Construction of the first phase of a controversial housing tract in Calabasas began this week, after the developer met the city’s request to drop plans for houses on geologically unstable hills south of the Ventura Freeway, a city official said Thursday.
The Baldwin Co.'s original plan--to build 550 single-family houses on about 600 acres south of the freeway and east of Las Virgenes Road--was scaled back to appease concerns over the possibility of landslides, as well as concerns over the project’s visibility from the freeway and Mulholland Highway, Calabasas building official Tim Steenson said.
The latest version of the plan includes 500 residences on about 80% of the parcel, Baldwin Senior Vice President Nick Gorely said.
“Baldwin throughout this whole thing has seemed to be in a very conciliatory position,” Steenson said. “They’re going to have a long relationship with the city, so it’s in their best interest to do so.”
Los Angeles County supervisors had approved the project--including the removal of 25 million cubic yards of earth--before the city incorporated in 1991, Steenson said. But the Calabasas Building and Safety Division put construction on hold soon after the city formed, due to safety concerns, he said.
Baldwin has agreed to spare the northernmost hill on the project, and reduce the amount of earth scheduled for removal by about half, Steenson said.
According to Baldwin President Robert Burns, the project will probably not be completed for at least five years.