Tejon Ranch strikes deal to move forward with Centennial project near Gorman
Tejon Ranch Co. announced a legal settlement Wednesday intended to clear a path for development of its 19,300-home Centennial master-planned development project in northern Los Angeles County by funding electric vehicle charging stations and purchase incentives, together with $1 million per year in on- and off-site measures protecting against wildfires.
The pact ends a lawsuit Southern California-based Climate Resolve filed in 2019 alleging the 12,000-acre project’s environmental review fell short of the state standard by failing to make up for the project’s greenhouse gas emissions and doing too little to mitigate off-site wildfire risks.
Two other environmental groups whose legal challenges to the project have been dismissed in court could still be appealed. But other than that, the agreement appears to advance one of three major residential projects proposed by Lebec-based Tejon Ranch.
In a news release, the publicly traded agribusiness and real estate development company called the deal an unprecedented arrangement that “sets a new standard for development in California and represents the largest climate investment by a housing development in the state.”
Climate Resolve Executive Director Jonathan Parfrey offered similar superlatives.
“Working with Tejon Ranch, we’ve been able to secure the largest climate commitment by a housing development in the state’s history,” he stated in the company’s release. “We’re setting a new climate standard that surpasses anything previously done in the state.”
Located near Interstate 5 and Highway 138, Centennial would include 3,480 designated-affordable housing units and 10.1 million square feet of commercial and industrial space. It was approved by Los Angeles County in May 2019, after which time it was challenged in court by Climate Resolve, the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society.
As part of the new agreement, Tejon Ranch corporate spokesman Barry Zoeller said by email Centennial will be equipped with 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations in homes, apartment complexes and commercial centers. There will be another 100 EV truck chargers built at the Tejon Ranch Commerce Center near the foot of the Grapevine, plus 5,000 chargers in “disadvantaged communities” around Southern California.
Additionally, Tejon Ranch will provide financial incentives offsetting the cost of buying EV passenger vehicles, buses, commercial trucks and fleet vehicles. Zoeller noted the incentive amounts will vary by type of vehicle.
The accord also calls for $500,000 per year in on-site mitigation of fire risks and the same amount per year in grants to communities surrounding Tejon Ranch for activities such as vegetation management.
Zoeller’s email said the mitigation measures will produce large buffer zones in and outside the community. He wrote that the project’s buildings will conform with fire codes that “focus on structural vulnerabilities through construction techniques and materials so that the buildings are resistant to ignitions from direct flames, heat and embers.”
Tejon Ranch’s two other large, master-planned communities are Grapevine, a 12,000-home project proposed at the bottom of the Grapevine, and Mountain Village at Tejon Ranch, a resort-style development envisioned as having 3,450 homes, 750 hotel rooms and 160,000 square feet of commercial space on the eastern side of I-5 near Frazier Park. None of three projects have begun construction.