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High Noon At The Newhall Ranch - Again

Feb 21, 2008

The Newhall Ranch project has acquired a substantial new foe: The City of Los Angeles. And not a moment too soon for longtime project opponents.

Newhall Ranch, of course, is a 21,000-unit, 12,000-acre project west of Santa Clarita that has been "in the planning stages" since the mid-1990s. In fact, the second story I ever wrote for CP&DR was about Newhall Ranch water supply issues (see CP&DR, January 1999).

Newhall Land and Farming Company (now a subsidiary of Lennar) contends those water issues as well as other concerns over species, traffic, air quality, etc. have been resolved. Longtime opponents, lead by the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, have a different opinion.

Los Angeles County approved the Newhall Ranch specific plan in 2003. Now, just as the project is headed to the Board of Supervisors for the first phase of entitlements, SCOPE has gained a major ally in the City of Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, February 19, the City Council voted 14-0 for a motion to oppose the project, in large part because many future residents of Newhall Ranch would commute into Los Angeles proper on Interstate 5, which is already horribly clogged between Santa Clarita and the San Fernando Valley. You can read the motion crafted by Councilman Richard Alarcon here. It's an interesting motion for a variety of reasons, including its admission that the city "never reviewed or commented upon the county's environmental reports prior to the close of the county's comment period." Lawyers would call that a "bad fact;" nevertheless, it sounds like the city is gearing up for a lawsuit.

What's before the Board of Supervisors on February 26 is approval of Landmark Village, the first phase of Newhall Ranch. Landmark Village entails 1,444 residential units, 1 million square feet of commercial and mixed uses, and extensive drainage and utility improvements on about 1,000 acres.

Update: The Board of Supervisors did not consider Landmark Village on February 26, and probably won't do so until late May, according to a Newhall Ranch spokeswoman.

You can learn more than you ever wanted to know about the Landmark Village project at http://planning.lacounty.gov/spLandmark.htm.

When I wrote that story for the January 1999 issue, I never envisioned that the project would still be going through the process more than nine years later. Anyone want to take bets on where the project will stand in 2017?

- Paul Shigley

 

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