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PSA: New player in town

Posted: September 16, 2009 9:03 p.m.
Updated: September 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The City Council and city manager got a jolt from a new reality at the Sept. 8 meeting when the big agenda item was the council’s review of a community appeal filed by the Positive Solutions Association (PSA).

The appeal was in response to the Santa Clarita Planning Commission’s approval of a proposed seven-story, 200-room Sheraton hotel to be crowded onto the property where The Greens sports bar now stands.

Never mind that its only access, McBean Parkway, is becoming gridlocked with over-development. Never mind that the proposed parking is inadequate. Never mind that city staff opened with a slick presentation which included the absurdity that the project didn’t even need an Environmental Impact Report and that everything could be handled through Conditional Use Permits — a euphemism for “anything goes if the city manager likes it.”

The appellant, PSA, was formed by the nearby Woodlands homeowners fed up with the city’s high-handed approach to development of this project. Let’s be clear, the Woodlands is high-end; not the homeowners you would expect to gain sympathy from others. But they have taken the battle with our city’s planning gone mega-amuck to a new level and in that regard represent all of us.

Enter two big players — local consultant Allan Cameron and Pasadena-based land use and zoning attorney Robert Silverstein. Mr. Silverstein is especially expensive, but fortunately the Woodlands can afford him.

When Silverstein spoke at the crowded council meeting, all the city officials listened. His approach is clear: speak softly and carry a big resume. He has specialized in winning cases on behalf of litigants against such entities as the city of Los Angeles and the state of California.

After Silverstein spoke, the council scrambled out of sight for an unusually long half-hour break. When they returned, they immediately agreed to extend the deadline for any decision on the PSA appeal to an uncertain date. City Attorney Carl Newton, in an unusual display of concern for the citizenry, supported the extension. City Manager Ken Pulskamp, author of all planning decisions, was very quiet.

It’s clear that PSA, which is attracting membership throughout the city, has taken efforts to control city growth to a much higher level.

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