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Homes on the range - agreement reached on Tejon Ranch

This_land_is_your_land At 270,000 acres, the Tejon Ranch is the largest remaining swath of California wilderness still in private hands. Now, after years of battle, owners and environmentalists have come up with a plan to preserve 90% of the land while allowing 26,000 homes to be built. Is this good news or a devil's bargain? Louis Sahagun looks into the complex details:

Some environmentalists expressed reservations about the accord, to be announced today. Ilene Anderson, a biologist and spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity, said her group remains worried about habitat for the condor.

"So while we support significant open space," she said, "it's precedent-setting that critical habitat for a species just brought back from the brink of extinction would be written off for development."

Oh_deer_its_the_tejon_ranch Eight times the size of San Francisco, the unfragmented 270,000-acre property embraces the juncture of four ecosystems: Mojave Desert grasslands, San Joaquin Valley oak woodlands, Tehachapi pine forests and coastal mountain ranges.

It's the second environmental compromise in the last two months. In April, a Houston oil company got the green light for offshore drilling in exchange for backing off on a series of projects along the Santa Barbara coast. Get Sahagun's full story on the pact.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (3)

The headline to this article should be "Another Thirty Thousand California Acres Destroyed." This is a terrible agreement which just shows the meaninglessness of so-called "environmental" organizations. In any sane world, sprawl like this would absolutely be off the table and 100% of it would remain. If anyone can explain to me how covering 30,000 acres with houses is protecting open space, I'm eager to hear it.

It's easy for some people to forget this is private property. Why should the owner be deprived of enjoyment and value? It may be better for "the rest of us" if it were all left undeveloped, but not at the owner's expense. I think the compromise is a good one for all parties.

First of all its not private land. Tejon Ranch is a PUBLIC corporation, listed on the NYSE. That makes all of this subject to the will of the SEC and the shareholders. Here's an email I got recently on this matter that illustrates some of the untold facts:

To: Editor, Los Angeles Times

Your Opinion piece of 5/15 seriously misrepresents some of the facts about Tejon Ranch's proposals to destroy the local backcountry.

Your own front page headline today talks about water conservation in L.A.; Centennial will draw water from the same delta-smelted, 30%-reduced source, the aqueduct. Tejon Ranch retains water rights to that water for that project and anything else they do by virtue of the easement they granted DWR for putting it thru their property.

For you to say that TMV would have minimal impact on local water is outrageous and naive. How much water do you think is needed for several new golf courses and hotels, and 3,500 estate homes? All with sprawling lawns, greens, fairways, water fountains and other non-native, glitzy water-gulpers located in the high desert?? Tejon is already filling and aerating Tejon Lake artificially, causing evaporation of 1 BILLION gallons of water a year, seriously affecting our local water table. That table is down 65 feet at I-5 over the last two years, 100 feet at the top of Cuddy Canyon by Mt. Pinos- where the majoriy of our snowmelt water comes from. There is no other source of water, yet Kern County and Calif. DWR refuse to monitor that snowfall & water content, water crop forecasts. Hello!

What we really need is the folks from your staff to stop putting out opinionated columns and stories, come up to our region, sit down with locals and environmental groups that know what is going on and get the real facts about all this. That or go to county planning departments or www.cuddyvalley.org/projects, click on the project you want to review, analyze all the data and comments that have been submitted to Kern & LA Planning Dept.'s during the EIR NOP phases. Those are the facts that need to be reported on, not presumptions, and should serve as the basis for what you tell the public.

And.......what everyone conveniently wants to forget about was reflected in your paper's article in 2007, regarding seismic exposure in the area. The Big Bend of the San Andreas is located across the freeway from Tejon Mtn. Village at the Frazier Park exit from I-5, intersects with the Garlock fault (which runs directly thru TMV and Tejon Lake), the San Gabriel Fault and the Frazier Mtn. Thrust Zone there. Its labeled as the most prolific seismic area in North America by seismologists. See
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-quakearchive10jan10,0,138145.story , part of which is pasted below.

The other serious issue that is still ignored is that of Native American rights to substantial artifact and burial grounds known to exist on Tejon. This public corporation has extensive artifacts in its possession that it refuses to return to the Chumash, Tataviam, Shoshone, Yokut, Kitanemuk and other tribes known to have lived on the ranch. Similarly, they have always refused to grant those tribes access to their lands, to prior burial sites or to conduct tribal ceremony for condor AC-8, shot on a Tejon pig hunt.

Lastly, the Condor is known to be nesting with chicks in the immediate area of TMV, and yes, wildfires have in fact burned through that resort area several times in the last 10 years. Schools, healthcare, public transportation, local parks & forests will feel serious effects from these projects.

L.A. needs to be fully built out and up, remodeled before the city is transferred to remote rural areas and magnifies traffic issues. These projects will extend air pollution to now-clean areas, while worsening air quality at Lebec proven already by monitoring to be worse than downtown L.A., in spite of Tejon refusing to release their own air quality data to the public. Yes, there are other activists realigning themselves to continue to point out facts such as these. The Times should also.

Lloyd Wiens-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Past offers lessons on future Big One
Scientists begin a study of quake readiness by raising awareness of a massive temblor in 1857.
By Sharon Bernstein, Times Staff Writer
January 10, 2007
When the great Ft. Tejon earthquake ripped the San Andreas fault 150 years ago this week, the shaking was so powerful it shook the Kern River from its banks and for a moment made it run upstream, according to accounts from the day.

If such a quake occurred today -- and scientists say we are overdue for one in Southern California -- it would cause $150 billion or more in damage, disrupt water and power supplies for Los Angeles and pancake buildings from San Bernardino to the L.A. Basin.
One point officials made was that the Tejon quake was truly a massive temblor, the true "Big One" that people worry about.

Many mistakenly think that surviving a quake simply means cleaning up afterward and repairing damaged buildings, they said.

But the most devastating temblor that Southern Californians remember -- the 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake of 1994 -- is considered moderate by scientific standards.

A 7.9 magnitude quake on the San Andreas would do far more damage.

Studying the Tejon temblor itself rather than the southern San Andreas model that scientists also are analyzing, Krishnan found that even though the rupture was far away -- tearing along the San Andreas for about 185 miles from Parkfield to near Wrightwood, Los Angeles would be severely affected if it occurred again. The San Fernando Valley, he said, would be hit particularly hard.


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