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CORRECTION: Santa Clarita OKs deal for Las Lomas land

Corrects number of acres in open space district to 8.000

Posted: July 9, 2013 8:00 a.m.
Updated: July 9, 2013 8:00 a.m.

Santa Clarita City Council members voted 4-0 Tuesday night to acquire 302 acres of hilly land in the Newhall Pass that was once planned for a major development.

The acreage, to be purchased through a complex deal that involves state and city funding along with two grants, would be added to Santa Clarita’s Open Space Preservation District that voters approved with the goal of building a greenbelt around the Santa Clarita Valley’s developed area.

The deal was put together by the Trust for Public Land, a 40-year-old conservation group whose purpose is putting land under public ownership “for critters but also for people to use,” said Trust spokeswoman Becky Nielsen.

Before the vote was taken, with Councilman Frank Ferry absent, council members heard praise from several community members for the purchase that would permanently sideline what one speaker called a “hideous development.”

“I am absolutely giddy about this plan,” said Diane Trautman, a planning commissioner and supporter of the open space district’s formation.

“This is a tremendous victory for this entire valley,” Mayor Bob Kellar said before the vote. “We don’t have to worry about this type of thing coming back.”

The 302 acres were proposed as part of a 555-acre development called Las Lomas planned in 2007 for the northeastern side of Interstate 5 just above the Highway 14 junction.

The Las Lomas proposal called for a 5,500-home “village” with 2 million square feet of commercial space and a 300-room hotel. Massive grading and oak tree removal would have been required.

It would have exceeded Los Angeles County’s and Santa Clarita’s adopted density for the area by more than 1,000 percent.

“I think this is one of the most important acquisitions we can do,” City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who was chairwoman of the Open Space Preservation District Committee, said in an interview before the council meeting. “It is the wildlife corridor inter-connection area for the Santa Susana Mountains and the San Gabriels.”

“It is rugged, it is beautiful, it is inhabited by all the wild animals in the area,” from deer to bobcats to mountain lions, she said.

“For us as the city, (the land) is the epitome of why we wanted a buffer — undisturbed and natural land that is our legacy to future generations.”

The acquisition involves the city pitching in as much as $2 million toward the purchase, with the state paying $2.3 million, said Chris Price, assist city engineer. Grants would fund another $1 million toward the purchase.

The city’s share of the purchase price would come from Open Space Preservation District funds. City officials hope to close escrow on the deal by the end of the year.

Approved by Santa Clarita property owners in July 2007, the city’s Open Space Preservation District now has more than 8,000 acres set aside to provide the valley a buffer of wild land, Weste said.




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