County supervisors Tuesday approved Sterling Ranch Estates, a 222-home planned community slated for Val Verde, on three conditions, during an appeal hearing.
Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger authored a read-in motion on the project’s approval that moved to grant the six-phase development a final approval, but also sought to address the appellants’ concerns, which included the project’s proximity to a problematic landfill.
Hunt Williams, whose family owns the property, said the homes were a perfect complement to the other phase of development, which built up more than 1 million square feet of the land formerly known as Sterling Gateway, which was once identified as a potential Castaic High School site. The industrial component, which was fully entitled as of 2019, already has brought more than 3,000 jobs to the area, he added during the August hearing.
“The Sterling Ranch industrial project is incredibly successful — a winner,” he said during the project’s presentation to the county’s Regional Planning Department on Aug. 30. “And this residential project completes the vision started by my grandfather (Theodore K. Sterling). It, too, is a winner.”
The housing component is expected to put homes on about 114 acres and also set aside about 30 acres south of the property, a commercial lot, two private park lots, seven open space lots, seven public facility lots, six homeowners association landscaping lots and two access road lots.
In addition to approving the project, a road realignment and an oak tree removal permit, Barger’s motion put three conditions on the developer.
The first condition stated the developer shall provide disclosures and notify all future property owners of their proximity to an existing landfill, to the satisfaction of Regional Planning Director Amy Bodek.
“The Sterling Ranch development project has my support. It will bring additional housing to our county, which is facing a significant overall lack of housing stock,” she wrote in an email Tuesday after the approval. “I also firmly believe future homeowners must be fully aware of the property’s proximity to the nearby landfill. The motion I successfully introduced today ensures the Sterling Ranch developer will share that information. Responsible developers remain proactive in their community engagement, and my motion helps ensure that will take place. Potential homebuyers should have access to thorough and transparent information about the property they’re looking to purchase – no surprises.”
Chiquita Canyon Landfill has earned dozens of violations since July, when a smoldering subsurface reaction from decades-old garbage improperly managed by the landfill’s past operations began to emit a stench that’s been detected throughout Castaic.
“While SCOPE appreciates the supervisor working with us to make sure that future residents are notified that they are buying a house next to a landfill and requiring air filtration systems, we still believe that it is poor planning to put another 222 families in harm’s way of wildfires and next to a landfill that has had pollution problems for decades,” according to a statement from SCOPE President Lynne Plambeck, one of the appellants. “As one resident said at the hearing, air filters are fine for the house, but it means you can never go outside.”
L.A. County Department of Public Health officials reported last week that they plan to have a comprehensive report on any health concerns associated with the situation by next year.
A number of area residents near the landfill have said they were told the landfill was going to close — even some who moved to the area after its permit was renewed in 2017.
The project’s applicants said the landfill’s odor situation is being treated by the county so far as a public nuisance as opposed to a public health emergency.
The second condition is that the developer shall provide notice when there will be an impact to
ingress/egress to the community in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner, to the satisfaction of the regional planning director.
The third condition is a requirement that the homes have HEPA 11, or greater, filters installed on the central HVAC system of all housing units.
The Sterling Ranch Estates plan was originally approved Aug. 30 by the Department of Regional Planning in a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Elvin Moon dissenting.
Moon questioned the project’s lack of an affordable-housing component. Williams said the project was entitled years prior to the current housing crisis that has since prompted lawmakers to require such an element in many projects; however, he pledged a $4,000 donation for each unit that would be split between the nonprofit organizations Family Promise of SCV and Bridge to Home.
Erika Navarro, executive director of Bridge to Home, wrote a letter of support for the project that was included in its appeal file.