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Feds Ok Sprawly Newhall Ranch's Flood Plain Plans

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The LA Times reports that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have resolved disagreements over the sprawly Newhall Ranch development near Santa Clarita. Earlier this year, the EPA questioned whether the Army Corps of Engineers had adequately considered the threat of flooding caused by building in the Santa Clara River flood plain (the Santa Clara River is the last remaining wild river in Southern California). The EPA also questioned effects on water quality, cultural resources, endangered species, and downstream communities. The 12,000-acre project, about 35 miles north of Los Angeles, would build 21,000 homes for 60,000 new residents.

In what sounds like a tense meeting (no doubt followed by much back-slapping and cigar-smoking), the two agencies brokered a deal that will reduce effects on streams, eliminate a plan to bury Porter Canyon Creek, ban new oil or gas extraction, and set aside 115 acres of flood plain to mitigate 110 acres of commercial and residential uses.

The recent federal détente is a glimmer of hope for the project, which has been beset by numerous financing and legal challenges. In 2008, former developer LandSource Communities Development filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The project was most recently sued by a coalition of environmentalists and Native American groups to invalidate permits issued to the project by the California Department of Fish and Game. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Board will be the next agency to review the project.
· Newhall Ranch development clears a major hurdle [LA Times]
· Fresh Round of Legal Action for Sprawling Newhall Ranch [Curbed LA]