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: , , , , , , , ,

October 16th, 2017 by SCV Press

With Santa Clarita already experiencing grid-lock, construction on the 5 freeway is officially underway. Santa Clarita Valley (SCV) residents should be prepared for more traffic.

5 FREEWAY CONSTRUCTION PROJECT

The construction covers a distance of 15.8 miles in northern Los Angeles County in and by Santa Clarita. It starts from 0.5 miles south of Interstate 5 / State Route 14 separation to 1.7 miles north of the I-5 Lake Hughes Road under-crossing.

To begin, the split lanes on the southbound side will be replaced with temporary lanes. The changes will start Monday night on October 16th. Caltrans will be painting new lanes on Interstate 5 until the summer of 2019. 

However, “Caltrans plans to keep at least two freeway lanes open for traffic in the construction zone, except between midnight and 4 a.m. when at least one lane will be kept open for traffic,” as stated on Caltrans District 7 website.

Residents of Santa Clarita need to allow for extra travel time no matter what time of day it is, especially in the area with lower speed limits.

To the 200,000 motorists who ride over these interstates daily, the Mayor of Santa Clarita, Cameron Smyth, suggests, “Exercise patience, it’s going to be a couple years out.”

The next step will be carpool lanes. The construction of these roads is expected to start following the completion of this project in 2019.

What does our Santa Clarita Manager Ken Striplin say about Santa Clarita’s traffic issues?

Stephen Daniels from The Talk of Santa Clarita recently interviewed Striplin and brought up the many concerns Santa Clarita residents have. One of the top concerns for Santa Clarita is traffic. “People say we have a speeding problem. People say we have a traffic problem. I don’t know what the answer is for that.” responds Striplin.

In another interview on SCV 101, Bill Miranda covered traffic with Ken Striplin as well.

“Traffic, traffic. There’s too much traffic. How do we address those issues?” asks Miranda. “Traffic always comes up as an issue. What people don’t realize is we’ve spent tens of millions of dollars on traffic synchronization improvements,” said Striplin.

Bill Miranda dives further into the traffic issues. He states how people don’t realize synchronizing lights is what we currently have in place and is maximizing traffic flow.

If that is true, then the city believes they are already doing everything they can for traffic. In the end, the residents of Santa Clarita need to prepare for traffic for the next few years.

 

Resident’s of Santa Clarita took to Social Media and expressed their frustrations over traffic.

“The development is out of control, development without infrastructure continues to put the burden on our community while lining the pockets of a certain few. Our current city leaders do not represent the next generation. Lack of accountability is everywhere.” states Justin Hill.

Anthony Gellis,  “That is what comes from years of overdevelopment for profit and not enough planning.” and “the roads have and always been an after thought.” Matt Denny replied, “Lol” … “They should have been developing for a loss.”

Patricia Runyan, “Serenity was over after Mr. Newhall passed away and left the land to his sons.”

Cynthia Perla, “I left at 5:30am from Val Verde arrived at 3rd and Alvarado at 8:35 am.”

Keltie Cole, “It’s far worse than the valley. Bottleneck of doom.”

Gemma Rae, “It already is turning into the North San Fernando Valley. Just wait until they start building on Sand Canyon. It shouldn’t take me 45 minutes to drive 6 miles” and “I work 9 miles away from home, and it can take me up to an hr to get to work some days.”

Shirley Hernandez, “We do not have the roads to support our existing traffic, and they want to keep building.”

Justin Hill, “Yep only gonna get worse.” 

Bartie Stromberg, “If there’s another major fire. Your all screwed. All because of greed!”

 

Traffic for the Foreseeable Future

In any event, the residents of Santa Clarita have already spoken on traffic issues. Traffic is the number 1 topic of concern for area residents. Imagine how their views will change after the new construction plans starts with narrowing of the 5 freeway down until 2019. With the nearby construction starting on the newly approved 21,500-unit Newhall Ranch development and the expanding Chiquita landfill the area will be congested for the foreseeable future.

 

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

Posted in Traffic 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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,