The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently re-approved the first two communities of Newhall Ranch, Mission Village and Landmark Village. This marks a major accomplishment for the project and creates tremendous economic development opportunities for the Santa Clarita Valley. This project will be an economic engine for the state of California and is good news for all.
The Santa Clarita Valley is already home to major corporations such as Princess Cruises, Sunkist, Advanced Bionics and Scorpion. The sleepy suburb of years past has been replaced with a vibrant and growing business sector, where 70 percent of the jobs added last year were in high-wage sectors. New industrial development is currently underway to continue that job growth, which will accelerate once Newhall Ranch begins construction.
The project will create nearly 74,000 permanent jobs. At the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp., we are focused on growing the job base here in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Newhall Ranch will be built in the age of information and technology. Because of the Net Zero Newhall initiative, this project creates no increase in greenhouse gas emissions and will be infused with technology from the ground up. Renewable energy, electric transportation and other clean tech fields are some of the most exciting growth areas in our economy. Net Zero Newhall will be home not only to the consumers of these technologies, but to the companies that are developing them as well.
As a new community built from the ground up, Newhall Ranch can embrace and integrate the latest innovations at a fraction of the cost and effort than many retrofits would take. The size of the project creates unprecedented leverage to stimulate adoption of the best clean-tech inventions.
Beyond the permanent jobs created by the project, Newhall Ranch will take decades to build, creating more than 130,000 jobs in the construction industry in the process. These are jobs for engineers, construction trades, designers, landscapers and more. While economists call these jobs “temporary,” they will provide stable and consistent employment for many workers in these industries, and grow our economy even more.
Lastly, Newhall Ranch will provide necessary housing for Los Angeles County. According to the Southern California Association of Governments, new home construction in the last decade is 38 percent lower than the previous decade, and 50 percent lower than the decade between 1975 and 1985. Our population growth includes a generation that has grown up and wants to stay and work here in California. There will be a variety of types of housing, from apartments and starter homes for new families, from affordable housing to executive housing. These homes will be equipped with modern amenities and technology, and designed to meet the way we live, however that evolves over the next several decades.
Despite the innovation and leadership of the Newhall Ranch project, groups are again using the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, to stall the project, even though many courts have ruled in the project’s favor. As a significant and innovative master planned community, Newhall Ranch seems to have a target on it to attract every CEQA lawsuit imaginable. Yet it is through a master plan that the best land use planning, infrastructure design and public facility needs can be anticipated and located.
The San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s sister publication, the Los Angeles Business Journal, rightly opined that community and environmental groups should declare victory on Newhall Ranch because of the extraordinary environmental measures that are part of the plan. But apparently even well-planned, well-designed, and well-litigated projects can be subjected to more delay under CEQA, even when every authority agrees that new housing and jobs are needed in L.A. County.
I am confident that Newhall Ranch will prevail in lawsuits and will bring necessary jobs and housing to the region. As the project builds out in this era of tech innovation and advancement, we will witness how it can accelerate adoption of new technology for clean energy, mobility and community connectedness. Newhall Ranch will set a new standard for development, and as it does so, we will look back and wonder why it all took so long.
Holly Schroeder is chief executive of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp., which works to attract and retain businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley.