Newhall Ranch development project OK'd by appellate court


A state appellate court on Thursday gave the OK to develop 20,000 homes on the Newhall Ranch. It's the largest proposed development in L.A. County history.

It's also great news for the developer Newhall Land & Farming Company.

"We are very pleased with this decision. It affirms a decade-long process we have gone through to secure the state environmental permits for Newhall Ranch," said Marlee Lauffer with Newhall Land & Farming Company.

The plan is to build a community for 60,000 residents, not to mention 5 1/2 million square feet of commercial space. The whole project is about 6 miles long, stretching along Highway 126 from the 5 Freeway to the Ventura County line.

But the ruling doesn't come without controversy. The Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and Environment and Wishtoyo, a non-profit foundation, says the project is nothing but bad news.

"It is discouraging, though, that we can't have better local planning," said Lynne Plambeck, president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment.

Newhall Land & Farming Company now has permission to alter a local river.

They also fear Native American artifacts as well as the San Fernando Valley spineflower and other rare plants and animals will be damaged or displaced.

"It's not the best planning and we've known that for 20 years. We've been fighting this project probably 18 years," said Plambeck.

"We feel that the decision wasn't supported by the law or the facts of the case," said Jason Weiner, the Wishtoyo Foundation staff attorney.

They plan to appeal to the California Supreme Court. Newhall Land will stand firm.

"Our company has been planning Newhall Ranch for over 20 years. We also developed Valencia, we started that back in 1965. We know all of the issues that really make for good planning," said Lauffer.

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