A Newport Beach-based developer is Tuesday facing more than $9 million in fines and penalties related to runoff from a Lake Forest luxury home development.
The San Diego Regional Water Control Board, a state agency that covers the coastline from Laguna Beach to the Mexican border as well as 50 miles inland, issued an administrative complaint Tuesday against Baldwin & Sons, which seeks $9.1 million for alleged violations and $96,594 in expenses for staff investigation of runoff from the Portola subdivision.
A message left with Baldwin & Sons was not immediately returned.
The 900-home luxury development is situated on a steep and sloping 95-acre parcel in Lake Forest at Glenn Ranch and Saddleback Ranch roads.
Water board officials say violations were first documented in August 2015 by the city of Lake Forest. The complaint documents alleged violations through March 31, 2016, though officials say there were violations extending beyond that date.
Storm water flows into Aliso Creek and its tributaries, according to the agency.
“Construction at the site resulted in a significant loss in wildlife habitat that needed to be mitigated, both to compensate for permanent loss of habitat, as well as restrictions during construction to minimize temporary impacts,” the agency said in a staff report.
The water board alleged that Baldwin & Sons ignored city orders to stop work, prompting the city to turn to the water board for help. The investigation was further hindered by the developer’s battles against subpoenas issued by a San Diego Superior Court judge, according to the water board.
“This homebuilder’s conduct is particularly egregious and deserving of a substantial penalty,” said James Smith, the water board’s assistant executive officer.