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LA County Approves Controversial 20,000-Home Development In Antelope Valley

ANTELOPE VALLEY (CBSLA) – A controversial nearly 20,000-home development in the Antelope Valley was approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the 19,333-home Centennial project at Tejon Ranch, with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl dissenting.

Centennial will sit on roughly 12,300 acres of a more than 270,000-acre expanse of land owned by the Tejon Ranch Co. The land is considered the largest contiguous piece of private property in California held by a single owner.

LA County Approves Controversial 20K Home Development In Antelope Valley
The future location of the Centennial project at Tejon Ranch in the Antelope Valley. (Credit: Tejon Ranch Co.)

Of the 12,300 acres, 5,600 will be preserved as open space and 6,700 acres will be developed into villages and neighborhoods.

Environmental critics have argued that Centennial will damage sensitive habitats and add to the region's burden of commuter traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.

The board had tentatively approved the project in December subject to a local jobs contract and review of fire mitigation strategies. Kuehl said in December the project was saddled with too many concerns and expressed skepticism about the developer's promises about jobs and the availability of affordable housing.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger had countered that the massive project would help meet a critical demand for housing in the Antelope Valley. Tejon Ranch Co. has agreed to 18 percent affordable housing and agreed in principle to create supportive housing for the homeless within the planned community.

The project will include 10 million square feet of commercial space, schools, fire stations, a police station and a library, to be built in phases over 20 years. Tejon Ranch has committed to build fire and police stations and other public infrastructure at no cost to county taxpayers to create what its describes as a self-sustaining community.

The Center for Biological Diversity issued the following statement in response to the board's approval of the project:

"Putting 57,000 people in a remote, high fire risk area is reckless. Supervisors Hahn, Solis, Ridley-Thomas, and Barger's approval of Centennial will only benefit Tejon Ranch Company and its Wall Street investors, leaving county residents with the bill for new freeways to serve this development, skyrocketing fire-fighting costs, and more bulldozed wildlands. And the incredibly biased environmental impact report the county co-wrote with the developer has been strongly criticized by independent experts at the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and California Air Resources Control Board."

The development is projected to create more than 20,000 permanent jobs, roughly 25,000 construction jobs and a $31 million annual public revenue surplus for the county.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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