Councilmembers to address Old Town Newhall plan again

Santa Clarita City Hall
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Councilmembers revisited the amendment to the Old Town Newhall plan at their meeting Tuesday, which will be revisited again at the next meeting with suggested changes.

The council agreed to make the language more specific and not to pass it as is, but to reconsider once the language is clarified.

The amendment ensures that Main Street will be revitalized as primarily an arts and entertainment district, limiting large chain stores in favor of restaurants and specialty retail shops.

Mayor Smyth expressed concern about what a “specialty retail” could entail and that it might be interpreted too loosely to where an adult or marijuana store could be on Main Street.

“I’m concerned that it’s pretty broad that a lot of businesses could be under that,” Smyth said. “I’m afraid ‘specialty retail’ muddles it further and makes it less clear.”

City Attorney Joseph Montes said if the council wanted to alter the language on the plan to be more specific, they could but would have to go back to a first reading of the plan.

“There’s a certain amount of discretion that has to be used with language,” Montes said.

Councilmember Miranda said he still thought the current language allowed for too many exceptions to be made.

“I’m worried if we make exceptions for one, we’ll make exceptions for many,” Miranda said.

Councilwoman McLean said she was concerned that second hand stores such as the Assistance League would not be allowed on Main Street, but was told they would be with a specific permit.

Citizen Jim Coffey, who owns property in Old Town Newhall, expressed concern about the location of the parking structures on Main Street in relation to his property.

“If the parking structure is not required, I see no reason for it to be there at all,” Coffey said. “My concern is that the property does not become encumbered.”

City Manager Ken Striplin confirmed that the 2014 version of the plan suggests the potential for another parking garage, but does not require land owners to use their land for that purpose.

Councilmembers and community members also voiced their opinions on the results of the Community Needs Assessment.

The assessment, which was completed by 385 people in November and December, asked low-income city residents what their greatest needs were in order to strategically distribute grant funding.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Development assists low-income residents by distributing a $1.1 million Community Development Block Grant to go to housing, services, facilities and economic opportunities.

There was a 16 to 17 percent higher response rate to this survey than last year’s survey.

A person is considered low-income if they make less than 80 percent of the median income in their area. In Santa Clarita, an individual is considered low income if they make $48,650 or less and a family of four is considered low income if they make $69,450 or less.

One citizen expressed concern that senior citizens were at a disadvantage to the online survey because many do not have internet access. City Manager Striplin clarified that several local news outlets notified the public of the survey, allowing those without computers to be informed.

The action plan to address the needs listed will be shown to the council on May 9.

As proposed by Councilman Kellar at the last meeting, the council approved the offer of a $5,000 reward to find the person responsible for the fatal hit and run of 15-year-old Desiree Lawson.

The county of Los Angeles has already offered $20,000 to find the culprit of the incident, which occurred on Sierra Highway in Canyon Country on Dec. 26, 2016.

Councilwoman McLean expressed concern with the removal of turf and the addition of drought tolerant landscape on Orchard Village Road. She said she did not think the changes to the median in the road would be conducive to viewing the 4th of July parade.

City Manager Striplin said the changes are in alignment with state mandates for drought tolerant landscaping, creating a compromise that is both logistic and aesthetic.

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