For Immediate Release, January 9, 2020


Ross Middlemiss, (707) 599-2743,

Placer Lawsuit Challenges Sprawl Development in California Vernal Pool Habitat

AUBURN, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity sued Placer County today for approving the Sunset Area Plan. The sprawling development in Northern California will destroy thousands of acres of rare vernal pool habitat — temporary wetlands crucial to wildlife — and overwhelm regional roadways by forcing commuters and residents to drive millions of additional miles.

The plan encompasses more than 8,500 acres in western Placer County near the cities of Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln. It includes about 8,000 housing units and 34 million square feet of retail, commercial and industrial space.

The Sunset Area Plan would bulldoze more than 5,000 acres of vernal pool and grassland habitat that supports rare and threatened species such as vernal pool fairy shrimp and western spadefoot toad. It would add more than half a million new vehicle trips on packed Sacramento-area highways, further degrading air quality and undermining California’s climate goals.

“Supervisors shouldn’t have backed a sprawl development that will be incredibly damaging to wildlife and human communities in western Placer County,” said Ross Middlemiss, an attorney at the Center. “Tearing up open space and agricultural land to build car-dependent homes next to a dump is not an acceptable way to address the housing challenges facing California.”

In approving the plan, the supervisors agreed to decrease the existing buffer zone around a landfill in the center of the plan area, allowing for even more development. This will allow new homes, schools and a prospective university site to be built within a half mile of a landfill.

The Center and allies repeatedly raised these concerns in comment letters, public hearings and meetings with the county. Today’s lawsuit, filed in Placer County Superior Court, states that the project is inconsistent with Placer County’s General Plan and that the environmental impact report was flawed.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.