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Massive Tejon Ranch Development Paused; Judge Cites Wildfire, Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In the works since 1999, the Centennial Project by Tejon Ranch Co. seemed to have cleared its final hurdle in 2018, but a Los Angeles County court ruling has created another hurdle for the sprawling development.
April 11, 2021, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff rejected the environmental impact report (EIR) for the massive Centennial project planned for northern Los Angeles County, one of the most controversial and closely watched master planning developments in Southern California in recent memory.

Louis Sahagun reports on the latest twist in the long saga of the Centennial project, a proposal approved by the county of Los Angeles to allow Tejon Ranch Co. to build 19,300 homes on 6,700 acres on the border with Kern County to the north.

The county approved the EIR for the project in 2018, a decade after a historic agreement between the developer and environmental groups cleared the way for the developer to move forward free of resistance from most of the high-profile conservation organizations.

Since the approval of the EIR, the project has been frequently referenced in conversations about development in the state's wildland-urban interface as wildfires have worsened around the state in recent years. The court decision specifically cited wildfire risk, in addition to the greenhouse gas emissions caused by additional vehicle miles traveled as a result of the project, in its decision.

"Beckloff found that the environmental review failed to buttress its conclusion that the project would not significantly increase the risk of wildfire in a region prone to wildfires. Although the judge found the developer’s on-site analysis to be 'sufficient,' he found discussion of surrounding off-site impacts, such as wind-driven embers, to be 'problematic,'" explains Sahagun in more detail. "The judge also found that the developer mistakenly claimed that the cap-and-trade program would reduce 96% of its greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change."

Sahagun also reports that the developer isn't abandoning the project, stating after the ruling its intentions to work with the county to resolve remaining issues in the project proposal.

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Published on Thursday, April 8, 2021 in Los Angeles Times
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