The enormous methane leak originating at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility near Porter Ranch in the San Fernando Valley has caused headaches, nosebleeds, and other ailments; necessitated the relocation of thousands of locals; and, in just its first month, managed to spew out the equivalent of 25 percent of California's total methane emissions (it's now been going on for more than two months). The leak has been pronounced "easily the worst environmental disaster since BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010" by Gizmodo. And yet some developer wants to build a bunch of houses next to it. The Daily News reports that, earlier this month, LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich moved to halt the annexation of some land north of Porter Ranch into the city of Los Angeles, in order to (at least temporarily) stop the development of a fancy, new, 285-acre, 188-house gated community called Hidden Creeks Estates and Preserve.
In a letter, Antonovich asked the Local Agency Formation Commission for an "annexation moratorium" to prevent the county property's annexation, because it would allow the new houses to be built quite close to the Aliso Canyon facility. "Until a thorough investigation can take place as to what caused the leak and what safeguards will be put into place to prevent a failure of this magnitude again, it is not appropriate to annex any further county territory to the City of Los Angeles for residential development in close proximity to Aliso Canyon," he wrote.
The average lot size in Hidden Creeks Estates would be 18,500 square feet, with 25 lots ranging between 20,000 square feet and an acre (designed for residents with horses). Texas-based developers Forestar Group Inc. also plan to include an equestrian center and a sports field, which would both be open to the public. The project is in the approvals process now, and pending review. It's not really clear what effect if any the supervisor's request will have on the project, but that might change after the Local Agency Formation Commission discusses the request at their next meeting in January.
At this point, the idea of bringing more people into the area seems crazy. The gas leak has been sending thousands of tons of methane into the atmosphere every day since late October and is every bit as sinister as it looks. A Southern California Gas Company spokeswoman told the Daily News that, to date, 2,258 families are in temporary housing, and 3,162 more are in the process of being relocated. (About 100 more families have made their own arrangements to stay with friends or family, and are doing so with compensation from the gas company.) And though the Southern California Gas Company has finally just gotten a solid idea of where the leak actually is, it's still going to be months before they can stop it up. "At this point with what's going on up there and given what the residents are going through we just felt annexation would not be appropriate," Antonovich's chief of staff tells the DN.
· Massive Porter Ranch gas leak may impact new development [LADN]
· New Aerial Video Shows the Terrifying Hugeness of the Porter Ranch Gas Leak [Curbed LA]
· An Insane Amount of Natural Gas is Leaking Into the Valley's Porter Ranch Neighborhood [Curbed LA]