LOS ANGELES, Feb. 11, 2019 — The Center for Biological Diversity and California Native Plant Society today demanded that the L.A. County Board of Supervisors reconsider its approval of the Centennial development after the board recently admitted the danger of building in fire-prone areas.
Just days after county supervisors voted 4-1 in December to tentatively approve Centennial, a 57,000-resident development in the remote and fire-prone Antelope Valley Wildlands, supervisors adopted a resolution acknowledging the county “has entered a new era of threat from wildfires” driven by residential development in high fire areas as well as climate change and drought.
“Supervisors can’t OK the county’s biggest-ever development in a wildfire area and then quietly admit that such projects endanger residents and firefighters,” said J.P. Rose, a Center staff attorney. “California law requires the county to use current info to conduct a clear-eyed assessment of the risks of such development, not roll out the red carpet for Tejon Ranch Company and its Wall Street investors.”
The resolution acknowledged increasing “residential housing growth at the urban wild land interface which poses greater danger to firefighters and to the residents who live in these extremely high fire severity zones.”
The 12,000-acre Centennial development would occupy a high-fire area. Between 1964 to 2015, there were 31 wildfires larger than 100 acres within five miles of the site, including four within the project’s proposed boundaries.
The county’s wildfire resolution called for a thorough review of existing policies to learn “what we can do better moving forward” to prevent future loss of life and damage from wildfire.
“If the county is serious about learning how to limit damage from wildfires, the county needs to hold off on deciding whether to approve Centennial until it conducts this review of existing policies,” said Nick Jensen, a Southern California conservation analyst at the California Native Plant Society. “It would be incredibly reckless to approve a 57,000-person city in a fire-prone wilderness without a thorough analysis of the risks in light of recent wildfires.”
Now-retired CalFire Chief Ken Pimlott likewise recently urged local land-use authorities to consider prohibiting development in fire-hazard areas so that homeowners, firefighters and communities “don’t have to keep going through what we’re going through.”