With rents in Los Angeles rising over 11 percent in 2015, housing prices continuing to climb, and low home inventory remaining a persistent problem, development in some of the areas around Los Angeles is gaining new appeal. However the news that the planned Newhall Ranch project may be permanently on ice may cause some developers to think twice about large-scale developments in the area.
The Newhall Ranch project is no small undertaking. The planned community would be home to approximately 58,000 people on approximately 12,000 acres and include schools, golf courses, recreation centers and all sorts of local businesses. Los Angeles County’s elected supervisors approved the project over a decade ago and a massive environmental impact report won court approval a year ago.
The California Supreme Court rejected the environmental report saying that the over 5,000 page report did not prove its assertion that the development would not significantly affect greenhouse gas emissions and did not adequately protect an endangered fish known as the unarmored threespine stickleback.
Newhall Land & Farming, the developers behind the project, have vowed to continue to seek approval, however, the project could be significantly delayed. Plus there’s always the risk that by the time the project is approved the economic climate could be less favorable to a massive development.
Those on both sides of this issue are equally vehement. Many want to put an end to the endless sprawl of Southern California development and are concerned that these types of developments will cause increased freeway traffic as well as strain the water supply. Others are concerned that government is strangling business and argue that these projects provide much needed housing options.
Developers all across the county will be watching the outcome of this project. The size is far greater than most local projects but the amount of time and money invested in this undertaking may prove a cautionary tale for others looking to create other planned communities in other undeveloped areas.
Deidre Woollard was part of the marketing team at realtor.com and is currently the head of communications for Partners Trust, a leading luxury brokerage in Los Angeles.