SCV residents get to weigh in on 2 Newhall Ranch projects

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

Residents concerned about 21,000 homes being built on Santa Clarita Valley’s west side can voice their concerns Tuesday when Los Angeles County Supervisors consider certifying updated assessments of the project’s impact to the environment.

Specifically, the LA County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to consider certifying two of the Newhall Ranch development’s cornerstone housing projects – Landmark Village and Mission Village.

The Board of Supervisors meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at 500 West Temple Street, in downtown Los Angeles.

Speakers are typically allowed to speak for one minute, leaving some like Lynne Plambeck wanting either more time allotted or more speakers at the podium.

“There was a huge crowd on this issue in January,” she told The Signal Thursday.  “Normally, public comment is made when the project goes to (the Los Angeles County Department of Regional) Planning but not this time.”

Mitch Glaser, regional planning spokesman, explained the departure from protocol Thursday.

“Since the Board was the most recent hearing body to consider both projects and previously certified the Final EIRs for both projects,” he said. “The final recirculated portions of the EIRs for both projects are going back directly to the Board instead of the Regional Planning Commission.”

In November, county planners released revised environmental documents for the two of the project’s subdivisions – Mission Village and Landmark Village – addressing the environmental impacts of both projects.

Specifically, planners addressed the two environmental issues of concern to the California Supreme Court – emissions of greenhouse gases and protection of an endangered fish during project construction.

“FivePoint viewed the Supreme Court’s ruling as an opportunity to set a higher standard of environmental sustainability—net zero greenhouse gas emissions,” FivePoint Chairman and CEO Emile Haddad told The Signal in November.

FivePoint declined to comment Thursday.

The revised reports unveiled in November followed a similar report addressing the same two environmental concerns released two weeks prior by the California Department of Fish And Wildlife.

It was their hope – as is the hope of county planners – that changes made to the EIR would satisfy the court and place Newhall Ranch back on track for construction of the massive housing project.

Newhall Ranch developers, Aliso Viejo-based FivePoint – having taken over the project initiated by Newhall Land development company – see the reports as a step in the direction that leads to construction.

On Tuesday, SCV residents get a chance to weigh in on the project, its impacts and on the response to concerns about greenhouse gas and the endangered unarmored threespine stickleback.

Supervisors are to consider certifying Mission Village and Landmark Village based on changes made to their respective Environmental Impact Reports and with the consideration that the projects were approved about five years ago as part of the Newhall Ranch Specific Plan.

The two housing projects are south of the Santa Clara River and State Highway 126, and west of Interstate 5 Freeway in the Newhall Zoned District.

The developer was sent back to the drawing close to two years ago, however, when environmental concerns were raised in court.

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 homes in the Newhall Ranch master planned community project would not adversely affect the environment.

The court ruled that Newhall Land – 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 stated 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.

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