CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JUNE 24, 2005
FOUR ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS FILE SUIT FRIDAY - JUNE 24, 2005 - AFTER THE CITY OF SANTA CLARITE APPROVED 1,100 UNIT RIVERPARK PROJECT, IGNORING MONTHS OF PUBLIC PROTEST.
The City of Santa Clarita approved the Riverpark project on May 24th after a two-month delay caused by the close down of yet another public water supply well for ammonium perchlorate pollution. Last week, four environmental groups joined together to bring a public interest complaint against the City and the real party, Newhall Land and Farming, claiming the approval of 1100 units next to the Santa Clara River ignored concerns over inadequate protection for the last unchannelized river in Los Angeles County, as well as air and water pollution. The complaint also faults the City for its failure once again to follow its own hillside ordinance
Recently, Newhall/Lennar's owner-holding companies changed once again with two companies moving off-shore to the Cayman Islands and Bermuda Islands, respectively,said Johanna Zetterberg, Conservation Coordinator for the Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club. This company is no longer local. It is headquartered in Florida and incorporated in Delaware. With its new off shore status, we want to make sure all the water pollution issues are thoroughly addressed and that the public is protected from the continued spread of the ammonium perchlorate pollution plume in the water supply.
After placing the Santa Clara River on its national most endangered rivers list in April, American Rivers cited the overly rapid pace of development in Santa Clarita as the greatest threat to the river's many resources. Peter Galvin, Conservation Director for the national environmental group, Center for Biological Diversity agreed. "The Santa Clara River is a critically important waterway for rare wildlife in southern California and is one of the most endangered rivers in the United States." Galvin added "We have filed this lawsuit because our public oversight agencies have once again miserably failed to provide protection for the river's web of life. Conservation is not just good common sense, it's the law."
I just want them (the City of Santa Clarita) to get the heck out of the flood plain! and protect the Significant Ecological Area as they promised to do when they became a City,Ron Bottorff, Chairman of Friends of the Santa Clara River, said in frustration. Eighty per cent of the portions of this project adjacent to the river are closer than 100 feet. That is not an adequate buffer.
Carolee Krieger, spokesperson for California Water Impact Network, a water watchdog with a state wide view point, said their concerns were the cumulative stress placed on water supplies from the massive, rapid development in Santa Clarita. All new development in Santa Clarita will be supplied with water transfers from Northern California. Areas of origin are concerned about the loss of surface flow from their rivers to feed SoCal's appetite for urban sprawl. Water transfers may also impact farming economies and increase water quality problems,she said. And what will happen in the next drought cycle when there is not enough water to go around?
The suit came just after the release of the notice of yet another 5300 unit project by Newhall Land and Farming adjacent to the Santa Clara River in the Newhall Ranch area.