Councilman Miranda opposes Old Town Newhall amendment

Newly-appointed city councilman Bill Miranda is sworn in ahead of the meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. Katharine Lotze/Signal
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All opposed?

“Nay,” Councilman Bill Miranda said.

Miranda voted against the amendment to the Old Town Newhall Specific Plan at the city council meeting Tuesday night.

Santa Clarita’s newest councilmember said he wanted to ensure that only small entertainment and art businesses set up shop on Main Street and didn’t believe the amendment would necessarily reflect that.

The amendment makes a one year long moratorium that expires in April permanent. Under the moratorium, Old Town Newhall is to be a pedestrian-oriented arts and entertainment district. However, not all businesses that will be built on Main Street will necessarily fit that category.

“We’re trying to make it an arts and entertainment district and so I want to make sure that the businesses that we permit over there are business that are in line with arts and entertainment,” Miranda said later in the week.

The councilman said he took some wording of the plan to mean that there would be exceptions made in regards to the types of businesses allowed on Main Street. He said if city council starts making exceptions for businesses, Old Town Newhall will never change.

Miranda said he believed there were multiple businesses who had exceptions made for them that did not fall under the arts and entertainment category. He said he is a large proponent of the revitalization, but wants to ensure the area is restricted to restaurants, entertainment and specialty retail shops.

Ben Jarvis, Santa Clarita’s associate planner, verified that while Main Street will be aimed at arts and entertainment, there will be other types of businesses there as well.

“Of course, yes, there will be,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis explained that there will be specialty retail stores on the ground level of Main Street among the arts and entertainment businesses and service stores will be allowed on the second floor of buildings.

While Miranda said he respects the part of the plan that honors non-entertainment related businesses that are already established to be grandfathered, he does not want any new businesses to open that are unrelated to art, such as pool supply, car repair and check cashing stores.

When the matter is revisited at the next meeting, Miranda said he anticipates he’ll stand by his ‘nay,’ but said he will vote otherwise if he can be convinced new businesses are aligned with the vision of the revitalization.

“At this point I’m not sure I want to change my vote,” he said. “I’m not saying the plan does not reflect that, I’m just saying I want to make sure it does reflect that.”

Both Councilmembers Marsha Mclean and Bob Kellar voted to accept the amendment. Councilwoman Laurene Weste recused herself from voting citing a conflict of interest because she owns property near Old Town Newhall. Mayor Cameron Smyth was out of town on business the day of the meeting.

The amendment will be revisited on March 14 and needs three out of five votes to pass.

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