State gives final go-ahead to Newhall Ranch project

Proposed site of Newhall Ranch development, looking southeast on state Route 126 in Castaic. Dan Watson/The Signal.

California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife today approved plans from developers of Newhall Ranch to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect an endangered fish species.

The department certified a final additional environmental analysis, declared those two issues resolved, and re-approved the project plan, the department said in a statement.

Fish and Wildlife originally approved the project in December 2010 after preparing and certifying an environmental impact report. In 2015, the California Supreme Court directed the department to more closely review the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions and measures to protect the unarmored three spine stickleback.

The court directed the department to revisit its 2010 determination that the project’s greenhouse gas emissions would not be significant under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The court also asked the department to determine if two mitigation measures that it had approved violated protections afforded the species because it is designated as “fully protected” under the Fish and Game Code.

Those measures authorized collection and relocation of the native fish, which is protected under state and federal law.

In response to the court’s orders, Newhall Land and Farming Company, a unit of Five Point Holdings LLC, commonly known as FivePoint, revised its greenhouse mitigation plan.

FivePoint owns Newhall Land, which developed Valencia over the last half century. Newhall Ranch sits on 15,000 acres near the intersection of state route 128 and I-5.

“We are excited about today’s decision from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to re-approve Newhall Ranch, one of the most environmentally responsible projects in the nation, and we are grateful for the hard work and creativity of our team and our partners,” Emile Haddad, chairman and CEO of FivePoint, said in a statement.

“We look forward to going before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors next month for final re-approval of our first two villages, Landmark and Mission, and look forward to the courts ultimately confirming our plans for living and working sustainably in California,” Haddad said.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to take up the issue at its July 18 meeting.

If fully built out, the nine-phase project could contain 21,000 homes and 11.5 million square feet of commercial and industrial space.

In addition to Newhall Ranch, FivePoint owns Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine and The San Francisco Shipyard/Candlestick Point in San Francisco. The communities are planned to include approximately 40,000 residential homes and approximately 21 million square feet of commercial space, plus infrastructure.

Newhall Land developed 13 measures to reduce greenhouse gases in a plan it calls Net Zero Newhall, to achieve net-zero emissions for the project. FivePoint touts Newhall Ranch as the largest net zero greenhouse gas emissions project in the nation.

The California Air Resources Board reviewed the revised project and concluded that there is an adequate basis to determine it does not result in any net additional greenhouse gas emissions.

To protect the stickleback’s habitat, Newhall Land proposed changes in the timing and construction methods for project bridges and bank stabilization infrastructure that will avoid all water contact during the construction of those facilities. According to the Fish and Wildlife department, these changes eliminate the need for the two stickleback-protection measures the department approved in 2010.

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