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‘High fire hazard zone’?

Group opposes project, lobbies Planning Commission

Posted: August 20, 2008 8:32 p.m.
Updated: October 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Elderly Stevenson Ranch folks shouldn’t be living in a middle of a high fire hazard zone, say those opposed to a senior citizen complex slated to be built next to Towsley Canyon.

A handful of environmentalists and concerned citizens of Santa Clarita Valley told the Regional Planning Commission in Los Angeles Wednesday morning that they wanted a number of issues addressed before the Lyons Canyon Ranch housing development project is approved.

One of the “significant impacts” of the project, cited by the group, was the issue of fire safety. The Lyons Canyon Ranch project calls for 93 single-family lots and 93 condos, all intended for seniors, on more than 231 acres, next door to the Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon.

“This project should not be built in a high fire hazard area,” Lynne Plambeck told The Signal Wednesday afternoon.

The project has been approved by the Department of Regional Planning and the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to review it in the coming weeks.

Although it is not a “done deal,” according to Susie Tae, supervising regional planner for the department’s Land Divisions Section, who spoke to The Signal Monday, Lyons Canyon Ranch is expected to go through.
Plambeck said she worries issues of “overriding consideration” such as her concerns about fire safety will be routinely processed by the planning commission regardless of their importance.

“The county government has routinely passed these overriding considerations,” she said. “It’s (treated as) just a formality.”

In October 2003, a fast-moving wildfire — dubbed the Simi Fire — scorched a vast area in and around Towsley Canyon,  Deputy Forester Bill Romo, with the county Fire Department’s Forestry Division, who works with the county’s assigned arborist in assessing trees, inspected the area after the fire.

He discovered evidence of an intense fast-moving fire that had swept through the hills west of Interstate 5, off The Old Road. “I made a mental note that the heat of that fire burned pretty hot in there,” he said Wednesday when reached by phone.

He found several trees that had been burned in the fire.

“A lot of trees had fire damage,” he said. “It was a pretty intense heat. A lot of the trees were on the ground.”

Trees — particularly 13 heritage oaks on the Lyons Canyon Ranch site — were also of concern to those who spoke out Wednesday.

Plambeck said she wants the trees in questions re-assessed and re-counted.

In a report completed in September 2006, compiled for project developer D R Horton by aborists with Trees Inc., at least 81 Heritage Oak trees were found on the property.

Also found were 1,355 Coast Live Oak trees, 21 Valley Oak trees and 19 scrub oaks.

The project seeks permission to rip out 162 oak trees, 13 of which are heritage oaks. It also seeks permission from the county to encroach on another 52 oak trees.

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