Los Angeles-area development approved in fire-prone zone
2018-12-11 | Associated Press
The supervisors voted 4-1 to approve a 19,000 home project amid a statewide housing shortage, high rents and a very visible homelessness crisis even as recent wildfires have drawn attention to the danger of building in rural terrain that rings
The Centennial project at
While supporters touted the jobs that would be created building the new homes, including nearly a fifth set aside for the poor, opponents criticized environmental destruction in the undeveloped area and took aim at the fire hazard it presented.
"Centennial can include all the safety measures they like in the new development, but the fires will not conform to these precautions," warned
County planners and fire officials signed off on the project, and developers said the community 65 miles north of downtown
She cited the state's need for 180,000 new homes a year — a goal it falls shy of by 100,000 units. She said the shortage had put a strain on affordability and the homelessness problem and suggested Centennial would contribute to solving those problems without creating the runaway development associated with
"This is not just another sprawl project," she said.
The state has deemed the area a "high" and "very high" fire hazard zone. There were 31 wildfires greater than 100 acres within five miles of the development, including four within its boundaries in the past half-century, county planning documents said.
The project surrounded by miles of wilderness received a boost from several prominent environmental groups, such as Audubon,
Supporters wore green "I support Centennial" stickers and opponents wore red stickers saying #stopcentennial and displaying the image of a condor, an endangered species in the area.
"I think it's a little bit of pie in the sky," Kuehl said. "There's an enormous number of things wrong with this project."
Construction that has spread into mountainous forests and chaparral-covered canyons outside urban areas in recent decades has frequently been criticized as short-sighted after destructive wildfires.
Retiring Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director
Fresh on the minds of many speakers at the board meeting was the death and devastation last month from the Woolsey Fire that ripped through
"Flames igniting highly flammable grasses, fire spreading house to house, consuming Centennial's 19,000 homes. Fifty-seven thousand people desperately trying to evacuate with one major road out," Kirschenbaum said. "You have the power to make sure that nightmare never happens."