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UPDATE: Another victory for Newhall Ranch

Judge upholds environmental review for phase 2 of the giant project

Posted: May 27, 2014 10:57 a.m.
Updated: May 27, 2014 3:07 p.m.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge upheld the environmental review for phase 2 of the planned Newhall Ranch development, handing the developer another victory this year for the mammoth project.

“The record demonstrates that (Los Angeles) County adequately considered all relevant factors, including those raised by petitioners on appeal, as well as the newly raised issues in this present action,” Judge John A. Torribio wrote in a decision handed down earlier this month.

A number of environmental groups, including the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment and Friends of the Santa Clara River, had challenged the county’s approval of the environmental impact report prepared for the Mission Village development, phase 2 of the Newhall Ranch project.

The groups cited concerns with the development’s potential impacts on natural habitat in the area, as well as potential issues with greenhouse gas emissions.

When fully built out, Mission Village is due to include 4,055 homes, an elementary school and hundreds of acres of open space on 1,262 acres south of the interchange of Highway 126 and Interstate 5.

“We are very pleased with the strong and clear ruling by the Superior Court that affirms the county’s extensive review of Mission Village and its detailed EIR complying with the California Environmental Quality Act requirements,“ said Marlee Lauffer, spokeswoman for Newhall Land Development Inc., in a news release.

Newhall Ranch is a long-planned and much-debated development that would add some 21,000 new homes to the Santa Clarita Valley’s northwest side.

Newhall Land Development Inc., the same company that developed Valencia, planned the Newhall Ranch project.

“During the past 15 years, Valencia- and Newhall Ranch-related projects have been subject to more than 20 lawsuits, filed mostly by the same group of opponents,” Lauffer said in the release. “Their repeated arguments have been systematically rejected by the courts.”

In March, Second Appellate District Court judges reversed a 2012 decision and upheld the findings of Newhall Ranch’s Environmental Impact Report.

Earlier this year, Torribio tossed out a lawsuit filed by local environmentalists against the county for approving phase 1 of Newhall Ranch, known as Landmark Village.

“This was the same judge that ruled against us on Landmark, so the decision came as no surprise,” wrote Lynne Plambeck, president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, in an email. “It remains astonishing to us that any court could find that a 21,000-unit, auto-dependent project on the outskirts of Los Angeles will have no significant impact on climate change.

“We must do land use differently if we are ever to slow down climate warming,” she wrote.

Plambeck also described Mission Village as “essentially a closed-down oil field.”

“While the wells have been closed, new ‘fracking’ technology could impact future residents, especially since they will not own the mineral rights under their homes,” she wrote. “This was not addressed in the environmental documents for this 4,000-unit project.”

In a section labeled “Abandoned Oil Fields” the recent court decision reads, “The EIR need not evaluate the impacts of the existing environment on the project but, rather, the EIR should evaluate the project’s impacts on the environment.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




Tallahto: Posted: May 27, 2014 12:06 p.m.

6000 permanent new jobs? I'll believe that when I see it.

chefgirl358: Posted: May 27, 2014 2:28 p.m.

This project is an absolute travesty. I hope some divine intervention of some sort occurs to keep it from ever happening. I still don't understand where they are supposed to get all of their water and infrastructure services when there is such a tremendous shortage everywhere. Additionally, WHERE are the 50,000 plus cars going to end up? I'll tell you where...right on the freeways/big parking lots where the rest of us are already sitting in traffic.

underwater: Posted: May 27, 2014 3:03 p.m.

chef, they will also be shopping and spending money here to help the local retailers and community. It's not all about you and what you want
Do agree, bad part is the I-5 will not like it. Already is a mess. Hopefully Brown's train will be completed by then to the ease the traffic. Ha Ha

CastaicClay: Posted: May 27, 2014 4:51 p.m.

But if the business' have no water how can they stay open?
How is it "browns train" when it was voted in by the people, before Brown was elected? Please explain.

chefgirl358: Posted: May 28, 2014 10:56 p.m.

Underwater, this isn't about me at all. This is about destroying absolutely pristine, gorgeous land and wildlife and adding 30,000 homes to an area that is already over saturated and lacking the resources to fulfill the infrastructure needs, Also consider the massive housing development in Fort Tejon, a large development in Castaic and who knows what else and it becomes apparent that these "planning" commissions aren't really planning a darn thing except to make revenue for the city and county no matter how high the cost for the community, citizens and environment.

bobforte: Posted: May 28, 2014 6:40 a.m.

Clay, it's called Brown's train because it is not what the voters voted for. The voters voted for a train that would go between Northern and SOuthern California in a certain amount of time. Brown has said that goal can't be met and the train will be a combo of high speed and regular speed trains where passengers will actually have to switch trains between both. The costs are over double the original estimate. And Brown continues to push forward on this train. That is why it is called Brown's train. It is not what the voters voted for.

BTW, I voted no on it from the beginning because trains are so outdated here.

ricketzz: Posted: May 28, 2014 7:01 a.m.

Trains are outdated? They work when planes are grounded. They terminate downtown, not on outskirts like most airports. The net pollution can be close to zero with rail; air travel deposits pollution in the worst possible parts of the sky. Airplanes are bad for the environment; sustainability.

underwater: Posted: May 28, 2014 9:49 a.m.

How much "pristine,gorgeous land and wildlife" was destroyed to make your home? Ok for you but no one else?.
The people against development need to get together and come up with the money to buy the land and protect it.
Good thing the city has been purchasing land for open areas. Smart way to do it.

Sam2222: Posted: May 28, 2014 10:48 a.m.

Improvements to the Old Road between Weldon Canyon and Sierra Highway should be considered so that there are two southbound and two northbound lanes. The City of Santa Clarita (owners of the Las Lomas property) and LA County should be lobbying now for funding the Old Road improvements.

debatenohate: Posted: May 28, 2014 11:54 a.m.

Of course we all want everything to stay exactly as we like it, but that's just impractical. People want to move here, and so there's a desire for new homes. North of LA is where the space is. The I-5 is way too small for all the traffic we have, and this won't help, but I don't think it will cause other problems to SCV, will it? I'd love to know what all these new jobs would be...the more jobs we have around here, the less people will need to commute on the 5. I agree that water is a problem. I'm guessing (hoping!) that the new communities will be water-smart and not have lawns and such -- just local, drought-resistant plants for individual homes and then maybe the green spaces for communal areas. That would help. It's time the rest of SCV get on the zero-scaping bandwagon as well.

chefgirl358: Posted: May 28, 2014 12:02 p.m.

Underwater...I guess you decided to skip over the part about where the resources are going to come from for all of these huge developments? Water? Fire? Police? Schools? Roads and traffic?

My home was in an area that was already heavily developed and had been for many years. Newhall Ranch is in there is not ONE SINGLE SOLITARY structure on it of any kind. I grew up having access to that private property, and for a little over 20 years I spent countless hundreds of hours driving around on that ranch with my dad and a few others. That ranch is hundreds of square miles. It ranges from Newhall to the 101 and from the 126 all the way over to the 118 freeway, that entire area is all one unspoiled piece of land. I have personally seen with my own two eyes, cougars, bears, bobcats, literally thousands of deer over those years, snakes, birds of prey, millions of oak trees, toads, coyotes, foxes, and just about anything else you can imagine that is native to the habitat. I know how special that land is and it is heartbreaking that it's going to be ruined. I do wish that a deal could be made to purchase the land just as the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy purchased the land from a huge project that was slated to be built in Calabasas several years ago.

bobforte: Posted: May 28, 2014 12:10 p.m.

Outdated was probably a bad word. But, the point is the train is not what the voters voted for. A Governor, Brown is supposed to realize that and put and end to it.

underwater: Posted: May 28, 2014 12:52 p.m.

chef, resources will come from fees paid by developers and the homeowners. The issue is traffic.
Bad part is you can't stop progress unless you have the funds. I voted for Santa Clarita to become a city to help slow down the developments of condos and apartments going up like crazy, so I know where you come from.

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