On sprawling farmland and chaparral-covered foothills cradling Magic Mountain, earthmovers are carving out what some developers and environmentalists see as a new benchmark in the fight against climate change.
After 20 years of battles over traffic, water and endangered wildlife, brush clearing and construction of roads and infrastructure is underway on 21,500-home Newhall Ranch, which is being marketed as one of the world’s first large-scale planned communities that will add no new greenhouse gases to the environment.
Builders selected to construct different neighborhoods are expected to start buying land parcels and pouring foundations in late 2019. By 2020, the first residents could be moving into homes using solar power and equipped with individual charging stations for electric vehicles.
Orange County-based mega-developer FivePoint Communities, which has brought thousands of new homes to the master-planned community of Irvine and owns Newhall Ranch, says it will reach its so-called “net zero” goal for greenhouse gases through a combination of high-tech solutions on-site and far-flung projects across the region, the state and around the globe that will compensate for carbon emissions that can’t be eliminated within the development.Among other things, the company plans to offer subsidies to Newhall Ranch residents, schools and bus services for buying zero-emission vehicles; install 3,000 electric vehicle charging stations elsewhere in Southern California; and fund worldwide forest conservation projects and environmentally clean cook stoves for rural Africans.
In all, the net-zero efforts, pursued by FivePoint after a state Supreme Court setback, will cost about $200 million over the 15-to-20-year build out of the development, or about 2 percent of the development’s $12 billion price tag, the company says.