Centennial, California

Centennial, California, is a proposed 12,323-acre (49.87 km2) master-planned community on Tejon Ranch, in Los Angeles County between Bakersfield and Los Angeles.[1][2] It is situated in the far western Antelope Valley at the foothills of the Sierra Pelona and Tehachapi Mountains.[3] It would be built along California State Route 138 east of Interstate 5 and northeast of Quail Lake.[1]

Project descriptionEdit

The community is intended to be built over 25 to 30 years, with approximately one-half of the 11,700-acre (4,700 ha) area designated as open space.[4] It comprises 19,333 houses, including single- and multifamily structures. The Tejon Ranch Company has agreed to set aside 18% of housing as affordable housing.[5] The developers have stated they plan to attract local jobs in order to employ the anticipated number of adult residents.[1][2] The projected population is 57,000.[6][5]

The project lies between a point about a mile east of the intersection of Interstate 5 and California Highway 138 eastward past Quail Lake into the western Antelope Valley to about 280th Street West.[2][7]

The 19.3-square-mile project is planned to be developed by four companies: Tejon Ranch Company, Lewis Operating Company, Pardee Homes and Standard Pacific Homes, on the property of Tejon Ranch.[2][4]

Public reactionEdit

Environmental groups have opposed the housing project, claiming that it would be built on rare ecosystems, including the largest native grassland left in California, among other concerns.[8][9][10] The project is planned on the territory inhabited by four federally endangered or threatened animals, including the critically endangered California condor, and 23 animals and plants listed by under the California Endangered Species Act.[11] The Tejon Pass area also functions as a wildlife corridor connecting the Tehachapi Mountains, the Mojave Desert, the Sierra Nevada, and the Central Valley.[12]

In 2008, an agreement was reached between developers and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Audubon Society of California, the Endangered Habitats League, and the Planning and Conservation League.[3][12] The agreement stated that 90% of Tejon Ranch would be protected if the conservation groups agreed not to oppose development on the remaining 10%. Erecting structures would be forbidden, but the ranch could continue to be used for "profitable agriculture, mining, grazing and exclusive commercial hunting operations."[13] Opponents of the agreement claim that much of the land is too steep and remote to be buildable and that Tejon's biodiversity is protected under the existing and federal laws.[14]

Another major concern is traffic congestion on Interstate 5 and Highway 138 as the development is far from many jobs.[15] Concerns also include an increase of valley fever caused by the release of dust-borne spores during construction, insufficient water supply, and "poorly designed" wildlife corridors.[16]

The site is located in "high" and "very high" fire hazard severity zones as defined by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.[17][18] According to county planning documents, CalFire recorded "31 wildfires larger than 100 acres within five miles of Centennial, including four within the project’s boundaries" from 1964 to 2015.[9][18] Developers state that the project is being designed to mitigate fire risk and will include four fire stations.[18][19]

Legal actionsEdit

In April 2019, the largest of the most vocal environmental groups in opposition to the project, the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society, filed a suit against the County Board of Supervisors. The suit claims the Board's approval of the Centennial project violated the California Environmental Quality Act and asks that development be halted until a new environmental review is completed.[5][9][20]

In April 2021 Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff rejected the developer's environmental impact report, citing aspects concerning wildfire risk and additional greenhouse gases generated by vehicles.[21] Tejon Ranch stated that any risk of wildfire "outside the project will be reduced to less than significant," but Beckloff wrote that the statement was not supported by analysis.[22]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Patric Hedlund, "'Huge' Step for Tejon's Centennial Plan." The Mountain Enterprise, November 28, 2014, page 13
  2. ^ a b c d Patric Hedlund, "Centennial Hearing at Gorman School Thursday, 6 P.M.," The Mountain Enterprise, June 30, 2017, page 6
  3. ^ a b LA Curbed: "Tejon Ranch Project Could Affect 27 Plants and Animals" (with map); 3 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b Jon Gertner (March 18, 2007). "Playing Sim City For Real". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c "LA County Approves Controversial 20,000-Home Development In Antelope Valley". CBS LA. May 1, 2019. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  6. ^ Patric Hedlund, "'Surprise' Centennial Testimony Is Actually Deja Vu," The Mountain Enterprise, June 15, 2018, page 1
  7. ^ Agrawa, Nina (August 26, 2018). "Building a vast new city on L.A.'s northern edges: A solution for region's housing crunch?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  8. ^ Gold, Scott (February 29, 2008). "A stoic little town faces tomorrow". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ a b c Matthew, Zoie (2019-05-31). "Environmental Groups Are Suing to Stop Fragile Grasslands from Becoming a Planned City". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  10. ^ "Centennial Specific Plans - CNPS CBD FEIR Comments" (PDF). California Native Plant Society. 2018-06-05. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  11. ^ Grunwald, Lois (2012-02-02). "USFWS Announces The Opening Of A Public Comment Period On Tejon Ranch Environmental Documents". United States Fish & Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  12. ^ a b "About Tejon Ranch Conservancy". www.tejonconservancy.org. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  13. ^ "As Tejon building projects stall, Tejon Ranch Conservancy is threatened :: The Mountain Enterprise". mountainenterprise.com. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  14. ^ Braxton, Jane (2019-02-07). "Development plans test a decade-old conservation deal". High Country News. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  15. ^ Pettersson, Edvard (August 6, 2019). "California Struggles to Sprawl in an Environmentally Responsible Way". Bloomberg. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  16. ^ Patric Hedlund, "Water, Traffic, Valley Fever, Wildlife, Poor Outreach Raised at Thinly Attended Centennial Hearing," The Mountain Enterprise, July 7, 2017, page 1 (subscription required)
  17. ^ "A botanist criticized Tejon Ranch. So he got kicked out — along with 10,000 of his friends". Los Angeles Times. 2018-12-10. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  18. ^ a b c "L.A. County considers building a new city where fire hazard is high. Is Tejon Ranch worth the risk?". Los Angeles Times. 2018-12-04. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  19. ^ Gopal, Prashant; Buhayar, Noah (November 23, 2019). "California's Housing Crunch is Pushing Developers Deeper into Dangerous Fire Zones". Bloomberg News. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  20. ^ Solis, Nathan (2020-10-01). "Conservationists Sue to Invalidate Centennial Project's Environmental Impact Report". SCV News. Courthouse News Service. Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  21. ^ Louis Sahagún, "Tejon Ranch Project on Hold," Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2021
  22. ^ Patric Hedlund, "Judge Questions Tejon Ranch Centennial Plan," The Mountain Enterprise, April 16, 2021, page 13

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 34°46′45″N 118°41′45″W / 34.77917°N 118.69583°W / 34.77917; -118.69583