At the southwest end of Newport Beach lies Banning Ranch, 401 acres of slowly draining oil land dotted with rusted-out and broken down machinery, enough for it to resemble a wasteland, although the property farther from public view is beautiful--a network of streams, small canyons, vernal pools and wetlands bordering the mouth of Santa Ana River.
California Coastal Commission Staff Report, Exhibit 13
Despite the oil development, the area remains home to a variety of species once plentiful in Southern California--rare birds and owls that build burrows in the grasslands, endangered shrimp who live in the area's pools--as well as ecological formations found nowhere else in Southern California (a combination of lowlands, highlands, mesas and arroyos). It should be a public park, and for more than a decade, there have been two opposing proposals to turn it into one. On Wednesday, they'll be argued against each other in front of the California Coastal Commission.