A judge cited environmental concerns in blocking a proposed large-scale residential and commercial project in the Tejon Ranch area 65 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff ruled in favor of the environmental group Climate Resolve and found that the Tejon Ranchcorp Development’s environmental review failed to account for the increased wildfire risk the 12,000-acre project would pose to surrounding wildlands.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in April 2019 gave final approval to the specific plan for Centennial at Tejon Ranch, a master planned mixed-use residential community located in the northwest Los Angeles County section of Tejon Ranch. The project was to include more than 19,300 homes and more than 10.1 million square feet of commercial space.
“The court finds the county failed to proceed as required by law when it did not analyze wildfire impacts beyond the project site,” Beckloff wrote in the 62-page decision dated Monday.
A representative for the county could not be immediately reached for comment.
From 1964 to 2015, 31 wildfires larger than 100 acres occurred within five miles of the site, including four within the proposed project’s boundaries, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, another party whose separate petition was not granted, but nonetheless lauded the judge’s decision.
Nearly all contemporary wildfires in California are caused by human sources such as power lines and electrical equipment and development increases that threat, the center maintains.
“The court’s rejection of the Tejon development highlights the danger of building in high fire-risk areas,” said CBD staff attorney J.P. Rose. “The science is clear that developments like Centennial will literally be built to burn and our elected officials can’t continue to downplay these risks through inaccurate environmental reviews. This is a wakeup call for policymakers across California.”
The CBD maintains the development would increase daily traffic by 75,000 vehicles, undermining California’s climate goals and generating more air pollution. The court also found that the county failed to adopt all feasible mitigation measures to reduce the development’s massive greenhouse gas impacts.
The project would also require construction of an $830 million freeway that together with the development would block the movement of mountain lions, which are already struggling to maintain genetic diversity because they are hemmed in by existing highways and development, according to the CBD.
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