Following the release of reports that two large housing developments would cause irreparable harm to southeast Ventura County’s rural environment, three of five County Supervisors scheduled to vote on the projects early next year said they probably will not support them.
The reports released Monday on the Ahmanson and Jordan ranch developments found that the two projects, as proposed, would have significant and unavoidable effects on air quality, traffic and other environmental factors.
The environmental effects of both projects would also heavily affect the neighboring west San Fernando Valley and have become deeply involved in disputes over their impact on the Los Angeles County side of the line.
Ventura County Supervisor John Flynn said the reports “came up with what I predicted, which is that there are so many problems that I do not see how they could ever be mitigated.”
Supervisor Maggie Erickson and Supervisor-elect Maria VanderKolk, who will take office Jan. 1, said that the increased traffic and smog that would be generated by the two developments outweigh any benefits they would provide to the county.
“My inclination is to think that this not going to be something that I support,” Erickson said.
Supervisor Susan Lacey, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, has repeatedly said she opposes both developments. Supervisor Jim Dougherty’s term expires in November, and candidates Vicky Howard and Bill Davis, both Simi Valley Council members, have not taken a position on the projects.
Fred Maas, vice president of Potomac Investment Associates, which has an option to purchase and develop Jordan Ranch from entertainer Bob Hope, said he was not surprised by the comments.
“It doesn’t change our plans,” Maas said. “We pledge to work very hard, whether it’s with the county or the city of Simi Valley, to address all of the negative impacts.”
Anticipating opposition from the supervisors, Hope in July asked Simi Valley to annex Jordan Ranch along with 3,600 acres of his Runkle Ranch northeast of the city.
Simi Valley has petitioned the Local Agency Formation Commission for a preliminary ruling to determine whether annexation of Jordan Ranch is feasible.
Meanwhile, Maas said he would consider an alternative presented in the environmental impact report regarding the incorporation of Oak Park and Jordan Ranch as a city.
“We’re open to any ideas,” Maas said. “Geographically, that makes a lot of sense. Politically, there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed.”
In addition to causing significant increases in traffic and smog, the reports released Monday concluded that the Jordan Ranch housing project would destroy 10 to 20 acres of wetlands and 1,100 trees in Liberty and Cheeseboro canyons and development areas.
But Maas said Hope’s offer to sell and donate 5,700 acres in the Santa Monica and Santa Susana mountains to park agencies if the Jordan Ranch project is approved should be an overriding consideration.
“You have to look at the entirety of what is being proposed,” Maas said. “Our project clearly benefits all of Ventura County.”
Meanwhile, the environmental report on the Ahmanson Ranch development concluded that emissions from traffic generated by the project would far exceed county air-quality standards.
The Ahmanson Land Co. has proposed building 3,000 houses, 3 million square feet of office space, two hotels and two golf courses on nearly 2,000 acres of vacant land. About 3,000 acres of the 5,477-acre Ahmanson Ranch will be left in open space or used for community recreational facilities.
The Ahmanson Land Co. has proposed extending Victory Boulevard in the Valley into Ventura County, where the development would be located.
The proposal has been attacked by Los Angeles Councilwoman Joy Picus, who complained that a large amount of traffic would be funneled onto Victory Boulevard in West Hills, in her district. The project is expected to generate an additional 70,000 vehicle trips per day throughout the area.
The first public hearing on the environmental reports is scheduled for Oct. 31 at the Ventura County Hall of Administration.