Santa Clarita City Planning Meeting: Eastside Open Space Annexation
On Tuesday evening, the City Planning Commission discussed Master Case 17-178, the Eastside Open Space Annexation, during their December 5th Regular Meeting. The City Planning Division presented its case with the intention of gaining approval for the pre-zoning process and the General Plan Amendment.
The Eastside Open Space Annexation will incorporate various pieces of previously-purchased land into the City of Santa Clarita. The lands to be incorporated include the Wagoner Property, the CEMEX Property, the Rodda/Agua Dulces Partners Property, and the Alfieri Property. In order to logically include these properties within city limits, it’s also necessary to purchase and annex three other properties – Bee Canyon, Spring Canyon, and Tick Canyon.
Two of these properties have been approved for development. Tick Canyon will be home to 492 single-family lots, three park lots, and 37 open space lots. Spring Canyon will also be designated for residential use with 542 single-family residential lots, one fire station lot, one Sheriff sub-station lot, three open space lots, and two park lots. There are no development projects planned for Bee Canyon, although the Sand Canyon Plaza development was approved on the condition that Bee Canyon, LLC will sell 132 acres of land to the City of Santa Clarita. An appraisal of this property is currently in progress.
The City Planning Division stated that the intention of the annexation is to incorporate the city’s Open Space territories into the city limits in order to avoid paying property taxes on the land.
The General Plan Amendment will change the land use designation of 507 acres of the annexed area from NU1 (Non-Urban 1) to OS (Open Space). The city’s Open Space Program creates more parks for residential use and helps preserve green spaces within and around the city.
The approval for the pre-zone will give the City Planning Division permission to move ahead with the annexation process.
Three affirmative votes were needed in order to move ahead with the annexation process. The City Planning Division received an affirmative vote from each City Commissioner.
The City Planning Division confirmed that all necessary noticing had been completed and the recommendation for the Commission was that they should “adopt Resolution P17-17, recommending the City Council adopt a resolution to adopt the Negative Declaration and approve Master Case 17-178 for the General Plan Amendment 17-002 and Prezone 17-001 for the Eastside Open Space Annexation.”
Comments from City Commissioners
Commissioner Berlin began by pointing out the difference between the sum of the acreage in the resolution and the total amount of acreage listed in the resolution.
While the City Planning Commission stated that the annexation will include 2,694 acres of land, the total sum of the proposed properties to be annexed adds up to 2,341.36 acres of land. The City Planning Division responded that “the remaining property within the annexation consists of a CALTRANS property for State Route 14 with a small amount of land under private ownership.”
As a result, Commissioner Berlin suggested that the City Planning Division add this wording to the resolution in order to clear up any confusion. The other Commissioners and the City Planning Division agreed.
They also declared that there may be minor differences in acreage when switching from computer boundaries to concrete, legal boundaries.
Commissioner Heffernan followed up by asking if the City Planning Division has been in contact with the owners of the upcoming developments and if they’re in agreement with the proposed annexation.
The City Planning Commission responded that they have been in contact with the owners for some time now. They mentioned that pre-annexation agreements may be necessary and that any significant project changes will be brought before the council again for approval.
The City Planning Division also verified that the developers will be required to use current construction codes during the project phase.
Comments from Community Members
A member of the community began the public hearing by asking if there were any proposed developments regarding the land South of State Route 14, particularly Bee Canyon and the designated Open Space land. The City Planning Division responded that there are no future projects planned and any future projects would take time to approve before beginning.
Sean Weber continued the public hearing portion by expressing his concerns about Valley Fever. He asked, “…what is this body doing to protect the people from this danger considering the massive new projects planned and what specific new remediation measures are being employed to stop this growing epidemic?”
With 714 cases of Valley Fever reported in Los Angeles County in 2016, including some cases in the Santa Clarita Valley, Valley Fever is an increasing concern for community members. It travels faster when soil is disturbed. Therefore, the upcoming construction projects may lead to the City of Santa Clarita seeing an increase in the disease.
The City Planning Division did not respond to or comment on the question and continued to the next speaker.
Brian Wood, the final community member to express his opinion, began by stating that he is a supporter of planned and reasonable growth. However, he voiced his concern that annexation is one step closer to development and he feels that the City of Santa Clarita has not adequately addressed infrastructure and traffic concerns.
Many worry that the current problem will only get worse with the annexation and upcoming development projects. The city and developers have been discussing possible solutions to the problem.
The Spring Canyon development has also been delayed multiple times due to concerns regarding potable water, leading community members to question whether the new development projects are able to meet the city’s infrastructure standards.
The City Planning Commission did not respond to the concern.
The resolution was unanimously approved by the Commissioners with the condition that the recommended wording about acreage be included in the resolution.