A judge blocked the development of a 6,000 acre, 20,000-home master planned community in California after a lawsuit suggested developers did not consider wildfire risk or greenhouse gas emissions. The community, called Centennial, would have been developed on the edge of Los Angeles and Kern counties, 70 miles from downtown Los Angeles, in Tejon Ranch. But with the judge’s challenging of the developer’s environmental impact, it will be significantly harder for the project to continue without making any large changes, reports Curbed. The development’s location is known for its high risk of wildfire. The addition of thousands of new residents could likely result in more fires and a high cost to the state.
And then there’s the challenge of supporting 60,000 people essentially in the middle of nowhere — at least 30 miles from any major job centers or public transit — along with all the cars needed to haul them around and maintain their daily lives. These arguments in the lawsuit from Climate Resolve — which sued successfully to stop a freeway from being built in the nearby High Desert — are the latest in a quarter-century saga of legal attempts to prevent development at Tejon Ranch. In fact, a decade ago, anticipating such a battle over Centennial, the developers at Tejon Ranch had already brokered a deal with various environmental groups that agreed not to fight if the vast majority of the property remained untouched. Yet, despite all the red flags, L.A.’s Board of County Supervisors had unanimously approved the Centennial development in 2018.
Although the potential catastrophe of a wildfire is reason enough to shut down Tejon Ranch’s development, it’s the slow-motion daily disaster of the exurban lifestyle that’s the real climate risk. And that part of the judge’s decision might be setting an even more significant precedent.