SCV building boom prompts concern over “cumulative” impact

Newhall Ranch graders captured in aerial shot in March 2018. photo by Austin Dave, The Signal.


With a handful of 400-home subdivisions soon to be planted in Castaic, adding to the more than 40,000 homes being ushered in with two major developments, residents are asking about the “cumulative” environmental impact on the Santa Clarita Valley.

As they prepare to hear from a number of housing developers wanting to build in the Santa Clarita Valley, planners with the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning expect a hefty Environmental Impact Report to hit their desks with each project submitted for review.

Because if you want to build in California you have to answer to state officials who — as required by the California Environmental Quality Act — demand to know how precisely your project is going to affect the environment.

They have a long CEQA list of impacts to be addressed; traffic, air pollution, noise pollution, endangered animals and plants, protected heritage oak trees and water availability.

When Tesoro residents met two weeks ago to discuss the effects of 820 homes earmarked for construction as part of the Highlands project, the touchstone for both builders and residents to reflect on was the EIR.

That is until one SCV resident asked about the EIR in the context of all the other environmental reports also being prepared, each one reflecting the impacts of their own particular project — not the whole.

Cumulative effect

Resident Dan O’Connell called for Highlands developer — Bristol Land Company — 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 Tesoro “report” referred specifically at the meeting was the developer’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report, which includes “aesthetic and traffic impacts.”

O’Connell’s point — echoed by others at the meeting — expressed concern of the cumulative impact of increased traffic housing brings to the SCV.

Many at the meeting focused their attention on the impact 820 homes would have on driving in and out of Tesoro.

In the coming days, regional planners are expected to read several EIRs, hold public meetings and review developer requests to: chop down oak trees, grade hillsides, extend the length of permits and so on.

Los Valles

The next housing project up for review is the Los Valles project slated for Hasley Canyon

On Thursday, planners review a revision made to the developers initial plan.

The developer wants to build 497 homes on 430 acres in the area of Hasley Canyon Road and Del Valle Road — the site of flooding these past two winters.

The project also calls for 42 open space lots, 11 private recreation lots, a park, a water tank, a booster fire station, 20 private street lots, two private lots and 12 storm drain “maintenance lots.”

The impact of increased traffic posed by the Los Valles project is one of the EIR considerations expected to be addressed by state officials.

The next big housing project considered by planners is slated to be reviewed next week when they hold a public hearing in Los Angeles for 19,000 homes built according to the Centennial Project.

The public hearing was put off last month, but it’s now scheduled for next week.

Centennial Project

The Centennial Project public hearing is slated to happen Apr. 25, at 9 a.m. in Room 150, in the Hall of Records, 320 West Temple Street, Los Angeles.

More than 19,000 homes are slated for a patch of undeveloped land between Gorman and Neenach, not far from where Interstate 5 meets Highway 138.

The project—officially called 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.

Grading has already begun on the only project bigger than Centennial—Newhall Ranch, with 21,000 homes.

Newhall Ranch

Developers building 21,000 homes for Newhall Ranch were given the green light a month ago to start installing pipes to connect the first of those homes to the Santa Clarita Valley sewer system.

“The developer needs to provide that there will be a system in place by the time the first toilet flushes,” Ray Tremblay, spokesman for the Newhall Ranch Sanitation District, told The Signal after the 90-minute public meeting last month.

The sewer pipes now expected to be installed are within the first subdivision of Newhall Ranch’s Mission Village development.

The Mission Village project site is expected to be developed on 1,262 acres and contain up to 4,055 residential units and 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use commercial space, along with an elementary school, fire station and public library.

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