On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has a rare opportunity to both alleviate the county’s housing crisis and encourage sustainable development.
Scheduled to certify two of five villages within the Newhall Ranch development’s broader plan, the board should recognize the developer’s tremendous work to balance development with environmental conscientiousness and approve the projects.
When fully completed, the proposed Newhall Ranch development in the Santa Clarita Valley’s west side would consist of 21,500 new homes (including more than 2,000 affordable housing units), 11.5 million square feet of commercial space and 10,000 acres of open space.
The development is expected to create upwards of 60,000 permanent jobs and provide a boost to economic activity in the northern part of the county. And it has considerable potential to ease the county’s housing shortage.
The development has been tied up in litigation since first being approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2003, because of concerns that the project did not adequately address potential environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions and threats to an endangered fish.
Since then, developer FivePoint Holdings has committed itself to what it calls “Net Zero Newhall,” with numerous modifications to the original plans geared towards achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the endangered three spine stickleback fish. This includes a requirement that all homes come with electric vehicle charging stations, plus subsidies to encourage purchasing of electric vehicles.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife approved the changes in June, noting that the concerns raised over the project have been addressed and that the project will be “the largest net zero GHG emissions project in the nation,” an assurance that should assuage the concerns of those with legitimate environmental concerns.