Councils urged to fight project
In the city of Los Angeles, it’s often the neighborhood councils that complain that they are the last to know about big real estate development projects in their backyards.
That notion was turned around this week when Councilman Greig Smith sent letters to neighborhood councils across the San Fernando Valley urging them to oppose the massive Las Lomas project that is proposed near the junction of the 5 Freeway and California 14.
“This development would have a profoundly negative impact on the entire San Fernando Valley,” Smith wrote in the letter. “Simply put, this development is a tsunami of sprawl. It is too big, too dense and in the wrong location. The impacts of the proposed Las Lomas development are simply impossible to mitigate.”
The project calls for 5,500 housing units to be built on mountainous terrain north of the Los Angeles city limits. The developers are hopeful city officials will annex the land, which would allow the project to tie into the city’s water supply.
Las Lomas is being pushed by developer Dan Palmer, who has hired six lobbying firms to help him get the necessary approvals, according to filings with the city Ethics Commission. The project has been discussed for the past several years but has recently been revived at City Hall.
Councilman Richard Alarcon earlier this year introduced legislation that would allow the city to process the development’s application if Las Lomas pays for it. The fate of the motion is still to be decided. “I don’t think anyone can support the project in its current iteration,” Alarcon said. “Councilman Smith is certainly entitled to express his opinion of the project, but my fear is that if Los Angeles does not seize control of this project, the city of Santa Clarita will, and that could lead to negative consequences for” Los Angeles.
Santa Clarita officials, however, have said that the plan is far too dense and have shown little interest in supporting it. Alarcon did not rule out supporting the project in some form, but he said that it would have to, at the least, greatly expand protections of wilderness. His motion cleared the planning panel but still needs to go before the budget panel and the full council.
Smith has maintained that the city should not process the application because the project is widely opposed and lies outside Los Angeles.
“There is not a single elected official anywhere who supports the project,” said Mitchell Englander, Smith’s chief of staff.
Matt Klink, a lobbyist with Cerrell Associates and a spokesman for Las Lomas, declined to comment, saying he had not seen Smith’s letter.