Centennial, California, is a proposed 12,323-acre (49.87 km2) master-planned community on Tejon Ranch, in Los Angeles County between Bakersfield and Los Angeles. It is situated in the far western Antelope Valley at the foothills of the Sierra Pelona and Tehachapi Mountains. It would be built along California State Route 138 east of Interstate 5 and northeast of Quail Lake.
The community is intended to be built over 25 to 30 years, with approximately one-half of the 11,700-acre (4,700 ha) area designated as open space. It comprises 19,333 houses, including single- and multifamily structures. The Tejon Ranch Company has agreed to set aside 18% of housing as affordable housing. The developers have stated they plan to attract local jobs in order to employ the anticipated number of adult residents. The projected population is 57,000.
The project lies between a point about a mile east of the intersection of Interstate 5 and California Highway 138 eastward past Quail Lake into the western Antelope Valley to about 280th Street West.
Environmental groups have opposed the housing project, claiming that it would be built on rare ecosystems, including the largest native grassland left in California, among other concerns. The project is planned on the territory inhabited by four federally endangered or threatened animals, including the critically endangered California condor, and 23 animals and plants listed by under the California Endangered Species Act. The Tejon Pass area also functions as a wildlife corridor connecting the Tehachapi Mountains, the Mojave Desert, the Sierra Nevada, and the Central Valley.
In 2008, an agreement was reached between developers and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Audubon Society of California, the Endangered Habitats League, and the Planning and Conservation League. The agreement stated that 90% of Tejon Ranch would be protected if the conservation groups agreed not to oppose development on the remaining 10%. Erecting structures would be forbidden, but the ranch could continue to be used for "profitable agriculture, mining, grazing and exclusive commercial hunting operations." Opponents of the agreement claim that much of the land is too steep and remote to be buildable and that Tejon's biodiversity is protected under the existing and federal laws.
Another major concern is traffic congestion on Interstate 5 and Highway 138 as the development is far from many jobs. Concerns also include an increase of valley fever caused by the release of dust-borne spores during construction, insufficient water supply, and "poorly designed" wildlife corridors.
The site is located in "high" and "very high" fire hazard severity zones as defined by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. According to county planning documents, CalFire recorded "31 wildfires larger than 100 acres within five miles of Centennial, including four within the project’s boundaries" from 1964 to 2015. Developers state that the project is being designed to mitigate fire risk and will include four fire stations.
In April 2019, the largest of the most vocal environmental groups in opposition to the project, the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society, filed a suit against the County Board of Supervisors. The suit claims the Board's approval of the Centennial project violated the California Environmental Quality Act and asks that development be halted until a new environmental review is completed.
In April 2021 Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff rejected the developer's environmental impact report, citing aspects concerning wildfire risk and additional greenhouse gases generated by vehicles. Tejon Ranch stated that any risk of wildfire "outside the project will be reduced to less than significant," but Beckloff wrote that the statement was not supported by analysis.
- Patric Hedlund, "'Huge' Step for Tejon's Centennial Plan." The Mountain Enterprise, November 28, 2014, page 13
- Patric Hedlund, "Centennial Hearing at Gorman School Thursday, 6 P.M.," The Mountain Enterprise, June 30, 2017, page 6
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- Louis Sahagún, "Tejon Ranch Project on Hold," Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2021
- Patric Hedlund, "Judge Questions Tejon Ranch Centennial Plan," The Mountain Enterprise, April 16, 2021, page 13