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Paul Brotzman: Preserving our community’s character is priority one

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Posted: May 19, 2010 9:50 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2010 4:55 a.m.
After nearly 23 years of cityhood, Santa Clarita has already processed 28 annexations from neighborhoods bordering our city.

The City Council’s policy with regard to annexation is to make sure that these newly annexed neighborhoods do not put a new burden on the city, and are, at a minimum, “revenue neutral,” or that they provide some other overriding benefit to the residents of the city, such as securing open space.

Projects that have already been approved and entitled by Los Angeles County can — and generally are — built under county jurisdiction. Once a development is built under county jurisdiction, residents have often requested annexation to Santa Clarita.

On the May 25 City Council agenda is an item set to come before the council to consider modifying the city’s unified development code to allow the city the opportunity, only when appropriate, to annex and accept approved but unbuilt county projects into the city.

Contrary to a local activist’s theory, the reason the city would do this is to better work with developers before a project is built to potentially improve the project, without out throwing out the county’s conditions of approval.  

When development takes place in the unincorporated county and later annexes into Santa Clarita, the city then becomes responsible for providing city-level municipal services to these areas.  

When property is annexed prior to construction, it is more fiscally beneficial to the city’s general fund and gas tax revenues generated through property tax, transfer fees and vehicle license fees — helping to make these areas more self-sustaining by partially offsetting the cost of providing these municipal services.

What this proposed modification to the UDC will do is allow the city to consider accepting these county-approved and entitled projects “as is,” or with some modification, provided they meet the intent of the city’s General Plan.

It is always the city’s policy and practice to preserve the character of the communities and the integrity of the Santa Clarita Valley by permitting orderly growth through the availability of public facilities such as roads, sewers, parks, water service and schools necessary to support it.

Santa Clarita will continue its policy of pursuing an annexation policy that brings tangible benefits to city infrastructure and provides a self-supporting tax base.

By annexing the projects prior to their development, the city can also better negotiate additional amenities such as right-of-way dedications, street improvements, increased backbone infrastructure and/or potentially modified project mitigation measures that benefit the entire community.

Incorporating these types of improvements may bring certain aspects of a project more in tune with the desires of our city, as well as comply with the city’s General Plan.

The city’s ultimate goal with this change is to bring county-approved entitlements closer to compliance with the current provisions of the city’s requirements. The proposed unified development code amendment is a good first step toward making this happen.

Paul Brotzman is Santa Clarita’s director of community development. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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