Club Joins in Opposition to Las Lomas

Friday, February 1, 2008
Sandra Cattell

Santa Clarita Group

US Representative Howard 'Buck' McKeon, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich (Fifth District), and the City Council of the City of Santa Clarita have joined with the Sierra Club and many others in their opposition to the proposed Las Lomas development. Sited just north of the San Fernando Valley, in a location best known for freeway failures during the '72 and '94 earthquakes, this project is proposed on jagged terrain, where sixty percent of the land is comprised of slopes over 50%. This area is a major wildlife corridor, in the path of the proposed Rim of the Valley Corridor. According to US Representative Brad Sherman 'The proposed Las Lomas project would jeopardize some of the same areas that we are seeking to protect with federal legislation.' The City of Santa Clarita echoed these sentiments in their recent resolution, which stated the proposed project is within the Santa Monica Mountains SEA, which is intended to protect and preserve the last remaining wildlife corridor between the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains.

A paradigm example of sprawl, this project is not adjacent to any development. In fact it is surrounded by far gentler land use: a family with a herd of goats, two equestrian facilities, and open space land owned by the City of Santa Clarita, the U S Forest Service and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. In his letter of opposition, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovitch wrote 'While the County General Plan, zoning, and the Significant Ecological Area ('S E A') limit development of the Los Lomas property to approximately 200 to 250 dwelling units, the developer is proposing to construct 5800 dwelling units, nearly 3 million square feet of commercial, industrial, and retail uses, and a 300 room hotel on 555 acres'. He joins US Representative Buck McKeon, California State Senator Alex Padilla, California State Assembly Member Cameron Smyth, City of Los Angeles Councilman Greig Smith, and the entire City of Santa Clarita City Council as public officials who have come out against this project. In addition, neighborhood councils and homeowner associations near the proposed project in both Los Angeles and Santa Clarita have voiced opposition.

Las Lomas presents so many problems, one barely knows where to begin. One of the most primary concerns of local residents is the traffic that will be generated by this huge project. Newhall Pass is already known as a traffic bottleneck, sensitive to the most minor of accidents, and all but closed down by major ones. Traffic added by this project is estimated at over 70,000 daily trips. Mitigations offered by the developer would barely diminish the situation, and some are seemingly unfeasible. This project was rejected by both the County of Los Angeles (where it is located) and by the adjacent neighbor, the City of Santa Clarita, for not conforming to current land use designation. The area is within a Seismic Hazard Zone, adjacent to three Alquist-Priolo Fault zones, has a landslide overlay in the County General Plan, and is within and adjacent to a Fire Hazard Zone. This project proposes to move 20 million cubic yards of earth (conservative in this writer's opinion), literally moving mountains, in an attempt to cut-and-fill enough of this area to build upon.

Developer Dan Palmer has made an application to the City of Los Angeles to annex this project, re-designate the land use to over 2000 times it's current housing designation, and to allow commercial, industrial, and other uses as well. In addition, the Las Lomas Land Co. has offered to pay fees associated with this annexation to expedite it. What this means to the average resident of Los Angeles is that current projects awaiting their turn in the backlog of Los Angeles Planning would be sidelined, while the Las Lomas Project is fast-tracked in spite of the fact that the project presents myriads of problems, is not environmentally compatible with current SEA designation, not even in the City of Los Angeles, and has no established contiguous border with the City of L.A.

You can help. Let Mayor Villaraigosa and the two L A City Councilmen closest to this proposal (Richard Alarcon and Greig Smith) know you oppose this project. We must not let this last wildlife corridor link between the Santa Susanna and the San Gabriel Mountains disappear.

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