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Jeff Moir: There goes the neighborhood

SCV Voices

Posted: April 20, 2009 10:00 p.m.
Updated: April 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

In response to Saturday's article by Josh Premako regarding the development along Lyons Avenue ("Developer offers project," April 18), I happen to reside next to the proposed project at Lyons Avenue and Arcadia Street. While the concept drawing shown in The Signal is indeed a beautiful building, it is at best only an artist's rendering and does not show any of the detrimental effects that will be brought to the neighborhood on the Arcadia side of the project.

While I concede that development of the lot is inevitable, I, as well as many of my neighbors, take exception to zoning the building for multi-occupancy residential.

The neighborhood is comprised of single-story, ranch-style homes on oversized lots. It is a quiet street without sidewalks where neighbors know one another, people walk their dogs, and children walk to school without fear of avoiding traffic. There is pride among the homeowners. Yards are well-manicured and stray trash is quickly picked up.

To add the element of multi-residential apartment-type units to this street would be a disaster. With the addition of transient tenants with nothing vested in maintaining the quality of the neighborhood, traffic, congestion, trash and neighborhood security would all suffer because of them.

The height of the building itself, when measured from the Lyons Avenue level to two stories above Arcadia, is enormous - 55 feet.
Per the Santa Clarita Municipal Code, the floor area ratio (FAR) for community commercial (CC) occupancies must be .375:1, not including parking space, etc. This lot size is approximately 20,000 square feet. By applying that ratio, the floor space of any approved structure should be no more than 7,500 square feet. According to your figures, the total of residential, office and retail is 12,379 squre feet, well above what is customarily allowed by conventional zoning.

The required setback from residential property lines is 25 feet, not to mention those required for the massive heritage oak tree that hangs over a large portion of the property. The maximum height is 35 feet. By playing loose and fast with the Multiple Use Overlay, a sly developer can circumvent the requirements of CC zoning. That's exactly what's going on here.

It is well within the power of the Planning Commission to limit the excessive aspects of this project to parameters that are acceptable to the neighborhood. As is, the proposed building far exceeds the customary square footage allowable for the footprint of land on which it sits.

It is only by virtue of the allowances built into the Multiple Use Overlay that they are getting away with this, rather than having to follow the rules for the CC zoning. This is just another example of a greedy developer trying to squeeze every last nickel out of a piece of land in an area that is totally unsuited for its proposed use and getting the blessing of the Planning Commission to do so.
See you at the commission's meeting tonight.

Jeff Moir is a Newhall resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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