City council meetings to resume on Tuesday

City of Santa Clarita City Hall

Santa Clarita’s city council will be back in action on Tuesday, Aug. 22 after their six-week summer break.

“On hiatus, the council remained busy with community events,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said. “We are still doing prep work and are ready to be back to finish the year strong.”

Council members are poised to take their next steps on previous issues, propelling them into the third quarter of the year with an emphasis on development and streamlining existing processes.

Making progress

Of the various projects, the new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station will take two steps forward. The council will approve the environmental report for the station as well as a resolution to construct and operate a heliport.

“The current sheriff’s station is inadequate for the community,” Smyth said. “The sooner we are able to get that constructed and up-to-date, from a technological standpoint as well, the better it will be for officers and will help give them the ability to keep Santa Clarita one of the safest cities in America.”

As construction on a new parking structure in Old Town Newhall progresses, council members will revisit the issue of insufficient parking spaces on Main Street at their Tuesday meeting.

Council members plan to discuss potential amendments to the Old Town Newhall Specific Plan to establish parking requirements as well as a “parking in lieu” fee program, which would charge business owners for added parking spaces.

Alternatively, visitors could pay to park or businesses could pay an annual fee to cover the cost, the latter of which failed in 2014 due to a lack of community support.

The community-funded Fallen Warriors Monument is back on the agenda as the council plans to decide whether or not to move forward without any vetted names of fallen soldiers from World War I.

“I think it is time for the council to make a decision on this item and move forward one way or another,” Smyth said. “Everyone has done a good job working with the city to put it in as good of a position as they can.”

Affordable housing

As required by state code, the council will have to determine next steps for construction of affordable housing on 23652 Newhall Avenue near Valle Del Oro.

Staff recommends the council extend their Aug. 31 deadline by five years to allow them more time to decide what to do with the property, taking into consideration its size, neighboring uses and the limited funds available.

“I’m a believer that individual cities or counties should have flexibility to determine affordable housing programs for themselves,” Smyth said.

Considering the aging senior population, Smyth said the market will dictate the future of housing developments in the city. Development should be encouraged, he said, but developers can ultimately do as they wish.

Going green

For those with electric vehicles, the council will be discussing an expedited permitting process for setting up charging stations.

Under Assembly Bill 1236, which encourages the installation and use of electric vehicle charging stations, cities must create a streamlined process for approving permits for the stations.

The city already has a permitting process for these stations but must create a code for the process by law.

“We take great pride in streamlining existing processes and not being too heavily bureaucratic,” the mayor said. “We are constantly reviewing our practices.”

Additionally, the council will approve plans to streamline permits for rooftop solar panels on homes.

These smaller-scale solar panels are no longer new technology and have been fairly well vetted, according to the mayor, so he wants to make the process as easy as possible for community members.

“We certainly want to encourage people to transition to green energy,” Smyth said. “The last thing I want to hear is that someone did not get solar panels or an electric car because of bureaucracy at city hall.”

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