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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

County to Join Lawsuit Against Newhall Project

April 07, 1999

VENTURA COUNTY — Backed by several cities and environmental groups, Ventura County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to file a lawsuit to halt the massive Newhall Ranch development in neighboring Los Angeles County.

The cities of Ventura, Fillmore, Oxnard and Santa Paula have also vowed to join the county in the legal fight against what would be the largest housing development in Southern California history with 21,000 units.

Despite protests from Ventura County officials, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last month approved the environmental impact report on the new suburb, which would serve a population of about 68,000. That action sparked what promises to be a drawn-out legal battle that could at least stall the project for several years.

"This is a very serious move Ventura County is taking to protect our ground water and clean air," Supervisor Kathy Long said after the board voted in closed session to pursue legal action. "Their environmental report is severely, severely inadequate. It's become the poster child of the misuse of space."

A Newhall Ranch official said Tuesday that the developer is confident it will win in court. She dismissed accusations that Newhall has failed to identify a water source for its giant development, to be built out over the next 30 years.

"Our environmental report was prepared so that it would withstand any legal challenges," said Marlee Lauffer, spokeswoman for Valencia-based Newhall Land & Farming Co. "To say we have not identified a water source is absolutely untrue."

Sources include overflow from Castaic Creek, a planned reclaimed water treatment plant on the project site and anticipated state water supplies, Lauffer said.

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