Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 7, 2020


John Buse, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 533-4416,
Van Collinsworth, Preserve Wild Santee, (619) 258-7929,

Lawsuit Challenges Southern California City’s Sprawl-promoting Climate Plan

SANTEE, Calif.— Conservation groups filed a lawsuit today challenging the city of Santee’s “climate action plan” that gives a free pass to a proposed massive development on the edge of the city. Fanita Ranch, the proposed project that would add nearly 3,000 new homes, would be a car-centric, sprawling development likely resulting in thousands of tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

“The climate emergency demands real, enforceable measures to cut pollution, not free passes to sprawl,” said John Buse, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The built-in loophole for Fanita Ranch undermines the entire climate plan and only digs us deeper into this crisis.”

The climate plan, also known as the Sustainable Santee Plan, started with a laudable goal to put the city on the path consistent with the state’s 2030, 2035 and 2045 goals for reducing greenhouse gases.

But the final plan is deeply flawed. Fanita Ranch won’t be required to fully analyze and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions under the California Environmental Quality Act. Opportunities for real, concrete changes to the development to minimize its GHG emissions are now lost.

“Since climate breakdown is accelerating and Fanita conservation is a viable alternative, a Climate Action Plan that streamlines a fire-prone sprawl development on Fanita Ranch must be challenged,” said Van Collinsworth of Preserve Wild Santee. “Sprawl is the antithesis of sustainable development.”

"As a region, we need to be rapidly shifting toward zero emissions,” said Nicole Capretz, executive director of Climate Action Campaign. “We simply can't afford plans that facilitate new sprawl development. Instead, we need all our cities going all-in on dense, affordable housing near jobs and transit.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Preserve Wild Santee, Climate Action Campaign in San Diego County Superior Court.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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