Council forms homeless committee; mayor opposes Measure H

Carolyn Odien, left, and Sheila Wyeth prepare clothes that are available for the homeless to pick up at Bridge to Home's winter shelter on Drayton Street in Santa Clarita on Christmas Eve. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

The Santa Clarita City Council has formed an ad hoc committee to study solutions to homelessness in the city in more depth.

But don’t expect a warm embrace of county Measure H to be among the committee’s actions.

“I don’t support measure H for a couple of reasons,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said Thursday in regard to the quarter-center sales-tax increase, targeted toward a wide array of homeless programs, which will be on the ballot on March 7.

Smyth, who initiated the idea of a Council committee on homeless issues, will serve on the panel with Councilwoman Marsha McLean.

“I think asking the people of L.A. County to support an additional $3 billion in taxes over the next 10 years, when the voters passed several other tax-increase measures in the fall, is too much to ask too soon,’’ Smyth said.

“I also question the motives of putting this on a special election when you will probably have less than a 10 percent voter turnout,” he added.

“Clearly, the issue of homelessness is one that needs to be addressed, not just in L.A. County, but here in Santa Clarita, and there are some very good proposals in the measure. I just don’t believe it should be done during the special election.”

Smyth said in his opinion the solutions proposed under Measure H could be funded in other manners, but stressed he has not yet spoken to McLean, other Council members or L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger regarding the issue.

For her part, McLean, asked if she would support Measure H, told The Signal, “I’m staying out of that one – I’m leaving it up to the taxpayers.’’

Measure H – strongly supported by Barger — calls for a quarter-cent sales-tax increase that would raise an estimated $355 million a year over its 10-year lifespan. Barger had pushed for the proposed tax increase to be targeted, specifically, toward homeless issues, and has said an auditor would be employed to ensure transparency on that aspect.

In short, Measure H is intended to address specific 51 strategies, 21 that would require funding, including mental health, substance abuse treatment, health care, education, job training, rental subsidies, emergency and affordable housing, transportation, outreach, prevention, and supportive services for homeless children, families, foster youth, veterans, battered women, seniors, disabled individuals, and other homeless adults.

“I’m looking at it here in Santa Clarita,’’ he said. “That’s why I asked the Council to put together the ad hoc committee, so we can put something together with the non-profits, government agencies and possibly the private sector.”

“Santa Clarita can find solutions without saddling the residents with a quarter-center sales tax for the next 10 years.”

But, McLean questions “where has all the money gone that was supposed to go to those programs in the first place?”

According to the L.A. Homeless Services Authority, more than 7,000 homeless in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys combined, and more than 300 in the city of Santa Clarita alone in a 2016 survey.

“Certainly, our needs are different that than Antelope Valley and the San Fernando Valley,’’ Smyth said. “I envision the committee would come up with Santa Clarita-specific ideas.

“It’s obviously not a quick fix, it’s obviously a complex issue with many facets, so it’s going to be a long-term plan, but I thought getting the committee formed would be a good first step.”

Neither Smyth nor McLean would predict whether the full Council would take a position on Measure H ahead of the March 7 county vote.

[email protected]

(661) 287-5525



Related To This Story

Latest NEWS