Dale Poe, a controversial land developer prominent in the Santa Clarita area, died Monday morning in an automobile accident near Delano in the San Joaquin Valley, the California Highway Patrol reported.
Poe, 61, was crushed when his 1990 BMW veered off California 99 and smashed into a vacant building, the CHP said. His wife, Margaret, 55, prominent in numerous Kern County civic groups, was also killed, officers said.
The Poes were pronounced dead at Delano Regional Medical Center shortly after the 8:45 a.m. crash, authorities said.
Poe lived in Westlake Village and his company, Dale Poe Development Corp., was headquartered in Agoura.
Poe was best known as the developer of the huge Stevenson Ranch complex that included hundreds of houses near Valencia. The project, which has been the subject of numerous court cases and government actions over the years, was in the news last month when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge approved a $1.3-million settlement on behalf of residents there.
They had charged that a builder in the area constructed inadequate homes and did not fulfill promises made to them when they bought their houses. Action against the Poe company in the matter was still pending.
A 105-home development that Poe had been planning for the Sunland-Tujunga area received approval from the Los Angeles City Planning Commission last week over the objections of many local residents. The company was hoping for final city approval of the project within a month.
But these projects were dwarfed by his grand plans for a new city to be carved into the Tejon Pass, a remote area about 50 miles north of Los Angeles. In 1989 Poe bought 117,000 acres there from Tenneco West for $22 million.
At the time, it was the largest private land acquisition in California history.
Poe announced plans to build a 10,000-acre, 63,000-inhabitant city, to be called San Emidio, in the pass. He had said he hoped to begin building the project--which was to include seven residential villages, 10 schools, a college, three golf courses, two hotels and three lakes--by 1996. It was still in the planning stage when he died.