Posted by: Sandy Steinman | August 4, 2018

Judge Rules Against Tejon Ranch Company’s Damaging Grapevine Development

Center for Biological Diversity News Release

Judge Rules Against Tejon Ranch Company’s Damaging Grapevine Development

Court Says Kern County Project Did Not Consider Air Pollution, Health Impacts

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.— In a victory over a massive leapfrog development, a judge has ruled against the Tejon Ranch Company’s proposed 8,000-acre Grapevine development on the edge of Kern and Los Angeles counties.

The ruling, by Judge Kenneth Twisselman II, found that Kern County’s environmental review was inadequate because it failed to disclose the impacts of the project on air quality and public health in the event that the county’s traffic projections were incorrect.

“This ruling makes clear that the county didn’t fully inform the public about the probable environmental impacts of adding tens of thousands of cars to California’s traffic-clogged freeways,” said J.P. Rose, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Californians deserve real solutions to the housing shortage — not far-flung mega-developments many miles from existing cities and job centers.”

Proposed by the hedge fund-backed developer Tejon Ranch Company, the Grapevine development would add approximately about 1 billion additional miles of vehicle travel each year onto California roads. Tejon is separately seeking approvals from Los Angeles County for another city-sized development called Centennial. Like Grapevine, Centennial’s remote location would require most residents to endure multi-hour commutes to Bakersfield or Los Angeles.

Grapevine would destroy habitat for 36 rare plants and animals — including the San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard and threatened San Joaquin antelope squirrel — while blocking the last best wildlife corridor between the San Joaquin Valley, Tehachapi Mountains and Coastal Range.

Grapevine would also suck up about 2.6 billion gallons of water per year from the Kern River, which amounts to more than half of the river’s flow in dry years.

“Climate change is expected to decrease the Sierra Nevada snowpack that feeds the Kern River,” said Adam Keats, a senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “Kern County should not be approving new desert cities when farmers and wildlife already do not have enough water.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety in January 2017. Judge Twisselman set a separate hearing for Feb. 15, 2019 to address the scope of the judgment against the county.


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