Court ruling to halt Mount Whitney development
In an initial ruling released Aug. 27, the California Court of Appeals sided with Sierra Nevada conservationists, concluding that development approvals in the Mount Whitney Portal area violate state law.
The ruling states, “The County failed to proceed in the manner required by law.”
Once finalized, the court action would overturn Inyo County approvals of the Whitney Portal Preserve project, a remote subdivision of 27 luxury homes along Whitney Portal Road, the sole paved access route for the tallest mountain in the continental United States.
State law requires that environmental review provide decision-makers with adequate information to assess the impacts of a proposed project, including alternatives to the proposal. But, according to the initial ruling, environmental review “includes only the barest of facts …, vague and unsupported conclusions about aesthetics, views, and economic objectives, and no independent analysis whatsoever of relevant considerations.”
Now conservationists will seek to work with the landowner to reach a collaborative resolution to the contentious issue.
“Our goal was never simply to win a lawsuit,” said Jennifer Fenton of the grassroots SRVA Advocates for Smart Growth. “Our goal is to reach a win-win agreement that protects the land and encourages responsible development. We look forward to taking that next step.”