Judge blocks 19K-home Tejon Ranch project over environmental risks
Latest hurdle for developers of village-like complex in northern LA County
Big development projects in California usually must overcome big opposition. And the proposed 12,000-acre Centennial at Tejon Ranch megadevelopment fits both categories.
In the latest round of a continuing legal battle, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge blocked construction of the 19,000-home planned community in northern L.A. County, citing the county’s environmental review failures, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
The project is being developed by Tejon Ranchcorp Development.
Three environmental groups filed two lawsuits against L.A. County for approving the project in 2019, challenging various details in the environmental review.
Judge Mitchell Beckloff this week dismissed all but two of the claims. But he halted any work on the project, citing the issues that remain: Failure of the county to properly study the potential increase in wildfires as a result of the development, and failure to weigh the potential impact of greenhouse gas emissions.
Wildfires in particular have become a major issue in recent years. In 2020, California wildfires burned more than 8,000 homes and 4 million acres of land.
The judge’s ruling won’t scuttle Centennial, but it will require the county to conduct further studies and analyses, which will likely lead to more delay. The environmental groups that supported the suits called the decision a victory.
The developer, Tejon Ranchcorp Development, characterized the same facts a bit differently and downplayed the delay. In a press release, the developer emphasized that the judge denied 20 of 23 claims raised in two separate suits, and that “some additional analysis [is] required on [a] small number of issues.”
One of the groups that sued to halt the project, the Center for Biological Diversity, also sued in Kern County, just across the L.A. County border to the north. Tejon Ranchcorp is seeking to develop a 12,000-home community there, to be called Grapevine at Tejon ranch.
Along with its thousands of homes, Centennial at Tejon would include 10 million square feet of commercial space, along with the infrastructure and services for what is effectively a town built from the ground up.
[LADN] — Dennis Lynch