County planning commissioners boarded a bus in Castaic, headed north of Gorman and got their first look at a plot where more than 19,000 new homes are being planned as the Centennial project.
The “field trip” was called in advance of a public hearing scheduled for March 21, when the public can weigh in on the Centennial housing project—one of the state’s largest housing developments currently in the works.
The houses are slated for a patch of undeveloped land between Gorman and Neenach, not far from where Interstate 5 meets Highway 138.
“The purpose of the field trip was to provide the commissioners with an opportunity to visit the site before their upcoming public hearing,” Mitch Glaser, regional planning spokesman, told The Signal on Wednesday. “During the field trip, the commissioners did not ask questions or otherwise deliberate on the project.”
That discussion, he added, is expected to take place at the hearing.
(Click here for a link to the available documents.)
The Centennial Specific Plan Project sits on 12,323 acres just south of the Kern County line. It is expected to accommodate 19,333 homes on about 4,987 acres set aside for residential uses.
About 7.36 million square feet will be taken up by a business park—housing office, research and development, and warehousing or light manufacturing—on close to 600 acres.
More than one million square feet are to be used for stores on slightly more than 100 acres.
Land set aside for schools, medical facilities, libraries and “other civic uses” is expected to take up more than 1.5 million square feet on 110 acres.
The project also calls for four new fire stations and one new sheriff’s station.
It includes two wastewater reclamation facilities for the tertiary treatment of all wastewater generated by project uses. Recycled water from the plants is slated to be used for irrigation.
In terms of preserving the natural scenes commissioners looked at during the tour, the project promises to keep 5,624 acres of onsite open space.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, as commissioners boarded the Mercedes-Benz bus parked outside the Castaic Library on Sloan Canyon Road, they were given an itinerary of their tour, which included six key stops to help them visualize how 19,000 homes would transform the area.
Their tour guide was developer Greg Medeiros, vice president of Centennial Founders LLC, a former senior vice president of Newhall Land and the applicant pitching the project to Los Angeles County commissioners.
The first stop on the tour was at Oso Canyon, awarding commissioners a chance to take in open space and weigh it against the “clustering of residential units with connection to amenities,” according to the itinerary.
Next stop, scheduled for 11:30 a.m., took commissioners to a desolate intersection on Highway 138 at 300th Street, not far from Neenach. From here, it was hoped that commissioners would focus on the land in front of them and visualize the services needed to make the project work.
Stopping at the Tejon Ranch Water Bank, near the intersection, was stop No. 3 and a chance to assess the most fundamental aspect of the project—water availability.
Commissioners were asked at this point to focus their attention on considerations for water sustainability and supply.
Tour stop No. 4 was the Oso Pumping Plan Road, which allowed the group to view the relatively sparse existing infrastructure and visualize “future project infrastructure.”
The group then made the 36-mile return journey south on Interstate 5, through the Grapevine and back to Castaic.
Traffic concerns regarding 19,000 new homeowners traveling through the Grapevine and meeting up with 21,000 homeowners traveling the same stretch of highway from Newhall Ranch is a subject planning commissioners are expected to address at the public hearing.
“When the Draft Environmental Impact Report was circulated last year, Regional Planning staff received comments regarding potential traffic impacts, including increased traffic on Interstate 5,” Glaser told The Signal Wednesday. “The Final Environmental Impact Report will include responses to these comments.”
The developer’s final report on perceived impact the project would have on the environment has not yet been released to the commissioners, or the general public, Glaser said.
“However, the (report) will be provided to the Commissioners prior to their upcoming public hearing,” he said. “The (report) will also be posted on Regional Planning’s website and hard copies will be available at several county libraries.”