Newhall Ranch, a 19 square mile project by Newhall Land west of Highway 126 at the Ventura County border that proposes 21,000 homes, will create 20,000 jobs and includes plans to preserve 80 percent of the area’s open space, is moving forward.
Officials at Newhall Land will be releasing the Joint Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report for the project’s Resource Management and Development Plan on Monday for public review.
“This opens the 60-day review period,” said Newhall Land spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer, gesturing to 16 large binders on a conference table that hold 15,000 pages of information, graphs, maps and research. Reporters got a peek at the materials Friday afternoon.
Mark Subbotin, Vice President of Community Development, addressed most of the environmental plans in the plan.
“We have three preservation goals,” he said. “To preserve 5,700 acres of high country, from the river to the Santa Susana Mountains; to preserve 970 acres along the Santa Clara River and establish five spineflower preserves.
The high country area will be managed by County of Los Angeles, SMMC, City of Santa Clarita and funded by residents of Newhall Ranch.
Greenbelt and open space areas surrounding the city include the Angeles National Forest, Los Padres, Santa Susana Mountains, Santa Clarita Woodlands area and Simi Valley’s Rocky Peaks. Newhall Ranch’s open space fits neatly into the puzzle on the West.
“From the I-5 to the Ventura County line, there are 10 miles of open space,” Lauffer said.
The San Fernando Valley spineflower was thought to be extinct, but was rediscovered on the Ahmanson Ranch in Ventura County in 1999. Specimens were found at Newhall Ranch a year later. The spineflower is listed as a California endangered species and is a candidate for federal listing.
“There will be four preserves within Newhall Ranch and one near The Old Road and Magic Mountain Parkway,” Subbotin said. “Altogether it will encompass 170 acres.”
He added that 60 percent of the entire project will be set aside as open space, making a significant contribution to the city of Santa Clarita’s goal of surrounding the city limits with greenbelt and open space.
The environmental protections also include protection of Native American archaeological sites and historic sites, such as the eight-acre Asistencia de San Francisco Xavier which will be dedicated to the Archaeological Conservancy and an acre parcel donated to the Tataviam Indians for an interpretive center.
Lauffer said that the project is moving forward despite Newhall Land’s parent company, Lennar, being in the midst of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“When we entered into our reorganization, we obtained ‘debtor in possession’ financing to cover a variety of essential expenditures,” she explained. It’s important to the banks and the court that essential work should continue. They saw this project as one where we’d already made a significant investment and one that couldn’t just start and stop.”
The public review period for the Draft EIS/EIR begins April 27 and ends June 26. Written comments on the draft EIS/EIR must be postmarked or received by fax or e-mail no later than June 26, 2009. Sent written comments to:
US Army Corps of Engineers
Ventura Field Office
Attn.: Aaron O. Allen
2151 Alessandro Drive, Suite 110
Ventura, CA 93001
Fax: (805) 585-2154
California Department of Fish and Game
Newhall Ranch EIS/EIR Project Comments
c/o Dennis Beford
4949 Viewridge Avenue
San Diego, CA 92123
Informational Line: (866) 395-7426
Fax: (858) 467-4299
Copies of the Draft EIS/EIR will be made available for public review in the offices of the agencies at the addresses shown above. A copy of the Draft EIS/EIR will also be available for public review at the following locations:
Valencia Library, 23743 West Valencia Boulevard, Santa Clarita
Sylmar Library, 14561 Polk Street, Sylmar
Ventura H.P. Wright Library, 57 Day Road, Ventura
Castaic Library, 27971 Sloan Canyon Road, Castaic
Department of Fish and Game Los Alamitos Office, 4665 Lampson Avenue, Los Alamitos
Additionally, the Draft EIS/EIR, information regarding the project’s environmental review process, project documents and contact/mailing information can be found at the following website: www.dfg.ca.gov/region/5/newhall.
The agencies will hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 11 at Rancho Pico Junior High School, 26250 West Valencia Boulevard, Stevenson Ranch. Oral and written communications may be presented at that meeting for inclusion in the public record.