Centennial project an important step in solving LA’s housing crisis
Los Angeles County is, and has been, in a deep housing deficit. According to the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), the County is short as many as 72,000 housing units by 2021. Spiking home prices and rents are hurting LA’s hardworking families and putting a crimp on many business’s ability to recruit and retain good workers.
Putting home ownership, or even a decent apartment, so far beyond the grasp of most workers makes Los Angeles County unaffordable, unattractive, and unlivable. Home ownership rates among young working professionals is lower than previous generations, not because of a lack of interest but a lack of affordability hence keeping the “American Dream” so far out of reach. It kills hope.
These are not new problems. But there are solutions.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors can choose to approve smart, innovative development that increases the number of housing units overall and, in particular, the number of affordable housing units. Luckily, for the Board of Supervisors, a project that will do all of that is coming before them on Dec. 11, 2018.
The Centennial Project at Tejon Ranch will provide 19,333 new single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments at market and affordable rates. Importantly, it will include 2,900 affordable units.
That’s more affordable units than have been built in LA County in the last two decades.
Centennial at Tejon Ranch will include 10 million square feet of commercial space, meaning it will be able to provide local jobs that require little to no commute. Estimates are the project will create 23,000 permanent jobs. During construction, it will create 25,000 jobs with 30 percent hired from local, underserved areas. That will create an annual output of $3.1 billion to benefit ALL of Los Angeles County.
While some environmental activists have labeled Centennial as a “sprawl,” the truth is Centennial is incorporating innovative ideas to make it self-sustaining and sustainable.
It is being planned as a walkable community, with homes clustered around the commercial core. It will capture and reuse stormwater. About 40 percent of water demand will be met with recycled water along with using clean and renewable energy.
In the wake of the continued fire dangers facing our state, Centennial is built with fire resiliency in mind.
Centennial is adjacent to freeways and will have great emergency access and evacuation routes while avoiding steep hilly areas where access is difficult. Underground utility lines to prevent utility-related incidents will be added and Centennial will be built to the highest and most-current standards for fire-safe construction. Four new fire stations will be serving both Centennial at Tejon Ranch and the neighboring communities adding more fire safety.
Centennial at Tejon Ranch incorporates a very thoughtful design that enfolds its natural surroundings and will be a benefit to thousands of Angelenos as well as our neighbors to the north in Kern County, where existing commercial centers are no more than a 15 minute drive.
The market-rate homes in Centennial are anticipated to be moderately priced, making them attainable for first-time homebuyers and hardworking middle-class families.
Centennial gained the approval of the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission this past summer. It is consistent with the County’s Antelope Valley Area Plan, General Plan, and Southern California Association of Governments’ (SCAG) Sustainable Community Strategy. It is already zoned for commercial and residential uses.
Centennial has an agreement with environmental resource organizations such as the Sierra Club, Audubon California, Natural Resources Defense Council, Endangered Habitats League, and the Planning & Conservation League to permanently conserve 90 percent of the Ranch, totaling over 240,000 acres of open space.
Environmental organizations, who oppose Centennial at Tejon Ranch, advocate for urban infill, multi-family, and transit-oriented housing, but environmental lawsuits have destroyed or curtailed many of these projects. BizFed believes in developing all types of housing. Since 2013, over 70 percent of environmental (CEQA) lawsuits in Los Angeles County have been targeted at stopping urban infill, multi-family, transit-oriented housing — ironically, making our housing crisis worse.
Angelenos don’t want Los Angeles County to look like an urban sprawl but we also believe that families and people should not be living on the streets. We need to create new neighborhoods to meet the growing population rather than destroying and disrupting current neighborhoods.
Centennial at Tejon Ranch will provide much-needed homes in a respectfully designed community. It’s the right project at the right time.
BizFed members, and countless other Angelenos, urge the Board of Supervisors to restore hope for our hardworking families. If you believe that #HousingSupplyMatters, join BizFed and tell the Los Angeles County Supervisors to approve Centennial at Tejon Ranch on Dec. 11 at 9:00 am because #HousingSupplyMatters.
More information about Centennial at Tejon Ranch can be found at: http://www.centennialattejonranch.com/support/
David W. Fleming is the Founding Chair of the Los Angeles County Business Federation, BizFed
This opinion was originally published on Southern California News Group.