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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023


newhall ranch/r.e. report/d.taub/mike1st/mark2nd DANIEL TAUB Staff Reporter SANTA CLARITA It would be the largest master-planned community in the history of Los Angeles County, encompassing 19 square miles in an area north of the San Fernando Valley. It would be home to nearly 70,000 residents. About 19,300 people would work in its business park and at its retail stores and other businesses. But the planned community of Newhall Ranch which is envisioned by Newhall Land and Farming Co. to follow in the footsteps of nearby Valencia is facing opposition from environmentalists and Santa Clarita city officials, who say it would put too much stress on an area with limited resources. The Valencia-based developer is holding public hearings through mid-February on the recently released draft environmental impact report for the Newhall Ranch community, which would be adjacent to Valencia between the Golden State (5) Freeway and the Ventura County line near Six Flags Magic Mountain. Newhall Land officials hope the master-planned community will evolve into another Valencia, the thriving planned community that the company began developing in the mid-1960s and that is still experiencing growth. “We have a good reputation and a lot of experience to draw on as to how to build a new community,” said Marlee Lauffer, a Newhall spokeswoman. Newhall Ranch which is expected to include more than 25,000 apartments, townhouses and upscale houses has been designed to include 274 acres of community parks, 60 acres of neighborhood parks, a community lake offering fishing and boating, an 18-hole golf course, a 200-acre business park and more than 50 miles of pedestrian, equestrian and bicycle trails. A high school, a middle school, five elementary schools, three fire stations, a public library, a water reclamation plant, an electric substation and 30 miles of new roads are also a part of the plan. Newhall Ranch’s businesses and residences will be distributed among five “villages” Riverwood, Oak Valley, Portero Valley, Long Canyon and the Mesas. Each village has been designed to create a “small town” feeling and each will have its own movie theater, shops and meeting places. Over the last few months, the project’s draft EIR has been circulated and a series of public hearings has begun. Although Newhall Land has been successful with its other Santa Clarita developments, Newhall Ranch faces significant opposition from environmentalists and other community members, including an official declaration of non-support from the Santa Clarita City Council. While the Newhall Ranch site is outside Santa Clarita city limits in unincorporated L.A. County, the proposed community would put an extra strain on limited street, sewer, educational and recreational resources within the city, council members said. Project opponents speaking before the L.A. County Regional Planning Commission have argued that Newhall Ranch would produce enough traffic to clog local roads and Interstate 5 the Santa Clarita Valley’s primary link to the San Fernando Valley, downtown L.A., the Westside and other points to the south. Local school officials also have spoken out against the current Newhall Ranch plan. Although Newhall Ranch would have its own schools, William S. Hart Union High School District officials as well as other local school district officials have criticized the plan for underprojecting population growth and future burdens on local schools. Other issues that have been raised include whether Newhall Land should pay for building a Metrolink rail line through Newhall Ranch, whether the amount of water available in the Santa Clarita Valley could support a new influx of residents, and concern that the company’s campaign contributions to state and county legislators could unduly influence the approval process. After completion of public hearings, Newhall Land will prepare and release by April or May a final EIR and responses to public concerns. That also is the time at which the developer hopes to win approval from L.A. County’s Regional Planning Commission, which is currently reviewing the Newhall Ranch plan. The plan must then go to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors for final approval before construction can begin. “We expect to start development of Newhall Ranch somewhere around the year 2000,” Lauffer said. The community would then be built over a period of about 25 years, but its first residents would likely move in about a year after development began, she said. Jim Lindvall, an associate vice president with commercial real estate brokerage Grubb & Ellis Co., said Newhall Land has an opportunity to do something with its new development that it failed to do with Valencia build houses that attract executives. “It’s been a nice bedroom community, but it doesn’t have a lot of the higher-end executive housing,” he said. Lindvall said that building spacious houses with access to golf courses and other amenities will eventually attract large companies and other support businesses to the area. “If you can get the CEO to move out there,” he said, “you can get his company to move out there somewhere down the road.”

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