Centennial gets approval from Los Angeles County Planning Commission

This picture from a resident who lives near the intersection of Three Points Road and Highway 138, looks west over where the proposed Centenial project would go.

County planning officials voted Wednesday to recommend approval of the proposed 19,000-home Centennial development on Tejon Ranch.

At a previous meeting in June, commissioners told Centennial developer Tejon Ranch to return to the commission with details on how they would incorporate affordable housing into the plan.

On Wednesday, Regional Planning Commissioners Doug Smith, David Louie, Elvin Moon and Pat Modugno voted 4-1 in favor of the Board of Supervisors certifying the project’s environmental impact report, with Commissioner Laura Shell as the only no vote.

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. The plans will now go to the supervisors for final consideration in late 2018 or 2019.

The project was first proposed by Tejon Ranch in 1999, but was formally proposed in 2004, said Barry Zoeller, vice president of corporate communications and investor relations of Tejon Ranch.

Past discussion from a county hearing in July heard concerns over how the wildlife would be displaced, a potentially increased wildfire risk and other associated impacts from construction

Zoeller noted there was “ample” discussion but, ultimately, the proposal was in line with the county’s plans for the area.

“There was ample discussion, public comment and debate,” he said Thursday. “Those in opposition to Centennial spoke about how they considered it to be the wrong location for development, but, the location had already been decided by the supervisors when they approved the Antelope Valley Plan.

“The real question was what would the community specifically look like that is being proposed for the area,” he said. “And that was the area that the planning commissioners spent time discussing the most.”

The main takeaway, said Regional Planning Commission spokesman Mitch Glaser, was commission members asked Tejon Ranch to raise the amount of affordable housing to 15 percent of the total units, up from 10 percent; and to commit to 30 percent to local hiring for construction. The commission also asked for zero-emission vehicles for commuter transit and prioritizing trash disposal sites east or north of the project site instead of south, where population demands are heavier.

The three recommendations Tejon Ranch is working on before going to the supervisors are: developing a mechanism to determine if supportive housing is needed within the project, and if so, how many units; dedicating portions of the ranch’s L.A. County open space to a public agency; and developing a mechanism with the Department of Public Health to ensure adequate medical services are provided.

“Centennial is consistent with the Antelope Valley Area Plan approved by the supervisors in 2015,” Zoeller said. “We look forward to bringing the Centennial development plans before the supervisors.”

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