Newhall Ranch community project sued again

By Chris O'Neal 03/13/2014


The embattled Newhall Ranch community project has once again hit a snag after a coalition of local environmental groups filed a lawsuit on March 6 claiming that proper research on the environmental impact of the project hadn’t been completed prior to approval.

A coalition of the Center for Biological Diversity, Wishtoyo Foundation and its Ventura Coastkeeper Program, Friends of the Santa Clara River and the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment sued the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, alleging that when the agencies issued permits for construction of the community in 2011, the agencies failed to comply with the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and National Historic Preservation Act.

The Newhall Ranch development was conceived in the 1980s with a proposed housing for up to 60,000 people in the Santa Clara River Valley, a 12,000-acre area bordering the Ventura and Los Angeles County line. In 2011, when the Army Corps of Engineers approved the project, with it came proposed modifications and changes to the valley in an area where several protected species of flora and fauna thrive.

Over the course of the 30 years the project has been in development, developer Newhall Land and Farming Co. has been in and out of court in pursuit of breaking ground on the project.

Jason Weiner, associate director and staff attorney at Wishtoyo Foundation’s Ventura Coastkeeper Program, says that building the project in the protected Santa Clara River Valley area is a bad idea from an ecological viewpoint.

“We’re very much concerned by the project’s impacts of the steelhead recovery efforts,” said Weiner. “The project is forecasted to discharge increased concentrations of copper into the Santa Clara River that are above the level that impact the juvenile steelhead migrating downstream.”

Among other concerns are the impacts the project would have on protected Chumash cultural sites, a number of which exist within the proposed project area.

“We feel that without sufficient analysis of those impacts, which the environmental review completely omitted, or appropriate mitigation measures after that analysis, this project could jeopardize the resource-intensive recovery efforts.”

The lawsuit was filed at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.


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