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Saugus residents who attended a community meeting regarding the proposed Saugus Library Center on Thursday.

Judging by the reaction of most of my fellow residents after the meeting, it’s clear that I’m not the only one who was left much more frustrated than when I arrived.

It became very clear that this series of community meetings is nothing more than a PR tour for the Santa Clarita Public Library, as the city long ago decided that there will be a library in Saugus.

Darren Hernandez, deputy city manager, spent much of the meeting touting the statistics of the current library system, merely glancing over the results of surveys and community outreach, all the while dismissing any resident who tried to speak up with concerns or questions.

Attendees were not given a chance to voice their opinions to the room, only being told to write their concerns on a comment card, which consisted of a 3×5 index card and a golf pencil.

In my opinion a very important point that Mr. Hernandez failed to spend much time talking about was the needs assessment survey. The city conducted a needs assessment survey for the Saugus Library Center, the results of which are easily found on the Santa Clarita Public Library website.

The city surveyed two zip codes; 91350 and 91390, with a total population of roughly 55,000. Exactly 1,522 survey responses were received, representing a mere 2 percent of residents of the Saugus area.

By any standards, this lackluster response shows the absence of need for a library center in Saugus. Regardless, the city is set on shoving its $35 million library down the throat of Saugus because it is part of the “Santa Clarita 2020” master plan.

Furthermore, the proposed site at the corner of Plum Canyon Road and Via Joyce Drive is unsuitable. Each of the other three locations for the Santa Clarita Public Library are in commercially zoned areas, one of them even being located in a strip mall next to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant.

The Saugus Library Center does not belong embedded within a residential area, directly adjacent to homes in a quiet neighborhood. The city of Santa Clarita needs to go back to the drawing board on this one.

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  • Brian Baker

    Well, I don’t know how accurate that survey was, since I live in Saugus in the 91390 zip code, and never even heard of it until just now.

    So if I’m any indication, I wouldn’t count on that survey as indicating a lack of interest on the part of the residents if they never even got it. For all I know the survey was based on a representative sampling rather than a full area mailing.

  • noonan

    Libraries? How quaint. The new one in Stevenson Ranch had a patron the other day.

  • Ryan Morse

    Brian, the manner in which the survey data was gathered is not published, so we are left to guess. Regardless of how the data was gathered, settling on input from ~2% of a population, even conducted as a representative sampling, does not by any means accurately reflect the population as a whole. The point I was trying to make, in limited words, is that if the city had engaged in a much more broad conversation with the community, it would have seen that the “need” for a $34 million dollar library in Saugus may not be as dire as it has been made out to be.

    With that being said, it would appear as if a library in Saugus is happening, with Mr. Hernandez stating at the meeting that a library in Saugus WILL be built, it is only a matter of when and where. I only ask that the city continue with it’s practice of placing library branches within commercially zoned areas, as are the other 3. This mammoth library/community center does not belong in a neighborhood. To put this into perspective for some Saugus residents that may not be aware of what is really being proposed: The brand new Sheriff’s Station that will be built along Golden Valley Rd. is slated to be 44,000 sqft. The library proposed at Plum Cyn./Via Joyce is 38,000 sqft. Do we really need a Sheriff station sized library compound right in the middle of a neighborhood? Does the library get a helipad also?

    • Brian Baker

      Well, I attended the City Council meeting at which the new sheriff station was discussed, and the primary issue there was locating it centrally to make response times throughout the valley more equitable, and that made perfect sense to me.

      As to this library, all I can say, once again, is that I just don’t know much about it, never having seen any mailings, and if nothing else, I do agree with you that the lack of notice and information is a problem, and a failing on the part of the city.