Newhall Ranch’s first phase approved

The location of Newhall Ranch is noted by the dark blue pin. The three light blue pins show area Metrolink stations. Click above for a larger image.

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.


2 replies

  1. Suburban cities like Santa Clarita need to be kept in check with a more regional transit plan. It’s apparent that this city continues to grow and thrive because its residents rely on infrastructure built in other areas. Their commuters clog the 5, 210, and 170, and, yet, still put the blame for traffic on the city of Los Angeles, Burbank, etc, when it’s more than apparent that a large number of their own residents, with Palmdale and Lancaster included, clog Los Angeles freeways.

    Like I said, even in these exurban developments, they need to be kept in check by a regional-scale plan for development that includes infill development where infrastrucure already exists, and, when needed, carefully keeping new development close to existing developments. Cities like Los Angeles, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, etc., where the 5, 210, 170, are should have a say in development in exurban areas, as their cities are also adversely affected by the incease in traffic and a loss of potential infill development.

  2. We don’t need any more far flung housing projects that require spreading long term infrastructure liabilities ever upward in cost and outward in land mass, with poor transit connectivity. To say there is room for infill development in Los Angeles County is an understatement. We have incredible amounts of land occupied by parking lots and even many vacant lots. Even in attractive locals like Santa Monica where I live currently there are many vacant or underutilized plots of land.