The Urban Program at Environment Now seeks to restore
sustainability in Los Angeles urban areas by catalyzing activities
to preserve environmentally sensitive open spaces and force environmental
factors into the decision making process for Southern California.
- Establishing the Tejon Working Group, to engage good science
that will build a solid foundation for planning efforts in southern
County and northern Los Angeles County.
- Creating an Infill Analysis Methodology Study that seeks to establish
a template that will assist jurisdictions in efforts to assess
their infill potential, thereby limiting sprawl development in
- Participating in efforts to acquire lands in the Baldwin Hills
region of Los Angeles that will eventually contribute to the completion
of a world-class regional park.
Tejon Ranch Restoration Project
Project Context and Background
Tejon Ranch encompasses approximately 270,000 acres, (over
430 square miles), and is as large an area as the City of Los Angeles.
The Tejon Ranch is one of those rare and unique properties that is
more than a local wetland or recreational resource. Indeed, some would
argue it is more than an intact ecosystem. It is truly the last remaining
glue that binds the Sierra Nevada to the Coastal Ranges, the High Desert
to the Central Valley and the Los Padres and Angeles National Forests.
Preserving this varied landscape is all the more urgent in light of
the Tejon Ranch Company's stated goal to connect Bakersfield to Los
Angeles with new cities and resort communities consisting of large-scale
residential, commercial and industrial development. Future development
plans for the Tejon Ranch are identified in the business plans of the
ranch's owner, TRC. While TRC has refused to disclose long-term development
plans for Tejon Ranch, their 2001 annual report identifies three initial
focus areas for development.
- Interstate 5 Corridor: Highway
Commercial and Industrial Uses along I-5 at the foot of the Grapevine.
This includes the recently-approved expansion of the Tejon Industrial
Complex, a matrix of industrial warehouses, gas stations, truck
stops, motels and restaurants that will eventually reach 20 million
square feet, and destroy almost 1500 acres of prime farmland, in
the heart of a designated agricultural preserve and miles from
any town. This would also be the site of an inland trucking port,
generating thousands of diesel truck trips per year in an area
already designated one of the worst air quality regions in the
- Los Angeles Suburban Residential: A
massive 23,000-unit subdivision in northern LA County. In September
2002 TRC submitted plans for a 12,000-acre subdivision stretching
from the Antelope Valley westward along Hwy. 138, sixty miles north
of Los Angeles. The plan calls for 23,000 new homes and associated
retail and employment uses in this remote section of northern Los
Angeles County, currently designated as a "Significant Ecological
Area (SEA), by Los Angeles County Regional Planning. The project,
known as "Centennial," is just beginning environmental
review. The company hopes to reach full build-out by 2010.
- Tejon Lake Area: An
invasive 7,000 unit, low density, resort development surrounding
Castac Lake, renamed Tejon Lake, near Frazier Park in the mountains
of Southern Kern County. This project would sprawl over 32,000
acres of prime habitat. Calling this concept "Tejon Mountain
Village," company documents envision a golf course, spa facility,
commercial development and other community serving amenities. No
application has been submitted to date.
The threats to this important landscape are enormous. The
Los Angeles basin and the southern San Joaquin Valley already face
some of the worst traffic and air pollution problems in the nation.
But these proposed developments are particularly ominous in light of
the fact that they represent just the tip of an iceberg. The combined
acreage of these three projects represents just 16% of the ranch's
total acreage and should not be considered in the absence of a comprehensive
analysis of the ranch's unique natural and cultural resources, nor
prior to a full disclosure of overall development plans.
a private property holding, access to the Ranch by scientists and
researchers for the purposes of mapping, inventorying and characterizing
the biological, ecological and cultural resources has been limited.
Conservation biologists have identified this region as an irreplaceable
core biological resource area for numerous imperiled plant and animal
species. Just a few of the federal or state-listed species known
from the vicinity of the ranch include:
- The striped adobe lily;
- Bakersfield cactus;
- Mexican flannelbush;
- Arroyo toad;
- Red-Legged frog;
- Blunt-nosed leopard lizard; and
- Mojave ground squirrel.
With an elevation range of over 8,000 feet, the area includes an
impressive mosaic of 27 different vegetation communities, ranging
from Montane forests and wet meadows to desert scrub and juniper,
to annual grasslands and oak savannahs and coastal riparian and scrub
It contains designated critical habitat for the federal and state-listed
endangered California condor, and supports healthy populations of
other raptors, American badger, mountain lion, tule elk and mule
deer, which require large and intact wildlands to survive. There
are numerous examples of unique animals catalogued in this region.
Additionally, the Ranch supports the headwaters of 14 creeks and
serves as a critical landscape linkage between the Transverse Ranges,
Peninsular Ranges, and the Sierra Nevada.
Chumash Nation has catalogued numerous sacred sites at Tejon Ranch
over the decades, and the Ranch has consistently restricted access
to these sites, and blocked efforts to conduct research into as-yet
undiscovered cultural resources on the property.
Air Quality/Traffic/Urban Sprawl/Job-Housing Imbalances
As has been documented almost daily in newspapers from the L.A.
Times, Bakersfield Union, Fresno Bee and others, air quality in the
San Joaquin Valley now is among the worst in the nation, as farmland
is inexorably converted to urban sprawl communities. Health care
issues among children are of special concern as the incidence of
asthma is on the rise. The Tejon Ranch EIR documents state that diesel
truck emissions will escalate greatly as thousands of additional
truck and automobile trips are added each year due to the addition
of the proposed inland port, and tens of thousands of residential
units and tens of millions of feet of industrial and commercial space.
The daily commute trips between Bakersfield, Arvin and other valley
cities up the grapevine to the proposed Tejon Industrial Center,
the Centennial Project Development, and the proposed Tejon Lake
Resort Development, and the daily commuting trips down Interstate
all these projects to Santa Clarita, the San Fernando Valley and
beyond will also stretch the transit corridor's load capacity to
the breaking point. The billions of dollars required to widen and
re-design Interstate 5 will be borne by all Californians.
Additionally, as is common in sprawl developments everywhere, the
extension of urban infrastructure such as roads, sewers, utilities,
schools and other public serving needs is often subsidized at
the expense of existing urban and sub-urban communities. Inner cities
are not the only communities to suffer.
Environment Now helped establish the Tejon Working Group. This collaborative
association is comprised of residents, planners, biologists, conservationists
and non-profit organizations allied to conserve the Tejon Ranch
based on sound science. The Tejon Working Group has embarked upon
a multi-track approach to halting any further development approvals,
and challenging existing approvals, until a collaborative planning
process is implemented that addresses:
and biological concerns;
- Cultural resource protection;
- Air and water pollution;
- Water supply and infrastructure availability;
- Loss of irreplaceable
and productive farmland;
- Growth induced jobs/housing imbalances;
- Traffic congestion and alternative transit measures, among
For more detailed information, visit www.savetejonranch.org.
Smart Growth - Infill Initiative
A Uniform Methodology
for Identification of Urban Infill
Currently, there is no effective, standardized mechanism for
identifying vacant or underutilized sites in urban areas and
evaluating their potential for redevelopment. As a result, it
is often easier to identify development sites in largely undeveloped
outlying areas than to seek out vacant or underutilized sites
within urbanized areas. The result is:
- Increased sprawl;
- Land use imbalances;
- Traffic congestion on commuter roadways;
- Air pollution;
- Inefficient use of land;
- Pressure to consume scarce financial resources extending
roads and other infrastructure to outlying areas;
- Loss of valuable open space.
As problems associated with urban sprawl grow, we must find
new ways to accommodate swelling populations without further
expanding urban boundaries. The answer lies in infill development
and/or redevelopment using vacant, blighted or underutilized
sites within urban areas near established transportation corridors.
By identifying vacant and underutilized parcels for future development/redevelopment,
growth could be redirected to the urban center. This Project
will provide the necessary mechanism for planners to identify
and evaluate potential redevelopment of blighted and underutilized
sites, allowing cities and the county to accommodate growth while
curtailing urban sprawl.
The Project will
be led by an organized team consisting of representatives from
a wide variety of stakeholders in the southern California region
- California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) staff;
- California Housing & Community Development Department
- Governor's Office of Planning and Research;
- City and County of Los Angeles planning staff;
- Mayor Hahn's - L.A. Business Team;
- U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD);
- Elected officials;
- Developers, planners and the business community;
- Environmental organizations;
- Housing and community organizations.
Analysis will be provided by planners and other technicians.
The Infill Methodology project will involve the following tasks
- Assemble information on infill analysis methodologies from
- Define and explore technical tools;
- Retain technical team and review alternatives;
- Test analysis models on sample areas of the City of Los
Angeles for applicability, accuracy, and completeness;
- Document methodology and test results in printed and e-formats;
- Submit findings to various local and State agencies for
peer review and implementation.
In the near term, the infill analysis methodology
will be used to identify and evaluate appropriate vacant or underutilized
sites within the existing urban area. Long term outcomes resulting
from the project will be a uniform methodology for identifying
and assessing potential infill sites, better coordination of
transportation and land use planning, and more accessible and
affordable housing. This Project can provide a foundation for
smart growth and better planning overall.