A proposed 12,000-unit development on property owned by the Tejon Ranch Company near California’s Grapevine community in Kern County will pose significant negative impacts to the environment, according to a lawsuit filed on Friday.
The Tejon Ranch Company is one of the largest private landowners in California.
The company wants to build a project that will span 8,010 acres in the undeveloped land south of the San Joaquin Valley, approximately 80 miles north of the Los Angeles urban core. The project includes 5.1 million square feet of residential and commercial development.
The petition to the Kern County Superior Court by the Center for Biological Diversity claims the developers did not adequately assess the project’s impact to the region, including how the project would affect the San Joaquin kit fox and the blunt-nosed leopard lizard.
In February 2019, U.S. Superior Court Judge Kenneth Twisselman II granted a peremptory writ of mandate that found a 2016 environmental impact report approved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors did not assess the impact from the increase in traffic on Interstate 5 and therefore was not in compliance with state law.
But in their petition filed Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity argues the project’s Supplemental Recirculated Environmental Impact Report was approved by Kern County Supervisors in December 2019.
In a statement, Tejon Ranch Company said the project’s recirculated report was subject to full public review and comment and both county supervisors and Kern County Planning Commissioners approved the project.
“It’s clear that this latest lawsuit by CBD is simply another blatant attempt to delay the development of the Grapevine project, which will provide much-needed housing and economic development to Kern County and the region,” they said, using an abbreviation for Center for Biological Diversity.
The environmental group has challenged the company’s development plans in the California wilderness on multiple occasions, including 23,000-unit development in northern Los Angeles County located near the edge of the Mojave Desert. That project, the Centennial, eventually received approval from L.A. County Supervisors in December 2018.
In a statement, the Center for Biological Diversity calls the proposed Grapevine project “bad for people in wildlife.”
“Grapevine will push the imperiled kit fox closer to extinction while clogging the I-5 with even more long-distance commuters and adding to the region’s air pollution burden,” said Ileene Anderson, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity.
The center is represented by the Hermosa Beach-based law firm Chatten-Brown & Carstens. An email to the Kern County counsel’s office for comment was not immediately answered Friday.