The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency’s July 17 approval of a water supply plan for the proposed Tapia Ranch housing development between Castaic and Tesoro del Valle begins a second developer’s attempt to win project approval from the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission.
Plans have been on the books for a decade to fill in the space between Castaic and Tesoro del Valle in unincorporated LA County territory with new homes. The 2008 recession put the Tapia Ranch project on the back burner, but now the flames have been re-lit.
Developer DACA-Castaic LLC wants to build 405 detached single-family homes on 1,167 acres of undeveloped hillside and canyon land approximately 1.5 miles southeast of Castaic, and about a mile east of Interstate 5.
Approximately 74 percent (858.5 acres) of the project site would be retained as landscaped or natural open space.
DACA-Castaic LLC asked the SCVWA to determine if the agency would be able to provide an adequate water supply if the development received county approval and could then be annexed into the SCVWA’s service area.
The agency’s Water Resources and Watershed Committee reviewed availability of water from the SCVWA-owned Buena Vista/Rosedale Rio Bravo supply and delivered its report, titled Tapia Ranch Water Supply Assignment, at the agency’s July 17 board meeting.
“At this time, SCV Water is only being asked to confirm that sufficient water supply is available for potential provision to the proposed annexation lands,” said Kathie Martin, SCVWA spokesperson. “The committee determined that yes, that amount of water is available, so the resolution to approve the plan was passed.”
The vote was 11-1, with board members Ed and Kathy Colley absent, and Lynne Plambeck casting the lone no vote.
If the entire Tapia Ranch project is eventually approved by the county, SCV Water would provide 489 acre-feet of water per year.
“This is the first step for a party that would like to annex within the SCV Water Agency boundary,” said Steve Cole, SCVWA assistant general manager.
SCVWA’s July 17 approval represents the beginning of a second developer’s attempt to secure county approval of the Tapia Ranch project.
The first attempt was in 2007, when previous property owner Castaic Partners LLC of La Jolla filed the initial paperwork with the county to turn the historic Tapia Ranch into a residential community — just in time for development projects everywhere to grind to a halt.
Read the complete original 2007 Notice of Preparation & Initial Study submitted to the LA County Department of Regional Planning [here].
Eventually, the Franchise Tax Board swooped in and Castaic Partners LLC went out of business.
Now the project is back, under the ownership of DACA-Castaic LLC. DACA stands for Debt Acquisition Company of America, a San Diego-based buyer of tax-lien properties, run by Howard J. Justus.
Justus dusted off the Tapia Ranch plans, hired a project manager (Jon Myhre), set up a website (tapiaranch.com) to promote the development to the surrounding community, and started to pull together the pieces he would need to win Planning Commission approval.
One of those mission-critical pieces is the water supply, which is now lined up.
“Next, (DACA-Castaic LLC) will be going to the Planning Commission and producing a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) document, or an EIR (environmental impact report), that will fully analyze the impact of the project,” Cole said.
“It should go to the Planning Commission soon,” he said. “The (developer) has been working in parallel, so they were waiting for the (water supply) determination before they could finish up their process with the county.”
After that, the completed proposal will come back to the SCVWA board for final approval of the water plan, Martin said.
“The Scoping Meeting for the EIR will occur on Aug. 16,” said Tony Bell, spokesman for LA County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “It’s very early in the process and not even close to the Regional Planning Commission.”