The L.A. County Regional Planning Commission approved the Sterling Ranch project this week, a housing development that’s been years in the making in Val Verde, just northwest of the Valencia Commerce Center.
The plan, which was approved 4-1 Tuesday with Commissioner Elvin Moon dissenting, is expected to include 222 single-family lots, seven public facility lots, six homeowners association lots and two access road lots on about 114 acres, with an “offsite open space conservation area” adding another approximately 38 acres to the project area.
It’s also adjacent to the Sterling Gateway business park, a 75-acre lot that was once looked at as a potential site for Castaic High School, but ended up being about 1.3 million square feet of industrial space that was entitled in 2019.
The project’s applicant said the average lot size for homes would be about a quarter-acre, and the open space associated with the property is about a quarter-mile north of the northern tip of Newhall Ranch, according to images shown during the presentation of the project.
The project was needed to help accommodate residential needs generated by the millions of square feet of industrial space nearby, said Hunt Williams, the project’s applicant.
“There’s a significant amount of commercial industrial buildings either under construction or planned for the area,” he said. “More jobs mean the need for more housing.”
Another one of the public benefits, in addition to a 3.4-acre park with a regulation soccer field and acres of open space, is the reconstruction of Del Valle Road, according to planners.
Those opposed to the project, including Val Verde resident Abigail Desesa, questioned how planners could consider putting a housing project less than a mile from a landfill that’s currently facing daily violations for its odor emissions and now embroiled in a lawsuit filed by a group of residents.
County officials said they were unable to respond to comments about the Chiquita Canyon Landfill and its concerns due to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday evening.
Lynne Plambeck, president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, or SCOPE, wrote via email Wednesday one of her primary concerns about the project is that it’s located in a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, “both because of the danger to the public and the cost to the county of fighting these fires.”
Moon questioned whether the project would be willing to consider a voluntary set-aside of 15% of the property to make lower-income housing more available, as current housing regulations seek such a balance for development.
Williams countered that the project was deemed complete prior to the current regulations in place, but as a neighbor, the property has a vested interest in supporting its community.
The developer’s family pledged a direct contribution of $888,000 — $4,000 for each unit — which is to be split between Bridge to Home and Family Promise, as a condition of approval.
Commissioner David Louie acknowledged during the hearing that he knew the applicant, Hunt Williams, because both worked in the industry over the last three decades. However, he said he did not realize Williams’ association until the morning of the project and didn’t believe he had a conflict of interest.