unarmored threespine stickleback
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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released a report Thursday that addresses two key concerns raised a year ago by California’s highest court that effectively stalled plans to build 21,000 homes for the Newhall Ranch project.

State officials released what they call the Draft Additional Environmental Analysis for the Newhall Ranch Resource Management and Development Plan and Spineflower Conservation Plan Final Environmental Impact Report.

It’s their hope that changes made to the EIR would satisfy the court and place Newhall Ranch back on track for construction of the massive housing project.

They are inviting the public to weigh on their updated report.

“What we hope to accomplish with this draft, is to open it up to a public review period that ends on January 6, 2017,”  Jordan Traverso, spokeswoman for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, told The Signal Thursday.

In November, citing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and insufficient protection for a tiny endangered fish, the California Supreme Court tossed out the developer’s report concluding 21,000 planned homes in the Newhall Ranch project would not adversely affect the environment.

The court ruled that Newhall Land Development Inc. – now FivePoint – failed to provide evidence in its Environmental Impact Report to prove its project was consistent with meeting state guidelines to control harmful greenhouse gas.

The court also concluded that measures calling for capture and relocation of the unarmored threespine stickleback — a species of fish protected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife — amounted to illegal movement, or “take,” of the endangered indigenous fish.

On Thursday, Fish and Wildlife officials with the help of FivePoint developers released its revised EIR addressing each of the Supreme Court’s concerns.

About protecting the federally protected unarmored threespine stickleback, the developer has proposed building special bridges that would sidestep sensitive fish habitats.

“We are building bridges that will not touch the (Santa Clara) River,” Emile Haddad, Chairman and CEO of FivePoint, told The Signal Thursday.

About reducing greenhouse gas, the developer has proposed installing solar panels on the roof of every Newhall Ranch home and installing an electric vehicle charging area in every home’s driveway.

The suggestion – a solar panel on every roof and an electric charger in every drive way – is a step toward achieving a “zero emission standard,” Haddad said.

“This will be the first zero emission community in the country,” he said, on the understanding that every car in every Newhall Ranch driveway was electric and took advantage of the feature.

“In addition, FivePoint will install another 4,000 charging stations, 2,000 on the Newhall Ranch in commercial, retail and public places, and another 2,000 around Los Angeles County,” FivePoint spokesman Steve Churm said.

Critics say the proposed changes won’t affect green house gas emissions.

“It doesn’t reduce green house gas one iota,” said local environmentalist Lynne Plambeck.

“Unless they supply Teslas with all the houses, it’s useless,” she said, referring to the Tesla electric car.

And, as for bridges intended to protect stickleback habitat, Plambeck said: “You have to have abutments that are all hard-scaping which defeats the whole purpose.”

With the release of the draft EIR Thursday, comes a 60-day public comment period.

It examines whether the revised project design and construction of proposed bridges would result in harm or other significant adverse effects to the unarmored three spine stickleback, a native fish protected under state and federal law.

“With respect to unarmored threespine stickleback, the project applicant – FivePoint LLC, formerly, The Newhall Land and Farming Company –  has proposed modified design and construction methods for bridges and bank stabilization in or near the Santa Clara River to obviate the need for the two prior mitigation measures of focus for the Supreme Court, consistent with Fish and Game Code section 5515,” Traverso said.

The additional environmental analysis also examines whether the revised project would result in significant greenhouse gas emission impacts, she said.

The revised project is designed to achieve net zero GHG emissions with the implementation of mitigation measures intended to reduce, mitigate and offset 100 percent of GHG emissions.

Haddad said he would offset the emissions by going “off site” with a plan to replace wood-burning stoves in African homes with stoves that produce no emissions.

The California Air Resources Board reviewed the revised Newhall Ranch project and concluded that there is an adequate basis to determine it does not result in any net additional GHG emissions, Taverso said.

21,000 HOMES
Newhall Ranch developers have argued in the past that the Environmental Impact Report they prepared was sound and sensitive to the environment.

The first phase of Newhall Ranch was approved by Los Angeles County supervisors in February 2012 after exhaustive studies.

The project calls for developing 422 lots on about 295 acres. That would produce 270 single-family homes, 744 condominiums and 430 apartments, along with 16 commercial lots.

The phase 1 plan also calls for 119 lots for open space, plus at least one fire station, park and school.

On Twitter @jamesarthurholt.com

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  • BigThan777

    Environmentalist wackos. Such stupidity and waste of time is spent on “reducing green house gases.” This is the kind of stuff that impedes progress. You can have progress and a safe environment. What we have now is worship a dream and the dream is based on a farce. Global Warming is a mirage…of course temperatures change but that’s called the weather. The dust bowl happened in the 1930’s. Was that global warming back then? Of course not. But if that happened today, imagine what the news reports would say! It’s called unpredictable weather that has always happened. I noticed that Tesla’s are mentioned in this article as if those protect the environment. Do you realize what damage (as defined by environmentalist extremists) is done by making all the batteries that power these “clean” cars? Hypocrisy and stupidity. When will we wake up as a country? We have the technologies to minimize pollution from fossil fuels.

  • waterwatcher

    Greenwash ALERT!
    Now they’ve done some big time green washing. 21,500 homes is an ambitious fight against climate change. And we know they don’t have to do any of these things after they get approvals, just say that’s what they want the builders to do and walk away. Just like what happened with the conservation easement in Westridge and so many other requirements that the County “forgot” to enforce. All they have to do is vote to change the requirements after the approval like the did with Chiquita Canyon Landfill. And Africa? That’s a good one. How will the County make sure that they aren’t burning wood in Africa?

    Seems like the proposal is mostly off site mitigation like school solar and charging stations that the public will probably have to pay for, just like they paid for Newhall’s freeway expansion and off ramps. Vote for Measure M so you can pick up the tab for Newhall Ranch with your additional taxes – that’s how they got all their freeways paid for with the last transportation tax.

    Or the mitigation will just somehow never get built. And what about water? This is a huge issue that no one is even talking about.

  • noonan

    What about water? I have plenty!

    Hey Big, speaking of “green” cars, what the wackos never talk about is not only the battery issue you spoke about, but how those batteries are supposed to be recharged. It’s as if the power grid ferry visits each night to charge your “green” car and not some power plant somewhere. They are a class of idiots that have their own special category.

  • brp914

    Tesla doesn’t use the nickel-based batteries that created such a mess. And the batteries they do use aren’t made by “wackos”. Did you, or would you elect politicians that arranged for the subsidies to support Tesla if it would make you a buck? If yes, then game-over for you. If not, then what is the state of your investigation into this corruption? Whose “hypocrisy and stupidity” is this? Yours?

  • We are populated enough, and there is enough traffic. We need farmland. To make this as simple as possible: look what happened when developers started putting apartment buildings up in the San Fernando Valley! It’s disgusting, poorly zoned, and a homeless encampment. Go build out of state.