The struggle between Los Angeles and Ventura counties over the Ahmanson Ranch took another twist Wednesday as the Los Angeles City Council, piqued by the recent discovery of endangered species, once again jumped into the fray.
The council voted unanimously to ask Ventura County to review the project because of questions about how construction of homes, businesses and recreation areas would affect the threatened species of flower and frog.
A team of research scientists recently found a field of 5,000 to 10,000 spineflowers--thought to be extinct and last seen in the Valley in 1940--on a portion of the land where hundreds of homes are planned. Four federally endangered juvenile red-legged frogs were also found on the undeveloped property, which is just east of Thousand Oaks and borders L.A. County.
The council resolution asks the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, as well as the county Planning Commission and Resource Management Agency, to reconsider the development and to prepare a new environmental impact report that would look at the potential effects on the species.
"We feel that over the years the problems we have had with Ahmanson Ranch have not been addressed by Ventura County," said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Laura Chick, whose district includes part of the west San Fernando Valley. She believes that the development benefits Ventura County economically while it hurts L.A. County environmentally.
"They need to realize that we need regional approaches to solve problems and that we have to work together," she said.
But Ventura County Supervisor Frank Schillo, whose district includes Thousand Oaks, said it is unlikely the board will take up the council's request and that plans for the development continue unabated.
"As far as I know there's nothing we can do about it, the EIR has already been approved," he said. "Unless there is some significant change, only then could we come up with what would be a supplemental EIR."
While the council took its action, a prominent coalition of area business concerns, the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., voted to urge the city to support the Ahmanson Ranch development--with the condition that the city support a plan to charge fees for road usage around the development.
The surcharge would be used to solve congestion problems created by the planned community, according to a position paper issued by VICA.
Current plans for Ahmanson Ranch, scheduled to break ground in the summer of 2001, call for the development of 1,885 acres for homes, a shopping center and recreation facilities, including two golf courses. Additionally, 10,864 acres adjacent to the development would be left as permanent open space. A small portion of the preserved land will be in L.A. County.
Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan sent a letter to Schillo earlier this year asking that the Ventura County board reconsider the project and make changes that would lessen the environmental and traffic effects.