California Native Plant Society Condemns LA County Decision to Approve the Centennial Development
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Liv O’Keeffe
916-447-2677, ext. 202
Dec. 11, 2018, Los Angeles – In a 4-1 decision, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted today to approve the controversial Centennial development on Tejon Ranch. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was the only no vote.
The California Native Plant Society, a statewide organization of more than 10,000 members, said it will continue its fight for an updated environmental impact report (EIR) on the Centennial project and the conservation of Tejon Ranch in its entirety.
“California needs forward-thinking solutions to wildfire, housing, and climate change,” said CNPS Conservation Director Greg Suba. “The LA County Board of Supervisors had an opportunity to do the right thing today. Instead, the board’s decision to approve the Centennial development takes us a giant step backward to the very approaches that got us into the trouble we are in today.”
The California Native Plant Society, the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Air Resources Board, and thousands of private citizens have cited unresolved concerns over environmental degradation, air quality, and wildfire hazard.
Prior to the hearing, thousands of Californians contacted the supervisors, including more than 5,500 people who voiced opposition to the Centennial project through the Center for Biological Diversity’s online portal. In addition, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) submitted an 18-page letter to the supervisors requesting a revision to the project’s Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), noting that with California’s updated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission calculations the existing FEIR “significantly underestimates the Project’s significant contribution to regional and state GHG emissions” and “does not analyze potential feasible mitigation measures, as required by CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act].”
Nearly 100 speakers testified at the hearing, including groups representing affordable housing, labor unions, churches, the environment, the real estate industry, and private citizens. Project proponents touted the development’s promise of affordable housing and jobs, but opponents warned the project’s benefits are questionable and its drawbacks extreme.
“We’re seeing a false narrative at play in LA County that is simply not true,” CNPS Southern California Conservation Analyst Nick Jensen. “LA County’s leaders and the Tejon Ranch Company are asking people to accept long commutes, habitat destruction, and risks to their own safety in exchange for blind faith-promises of jobs and affordable housing.”
Sup. Kuehl voiced similar concerns in the hearing, “I don’t think that the notion of affordable housing is defined sufficiently that I think we’re actually going to get it.” While the Centennial project will bring temporary jobs to the area for construction and infrastructure, the notion that many jobs will stay in the area is “pie-in-the-sky,” she added.
The Centennial project is estimated to destroy nearly 6,000 acres of irreplaceable habitat, located in one of California’s most biodiverse regions and home to the endangered California condor. The development will sever the wildlife corridors plants and animals need for survival as temperatures continue to rise.
“The fight isn’t over,” warned CNPS Executive Director Dan Gluesenkamp. He noted the statewide and national attention the Centennial debate has garnered. “The decisions we make here in California strongly influence how we as 21st century citizens will address the very real challenges of climate change and a growing population. We are asking California’s leaders to rise to this opportunity with forward-thinking solutions that value and strengthen the human and natural communities that are California’s greatest wealth.”
About the California Native Plant Society:
The California Native Plant Society is a statewide organization working to save and celebrate California’s native plants and places via plant science, advocacy, education, and horticulture. CNPS has nearly 10,000 members in 35 chapters throughout California and Baja to promote its mission at the local level. www.cnps.org