A Senate bill calling for one new all-encompassing water district for the Santa Clarita Valley has passed the first of two Assembly committees scheduled to review it.
The Santa Clarita Valley Water District Act – SB 634 – passed unanimously out of the Assembly Committee on Local Government Thursday
The bill was approved by the Senate on May 31 and, a day later, read in the Assembly, and was then referred two committees for review: the Committee on Local Government and the Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife.
No date has been set for the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife to review it.
According to a news release issued by the senator who authored the bill: “SB 634 creates a collaborative effort between residents, representatives of the agencies and the Local Agency Formation Commission ensuring once again, transparency and accountability.”
LAFCO’s Executive Director Paul Novak, however, told The Signal Thursday that no amendments were made in response to concerns raised by its commissioners earlier this month.
“As far as I know, no amendments (have been made) since our last Commission meeting on June 12th,” Novak said.
On June 12, LAFCO commissioners whose job it is to assess and then approve or deny annexations and mergers voted to withdraw its previous “oppose unless amended” position and adopted a “neutral” position, as recommended by LAFCO staffers.
LAFCO decided to withdraw its previous position of “oppose unless amended” since SB 634 was amended to address the agency’s concerns.
However, it decided against outright supporting the bill for two reasons.
One concern hinges on prejudice – that if the bill goes through, LAFCO could be called upon to impose conditions on the merger application farther down the road. Supporting the bill now could be construed as a statement in support of the application.
LAFCO’s fundamental concern about the bill, however, since it was first introduced in February, is that the new district will be created by the Legislature and not by L.A. LAFCO.
For more than a year, officials with the Castaic Lake Water Agency – SCV’s water wholesaler – and the Newhall County Water District – one of its four local water retailers – have been hammering out details of a merger, eliciting input from the public at four public meetings.
In December, both the CLWA and NCWD signed a settlement agreement calling for legislation to be drafted and submitted.
In February, SB 634 was introduced to create one new all-encompassing water agency that would manage and distribute water throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.
SB634 was authored by state Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).
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