Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Happenings: Planning Commission Resolves to Recommend

Tonight’s Planning Commission meeting brought Santa Clarita one step closer to annexing Hasley Hills/Castaic in the non-binding, not-really-anything-but-quasi-symbolic way we Claritans love so much.

By a vote of 5-0, the Commission acted per the agenda recommendation[1]:

“Staff recommends the Planning Commission open the public hearing; receive testimony from the public; and adopt Resolution No. P08-04, recommending to the City Council that it adopt a resolution to adopt the Negative Declaration and approve Master Case 07-206; General Plan Amendment 07-003, Prezone 08-002, Annexation 07-003, and Sphere of Influence Amendment 07-001 for the Hasley Hills/Valencia Commerce Center Annexation.”

I know—it’s like Russian dolls. We have a recommendation to adopt a resolution to recommend adoption of a resolution in one masterfully constructed sentence. The impression I got, essentially, is that the City is just laying the groundwork that will make potential future annexation into Santa Clarita faster and easier for Castaicians, our neighbors to the north.

Commissioners Dennis Ostrum and Diane Trautman wanted to be sure that the recommended actions wouldn’t prevent citizens in Castaic from deciding if they annex into Santa Clarita or incorporate on their own. Sharon Sorenson clarified things: LAFCO has mechanisms to ensure majority rule, so even with pre-zoning and general plan amending, Castaic could still incorporate rather than annex into Santa Clarita. It's up to the residents.

Who, then, would try and stand in the way of a little pre-zoning and sphere-of-influence-amending? Steve Teeman of the Castaic Area Town Council[2], for one, was opposed. He talked about the 3,000-strong community of Hasley Hills pushing actions like this one forward while the other 22,000 Castaic residents want to make sure the community acts in a unified way and it its collective best interest. Also from the Castaic Area Town Council was John Kunac. He condemned the planned action, saying “There’s no information yet!” Kunac was not against annexation per se, but he wants the public to see a study on annexation due out early next year before any actions are taken. He expressed skepticism over just how much Castaic stands to gain from annexation. Further, he claimed that the City of Santa Clarita is trying to carve out for itself the one portion of Castaic that will make incorporation for the remainder of Castaic financially unviable.

Despite these pleas, Kennedy, Burhart, and Ostrum noted that they were just facilitating future actions and not doing (or recommending the City do) anything drastic and unalterable.

I laid out my own set of rules for annexation in this March's piece in inside SCV[3] magazine. Unfortunately, my recommendations are not yet part of the annexation dialogue.

[1]Full City of Santa Clarita Planning Commission agenda available here.
Castaic Area Town Council site.
[3]The magazine and my article

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