Castaic residents weigh in on project

A map of the planned Northlake development project in Castaic.

The Castaic community weighed in on the proposed Northlake development project Wednesday night with many Castaic business owners supporting it and longtime residents opposing it.

At least 50 people showed up at Northlake Hills Elementary School to hear details of the plan to develop land between Castaic Lake and Interstate 5, and voice their opinion.
Developer John Arvin, described as the lead man on the project representing Northlake Associates LLC, described Northlake as “more environmentally friendly than any other plan in the last 25 years.”

“The project has been around for a long time,” he said, noting its approval by Los Angeles County in 1992. “Business owners actually moved here anticipating this project would move forward,” he said.

Arvin pointed out to people sitting inside the school’s multi-purpose room that Northlake Hills Elementary School was built as part of the initial plan.

Promising to preserve two existing ridge lines on the 1,330 acres earmarked for the project.

Northlake is to be built in two phases with the first phase calling for 1,974 “dwelling units” made up of 588 homes, 345 senior multi-family units and 1,041 multi-family units.

Explaining the multi-family units, Arvin described them as not apartment building units, while project spokesman John Musella described them as them as “duplexes and townhomes.”

Arvin highlighted a number of environmental Northlake initiatives including the transfer of 167 acres initially set aside for a golf course now being turned into 167 acres of open space.

He also described setting up a tram system with trams that “stop at parks, stop at schools and stop at Castaic proper.”

Other environmental perks include: the installation of 100 electric charging stations “in an effort to promoted the use of electric vehicles;” use of recycled water and using storm water to recharge the area’s groundwater.
Bonnie Nikolai, speaking as both a Castaic resident and member of the Castaic Area Town Council, spoke in favor of the project, citing a decline in school enrollment and a need for homes.

Cheryl Ramirez, speaking on behalf of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, said: “I’m here to speak in favor of the project.

“Many businesses located to this area in anticipation of this project,” she said. “We urge you to move this project through the final stages for approval.”

Flo Lawrence, also a member of Castaic Area Town Council, applauded the developer’s plan to preserve open space.

“Where I live in Castaic there is no place for me to go and shoot baskets with my son,” he said. “The fact that you’re going to connect existing paths with new paths makes it ideal for hiking and mountain biking.”

Failing to proceed with Northlake would leave Castaic a “ghost town, commercially,” he said.

Longtime resident Phil Owen spoke out against the project citing a concern there wouldn’t be sufficient law enforcement to cover Castaic and the new sub-community. “This plan was approved in 1992, well a lot has changed since 1992,” he said.

Castaic resident Sally White said: “The Santa Clarita Valley does not need 3,000 new homes.

“With it comes an increase in the number of cars and trucks,” shes said.

Although conceding that the Northlake plan is a “beautiful design,” she said it just isn’t the right time or right place” for it.

Ken Nelson, who said he’s lived in Castaic for 17 years, said: “Three thousand additional cars is not going to help our community. I’m here to speak against this project.”

Also opposed was Adrian Dyrness, who said: “I see more and more things being built here. If we develop, year after year, then we’re going to lose what makes Castaic unique.”

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