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Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

City's Priorities Askew

Posted: March 7, 2008 12:37 a.m.
Updated: May 8, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
To The Editor:

Having read a variety of Signal articles recently, I have been both amused and irritated with the irony regarding several construction projects planned in our fair city.

Consider the following and see if you agree:

Nurses at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital have requested improved wages and benefits and more time off. Among their many complaints is that Henry Mayo has a bounty of funding for their so-called hospital expansion project, but will not spare any cash for them. I think back to numerous Santa Clarita Planning Commission and City Council public hearings on Henry Mayo's so-called hospital expansion project and how so many nurses, following free dinners courtesy of Henry Mayo, lined up one after the next to argue for Henry Mayo's project and denounce objectors as NIMBYs. My, how times have changed, and doesn't the nurses' behavior just reek of NIMBY-ism? It seems that they could give a hoot about Henry Mayo's negative impact to traffic, noise, congestion, neighboring home values, etc., but boy, don't let Henry Mayo's so-called hospital expansion project impact them!

More expansion is under way at Valencia Town Center. How is this going to help our traffic problem? Did the city's traffic engineer consider this expansion project when he studied the impact of Henry Mayo's expansion to traffic along McBean Parkway and our other main traffic corridors? Rumor has it that apartment homes will be built above the new stores. I hope this is not true, as construction of high-density homes in the SCV is out of control.

Further regarding expansion, 10 years ago project approval for Valencia's new United Methodist Church on McBean Parkway made its way through the city's Planning Department. It's known that a NIMBY complained about the proposed height of the steeple, and it's also known that the city consequently asked the church to reduce it to 35 feet, approximately the height of a two-story building. The reason given was that anything higher might interfere with helicopter activity at Henry Mayo's helipad, located approximately 500 yards away. The Planning Commission limited the steeple to two stories, but then allowed Henry Mayo to build a five-story building.

Speaking of NIMBYs, let's shift gears to the city of Santa Clarita's Recycling Center, consisting of a 170,000-square-foot facility planned on 72 acres next to a residential area in Canyon Country. It is reported that the city, which is required to notify homeowners in adjacent neighborhoods, contacted some but not all neighbors affected by the project. Trash from all over the city will be trucked to this facility, sorted and then re-trucked to recycling facilities or to a landfill. It is estimated these operations would create approximately 880 truck trips per day, six days a week - all this in an area primarily zoned residential, and within close proximity to existing housing tracts. Once again, the city's ethical practices are called into question. Furthermore, wouldn't you think that an existing facility could be rented or purchased in Valencia's industrial center instead?

Next, we have City Council actually considering spending an additional $750,000 of taxpayer funds for a work-around plan to keep open an existing 6,000 square-foot skateboard facility as part of its proposed new 20,000-square-foot skatepark. What is the budget for this project? What amount of revenue justifies building a 20,000-square-foot skatepark, let alone the 6,000-square-foot facility in the first place?
All of these issues beg these questions: Whatever happened to City Council's publicly stated intent last year to create an ethics program, and why do we "suburban bedroom community" dwellers have to suffer City Manager Ken Pulskamp's stated and continuously implemented goal of converting the Santa Clarita Valley into an "urban center"? Why does it seem that the city constantly strives to allow new construction on every square foot within SCV, while taking our tax dollars to preserve open spaces on our perimeter? Don't they have this agenda backwards? Is their plan all about gaining more tax dollars for gaining power and maintaining political office? Isn't it obvious that our city leaders have ignored our current traffic and congestion problems within our valley long enough?


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