Santa Clarita residents joined in the city council chambers on Tuesday for the first council meeting since the six-week summer hiatus.
Community members came with a summer’s-worth of questions and concerns and the council spent considerable time recognizing nine community members who died over the break.
Those known and unknown
Completing unfinished business, council members decided to move forward with the community-funded Fallen Warriors Monument without any World War I names.
Despite concern prior from Councilwoman Laurene Weste that the monument should not be constructed until WWI names are found and vetted, the council voted to move forward with acknowledgement of fallen warriors “known and unknown.”
“I’m just here to urge you to finish without the World War I heading,” Bill Reynolds, who spearheaded the project and serves as The Signal’s director of veterans’ affairs said.
Former Councilman TimBen Boydston used public comment time to urge the council to move forward with the memorial.
“I am hopeful that we don’t ask for the names of those in the Spanish-American War, or something else that could slow us down,” Boydston said.
Leaving the WWI heading in case names come up in the future makes the most sense, according to Councilman Bill Miranda and Councilwoman Laurene Weste.
“At minimum, I’d like to have something that acknowledges WWI happened,” Weste said. “It’s important to give more credit and more history rather than less.”
In disagreement, Councilman Bob Kellar said the monument looked better without the empty WWI column and believed Reynolds did his due diligence to research possible names.
With recommendation from Councilwoman Marsha McLean and Mayor Cameron Smyth, the council agreed that a prominent acknowledgement of those unknown who were killed in WWI would suffice without a specific heading for the war.
Paying for parking
The council discussed further strategies to solve issues with limited parking in Old Town Newhall.
This could mean possible amendments to the Old Town Newhall Specific Plan, such as establishing parking requirements or a “parking in lieu” fee program proposed by city staff, which would charge business owners $39,034 per additional parking space.
Instead, businesses could pay an annual fee to cover the cost or customers could pay to park. The proposition to have businesses pay failed in 2014 because of a lack of community support.
“This is time for the city to act and come up with a long-term solution,” Associate Planner Ben Jarvis said.
Construction is currently underway on a parking structure on Main Street to address the parking shortage as well. The city does not currently have a funding source for a second parking structure, according to city staff.
Business owner and Newhall resident Jim Coffey disagreed with the parking in lieu program and suggested “reasonable” assessment fees or meter parking for customers.
“The parking necessity and responsibility need to be shared by all, not few,” Coffey said.
Several community members spoke in favor of adding a second parking structure.
Councilman Kellar suggested extending the discussion in order to garner more community input.
Mayor Cameron Smyth said business owners deserve some certainty and did not think the conversation should be delayed much longer.
“There is no clear community consensus that we’ve seen here to date,” Economic Development Associate Denise Covert said.
The council agreed to continue the discussion at an undetermined date.
In an effort to streamline common city actions, the council talked about expediting the process of providing permits for solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations.
“This shows that the state legislature can expedite matters when it’s important to them,” Smyth said.