When I moved to the Los Angeles area in 1994, proposed big residential developments were in the news all the time — and almost always very controversial because of their potential traffic impacts.
After the 2008 real estate bust, a lot of those controversies have gone away. Developers don’t have the money to build the homes, nor do people have the dollars to buy them.
On Tuesday, however, the first phase of the Newhall Ranch project — just outside Santa Clarita — got a preliminary approval from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Here’s the Daily News story. The Landmark Village phase will have 1,174 condos and 270 single-family homes, built between Highway 126 and the Santa Clara River.
The entire Newhall Ranch area will cover about 12,000 acres along Highway 126 — it’s just west of Magic Mountain. If the entire development is approved and built, it will have nearly 21,000 homes, according to the Newhall Ranch website. The development is intended to be a series of smaller “villages” — in the developer’s words.
As the Daily News story notes, Newhall Ranch has long been controversial and there is still a lingering lawsuit brought by environmental groups.
This is an interesting story from a public policy perspective. I’m of the view that it’s encouraging to see more housing built in L.A. County — eventually the area will need it. Newhall Ranch, according to plans, has the potential (I think) to be a better kind of suburban development than the old-school suburbs that were intended for cars.
On the other hand, it’s also obvious that there’s one major route into Los Angeles proper from Newhall Ranch: the 5 freeway. The two Metrolink stations in the area are to the east — not exactly a stone’s throw from Newhall Ranch.
Putting aside the issue of Newhall Ranch, I hope that developers, city and county officials and, most importantly, area residents realize that there is still ample room to build in Los Angeles County’s urban environments. I would argue that most of the area’s commercial corridors are under-built — many are just a series of parking lots serving strip malls and car-oriented businesses. There are plenty of stations along Metro’s and Metrolink’s rail corridors that could be developed, not to mention the many more miles of light rail about to be built because of Measure R.