BAKERSFIELD, Calif. Dec. 7, 2018 – A judge today ruled that Kern County must rescind its approvals for Tejon Ranch Company’s proposed 8,000-acre Grapevine development, which would destroy wildlife habitat and greatly increase car traffic on local highways.
The county’s environmental review of the massive project was flawed, the court ruled, because it potentially underestimated its environmental and public-health impacts. Judge Kenneth Twisselman II sided with the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety in finding that county officials could not keep approvals in place while conducting additional environmental analysis.
“The ruling halts this destructive project and forces county officials to fully analyze the pollution risks of adding tens of thousands of cars to local freeways,” said J.P. Rose, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Kern County residents deserve to truly understand how Grapevine would damage air quality and public health. The county needs to fix these problems, not sweep them under the rug.”
In July 2018 the court found that that the county’s environmental review violated the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to disclose the project’s impact on air quality and public health if the county’s traffic projections were incorrect.
Tejon is separately seeking approvals from Los Angeles County for another city-sized development called Centennial, which the L.A. County Board of Supervisors will consider on Dec. 11. The environmental review documents for Centennial are similarly flawed.
Grapevine would also destroy habitat for 36 rare plants and animals — including the San Joaquin kit fox, blunt-nosed leopard lizard and San Joaquin antelope squirrel — while blocking a crucial wildlife corridor between the San Joaquin Valley, Tehachapi Mountains and Southern Coastal Ranges.
The lawsuit challenging Grapevine was filed in Kern County Superior Court by the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety in January 2017.