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One valley, many revisions

State calls on county to make changes to One Valley, One Vision general plan for the SCV

Posted: February 28, 2010 10:40 p.m.
Updated: March 1, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
The county’s version of the One Valley, One Vision master plan for the Santa Clarita Valley has been put on hold for seven more months.

The accompanying environmental impact report has run into a number of roadblocks from the state, a local water agency and other involved agencies.

County officials grapple with changing environmental regulations, an unsteady water supply and various land owners’ vested interests in the future uses of their properties.

One Valley, One Vision is a joint effort between the city of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County to create a cohesive regional plan for the Santa Clarita Valley’s future growth. Such plans provide a blueprint for zoning and development within municipal government boundaries.

The plan, a decade in the making, projects the Santa Clarita Valley’s population at more than 440,000.

The valley’s current population is about 240,000, according to city estimates.

One Valley, One Vision will consist of four documents: the city of Santa Clarita’s general plan, the county’s regional plan for the portions of the Santa Clarita Valley outside city limits, and each document’s corresponding environmental impact review.

The county released its draft environmental review in September and has held three public hearings since, including one Wednesday. The city’s updated plan has not been released.

County planning commissioners will revisit the issue at a public hearing in September while officials work to address some of the conflicts, including concerns raised by state Attorney General Jerry Brown.

“The main reason (for the delay) is that we need to revise the draft plan and (environmental review),” said county Supervising Planner Mitch Glaser.

In December, the California Attorney General’s office wrote a letter saying the county plan has serious flaws.

“As written, the proposed plan will not meet the mandates of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006; instead, it will result in increased greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 4 million metric tonnes over current levels,” it said.

Signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger in September 2006, the act requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels in 10 years. State agencies are charged with making that happen.

Besides increasing greenhouse gases, the county plan would double current emissions of conventional air pollutants in the area, Brown’s letter stated.

It called the planning document itself a failure that “is confusing and internally contradictory in several places.”

Glaser said the letter is one reason county officials are revising the One Valley, One Vision plan.

“We’re going to be looking at those policies to get them more in line with (the Global Warming Solutions Act),” Glaser said Friday.

But the act is only one of several issues with the document.

“Generally speaking, it does look like there’s less water supply from the state,” Glaser said.

Further, Castaic Lake Water Agency, the Santa Clarita Valley’s water wholesaler, doesn’t cover all of the county areas proposed for development, so there is a question of how those areas would receive water.

Castaic Lake General Manager Dan Masnada said the agency won’t annex a new area unless that area has identified a new water source for itself.

However, Masnada said he feels a lot better about the water supply issues now that the state report on water reliability has come out saying water coming through the State Water Project is 60 percent reliable.

That, coupled with conservation efforts, could very well mean the area’s water supply could support 440,000-plus people, Masnada said.

Meanwhile, the city continues to work on its General Plan, said Planning Manager Lisa Webber. It should be released in the spring or summer and will incorporate the concerns that cropped up during the county’s hearing process, she said.

“All of those issues that are related to water, and impact analysis from the attorney general ... all those issues are being addressed,” Webber said.

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