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The Avenue at Santa Clarita is Las Lomas Jr.

Local Commentary

Posted: July 18, 2008 11:35 p.m.
Updated: September 19, 2008 5:04 a.m.
 

Within the city of Santa Clarita there is very little land available to be developed, the exception being the Whitaker Bermite site, which is in the process of being cleaned and de-contaminated.

Nonetheless, there are proposed developments, which are often referred to as “fill-in” projects. One of the more recent proposed projects is The Avenue at Santa Clarita, which would be located at the Smiser Mule Ranch in the area of the Interstate 5 freeway and Calgrove Boulevard exit.

Actually, The Avenue is really Las Lomas, Jr.

The developer of the Avenue, Monteverde Companies, proposed building out approximately 2.4 million square feet of office, retail and residential space on 37 acres of land. That compares to Las Lomas, in which Palmer Investments wanted 2.7 million square feet of development on 555 acres.

Under the city’s current General Plan, any development at the proposed Smiser Mule Ranch is not to exceed 800,000 square feet.

Under pressure from the Calgrove Corridor Coalition (you can visit calgrovecorridorcoalition.com to learn more about them) and other concerned residents, Monteverde withdrew its application and pledged to work with the nearby residents.

Since Monteverde withdrew its application, it has been in contact with Thomas Maguire Properties about forming a partnership of some sort.

For those of you who don’t know, Thomas Maguire Properties is a major developer of office buildings in and around downtown Los Angeles. In addition, Thomas Maguire has floated the idea of actually increasing the proposed Newhall development to 2.5 million square feet.

Thomas Maguire envisions an office park of some sort, consisting of six-story buildings. Under current city zoning, buildings cannot exceed four stories.

If you take a look at some of the arguments used to oppose Las Lomas, similar arguments can by used in opposition to The Avenue. The following list consists of summaries of “facts’” identified in a document titled “Proposed Las Lomas Development Fact Sheet” located on the city’s Web site:
n Will increase traffic congestion, which will negatively impact traffic congestion on surrounding freeways and surface streets
n Will see increased air pollution for the Santa Clarita Valley, which could possibly lead to the violation of local air standards and would create a public health hazard
n Inconsistent with the City of Santa Clarita’s General Plan; it should be noted that on July 15, the city will be meeting to discuss proposed changes to the land use portion of the city’s General Plan
n The proposed development would provide just 10 acres of parkland and landscape areas. Under the proposed Avenue project, no park space is provided (at least with Las Lomas you got a mini-park with a mini-city)
n Increased traffic congestion on Interstate 5 could slow down emergency response and evacuation from the area

I am hopeful that Monteverde and Thomas Maguire will meet with residents in the surrounding areas and work together to find a compromise that everyone can live with.

No one denies that the developers have a right to develop, but their right is not absolute — a General Plan and zoning laws are in place for a reason.

The city needs to look at the proposed Avenue project in the same light as Las Lomas. The project as proposed does not meet the requirements in the General Plan.

If built out as proposed, it will destroy the quality of life that many longtime residents have come to enjoy and would set an un-wise precedent of allowing developers to basically ignore the zoning plans created by our city.

Michael Cruz is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.

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