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City manager responds to development issues

Posted: June 20, 2008 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 21, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
Growth and development have long been major issues for residents of the Santa Clarita Valley. In fact, these issues are key reasons why residents chose to incorporate in the 1980s. Cityhood in 1987 brought local home rule to the four communities of Saugus, Newhall, Valencia and Canyon Country. It enabled the new local government to retain millions every year in tax dollars, 100 percent of which are spent right here in Santa Clarita on roads, parks, transportation, law enforcement, community services, infrastructure, trails and other amenities residents have expressed a desire to bring to our community. Today, Santa Clarita is an award-winning city with an enviable high quality of life for its residents.

The Santa Clarita Valley is approximately 250 square miles, while the city of Santa Clarita covers approximately 55 of those square miles. What does this mean? The majority of the land in the Santa Clarita Valley is unincorporated and is under the jurisdiction of the county of Los Angeles. It is important to know that 80 percent of all development in the Santa Clarita Valley has occurred and will continue to occur in the unincorporated areas of our valley, outside the boundaries of the city of Santa Clarita, mainly because that is where the undeveloped land is located.

Shortly after incorporation, city leaders, volunteers and community residents worked together on the city's first general plan, which was adopted by the city in the early 1990s. A city or county general plan is the document that governs land use for all properties both public an privately owned within the boundaries of the governing jurisdiction. In 2000, the city of Santa Clarita and the County of Los Angeles, both of which had their own separate and sometimes very different general plans for overlapping land areas, agreed that the entire Santa Clarita Valley should come under one planning document.

The two entities began the "One Valley One Vision" process, a joint general plan process, to plan for the entire 250 square mile Santa Clarita Valley. Several public participation meetings and workshops have ensued to garner public input and additional such meetings will continue as the process to create this new plan moves forward. The new plan will ultimately help streamline development processes and better plan for the many needs of residents now and into the future.

The new city-county general plan does not increase development. On the contrary, the land-use changes proposed in One Valley One Vision actually "down zone" areas, which will result in lower growth overall. With regard to population over the next two decades, the new plan for the entire valley estimates approximately 450,000 at build-out. This includes both approved developments and proposed developments for the entire valley. New policies in the plan call for a reduction in urban sprawl and will result in the practice of better planning for our communities.

Finally, with regard to the quote that has been attributed to me regarding my supposed "... desire to turn our suburban bedroom community into a legitimate urban center" - I never said that. It appeared in The Signal's most recent "51" publication, where different people contributed their comments on those being written about, and one of those contributors said this about me. It is absolutely not a true statement. Our high quality of life in Santa Clarita is not only something I cherish, it is something I work hard to preserve every day, along with the needs and desires of our entire community.

The city's Web site has even more information regarding One Valley One Vision and city planners are available to answer your questions about this proposed joint general plan. Please log on to: www.santa-clarita.com or call the city of Santa Clarita at 661-255-4330.

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