It’s still a couple of years away, but it’s looking more and more like the Newhall Ranch “mini-city” west of Interstate 5 might actually start construction one day.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is scheduled Tuesday to consider granting final approval to the first 1,444-home phase of the eventual 20,885-home community.
The first phase, dubbed Landmark Village, is planned for 263 acres south of Highway 126 and northwest of Six Flags Magic Mountain. Most of the land has been used in the past for cattle grazing and oil and gas production.
Under the plan, cows and petroleum would give way to 270 single-family homes, 1,105 multi-family units and 69 mixed-use units – plus an elementary school, park, fire station, 1 million square feet of commercial and retail space and 60 acres of open space.
Plans also call for moving 7 million cubic yards of earth and the removal of 65 oak trees, including 10 heritage oaks.
Landmark Village would provide 3,700 permanent jobs for a 2.5-to-1 jobs to housing ratio, well above the regional average of 1.25 as stated in county documents.
The supervisors indicated their intent to approve the project late last year when they certified the related environmental documents.
They did the same with the second phase, the 4,000-home Mission Village, at a subsequent meeting. Mission Village isn’t on Tuesday’s calendar for final approval but is expected to follow soon.
Newhall Ranch has been on the drawing board since 1996, and the first tract map was approved in 1999. Then the world caved in. Environmental organizations filed a lawsuit that ultimately compelled the county to consider Newhall Ranch in toto, rather than as series of separate neighborhoods.
The resulting specific plan envisioned five separate villages totaling 20,855 homes. Supervisors approved the specific plan in 2003 with the understanding that more detailed plans and additional approvals would be needed for each phase.
Then came more lawsuits and a corporate bankruptcy and a downturn in the economy, and here we are, nine years after the specific plan was approved, and finally the first phase is coming up for final approval.
Even if the supervisors say yes on Tuesday, don’t expect to see bulldozers out there right away. There’s a lingering environmental lawsuit challenging an expected approval from the California Department of Fish and Game, and a threatened lawsuit challenging a requested approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the county still will need to issue a series of grading and building permits.
“We’re thinking one and a half to two years” before construction can begin, said Marlee Lauffer, vice president of marketing and communications for the developer, The Newhall Land and Farming Co.
The county is requiring Newhall Land to take a number of steps to reduce the project’s impacts on the environment. For instance, before the first building permit is issued, the developer must complete the construction of infrastructure designed to keep chloride discharges below 100 milligrams per liter (parts per billion), including a 1.2-acre demineralization facility adjacent to the existing Valencia wastewater treatment plant and a 1.6-acre brine disposal well in the Valencia Commerce Center.