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1950 - CalArts grad Ed Harris ("A Beautiful Mind," "Apollo 13," "Westworld") born in New Jersey [link]
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| Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Tejon Ranch from the Tehachapi Crest, with Frazier Mountain in the background. (RangerX via Wikipedia)
Tejon Ranch from the Tehachapi Crest, with Frazier Mountain in the background. (RangerX via Wikipedia).

 

The Tejon Ranch Co. responded Tuesday to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court by the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups over U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service approval of a conservation plan for large portions of Tejon Ranch, calling the suit “without merit.”

The company’s statement follows:

On April 25, 2019, we were made aware, via a press release issued by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), that it has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service challenging the 2013 approval of a Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan covering the upland regions of Tejon Ranch.

The lawsuit was filed a full six years after the approval and just four days prior to the April 29, 2019 expiration of the time period in which to file a legal challenge.

The press release falsely claims the approval by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service authorized Tejon Ranch Co. to build its Mountain Village at Tejon Ranch community. That is not true. That authorization came from the Kern County Board of Supervisors, as provided by law, following many years of outreach, dialogue and overwhelming community support.

Approval of a Habitat Conservation Plan resolved a lawsuit between U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Tejon Ranch regarding development and conservation activities on Tejon following the Service’s release of condors near Tejon Ranch from the captive condor breeding program at the San Diego Zoo.

CBD and the other named groups filed an environmental lawsuit against Kern County’s approval of the Tejon Mountain Village project back in 2009 and lost in both the superior and appellate state courts. They are simply trying to use a different tactic to re-litigate issues they’ve already lost on. This is typical of an organization described as a “lawsuit factory” which spends more money on lawyers than it does on scientists and more time in court than it does on actual proactive conservation.

CBD was given the opportunity to be proactively involved in the conservation of Tejon Ranch as it was a party to the negotiations that led to the Tejon Ranch Conservation & Land Use Agreement that permanently conserves 90% of Tejon Ranch — 240,000 acres. Instead, after participating in the negotiations for more than a year, they walked away from the table just before the agreement was reached.

It’s worth noting that all the participants in the negotiations agreed in advance that the outcome of negotiations would result in some real estate development on Tejon Ranch, and it was representatives from CBD who proposed the 90% conservation — 10% development ratio. In a complete reversal of that position, CBD’s Ileene Anderson was recently quoted as saying the organization prefers to retain the opportunity to sue, and risk losing, rather than compromising to achieve a guaranteed positive conservation outcome.

It’s clear that this latest lawsuit by CBD is simply another blatant attempt to delay development of Mountain Village, which has already received numerous approvals from local, state and multiple federal agencies. Resolution of the CBD lawsuit is not required to start or complete development of Mountain Village.

The tactics employed by CBD to litigate, delay and obstruct, are a significant contributing factor to the housing crisis in California. After all, the co-founder of CBD, Kieran Suckling, has stated that a primary goal of the organization is to inflict severe economic pain. As CBD pursues its agenda, that economic pain is ultimately being felt by countless numbers of Californians who find adequate housing increasingly unavailable and unaffordable.

We believe the lawsuit is without merit, and as we have with the number of other lawsuits CBD has filed in the past attempting to prevent us from exercising our legal private property rights, we will work with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to vigorously defend ourselves in this latest legal action as well.

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1 Comment

  1. jim says:

    Well, now. Seems to me we’re approaching a conundrum; one side says one thing, and the other says “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”

    How many years has Tejon Ranch just sat there after the Chandler family sold the ranch waiting for something to happen? I remember 20+ years ago hearing/reading about the new developments coming at TR. And not just in the mountains, but down in the flats of the San Joaquin Valley.

    And so far all that’s happened is a mall at the base of The Grapevine. Nobody outside of 20 miles away seems to care about that.

    But now, the corporation behind TR seems ready to build a self-serviced and isolated colony in the heart of the property east of Fort Tejon that will dump a huge amount of extra traffic on the I5 corridor – and mostly south of there, since the majority of high-paying jobs will be in Santa Clarita,the San Fernando Valley, or downtown LA.

    Even if Ex-Supe Antonovich’s dream of a multi-lane highway along the Hwy 138 route to Lancaster/Palmdale were finished, that would only add 30+ miles to the I5 route, and still dump traffic onto State Hwy 14 – mostly a two-lane route – and into the Newhall Pass parking lot. Anybody who has needed to go south to the SFV or LA knows to wait until 9-10am before going south, Unless you leave the SCV at 5am.

    I’m skipping the arguments above (and elsewhere) regarding adding housing into the Tejon Ranch property; that’s an entirely different fight.

    The I5 corridor from Bakersfield to LA is already above full load (north and south) and I haven’t seen or heard a thing about TR paying to fix that. If they pay to add a couple lanes to the I5 both ways from San Fernando to Bakersfield? I could support that.

    Interstate Highway 5 is designed to move people and goods north and south from San Diego to LA and then to Central and Northern California, and vice-versa. It’s design did not include the burgeoning SCV developments (AKA Newhall Land and Framing’s build-out to the Ventura Co. line) and others. There’s going to be hundreds of homes built east of Santa Clarita in the Spring Canyon area that will dump traffic onto Soledad Cyn Road at Hwy 14 (east of Sand Canyon) and further bollocking traffic toward LA.

    Adding this development to the increasingly crowded I5 corridor is going to place a heavy burden on the SCV, as well as on the access to the SFV and LA.

    Can TR make a case for their development to avoid all of the future traffic congestion? Maybe. I don’t see how (unless they fund widening of the I5) but it’s possible.

    Can they beat the forces against them as seen in the “press releases”? I don’t know, although it always seems that somehow, those things work out.

    For the developer.

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