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Cam Noltemeyer: burning the midnight oil

Environmentally Speaking

Posted: November 17, 2010 2:08 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2010 4:30 a.m.

At the Tuesday night Santa Clarita Planning Commission meeting, the commission members continued their assault on the residential community.

Only after three contentious agenda items involving the residential community did they start Item 4 on their agenda, Master Case No. 10-128, General Plan Amendment 10-002, Draft Program EIR SCH# 20080771133.

What’s that, you ask? Why should you care? After all, it was already 10:50 p.m. before they started the staff presentation.

It couldn’t possibly be important to the community.

Only if you care how your city is going to be developed for the next 50 years, according to the presentation.

Item 4 was the public hearing for the One Valley, One Vision City General Plan Land Use Element and Circulation Element. Didn’t you understand that from the title on the agenda? The purpose of the meeting according to the staff report
was to provide the community with an opportunity to participate in the planning process.

Maybe if you attended the meeting, arrived there by 7 p.m. and were lucky enough to find and pick up from the back table an item labeled Agenda Item 4, then you could follow the lengthy staff presentation that went on until almost midnight.

Only a few brave souls remained at that hour to present their excellent comments in the three minutes allocated to them by the commission. Those comments raised some serious issues about the staff report.

If you want to know what is really going on with the so-called One Valley, One Vision plan, download the 13-page staff report that was given to the planning commissioner.

Check “Preservation of Open Space/Valley Greenbelt.” It reads: “The reduction of residential densities in nonurban areas provides for a natural transition between the built environment and protected open space.”

Translation: The city is the “built environment,” and the county is “the reduction of residential densities in nonurban area,” and the “protected open space” is the land purchased by the city from the open-space assessment (tax) that only the residents of the city pay — even though the open space is in the county. 

Confused? You should be, and that appears to be their intent.

In short, the entire One Valley, One Vision General Plan is based on putting all the increased density in the city and reducing the density in the county.

The city has no control over the future development in the county, now or ever. Why would the city agree to such an impossible vision?

The planning commissioners should know this: They have made numerous general-plan changes. In fact, it seems to be their specialty. Why would they think that the county would not do the same thing in the next 50 years? 

For the last 15 years, the city of Santa Clarita and county of Los Angeles experienced unprecedented growth, permitting thousands of new housing units. According to the staff report, there currently are 40,500 entitled unbuilt units — 8,000 in the city and 26,000 in the county.

During this time, the planning agencies failed to address the many problems presented by the growth they were approving.
Case in point is the recent proposal to require the building of a $250 million desalination plant to reduce the chloride levels in the sewer water, which is caused by the huge increase in imported state water for the huge developments.

No effort was made to increase the connection fees on the new development that created the problem. Instead, planners want to raise everyone’s fees for the next 14 years for a plan that dumps the salt right back into the ground for future generations to deal with. Some plan.

The planning commissioners are also trying to annex into the city the Vista Canyon project located in the county — at the same time they are presenting a new general plan.

In the process, they are increasing the density on this project that is located in the flood plain of the Santa Clara River. It also states that the city of Santa Clarita will own and operate the required sanitation plant for the site. Of course it will be paid for by an assessment district on the property.

Does the city plan to require a plant that removes the chlorides? Since the majority, if not all the water for this site will be imported, it should.

This is just one example of how local planning officials try to pass the cost of high density on to the residents. Is this your vision for our city?

Cam Noltemeyer is a Santa Clarita resident and member of Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Environmentally Speaking” appears Thursdays and rotates among local environmentalists.


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