Stronger Together.

AEL Updates

Legal Agreement on Placer County Project Requires Climate Pollution Cuts, Secures Funding to Protect Wildlife Habitat

Dear Friends and AEL Partners:

This is breaking news: The Center for Biological Diversity has settled its lawsuit with Placer Ranch, Inc.

AEL provided the following comment on the settlement to area media:

For Immediate release:

The Alliance for Environmental Leadership is really pleased that the Center’ for Biological Diversity’s legal challenge to Placer Ranch project approval and EIR has settled .  The $6 million settlement will cause the developer to implement CO2 reduction measures within the project area and in underserved communities across the State.   The nature of CEQA law and the intricacies associated with lawsuits on a CEAQ documents’ adequacy, makes this settlement a big win for people and nature.

The fact that the 300 acre ‘university site’ within Placer Ranch cannot be developed for purposes other than education, cultural or environmental uses is also a big win. The vernal pool habitat there will likely survive.

And something else that is significant is that the developer promised at the public hearings that the price point for new housing will be $370,000-400,000. As long as the County holds the developer to this promise, Placer Ranch may finally cause Placer County to meet its affordable and middle income housing obligations through SACOG’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation.

This is a still a sprawl development inside of the County’s landfill odor zone. The site’s suitability for residential use is still in question. The cost to mitigate for smell is pegged at $19 million and the health impacts of persistent odors and likely airborne carcinogenic particles is undetermined. The County and Landfill Authority promised that garbage collection rates would not increase to fund smell and health mitigations for Placer Ranch.

As you see there are still major issues with the  Placer Ranch project, outside of this litigation-not the least of which is CSU’s decision to build no more campuses.

While we would have loved to see smart-growth innovation instead of sprawl, this was not a part of the Center’s legal challenge. On issues that were a part of the legal challenge, we see  a big upside to the settlement – its CO2 reduction measures and housing affordability. We support the settlement and thank the Center for Biological Diversity for bringing progressive change to our County through the solar and electric vehicle elements of the settlement and generating funding for conservation of lands and environmental advocacy.

Placer Ranch is only 20% of the Sunset Area Project. The Center and AEL will continue to monitor development in the balance of the site for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Together, we’re a stronger voice.

Leslie Warren, Chair

Alliance for Environmental Leadership


For Immediate Release, April 15, 2021

Contact: Aruna Prabhala, Center for Biological Diversity, (408) 691-6272,
Tim Little, Rose Foundation, (510) 849-7686,

Legal Agreement on Placer County Project Requires Climate Pollution Cuts, Secures Funding to Protect Wildlife Habitat

PLACER COUNTY, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity approved a legal agreement yesterday that secures significant measures to reduce greenhouse gases from a Placer County development, as well as funding for electric vehicles, habitat acquisition and environmental conservation efforts in the county and elsewhere in California.

“This landmark agreement will cut the development’s greenhouse gas pollution and provide a host of resources to help Placer County’s residents and natural landscapes,” said Aruna Prabhala, director of the Center’s Urban Wildlands program. “We’ll keep advocating for the people and wildlife of this county by promoting equitable policies to combat the climate crisis and safeguard biological diversity.”

The agreement between the Center and Placer Ranch, Inc., the proponent of the mixed-use Placer Ranch Specific Plan project, provides $500,000 for renewable energy programs to subsidize the purchase of electric vehicles and install rooftop solar and EV charging stations in Placer County.

The agreement also includes a host of new measures to reduce the project’s greenhouse gas emissions and impacts on wildlife. It requires the project to have electric vehicle charging stations in all single-family homes and 15% of non-residential parking spaces, zero-emission transit vehicles, all electric appliances in residential units, green roofs on commercial spaces and free transit passes for future residents and employees.

The agreement also provides $500,000 to future conservation projects in Placer County, $1 million to fund the work of nonprofit groups working towards the preservation, restoration and research of imperiled wildlife and ecologically valuable habitat, and $4 million for the acquisition and permanent protection of biologically important habitat.

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by the residential and commercial development within Placer Ranch, a portion of future property sales will also fund on-site renewable energy generation, zero-emission transportation and other conservation initiatives. The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, a public foundation which specializes in administering settlement proceeds to benefit environmental and consumer protection programs, will help manage the initiatives.

“Crucial on-the-ground conservation, plus green energy and boosting public transit – this is what solving global warming looks like,” said Rose Foundation Executive Director Tim Little. “It is a win for Placer County, and for the whole planet.”

In addition to the conservation benefits achieved for Placer County, the agreement will also provide funds toward preserving other biologically important habitat, some of which CBD will use to purchase Lone Pine Ranch. The acquisition and permanent conservation of this historic northern California property by the Wildlands Conservancy will preserve pristine habitat while providing public access to some of the most scenic stretches of the Eel River.

The agreement stems from the Center’s lawsuit, filed in early 2020, that challenged the Placer Ranch Specific Plan, which is part of the larger Sunset Area Plan. Located in western Placer County and covering 2,213 acres, Placer Ranch will include approximately 5,600 new homes, 5.4 million square feet of employment and commercial space at buildout and is the potential site of a new California State University campus. As part of today’s agreement, the Center agreed to dismiss its current legal challenge to the Placer Ranch Specific Plan and Sunset Area Plan.

  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.  


If you would rat

Activate your love of where you live.

Sign up for our monthly Enviro Events Blast and other newsletters. 

Contact Us

Join Us
We defend and protect natural ecosystems in Placer and Nevada Counties.
Share the Love

When you donate to the AEL, you enable our positive and inclusive consensus-building projects to grow in scope and depth. 

To see what we are currently fundraising for, and to learn how to donate, click the button below.

© Copyright 2020 Alliance for Environmental Leadership, Designed by Genevieve Marsh