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May 10
1877 - Newhall School District formed, upon petition of J.F. Powell and 47 others [story]
Newhall School kids


The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a last-ditch effort by two Santa Clarita Valley environmental groups to stop the 15,000-acre, 21,500-unit Newhall Ranch mixed-use development to be built along six miles of Highway 126 west of Interstate 5.

In its ruling Monday on the complaint filed in October 2017 by Friends of the Santa Clara River and Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment (plaintiffs-appellants) against the United States Army Corps of Engineers (defendants-appellees) and the Newhall Land and Farming Company (intervenor-defendant-appellee), the court determined the Corps had properly determined the development’s potential environmental impact.

The court also refused to overturn a lower court ruling that upheld the permit the Corps issued pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to developer Newhall Land & Farming, now part of FivePoint Holdings.

Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1344, the Corps may issue permits authorizing the discharge of dredged or fill material into the navigable waters of the United States.

Circuit Judges Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Sandra S. Ikuta and Jacqueline H. Nguyen affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the Corps and Newhall Land & Farming, authorizing the discharge of materials into the Santa Clara River as part of the Newhall Ranch project.

After this case was argued on appeal, the Corps and Newhall Land settled with four of the six plaintiffs in September 2017.

The Center for Biological Diversity, California Native Plant Society, and Wishtoyo Foundation and its Ventura Coastkeeper program agreed to withdraw their ongoing legal challenges to the development per the settlement.

The Corps acknowledged the remaining plaintiffs, SCOPE and Friends of the Santa Clara River, had standing to pursue their Clean Water Act claim.

Aerial photo of Newhall Ranch area, looking west toward Fillmore, May 20, 2010. | Photo: Stephen K. Peeples

Aerial photo of Newhall Ranch area, looking west toward Fillmore, May 20, 2010. | Photo: Stephen K. Peeples

The panel held the plaintiffs also had standing for their National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act claims.

However, the court ultimately rejected challenges under the Clean Water Act to the Corp’s permit issuance, concluding the Corps complied with its obligations under because the Corps properly considered practicability as required under the Clean Water Act’s Section 404(b) guidelines.

The panel further concluded the Corps complied with the ESA because its determination that Southern California steelhead trout would not be affected by the project, and its corresponding decision not to consult with the National
Marine Fisheries Service, was not arbitrary and capricious.

For similar reasons, the panel concluded the Corps reasonably assessed the project’s potential impacts to the steelhead and provided sufficient discussion to satisfy its NEPA obligations.

The Newhall Ranch development was first proposed in the 1980s and was subject to numerous state and federal legal challenges by conservation groups. Monday’s ruling effectively ends all pending litigation and allows the project to move forward.

FivePoint began grading on the Newhall Ranch construction site soon after the September ruling. Groundbreaking on the construction of the project’s first two phases is projected for later this year.

Read the complete Ninth Circuit ruling here.

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17 Comments

  1. The same groups likely argue that housing is too expensive…

  2. D.j. Smetana D.j. Smetana says:

    It’s gonna be a Zoo. 🙈

  3. Jerry Ford Jerry Ford says:

    Stop building! We have enough idiots in this Valley already!

  4. William Reel William Reel says:

    9th Circus💰💰💰 No Cronyism there. Keep voting Democrap if you want to live in a lawless utopia with a very fast train running through your backyard. Local control?😂😂😂

  5. Kevin Dillon Kevin Dillon says:

    Where magically is enough water coming from for this project!!!

  6. Wow! I hope the building goes slowly so I can be retired when the traffic congestion becomes intolerable.

  7. You guys really think this scv cares about its residents???

  8. frontiersmen says:

    I have seen this beautiful Valley transform into another megalopolis of L.A and of the San Fernando Valley. This Use to be a beautiful sanctuary,it truly was. Traffic is getting bad, Smog is Horrid in the summer time, the 5//14 corridor is already packed in the morning and evening. But who cares as long as the payoffs continue as long as the realtors and land developers are getting rich.

  9. Greg Brown Greg Brown says:

    There goes the neighborhood. 😳

  10. Just what the already jammed 5 freeway needs is thousands of more cars!!!

  11. waterwatcher says:

    Too bad the Center for Biological Diversity and others sold out for a big bucks settlemnt. In the end, is that any different than all the lobbyists that make these things happen? This will hurt our community. There is not enough water for everyone now, and as the climate warms, water will be in even shorter supply.

    Thank heavens the Friends of the Santa CLara River and Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment did NOT settle, They are still pursuing actions against the first two tracts (Mission and Landmark) over what issues.

    And who will buy there? Mission is being built over an old oil field and Landmark is right across from the dump. Would you send your kids to a school near a landfill? Maybe people will come to their senses and look at what they are buying.

    • SCVNews.com says:

      Oh, you know how it works. People will buy the homes, send their kids to school near a landfill, THEN they’ll figure out there’s a landfill there, then they’ll complain about it, and then we’ll be right back here debating it all over again 10 years from now.

  12. Cynthia says:

    The SCV will go to Ruin Very soon …. R.I.P. Santa Clarita

  13. Patricia Probasco says:

    Can’t anyone find a small endanger fish to stop the project?

  14. pj says:

    They are continuing to ruin Santa Clarita. Shame on all of elected officials. Money talks.

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