Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

Tracking measurable success on efforts across California to preserve and connect our Parks & Wildlife Corridors

1. long detailed stories on blogspot (here!)
2. short messages on Twitter
3. automated news feeds from CA enviro websites in the right-hand column which change frequently and are not archived by our website (that's why we now have a twitter account to permanently capture the memorable feeds)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


A Bit of Greenwashing for the New-Sprawl Tejon Ranch Project…

(Note size of Tejon Ranch in relation to existing L.A., Antelope Valley and Bakersfield sprawl--if only 10% of Tejon is paved that is still any enormous amount of new sprawl.)


Sustainability Helps Fuel Landmark Pact in SoCal

A decade ago, many in real estate circles scoffed at the notion that a significant portion of Southern California largest, most historic and environmentally sensitive tracts of open space could fall under the bulldozer for homes, resorts and distribution facilities.

For over a half century, environmentalists, state officials and the courts wrangled with the longtime owner of the 270,000 acres in Kern County and northern Los Angeles County comprising Tejon Ranch. Conservationists say the land, a throwback to the era of Mexican ranchos, is home to the California condor and at least two dozen other endangered or threatened species.

However, Tejon Ranch Co., the publicly traded real estate development and agribusiness company that owns the land, in May reached a landmark deal with a coalition of groups to preserve 90% of the ranch land 60 miles north of Los Angeles. In exchange, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Audubon California and other groups agreed not to oppose existing industrial projects and proposed development along Interstate 5, including the 1,400-acre Tejon Industrial Complex, the proposed Tejon Mountain Village resort and Centennial, a planned residential community of 23,000 homes.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed the agreement as the largest-ever private conservation of land, a historic deal that illustrates "we can protect California’s environment at the same time we pump up our economy."

Not every environmental group is on board with the plan, particularly those who continue to worry about the destruction of condor habitat. And the Tejon Mountain and Centennial projects still require public comment and state and local approval.

However, the agreement extends and leverages sustainability work conducted over the last decade for the Tejon Industrial Complex, a fully entitled and operational warehouse and distribution center project. The center will total 15 million square feet at build out and is competing with industrial markets in the Inland Empire as a major West Coast transit point for goods shipped into the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Some 3.3 million square feet is already vertical or about to be at Tejon Industrial, including IKEA’s 1.7 million-square-foot and Oneida Ltd’s West Coast distribution centers, a 606,000-square-foot spec building in a joint venture with The Rockefeller Group finished last spring and more than 60 acres of retail that includes a Petro Travel Plaza, a Best Western hotel, In-N-Out Burger, Starbucks and other food establishments. On Wednesday, Tejon Ranch announced that Famous Footwear, a retail division of Brown Shoe Co., will move into a 350,000-square-foot built-to-suit under construction. In March, the U.S. Department of Commerce expanded a foreign trade zone to include an initial 177 acres at the complex, giving companies access to cost savings on duties and other benefits and savings.

"For the first time ever, you’ve got opposing groups talking the same language and agreeing on how things should be done," said Barry Hibbard, vice president of industrial and commercial development with Tejon Ranch. "The agreement allows us to show others what we’ve been doing."

"The reality is the resource plan that was put together was very similar to what’s been discussed in the 10 years I’ve been here. A few acres here and there that might be a little bit different, but it memorializes what was the intent all along."

As early as 1999, Tejon Ranch was hammering out voluntary air pollution emissions reductions with the air-quality district and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to model the potential impacts of an additional 15 million square feet of industrial space on the surrounding area. Further, the company helped rid the region of smog-belching post World War II agricultural and oil field equipment that was consistently the biggest polluter in the San Joaquin Valley.

"Before we ever turned a spade of dirt, we had 100% mitigation on the project," Hibbard said.

Having a master plan is better land use than allowing the hodge-podge of numerous parcels to be developed piecemeal, Hibbard said. Plus, smaller developers can't really afford "to do truly sustainable things in a one-off deal," he said.

In addition to the distribution center itself, industrial developers like ProLogis, AMB and Tejon Ranch have sought ways to reduce unhealthful diesel emissions from trucks. Tejon Ranch Co. operates a large Petro truck stop at its industrial center. While most trucks stops require drivers to keep their vehicles idling to operate air conditioners and other equipment, Tejon Ranch supplies electrical power for an hourly fee that works out to a lot less for drivers, especially in the era of $5.50-per-gallon diesel.

LEED has been behind the curve in achieving sustainability in industrial real estate, prompting industrial developers to improvise their own solutions.

"Whether it’s LEED certified or not doesn’t really matter. We want a product that’s sustainable in design, material and thinking," Hibbard said. "The end goal isn’t to just check the box. We look at the simple things: white reflective roof, reclaimed water, low-flow irrigation landscaping using natural rocks, groundcover, the Petro travel center which serves as a staging area for multi-axle trucks, and direct access to the freeway."

No comments: