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A Primer on the Forthcoming Newhall Ranch Megadevelopment

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The Santa Clarita Valley Signal recently ran a two-part extravaganza on the sprawly Newhall Ranch megadevelopment recently approved for land near Santa Clarita ("Anatomy of a Development" Part I and Part II)--the articles "[look] at Newhall Ranch as a 21st century suburban development and its creator, Newhall Land, as a complex long-term business enterprise." The massive Newhall Ranch development has been working its way through the entitlement process since 1994, but like most development plans in Southern California it has a much longer history than that, dating back to the original landowners who formed Newhall Land and Farming in 1883. The project has had serious momentum of late: the Landmark Village component of the project won final approval from Los Angeles County in February before prompting a lawsuit in March (Friends of the Santa Clara River, the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, and the Wishtoyo Foundation's Ventura Coastkeeper filed the suit). All told, the Newhall Ranch development would build 20,885 homes in four distinct "villages" on 12,000 acres located alongside the 5, Highway 126, and the Santa Clarita River. Considering the massive scale of the project, there are a lot of numbers to crunch. Here are some of the highlights from the data-rich pair of SCVS articles:

-- Project documents total 109,444 pages. The project "has been reviewed by 25 government agencies, has had 21 public hearings and several lawsuits and been the topic of more than 700 meetings."

-- The land was "originally owned and bequeathed by Henry Mayo to his five sons. The sons formed Newhall Land and Farming in 1883."

-- McBean Parkway is named for a man who married into the family and "saved the company from financial ruin and envisioned using a master plan concept to develop a city as urbanization began to encroach upon communities surrounding the land owned by the Newhall family."

-- They got philanthropy: "Newhall Land has donated land for Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, and the Disney-endowed ?California Institute for the Arts and College of the Canyons opened with the developer's assistance."

-- The area was first identified for urban development under the 1990 LA County General Plan Update. Newhall Land first filed an application with the county to develop Newhall Ranch in 1994.

-- The new economy, just like 15% of the old economy: "Newhall Land was acquired in 2004 by homebuilder Lennar, which subsequently filed Chapter 11 in 2008. When Lennar emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, Newhall Land became a privately owned company once again, although Lennar retained a 15-percent stake in the company."

Project Details
-- On liberal guilt: "Of the 20,885 homes, 10 percent will be affordable for low-to-moderate income families. More than 8,000 acres are dedicated to open space. And a water-reclamation plant will also be built to serve more than 50 percent of the water needs."

-- On the local economy: Newhall Ranch estimates that its commercial centers will "provide 60,000 permanent jobs, and designed to be within walking distance of nearly 60 percent of the homes." What's more: "Construction alone is estimated to add more than 135,000 direct jobs and more jobs indirectly."

-- Newhall Land spokesperson Marlee Lauffer tells the SCVS that "depending on market conditions it may be about 15 years or more before the development is finished."

-- Landmark Village will be built on 295 acres, including 270 single family house lots, condominiums, apartments, 16 commercial lots, a park, a school, a fire station, and 119 lots for open space.

-- Newhall Land also owns "16,000 acres in Ventura County" that is "not supportive of growth."
Main image via the Daily News
· Anatomy of a Development [Santa Clarita Valley Signal]
· Anatomy of a Development, Part II [Santa Clarita Valley Signal]
· First Phase of Newhall Ranch Megadevelopment is a Go [Curbed LA]