coastal Program, most specifically with respect to lack of a reliable water source and traffic congestion.

Impacts to Sensitive Habitat

  • The Local Coastal Program has strong protections for the Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA), but the project ignores the protections and destroys important oak woodlands habitat.

Subdivision Limitations Due to lack of Sustainable Water Supply

  • Per the 2010 County General Plan, the inland portion of North Monterey County is prohibited from subdividing parcels due to water quality and quantity issues. The California Coastal Commission has adopted a prohibition on ancillary units (2nd units) in Coastal North Monterey County also due to the over-drafted aquifers of this area.

LandWatch Involvement

LandWatch engages in the public process in a variety of ways. For this project, here is a list of our engagement strategies.

  • Opening Brief filed by LandWatch & FANS (406K PDF)
    The legal team for Friends, Artists and Neighbors of the Elkhorn Slough and LandWatch filed the opening brief on the Rancho Los Robles lawsuit. (05.30.19)
  • Press Release: Lawsuit Announced by LandWatch
    LandWatch and FANS announce a lawsuit against the project applicant and the California Coastal Commission.  (12.18.17)
  • Lawsuit: Lawsuit Filed on Project Approvals
    LandWatch and FANS file a lawsuit on the project approvals because the project is proposed to receive its potable water supply from wells extracting groundwater from the overdrafted and unsustainably pumped Pajaro Valley Groundwater Basin.  The project also damages an environmentally sensitive habitat area and converts agricultural land to residential uses—both in violation of the California Coastal Act.
  • Letter: Comments on the Project
    LandWatch outlines its concerns about the project and its lack of adherence to the Local Coastal Program. (07.07.17)

Project History

  • Court of Appeal Overturns Project
    A decision by a panel of judges overturns the approvals of the 2017 Rancho Los Robles project. FANS and LandWatch won this appeal and will be reimbursed for their attorneys’ fees. (11.18.21)
  • Testimony and Emotions Run High in Project Discussion
    The developer bussed in residents to testify before the Coastal Commission, while environmentalists and their attorneys also spoke to give context: smaller projects with impacts on the groundwater have been denied due to the water issues. Staff recommended denial, but it was approved 7-5 with little explanation from the Commission. (11.14.19)
  • Conservation Groups Sue Coastal Commission
    LandWatch and FANS filed suit against the Coastal Commission’s approval of the Rancho Los Robles project. (12.22.17)
  • Lawsuit Against Coastal Commission
    Activists were surprised by the Coastal Commission’s approval of the Rancho Los Robles subdivision when three smaller projects were previously denied.  A joint lawsuit was filed by LandWatch and FANS to overturn this decision. (12.18.17)
  • Project Gets Approved by Coastal Commission
    In a huge turn of events, the Rancho Los Robles project is approved by the California Coastal Commission in a 7-5 vote. It is the first of four North County projects to receive approvals, while the others were denied. (11.09.17)
  • Coastal Commission to Hear Rancho Los Robles
    Rancho Los Robles is headed to the California Coastal Commission on appeal from its approval by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. (07.07.17)
  • Controversial Project Gets Approved
    A controversial project was approved by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors in a 3-2 vote. Many concerns relate to lack of available water in North County. (12.10.08)

Monterey County
Issues & Actions