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L.A. Censures Newhall Ranch

Posted: February 20, 2008 2:17 a.m.
Updated: April 22, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
The Los Angeles City Council took a stand against Newhall Ranch on Tuesday, claiming the 21,000-home development planned along Highway 126 west of Interstate 5 will hurt the city of Los Angeles.

The unanimous vote by 14 Los Angeles council members came on a motion by District 7 Councilman Richard Alarcon; it pits Los Angeles against the planned Newhall Land and Farming Co. development in the Santa Clarita Valley northwest of Stevenson Ranch, and against the first phase of that plan - the development of Landmark Village.

"I was very pleased with the unanimous decision," Alarcon said after the motion passed.

His motion reads in part: "Los Angeles hereby includes in its 2007-08 State Legislative program OPPOSITION to the County of Los Angeles' proposed actions relative to the Newhall Ranch Specific Plan."

Los Angeles City Council members want their opposition logged and submitted for consideration at the next Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting Feb. 26, when the board is expected to address the issue of the Newhall Ranch Specific Plan, Landmark Village and the Vesting Tract related to that development.

Tuesday's motion was the last chance council members had to voice their opposition, but after more than 10 years of discussion and planning, it might be too late to change things.

Los Angeles, they contend in the motion, "is in a vulnerable position in regards to the negative impacts of these types of developments."

Alarcon told The Signal: "It was unconscionable for the county to have approved this without assessing the adverse mitigating factors such as traffic.

"Traffic through the Newhall Pass is already a mess," he said. "The county has not sufficiently assessed the jobs-to-housing balance. There's going to be 100,000 people who are not going to find jobs in Santa Clarita."

Alarcon said there is still a chance - albeit a slim one - to derail the Newhall Ranch plan.

Marlee Lauffer, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Newhall Land, said planners have been addressing the issue of jobs-to-housing since the development was introduced in 1996.

"We have a track record in Santa Clarita to do what we say we're going to do," she said Tuesday. "When we say that it will be built over the next 20 years or so, we are also building 20,000 new jobs - a job for every house."

Newhall Land executives fired off a letter to District 15 Council member Janice Hahn (with copies reportedly sent to all 15 council members) reminding them that "all area governmental agencies were contacted and informed of the public review process."

Newhall Land Executive Vice President Steve Zimmer also says in his letter: "The Newhall Ranch Specific Plan was approved nearly five years ago by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, culminating more than a decade of community outreach, public hearings, governmental reviews and court reviews."

For critics of the development, the most significant "negative impact" remains the increased traffic anticipated by commuters pouring into Los Angeles every day.

Traffic is also what motivated a handful of concerned Santa Clarita residents to drive to Los Angeles Tuesday morning and add their voices to the chorus of those opposed to the development.

One of those who spoke to Los Angeles City Council was Teresa Savaikie, a Saugus mother and environmental activist.

"I told them that this is the largest project in Los Angeles County history. I said, 'Support this motion because even if you care not about the wildlife (affected) there's one thing everyone can relate to and that is traffic.'

"I am so glad that this issue has moved from the back hills of northern L.A. County," Savaikie said. "It's like a huge secret up there."

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