The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has begun scaling back Newhall Ranch, a huge project that has been heavily criticized by neighboring Ventura County. Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district contains the proposed project, introduced a motion in July to create more open space and possibly reduce the proposed 24,000 home development by 3,500 homes. The board approved the supervisor's motion that the county's staff should implement the proposed changes at its July 28 meeting. As approved by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission in December 1997, the project would have been the largest subdivision ever processed by Los Angeles County. It would have been built on 12,000 acres, and be home to 70,000 people living in five "villages." (See CP&DR, February 1998). Those numbers are expected to change however, with Antonovich's motion. The massive project was originally expected to be located right on the county line with Ventura County. The project's developer, Newhall Land & Farming Company, owns thousands of acres of adjoining land in Ventura County, and officials there feared that pressure to develop that land could develop if the original project is successful. Under Antonovich's motion, a half-mile buffer would be created between the project and the Ventura County line. The small Ventura County communities of Piru, Fillmore, and Santa Paula had expressed concerns that the project would increase a demand for low-cost housing in their communities, as service workers for the new development would need a place to live. But under the Antonovich motion, additional affordable housing units may be added to the Newhall Ranch project. Marlee Lauffer, spokeswoman for the developer, said that entry-level apartments is among the mix of housing to be offered. Antonovich has also asked for consideration of a 100-foot buffer along the Santa Clara River to protect native plants and animals. That river is the last wild river in Southern California. Antonovich is also seeking open space access from the high country portions of the property to the Santa Clara River. Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long sent a letter to Antonovich on July 31 after the motion had passed. Long said that Ventura County supports measures to preserve natural resources and provide a buffer between the development and Ventura County. She indicated the county still is concerned that specific steps haven't been taken to guarantee that Ventura County won't face a reduction in its water supply. Long asked that the county employees be invited to a working group that develops the specific details of the motion. Lauffer said that three water sources have been identified for Newhall Ranch--new additional state water, historic rights to overflow from Castaic Creek and reclaimed water. A local chapter of the Sierra Club recently filed a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission against the Valencia Water Co., owned by the Newhall Land & Farming Company, alleging that the water company is near or over its water supply limit. A final decision on Newhall Ranch is supposed to be made by the LA County Board of Supervisors in late October. Contacts: Dennis Slivinski, assistant county counsel, Ventura County (805) 654-2196. Marlee Lauffer, Newhall Land & Farming (805) 255-4247.