December 6th, 2017 by scvpress

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.

Meeting results

The resolution was unanimously approved by the Commissioners with the condition that the recommended wording about acreage be included in the resolution.

Posted in Developments Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

December 5th, 2017 by scvpress

Overview of the Santa Clarita East Side Annexation

The City of Santa Clarita announced on Thursday its plan to annex approximately 2,694 acres of surrounding land in an effort to expand the city. According to the city’s website, the purpose of this annexation is to include previously purchased land and expand the City of Santa Clarita in a logical and organized manner.

This annexation is a part of the city’s overall General Plan, which complies with state laws stating that each city and town should have a long-term development plan in place. The General Plan for the City of Santa Clarita was created with the intention of maintaining high infrastructure standards and preserving the area’s natural resources.

The City Planning Department commented, “this process is literally drawing new lines around the city.” In other words, the annexed areas will be incorporated into the city, and the City of Santa Clarita will have complete jurisdiction over this land.

The previously purchased land that is set to be incorporated with the annexation includes the 412-acre Wagoner Property (purchased by the city on October 14th, 2003), the 493-acre CEMEX Property (purchased on February 6th, 2004), the 243-acre Rodda/Agua Dulces Partners Property (purchased on February 23rd, 2010), and the 13.36-acre Alfieri Property (purchased on June 14th, 2016).

The land to be annexed includes the 548-acre Spring Canyon land area, the 500-acre Tick Canyon land area, and the 210-acre Bee Canyon land area. Los Angeles County recently approved various development projects on these lots, and the annexation will give the City of Santa Clarita complete jurisdiction over these projects.

Tick Canyon, owned by Monterey Homes, LLC, will be home to Park Place—a residential development featuring 492 single-family homes, 37 open-space lots, and three parking lots. The project has been postponed multiple times and construction is currently set to begin on June 4th, 2019. Spring Canyon, owned by Pardee Homes, will also be designated as a residential area, with the construction of 542 single-family residential lots, a fire station, a Sheriff’s sub-station, and a school set to begin on August 8th, 2018.

Sand Canyon Plaza is replacing the mobile home park located on the corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Sand Canyon Road. It will include 580 units of residential living space, 60,000 square feet of retail space, and a 130-bed assisted living facility. The developers have stated their intention of maintaining the quaint and quiet character of the Sand Canyon community with the development of the new plaza.

A deal was made with the city in which the city approved the development of Sand Canyon Plaza with the condition that they are able to purchase 132 acres of land from Bee Canyon, LLC, which will likely be used for the city’s Open Space Program. Although the deal has been approved, the purchase amount has yet to be determined, as the appraisal and purchase of the land will take place independently from the annexation.

How will the annexation affect me?

Residents of the Spring Canyon, Bee Canyon, and Tick Canyon land area will be incorporated into the City of Santa Clarita—receiving access to the city’s schools, utilities, public protection services, and more.

The annexation will help the city expand in a logical and organized way, possibly preventing organizational issues in the future.

Naturally, the population of the City of Santa Clarita will also increase—raising concern about traffic conditions, the quality of public and safety services, and the potential spread of Valley Fever.

How will the annexation affect traffic in the area?

Traffic will increase with the annexation and developments, but developers are discussing solutions to the problem.

Some roads, such as Shadow Pines Boulevard, will also be extended in order to better incorporate the city’s new territory.

How will the annexation affect public safety services?

Public safety services should not be affected by the annexation. City officials plan to increase the number of public safety personnel and stations, including the addition of a fire station and a Sheriff’s sub-station in Spring Canyon.

Residents that are incorporated into the City of Santa Clarita will also be able to benefit from the city’s award-winning anti-drug and anti-gang programs.

How will the annexation affect public utilities?

The quality of public utility services, including waste collection, storm drainage, and drinkable water, is a major concern among residents. The Spring Canyon development has been delayed multiple times due to concerns regarding potable water.

According to the City of Santa Clarita’s Resident Service Center website, residents who are incorporated into the City of Santa Clarita with the annexation will be responsible for paying extra utility fees which will be added on to their yearly property tax bill. These fees include a $56 streetlight maintenance fee which is used for upkeep costs, a $57 citywide landscape maintenance fee, an approximately $24 stormwater fee used for stormwater cleanup, and a $26 fee that the city uses for its Open Space Program. (Source: http://user.govoutreach.com/santaclarita/faq.php?cmd=shell&goparms=cid%3D15988)

The Open Space Program is an effort to maintain and preserve green areas both in and around the city. The program creates more parks for resident use and helps to maintain the environmental sustainability standards of the city.

The Resident Service Center website also states that the cost of additional fees will be offset by a reduction in utility taxes. Currently, residents outside of the city pay a 4.5% utility tax. Upon incorporation into the city, residents will no longer be responsible for paying this tax. (Source: http://user.govoutreach.com/santaclarita/faq.php?cmd=shell&goparms=cid%3D15988)

How will the annexation affect schools?

The annexation will not have any effect on current school districts, and students will continue to attend the same schools.

Valley Fever

Another major concern with the upcoming construction projects is the spread of Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)—a common fungal disease spread by the Coccidioides immitis spores carried in dust.

The disease is known to spread more quickly when the soil is disturbed, such as with gardening or construction, and has been spreading more rapidly with each year. In 2016, 714 non-threatening cases were reported in the area.

Many people infected with the disease show no symptoms or only mild respiratory illnesses. In severe cases, Valley Fever can lead to more severe illnesses like pneumonia, meningitis, and dissemination.

Public Hearing

A public hearing regarding the annexation is scheduled tonight, in the evening on Tuesday, December 5th, 2017.

Posted in Developments, Traffic Tagged with: , , , ,

Sand Canyon Plaza
July 15th, 2017 by scvpress

Sand Canyon’s Growing Community

Development of the Sand Canyon Plaza

Development of the Sand Canyon Plaza

Updated — The Planning Commission has approved the new Sand Canyon Plaza. It is a planned neighborhood of homes, shops, and parks. Sand Canyon is a small community within Canyon Country. It is a great area because of its unique and beautiful solitude. Therefore, the Plaza intends to keep the feel of the quaint city with the addition of homes and shopping.

Last month Sean Weber, a Canyon Country resident met with Tom Clark. Clark is the managing member of Sand Canyon Plaza, LLC. Weber is a Santa Clarita Valley business owner. The two discussed the upcoming plans. This is important for Clark because he has been with the project since 1985. In 2002 the developer received approval for the project.

At that time the project included two split lots with different owners. However, due to the economy, plans were put on hold. Now, Sand Canyon Plaza is a Mixed Use Project under one ownership.

The 84-acre parcel is on the corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Sand Canyon Road. The current design includes apartments, condos, houses, and a high-end assisted living facility. Plans for the Development also include retail stores and restaurants. Neighborhood improvements will include roadway and the leveling out of the hill on Soledad Canyon Road. Most importantly, all plans include green technology. Current plans call for the site construction to begin in the fall of 2017.

Current residents of the proposed parcel, a mobile home park is due to close. Furthermore, ninety-nine percent of the former 123-units units have closed.

Growing Community

The project plans will add more housing for new Sand Canyon residents. For example, 312 apartments, 119 condos, and 149 townhomes. All units built total 580 homes.

Other developments include a two-acre park, clubhouse, and fireplace. As well as BBQ, pool, jacuzzi, basketball court, dog park, and trails. All of the new features will create an inviting atmosphere.

Retail view of Sand Canyon Plaza

Retail view of Sand Canyon Plaza

With 60,000 square feet, Sand Canyon Plaza is a space for locals to enjoy. The plans consist of restaurants and shops with a focal water feature similar to the water feature at Bridgeport Marketplace in Valencia.

The 85,000 square foot high-end assisted living plans will hold 140-beds. Thus, it is a valuable addition because it creates a place for seniors to live alone with the option of assistance.

Traffic Flow

A major concern for residents is traffic flow. For this reason, the developers continue discussing traffic patterns. In sum the plans include:

• Turn arrow added to the 14 Freeway entrance

• Two roundabouts on Sand Canyon Road

• Connecting Sierra Highway to Whites Canyon Road

• Entrances and exits from Sand Canyon Road and Soledad Canyon Road

Once again, all improvements are still under discussion.

 

“We are very excited to bring this exciting development to Canyon Country. Stay tuned!” Clark said.

 

In summary, the plaza will finish in 2019.

 

 

Author – Lauren Van Sloten, Santa Clarita, CA (SCV Press)

Posted in Developments Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

April 26th, 2017 by scvpress

Castaic Lake Water Agency Plans On Taking Over Yet Another Agency

In 1962 Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) was developed as one of the state water contractors. CLWA created a law protecting water only to be sold at a wholesale price (CLWA Law Sec.15) and not retail. By 2000 CLWA illegally acquired Santa Clarita Water Company, a water retailer. The public took this issue to the appellate court and won. However, CLWA later went to the legislature where a deal was made known as AB134.

Legislature gave the agency the right to own only Santa Clarita Water Company, but once again CLWA acquired another agency. In December 2012 CLWA obtained Valencia Water Company and without proper notice to the public. The deal was made within 24 hours of letting the public know. It cost the taxpayers $73 million dollars. Now CLWA plans to acquire Newhall County Water District (NCWD). The last two water agencies taken over by CLWA (Santa Clarita Water Co, 2000 and Valencia, 2012) have experienced significant rate increases after the buyout.

The current proposal for NCWD does not protect the Newhall water customers from the rate increases or having public ground water shipped to Newhall Land’s developments. The law states that ground water in existing service areas, may not be transferred for use outside their area. CLWA continues to run Valencia as a private company and without proper public oversight. Valencia Water has caused ratepayers to pay $800,000 a year in dividends.

Proposal SB 634 plans to consolidate the CLWA and NCWD into “Santa Clarita Valley Water District.” To approve consolidation the bill requires legislative consolidation of the two agencies. Without a legislative action, the proposed consolidation would need a proposal filed to LA LAFCO by one of the districts and consideration by the Commission. Local Agency Formation Commission for the County of Los Angeles (LA LAFCO) unanimously opposed the notion of the bill SB 634 on March 8th unless it is amended.

Along with being privately owned, CLWA appears to be in significant debt. Valencia water agency(owned by CLWA) also appears to be in considerable debt. NCWD is in excellent financial standing and will pay off its debt within six years. The ratepayers in Newhall should know whether CLWA has exceeded its state-set in debt omit before the proposal.

Sierra Club California suggests “The bill be amended to require an independent forensic audit of CLWA to disclose the state of their finances before consolidation be considered,” and “that a private water company owned by a public entity must have either PUC oversight or subject to all public governance laws, such as the Brown Act, Political Reform Act, and the Public Records Act.”

1CLWA Law Sec. 15. The agency may acquire water and water rights, including, but not limited to, water from the State of California under the State Water Resources Development System, and provide, sell, and deliver that water at wholesale only, for municipal, industrial, domestic, and other purposes, through a transmission system to be acquired or constructed by the agency.
2 Sec 15.1 of CLWA Law added 2002

 

Author – Lauren Van Sloten, Santa Clarita, CA (SCV Press)

Posted in Water Districts Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,