The Tejon Ranch Co.’s planned project on the northern fringe of Los Angeles County is big. Really big. As in immense.
At 12,300 acres, it is the size of Burbank plus 10 percent. Tejon Ranch is entitled to build so much commercial and civic space that if it were put together, it would be 7 ½ times the size of the huge Oaks mall in Thousand Oaks.
A lot of people would live there. Think of the population of Calabasas. Now double it and add 20 percent. That would about equal the projected population – 57,000 – at the Tejon Ranch complex, called Centennial.
And one more figure: 19,300. That’s the number of houses projected to be built there. That’s equal to 40 percent of all the houses sold last year in the entire county of Los Angeles, the nation’s biggest. And by my own rough estimate, it is about equal to all the homes sold last year in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Antelope and Conejo valleys combined.
Yes, the Tejon Ranch project is immense. It would help ease the housing shortage we have in California and particularly here in the Valley area. And that’s why it was disappointing to learn recently that the project has been set back by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge because of concerns from environmental groups that the project could worsen wildfire risks and because developers need to do more to mitigate greenhouse gases.
Remember that Tejon Ranch has been slogging through California’s maze of an approval process for 20 years for this project. More than a dozen years ago it came to an agreement with several environmental groups in which Tejon agreed to set aside huge parcels for wildlife while the groups agreed not to further oppose the development. But then different environmental groups raised different concerns. You have to wonder if, assuming this latest setback gets resolved in a few years, new environmental groups will raise different concerns.
As noted in the article that begins on Page 1 of this issue, Brad Rosenheim, a land-use consultant who helps developers get projects through the approval process, said this delay may well result in “desperately needed homes” being delivered years later and at higher prices than they should have. Do people actually wonder why home prices are so high here?
One more thing. An observation has been that Tejon is “too far away.” Indeed, it is about 30 minutes or so north of Santa Clarita, itself on the northern edge of the metropolitan area. But since we’ve all learned to work remotely in the pandemic, Centennial’s distance now seems like more of a virtue than a failing. We’ve all read articles about how homes in the suburbs and exurbs are hot sellers.
In any case, it’ll be years – once again – before anyone can buy a house at Tejon Ranch.