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City Council extends eminent domain

City grants itself power to seize property for public use for the next 12 years with little debate

Posted: March 25, 2009 12:31 a.m.
Updated: March 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.

With little discussion Tuesday night, the City Council extended Santa Clarita’s power to use eminent domain for another 12 years.

During the Santa Clarita Development Agency portion of Tuesday’s council meeting, the five members voted unanimously to extend until July 2021 the power of the city to seize private property for public use, in return for the fair market value of the property.

City officials have long held the controversial practice of eminent domain would be a tool of last resort when it comes to the revitalization of downtown Newhall.

Canyon Country resident Alan Ferdman told the council members: “This particular issue has ramifications that reverberate throughout the community.

“To many of us, eminent domain is still a four-letter word.”

After public comments from two local residents, the council also signed off on an amendment to the city’s unified development code to cooperate with state Senate Bill 2.

Passed in October 2007, the bill stipulated cities must include zoned areas that allow for permanent homeless shelters.

In Santa Clarita’s case, those areas are the Valencia Industrial Center, the Rye Canyon business park and a portion of the Centre Pointe Business Park. The zoning includes a 300-foot buffer zone around schools.

Presently, the only shelter option in the valley is the seasonal shelter, which is open between December and March, operated by the Santa Clarita Community Development Corp.

Executive director Tim Davis has said the development corporation’s goal would be a permanent shelter and a transitional-living program to help people get their lives back on track.

By 8;45 p.m., the council had not yet heard a presentation on a potential site for a new courthouse in Santa Clarita.

With $50 million in state funding set aside for a new courthouse, the city will examine the feasibility of building it on several acres along Golden Valley Road, just east of the intersection of Centre Pointe Parkway.

The city’s plan has been to erect a new courthouse as part of an expanded civic center.

A $5 billion state bond approved last year is putting money toward the renovation or replacement of 41 courthouses statewide. Of that, $50 million is set aside for Santa Clarita.

The city was near the top of the list, which means it must show initiative to the state, according to Paul Brotzman, the city’s director of community development.

Tuesday’s meeting began with the council honoring the Saugus High School girls soccer team for winning the CIF State Souther Section Championship.



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