Sprawl was the target of vandalism and planned firebombings in a luxury-home development east of Sacramento, Calif., and at an office building complex in Auburn, according to a letter that was purportedly written by an agent of the Earth Liberation Front, a pro-anarchist environmental group that advocates destructive opposition to the march of civilization.

The letter, signed by “Agent Emma Goldman and the Crimethine Senior Officers of the Earth Liberation Front,” claims responsibility for firebombing attempts earlier this month and “the sabotage of countless tractors, broken windows and graffiti in many developments in the area, attempted arson on four homes in JTS Communities’ Twelve Bridges housing development in the city of Lincoln and the Park Hill Office buildings under construction in the city of Auburn.”

Several Sacramento-area newspapers published the letter.

The group, which is also known by the acronym ELF, has been dubbed an “eco-terrorist” organization by some because of its radical and destructive approach to environmentalism. “To our utter disbelief and dismay our incendiary devices failed to ignite and the damage caused was minimal,” the letter states, blaming “a bad batch of model rocket igniters” for failing to ignite buckets filled with diesel fuel and gasoline, “four of which were left at the JTS site and five at the proposed office building.”

The letter claims that the vandalism was intended to “cause as much economic damage to JTS Communities, a major developer in one of the fastest growing areas in the country, by burning four $750,000 luxury homes nestled on that cul-de-sac to the ground. It was done in honor of everyone who has felt helpless to sprawl and development, everyone who feels their rural lifestyles are being threatened by these mass-produced designer communities, everyone who has ever looked at that hill with chills down their spine and been sickened to the core of their being by the cancer spewing forth from Lincoln.”

Also, the letter states that those who carried out the vandalism “are not so naive to believe that we would have stopped development at Twelve Bridges.”

Twelve Bridges is a master planned community in the area of Lincoln, a formerly rural suburb of Sacramento that has grown dramatically over the past decade. About 11,000 residential units, four mixed-use village centers, employment centers, a community college, three 18-hole golf courses, 1,700 acres of open space, and numerous parks, schools and trails are associated with the 6,000-acre Twelve Bridges development.

Brian Shaffer, a Realtor for RE/MAX Gold who specializes in the Twelve Bridges resale market, said the development “prides itself in being nature-implemented – they know the areas they can’t touch or build around,” and he said he doesn’t know why the development “would set off any red flags” for eco-vandals.

Shaffer is also a Twelve Bridges resident. “Twelve Bridges is a fairly new area. I bought one of the first phases of one of the first developments out there. I have specialized in the area for as long as the master-planned community has been around.” Shaffer also operates and maintains http://www.mytwelvebridges.com/, a Web site devoted to community residents. He said that the discovery of firebombs at the development site hasn’t hurt home sales.

“It’s a very prestigious area,” he said, with homes fetching $220 to $230 and more per square foot. He said the community is about 60 percent built-out. “The prices continue to rise.” Home buyers “want to be in this area,” he said, “because they realize what it’s going to be like down the road.”

The Sacramento Bee and The Associated Press reported that an FBI task force has recovered at least eight similarly constructed explosive devices.

Joe Newton, president for the Placer County Association of Realtors, which has members in the Lincoln area, said there hasn’t been any official advisory from the association related to the recovered devices, other than to encourage Realtors to “be aware, be cautious, keep your eyes open.”

Members of the ELF claimed responsibility for setting a 1998 fire that caused $26 million in damage to a Vail, Colo., ski resort, and investigators have said that ELF members may have been connected to an August 2003 fire at an apartment construction site in University City, Calif., that caused an estimated $20 million in damage. Also in August 2003, vandals destroyed and damaged numerous Southern California SUVs, in some cases spray-painting “polluter” and “ELF” on the vehicles.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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