Two citizens' groups sued the city of Newark in Alameda County Superior Court on Monday to challenge the city's approval of a 469-unit housing development on former wetlands adjoining the San Francisco Bay.
The Citizens' Committee to Complete the Refuge and the Center for Biological Diversity claim that more environmental review is needed to study the effects of sea level rise and possible harm to an endangered species, the salt marsh harvest mouse.
The project approved by a 4-1 vote of the City Council on Nov. 14 would include 469 units of low-density housing to be built on 77 acres of a 430-acre section known as Area 4 along the shore of the bay.
The project is known as the Sanctuary West Residential Project and the developer is The Sobrato Organization LLC, based in Mountain View. The area, now diked off from the bay, was formerly wetlands and is now a combination of marsh, ponds, seasonal wetlands and upland. Under the plan, the housing development sections would be raised with 5 to 15 feet of fill to protect against possible future flooding.
The lawsuit contends that additional environmental review is required by the California Environmental Quality Act. It asks the court to block any construction until there is full compliance with the law.
The plaintiff groups and other environmental organizations have advocated that parts of Area 4 should be restored and added to the adjacent Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.