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New city on west side?

Study examines options for Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, other built-up areas

Posted: July 2, 2008 1:02 a.m.
Updated: September 2, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 

Santa Clarita Valley is pregnant with a new community.

The characteristics of that community — its name, its size, incorporated, not incorporated, a mix of other community profiles — are all still be realized.

What’s important, according to county and local politicians, is that residents will be the determining parents of that new community — whatever shape and character it takes on.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took the next step to advance the process of determining the future status of Santa Clarita Valley’s unincorporated communities to the west of Santa Clarita.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich announced that the county’s Chief Executive Officer has released financial data to the consultant retained to develop an Initial Feasibility Analysis — helping residents  figure out if they want to form a city, annex to Santa Clarita or remain unincorporated county areas. 

Is it feasible for west end communities — Castaic, Southern Oaks, Stevenson Ranch, Sunset Pointe, Tesoro del Valle, Val Verde, and Westridge — to come together and function as one city?

Numbers offered up by the county are now being crunched in order to answer that question; numbers that will, hopefully, enable consultants to frame the structure of public debate.

“We want to make sure that (west Santa Clarita Valley residents) have the information they need to make their choice,” said Tony Bell, spokesman for Antonovich.

“There will be benefits and there will be detriments,” he said, referring to communities who decide to incorporate.

Over the next three months, a consultant chosen by members of the West Ranch and Castaic Area Town Councils is expected to prepare the analysis necessary to inform west side residents who will then use the information to determine what they want to do. The financial data is also being provided to a consultant hired by the city of Santa Clarita to study the impacts of annexation. 

John Kunak, president of the Castaic Area Town Council, told The Signal on Tuesday that he is “incredibly pleased” for the county pushing the feasibility study through.

“They may all turn out to decide on keeping different communities or they may all want to join to form a new city,” Kunak said. “This is exactly what we had asked for and planned for.

“I’m glad to see it coming out now,” he said. “This will help us determine whether or not we are viable to be a community. If it makes sense for Castaic to incorporate into their own new community, this will help us decide.”

Public meetings for west side residents are expected to be held in about six months once the consultants complete their study of the county numbers.

According to Kunak, who has seen some of the data, numbers being assessed include:
n How many animals are caught by Animal Control
n Income from different areas
n Revenue from fines 
n Revenue from building permits

One set of numbers currently being examined by Castaic planners is the amount of money that could be collected if Castaic introduced a Mello Roos system for new housing developments. “It is being discussed,” Kunak said. “With regards to new projects coming into the Castaic district.”

Meanwhile, the county is eager to have residents decide their future for themselves.

“We would be happy to hold public meetings,” Bell said, adding that each community will likely hold its own public meeting on the subject of incorporation.

Supervisor Antonovich is calling for an advisory vote to allow the people to decide the fate of their own communities.

“Residents living in our unincorporated communities must be given the opportunity to determine their own future,” he said in a released statement Tuesday. “After public hearings gather and share vital information, an advisory vote is necessary to allow the residents to decide their future. The Board of Supervisors, the City Council and the Local Agency Formation Commission must respect the will of the people most impacted by any proposed change in governance.”

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