SUITS ATTACK NEWHALL RANCH; LEGAL CHALLENGES QUESTION HOME DEVELOPMENT'S IMPACT.Byline: Jason Takenouchi Daily News Staff Writer
An environmental coalition and a low-income housing group filed separate lawsuits Thursday against the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is the five member governing board of Los Angeles County, California. Members of the board of supervisors are elected by district, the current members as of April 2006 are:
The board approved the project March 23 despite criticism of its water supply, environmental impact and contribution to urban sprawl. The 21,615-home development required a general plan amendment because it was far more dense than the 2,070 homes allowed by the county's original general plan for the area.
The two lawsuits, filed in Ventura County Superior Court just hours before deadline, challenge the approval on the environmental and affordable housing fronts.
``I think we really have some strong issues,'' said John Buse, managing attorney for the Environmental Defense Coalition, a nonprofit group with offices in Ventura and Santa Barbara Santa Barbara (săn'tə bär`brə, –bərə), city (1990 pop. 85,571), seat of Santa Barbara co., S Calif., on the Pacific Ocean; inc. 1850. . ``They've just not done the job they were supposed to do in seriously considering alternatives and environmental impacts.''
On Wednesday, Ventura County filed a separate suit against Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. County, charging that the supervisors approved a severely flawed environmental impact report - one that did not take the project's impacts on water, wildlife, traffic and air quality in Ventura County into consideration.
The multimillion-dollar project is located on 12,000 acres just east of Ventura County near Six Flags Magic Mountain Six Flags Magic Mountain is an amusement park located just west of the Valencia neighborhood of Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles. It opened on Memorial Day weekend on May 29, 1971 as Magic Mountain, by the Newhall Land and Farming Company, .
``The (main) issue is that the analysis of potential loss of groundwater was not done,'' said Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long, who led the drive for the suit.
Newhall Ranch developer The Newhall Land and Farming Company The Newhall Land and Farming Company is a land management company based in Valencia, California, United States. The company is responsible for the master community planning of Valencia, as well as the management of farm land elsewhere in the state. , while not named as a defendant in the suits, will bear the legal costs and lead the project's defense under a standard agreement with the county.
Company spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer said the suits would not delay a planned 2002 groundbreaking.
``We don't anticipate that this will throw us off schedule,'' she said.
The EDC EDC
See: Export Development Corp. filed a lawsuit over environmental and water resource issues on behalf of the Sierra Club Sierra Club, national organization in the United States dedicated to the preservation and expansion of the world's parks, wildlife, and wilderness areas. Founded (1892) in California by a group led by the Scottish-American conservationist John Muir, the Sierra Club , the Friends of the Santa Clara River Santa Clara River may refer to:
The nonprofit California Rural Legal Assistance Not to be confused with California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.
California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit legal and political advocacy group that promotes the interests of migrant laborers and the rural poor. filed the other lawsuit, charging that Newhall Ranch does not provide enough affordable housing for the workers who will clean, garden and otherwise service the upscale development.
That shortfall will affect already-scarce affordable housing supplies in neighboring cities, said Eileen McCarthy, staff attorney for CRLA CRLA Crater Lake National Park (US National Park Service)
CRLA College Reading and Learning Association
CRLA California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (San Francisco, CA) .
The legal challenges are only the latest actions against the project. Ventura County's suit overlaps with the environmental coalition's suit on one important issue: water.
Both claim that Newhall Ranch will permanently damage the Santa Clara River, a major source of water for both Santa Clarita and Ventura County. They say the development's 21,615 homes, roughly 70,000 residents and associated commercial developments will lead to the overdrafting of the river, an act that would cause permanent damage.
Lauffer, the Newhall Land spokeswoman, said the company prepared its environmental impact report with an eye toward potential lawsuits.
``It's a big disappointment to us, but it's obviously not unanticipated,'' she said.
Lauffer said concerns over water supply are unfounded.
Under current regulations, the company will have to provide proof of water supply before it can pull building permits for each tract in the development, Lauffer said.
Ventura County's lawsuit also seeks reimbursement of an estimated $400,000 the county will spend in legal fees to battle the suit.
Should the court reject the request to halt the project, another facet of the suit seeks $800,000 for road improvements in and around the 12,000-acre tract.
Joining Ventura County in its suit are the cities of Oxnard, Santa Paula and Ventura as well as the Fox Canyon Groundwater Agency, the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District and the Ventura County Flood Control District.
The city of Fillmore, citing financial reasons, did not join the suit.
Daily News Staff Writer David Greenberg contributed to this story.
PHOTO (1--Color) (Ran in Simi, Conejo and SAC Editions only) Lynne Plambeck, vice president of SCOPE, speaks Thursday during a press conference to a announce one of two lawsuits against the planned Newhall Ranch development.
(2--Ran in Simi, Conejo and SAC Editions only) Sierra Club member John Skelley holds a sign blasting the proposed 21,615-home Newhall Ranch tract. Two lawsuits were filed Thursday against the Santa Clarita Valley The Santa Clarita Valley is the valley of the Santa Clara River in Southern California. It stretches through Los Angeles County and Ventura County. Its main population center is the city of Santa Clarita. The valley was part of the 48,612-acre (19,672. project.
Hans Gutknecht/Daily News