Housing project approved as ‘super sustainable’ community

FILE PHOTO. gray water set up at the side of a house.

A 15-year-old plan to build close to 500 homes between Shadow Pines and Agua Dulce was approved unanimously by county supervisors Tuesday provided the developer includes 14 green conditions that promise to transform the plan into a state-of-the-art project in terms of sustainability.

The revamped Spring Canyon housing project, which calls for 495 homes now, includes solar panels for those homes, charging stations for electric vehicles, gray water recycling for lawns and solar heating for a community pool if such a pool is ever built.

“No project is static,” county Supervisor Kathryn Barger said before reading a long list of environment-friendly conditions.

“But (in the past 15 years), a lot has changed,” she said at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, reflecting back to when the housing project was first approved in 2004.

Barger thanked Spring Canyon applicant Patrick Parker of Raintree Investment for having worked with SCV environmentalists and having arrived at “increased environmental protections.”

She also thanked Lynne Plambeck, president of Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, or SCOPE, which filed a formal appeal of the decision made by regional planners to approve the Spring Canyon project.

“It’s admirable that both sides worked through the issues,” Barger said. “Thank you, Lynne Plambeck, for making this project better.”

‘Fabulously amended’
Barger then listed the climate-change amendments, prompting Supervisor Janice Hahn to call it “fabulously amended.”

Conditions include:
Each home is to be built with a solar panel system that would generate the equivalent of 3 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Creating 25 public-use charging stations for electric vehicles.

The garage of each home is to have a built-in, 220-volt outlet for future electric vehicle chargers.

If a community pool is ever built in Spring Canyon, it is to be heated by solar panels.

Each home is to have a tankless on-demand water heater.

Each home is to comply with current ordinances and state laws, including low impact and water conservation laws.

Pervious pavement, which allows rainwater to recharge the groundwater, is to be used in the parking lots of the park. Impervious pavement is to be eliminated where possible.

Each home is to come with plumbing that would accommodate an optional gray water system to recycle washing machine or kitchen sink water waste for use in backyard landscaping. Gray water is wastewater generated by washing people and their clothes. It comes from washing machines, sinks, shower stalls and baths. It does not come from toilets. Toilet wastewater is dubbed “black water,” and must be disposed of in sewer systems or septic tanks.

Each home is to come with a rainwater collection system to reduce landscape water use.

The landscaping of parks, common space areas and the front yards of each home is to comply with ordinances and state laws that call for drip irrigation of drought-tolerant landscaping.

At the request of the county biologist, the applicant for Spring Canyon is to plant locally native vegetation in the open space and on slopes as long as it is 50 feet from structures.

All new home sales offices for the Spring Canyon project are to be stocked with brochures highlighting the benefits of the green initiatives featured in Spring Canyon and with brochures from National Wildlife that inform homebuyers about the Backyard Habitat program. The Backyard Habitat program preserves pockets of land in its natural state, allowing native vegetation to thrive and wildlife to move about freely.

At the request of the county biologist and SCOPE, the applicant agrees to plant eight holly leaf cherry trees for every one removed. The new holly leaf cherries are to be planted in the open space of the project.

Also at the request of the county biologist, the applicant is to come up with a map of all existing holly leaf cherry trees on the property and indicate which ones will be impacted by the housing project. A map is also to be prepared showing where and how many impacts are to be made and the location of new plants in open space.

Plambeck thanked Parker and Chris Perry, the planning deputy for Los Angeles County’s 5th District, because “they worked very well with us,” she said.

“It took us all the way to appealing to the Board of Supervisors, but we are pleased to say that although there was no climate chapter in this because the (environmental impact report) was so old, there are accommodations now that match other (sustainable) projects in areas like Northlake and Newhall Ranch.”

Likewise, Parker thanked Barger’s staff, and his SCOPE critics, saying: “We’ve worked with SCOPE to talk about Spring Canyon.

“This is an amendment to a project that was previously approved and we’re excited to move forward. There are many public benefits and we also think the project is better now,” he said.

The planned Spring Canyon housing development is north of Highway 14 and Soledad Canyon Road, between Shadow Pines Boulevard and Agua Dulce Canyon Road.

It calls for one Los Angeles County Fire Department station and one Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department substation to be built, two parking lots and three open space lots, all on nearly 550 acres.

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