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Residents weigh rural character, freedoms

Plan to preserve San Francisquito Canyon may restrict property owners as well as developers

Posted: August 25, 2009 9:52 p.m.
Updated: August 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.

LOS ANGELES — San Francisquito Canyon residents on Tuesday sparred before county supervisors over a long-awaited plan that would preserve the area’s rural character but also restrict what property owners can do with their own land.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the community standards district for the ranch community north of Santa Clarita, putting the restrictions one step away from taking effect. The final vote on the matter is set for next month.

“We want to keep urban development out,” San Francisquito resident Judy Reinsma told supervisors.

Under the plan, lot sizes in San Francisquito Canyon must be 2 acres or larger, effectively barring developers from erecting suburban-style neighborhoods there.

But the community standards district would also carry restrictions for current property owners.

“Community standards district require another level of government,” homeowner Paul Harris told supervisors Tuesday. “This does not allow me to develop my property the way I want.”

Harris said the standards district wouldn’t allow him to subdivide his 5-acre lot into two smaller lots and build two homes on his 5-acre lot.

However, Harris could possibly get permission from county agencies to go ahead with his plan even if the district is approved, said Paul Novak, planning deputy for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley.

Plans for the community standards district have been in the works for about two years, part of San Francisquito Canyon residents’ nearly decade-long fight against developers trying to build up the rural enclave.

The Tesoro Del Valle project and an attempt to build more than 400 condos in the canyon in 1999 started a grassroots movement to halt development, Reinsma said.

“Those were the things that made us look at the problems we were facing with development closing in on us,” she said.



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