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The master plan worked for Valencia

City planners reflect on 44 years of work

Posted: January 21, 2009 9:03 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2009 10:53 a.m.

Marlee Lauffer packed 44 years of work and history into roughly an hour Tuesday, as the Santa Clarita Planning Commission received a retrospective on the Valencia master plan.

Lauffer, spokeswoman for the Newhall Land and Farming Co., made the presentation, touching on a brief history of Newhall Land, the company’s transition to housing development and the process of developing the valley’s core community.

Los Angeles County approved the Valencia master plan in 1965, with the first residents moving into homes in 1967.

Lauffer told the commission the plan stayed close to what was originally envisioned, though it has grown from an initial 5,000 acres to roughly 15,000.

About 30 percent of the city’s 178,000 people live in Valencia — nearly 60,000 people in 20,000 homes, she said.

One-third of the community is open space, and more than 300,000 trees were planted in the development process, she said.

Austrian-born architect Victor Gruen, who also essentially created the archetype for the modern shopping mall, birthed the design ideas for Valencia, Lauffer said.

What is now Westfield Valencia Town Center was envisioned as a true center of the community, she said.

One of the greatest lessons learned along the way, she said, has been that master planning is a “very strategic instrument.”

That instrument is doubly beneficial, she said, providing the company something to present to the public, and building guidelines.

While Valencia is nearly complete, the city is in the midst of revising its general plan.

Newhall Land was involved in the drafting of the original plan, and so far the city’s development has been consistent with the Valencia plan, Lauffer said.

A standout difference, she said, would include building-height limitations. Newhall Land would have liked to potentially see higher density allowed in areas like Town Center or along Tourney Road.

“In general the vision has been very consistent,” she said.

Moving forward to the development of Newhall Ranch west of the Interstate 5-Highway 126 interchange, Lauffer said the company’s goal is be more energy efficient.

Valencia gets 50 percent of its water from groundwater and 50 percent through the State Water Project.
The plan for Newhall Ranch is to employ local groundwater, use of reclaimed water and no State Water Project water, Lauffer said.

“Conservation is absolutely critical,” she said.

Referring to the struggle in recent years to gain approval for The Master College’s and Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital’s master plans, Commissioner Tim Burkhart told Lauffer: “Completing a 40-year master plan is a real feather in your cap.”


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