The Auburn Dam died
an official death in December, when the State Water Resources Control Board revoked the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's rights to 2.5 million acre-feet of water per year from the American River.
The board and state law require water rights holders to put water to beneficial use. But with the dam stalled since 1975 and no prospect for resuming construction, the board concluded it had little choice but to take back the water rights. The City of Sacramento and San Joaquin County have already filed applications to gain rights to the water.
Congress authorized the 680-foot-tall dam in 1965, and site work just south of Auburn began in 1967. An earthquake on a fault that runs directly under the dam site forced construction to a halt in 1975. As environmental concerns and estimated costs – they eventually approached $10 billion – rose, the project lost momentum and construction never resumed despite downstream flood concerns and the need for water (see CP&DR Environment Watch, August 2006
, September 2002). Also dying in December
was a proposal to extend Orange County's Foothill South toll road through San Onofre State Beach.
In early 2008, the California Coastal Commission rejected the Orange County Transportation Corridor Agency's plan to build the freeway through the state park because of potential impacts to coastal resources and environmentally sensitive habitat. Using the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, the agency appealed that decision to the federal Commerce Department.
However, federal officials declined to override the Coastal Commission. A 28-page decision
prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that there is at least one alternative route for the six-lane toll road and that the road is not necessary for national security.
The transportation agency vowed to continue fighting for the toll road, likely in the courthouse.A plan to remove hundreds of structures
and rebuild 125 acres in the heart of Baldwin Park appears to have died with Bisno Development's announcement that it was pulling out of the project because of the sour economy.
The plan called for Bisno to fund the Baldwin Park Redevelopment Agency's acquisition of residential and commercial properties. The agency would then turn over the real estate to Bisno for development of up to 8,000 housing units, nearly 4 million square feet of commercial, retail and entertainment uses, and public projects such as a promenade, a lagoon and a fancy Metrolink station. The project was extremely controversial because of its potential to displace about 100 households and 300 businesses (see CP&DR Redevelopment Watch, May 2008
). City officials say other developers are interested in a smaller version of the project.