By Nick Jensen, CNPS Southern California Conservation Analyst
Last Wednesday, July 11, the Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission (RPC) voted to delay making a decision on the Tejon Ranch Centennial Specific Plan. The RPC will take up the project once again on Wednesday, August 29. Mark your calendars!
This delay was precipitated by numerous inadequacies in the review of environmental impacts that need to be corrected, some of which include:
- a lack of planned affordable housing,
- lack of public transportation,
- a dearth of houses required to be powered by solar energy (inconsistent with current state laws),
- and lack of funding for a medical facility to serve Centennial’s 60,000 residents.
At the hearing, CNPS members from the Channel Islands, Riverside-San Bernardino, Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains, and San Gabriel Mountains Chapters spoke in favor of the conservation of habitats and against the poorly-planned Centennial leapfrog development.
In addition to representatives from CNPS and our partners at the Center for Biological Diversity, a number of other community members stepped forward to help defend this precious landscape. A reporter from an online real estate news outlet event noted that, “a predominantly male group of businessmen and lawyers, bearing a lime green ‘Support Centennial’ sticker on their left suit pocket, faced off against a considerably larger group of preservationists, local residents and academics, who held up ‘#StopCentennial’ signs.”
All told, the hearing ended with more than 30 speakers against the development and only four in favor.
More reasons to say “no” to Centennial
In recent weeks we have learned about two serious transportation-related problems associated with Centennial:
- Highway 138, the main road that would connect Centennial to Interstate-5 and the Lancaster-Palmdale area will require an upgrade with a price tag of more than $800 million to handle the increased traffic associated with the project. This amounts to a huge subsidy to the developers that would be paid by taxpayers. Furthermore, the Highway 138 upgrade is only necessary if Centennial is built. With California highways already in need of billions of dollars of maintenance, why is LA County even considering a project that will cost taxpayers nearly one billion dollars in already scarce transportation funding?
- Tejon Ranch Company has now admitted that the cost tag for providing Centennial with rail service connection to Santa Clarita is exorbitant. Extending a metro line to Centennial would cost taxpayers a whopping $33 billion. This leapfrog development will never be connected to metropolitan Los Angeles by mass transit. Why isn’t Los Angeles County focusing on improving mass transit in already urbanized areas and promoting infill development served by existing infrastructure?
Last, CNPS is featured prominently in this article published in The Mountain Enterprise that exposes Tejon Ranch Corporation’s systematic effort to silence scientists and conservationists by restricting access to the already conserved portions of the ranch. This attempt to silence individuals and institutions should not be tolerated.
Expect to hear more about this story in the coming weeks!
What you can do
Thanks to all of you who have contacted the commission and your LA County Board of Supervisors!
If you live in LA County:
Please attend the next Commission hearing on August 29. (We’ll be providing more details on that in the coming weeks.)
If you don’t live in LA County
Please contact the LA County Board of Supervisors to express your concerns about the development. Sharing your personal stories and experiences with Tejon Ranch is especially meaningful.
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Nick Jensen is a conservation analyst for the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) in Southern California and a fellow of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. Jensen recently earned his PhD in botany at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG)/Claremont Graduate University. As a graduate student he produced the first Flora of Tejon Ranch (* in preparation) and studied evolutionary patterns in perennial jewelflowers. For more information please contact him at Nick Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.