Tesoro residents sound off about traffic implications of proposed housing plan

Tesoro project site.


More than 50 people showed up to a public hearing Thursday night about plans to add 820 homes to the Tesoro community, many expressing concerns about the implication of increased traffic.

After Michael Schlesinger, vice president of community development for the Bristol Land Company, explained to the group gathered at Tesoro Del Valle Elementary School what The Highlands project would mean, only a couple of the dozen speakers spoke out against the development.

Most focused their attention on the impact that 820 homes would have on, what many residents described as, an already harrowing experience, driving in and out of Tesoro.

The project is planned for northwest of the existing Tesoro community, north of Copper Hill Drive—opposite the Albertsons store.

After praising the developer for engaging the Tesoro community “for several years,” Richard Galway, spokesman for the Tesoro Del Valle Master Homeowners Association said: “Getting in and out of our community is a major concern for our homeowners.”

To that end, Galway went on record with representatives of the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning in charge of the hearing, asking the developer to conduct further study into the implications of increased traffic.

Resident Dan O’Connell called for the developer to study and report back on the cumulative effect of increased traffic in light of other ongoing housing projects, drawing particular attention to the 21,000 homes being built as part of the Newhall Ranch project.

“I see that you analyzed data from this project but not from the other projects,” he said. “You’re supposed to have cumulative impacts in the report.”

The “report” referred to at the meeting was the developer’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report, which includes “aesthetic and traffic impacts.”

“The environment includes the I-5 freeway as it goes through the Newhall Pass,” O’Connell said.

“That’s a lot of traffic. My history as a real estate appraiser has given me a front row seat to the decline in our quality of life,” he said. “What happened in the San Fernando Valley is going to happen here.”

One man called traffic in Tesoro, “horrible,” and the man who spoke after him called it, “just ridiculous.”

Tesoro resident Laurie Swingle, who works in the Santa Clarita Valley, said she considered it unsafe to ride her bicycle to work.

“I used to be an avid cyclist, but I’ve given it up, because I value my life,” she said. “It’s exasperating.

“It’s a great place to ride a horse. It’s a great place to go mountain biking, but it’s not a great place to be a pedestrian,” she said.

Aside from the concern expressed over increased traffic, residents welcomed the revamped plan for Tesoro laid out by the developer.

“Their consideration of preserving open space convinced me that I, as a neighbor, can support this,” said Judy Reinsma.

Another resident praised the developer’s willingness to partner with the community and, “tailor their development.”

The Highlands housing project also calls for nine multi-family lots, 12 water quality basin lots, three water tank lots, one helipad lot, six senior recreation area  lots, six linear park lots and nine private park lots, a senior recreation center, 29 lots reserved for open space and 24 private driveways.

The project is north of Avenida Rancho Tesoro, and would require moving more than 18 million cubic yards of earth at the hilly site overlooking the San Francisquito Creek.

The terrain is described by planners as having slopes of 20 percent and greater.

Eleven oak trees would be cut down, for which the developer would need permission from Los Angeles County officials.

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