Newhall Ranch Approved (Again!)
by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
On May 27, as expected, The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisers approved the Newhall Ranch Project for the second time. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who had previously voted in favor of the project, was the only dissenting vote, citing the continuation of urban sprawl as "one of the biggest, if not the biggest, environmental issues we face as a region." Friends of the Santa Clara River believes Supervisor Yaroslavsky has it exactly right, and laments that more decision makers cannot see, or at least cannot bring themselves to address, the urban sprawl problem represented by such massive projects.
The project encompasses 20,885 homes, straddles 5 miles of the Santa Clara River, and will require construction of three new bridges across the river. On the only upnote, Newhall has apparently agreed to give Ventura County 1500 acres of open space adjacent to the project to protect the Salt Creek wildlife corridor.
Friends has opposed Newhall Ranch since environmental review first began in 1996 and is a litigant against the project, along with the Sierra Club and the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment.
Approval by the Supervisors now sends the project back to the Bakersfield Superior Court of Judge Roger D. Randall, who in 1999 ordered significant revision of the project's Environmental Impact Report, most notably relating to the issues of water supply and the impacts of bank protection on the Santa Clara River. Friends and others have argued extensively before the Supervisors that neither issue has been adequately addressed in the revised analyses, and will make this argument again when the court process re-starts. Legal action by other groups is also in the offing, as a result of Newhall's destruction of several acres of the endangered San Fernando Valley spineflower.