(Los Angeles) Light Rail and Smart Design Draw Raves
Can Los Angeles, the birthplace of sprawl, change its ways? Yes -- just
look at Village Green, an award-winning development of affordable, environmentally
friendly housing in a transit-accessible location.
The project uses cutting-edge techniques to save energy. It is the largest
solar-powered housing community in Southern California and uses high-tech gas-fired
air-cooling, space-heating and water-heating systems. All of these energy-saving features
translate into 30 to 50 percent less energy use.
Though the project includes plenty of green building features, the smartest thing --
and most unusual for Southern California -- is its rail link. Village Green is located
just one block from a Metrolink commuter rail stop. L.A.'s commuter rail system is just 10
years old, but it has grown quickly. Village Green is well located on the Antelope Valley
line just a few stops from Burbank, Glendale and downtown L.A.
This being L.A., few people who live in Village Green will likely give up their cars
altogether. But even if residents take the train only a few days a week it could make a
big difference in cutting the development's impact on traffic and air quality. The growth
of public transportation in Los Angeles -- which now includes not only commuter rail but
also the Los Angeles city subway and the new Metro Rapid express bus -- allows
developments like Village Green to break out of the cycle of sprawl.
(Los Angeles) Development Threatens 12,000 Acres
Just when we thought Los Angeles was turning things around, along comes Newhall Ranch.
The project will chew up 12,000 acres of some of the last pristine open space in L.A.
County. Located at the Ventura County border, Newhall Ranch, if built, would eventually
house almost 70,000 people.
Landscape in Jeapardy: The Santa Clara River, near the Ventura
County line, is ground zero for the Newhall Ranch development.
Kern County Superior Court Judge Roger D. Randall recently put the project on hold due
to unresolved questions about the development's impacts on local water supplies, but
Newhall Ranch's impacts on roads and air should also be examined more closely.
The area currently has some of the worst traffic and highest ozone levels in Southern
California. But the environmental impact report doesn't even address the project's
consequences on air quality in adjacent Ventura County.
Equally troubling is the development's location in a floodplain along the Santa Clara
River. Newhall Ranch would destroy over 300 acres of the floodplain, increasing the risk
of flash floods in L.A. and Ventura counties.
Local watershed groups note that the project surrounds more than 1,200 acres of the
best stream-side habitat anywhere on the river, and runoff from the project is sure to
degrade local waterways. Among the "natural" features planned for the project
are an 18-hole golf course and a 15-acre man-made lake.