The rancher horse-riding character of Placerita Canyon would be a thing of the past if city of Santa Clarita officials press ahead with their plan to connect Dockweiler Drive to 13th Street, some Placerita Canyon residents argue. On Thursday, the second of two public hearings were held on the city’s draft environmental impact report to connect Placerita Canyon neighborhoods through a couple of road-building, route-changing options. One option, the initial one favored by the city, calls for extending Lyons Avenue to Dockweiler Drive. An alternate plan proposed by the city calls for extending Dockweiler to 13th Street. Members of the Placerita Canyon Property Owners Association, however, oppose both plans on the fundamental question of preserving their rural way of life and point to a promise made in writing to preserve Placerita’s equestrian character. “It’s written into the General Plan to promote, protect and provide for our rural equestrian neighborhood,” Val Thomas, spokeswoman for the Placerita Canyon Property Owners Association. At the moment, each of the city’s two favored plans for opening up Placerita Canyon promise to erode the area’s equestrian character, Thomas told The Signal Friday. The city’s initial plan to extend Lyons Avenue to Dockweiler Drive was less vigorously pursued after comments made at both public hearings this month criticizing the plan as having the biggest environmental impact on the area. Plan B suggested by city officials is to extend Dockweiler to 13th Street. Thomas told The Signal Friday that because 13th Street is a T-intersection it comes with inherent problems. “No matter how much it is improved, it will remain a T-intersection,” she said. Extending Dockweiler to 13th Street, she said, has many drawbacks, including:
- It is often overcrowded with long waits.
- It does not lead directly to any destination.
- Traffic waiting to turn in from the north often lines up past 14th Street cutting off a lane of traffic on Railroad.
- The U-turn allowed from the north further impedes access.
The more fundamental concern – if not an out-and-out deal breaker for rancher types and horse owners in Placerita – is the promise in writing to preserve their rural way of life. The 13th Street crossing is within Placerita Canyon’s Special Standards District in which the City guarantees the community’s rural equestrian neighborhood, Thomas said. Directing more traffic into the Special Standards District will require a General Plan Amendment, she claims. The Placerita Canyon residents left city officials with an alternative plan to consider, however. “The PCPOA applauds the city for recognizing the physical and environmental challenges of the Lyons to Dockweiler extension,” Thomas said Friday, noting she and others have always favored a connection to Market Street. “Here’s what we favor,” Thomas said. “Bring Dockweiler, as planned, down to Arch Street or Pine Street. Instead of having traffic bear right to the 13th Street crossing, have it bear left to Market Street. “Market Street is an already-improved crossing. Traffic can go right, left or straight. It leads both to Railroad for north and south travel or directly into Downtown Newhall,” she said. The group’s final pitch to city officials: “Please choose the simplest and best alternative and take the Dockweiler traffic down to Arch or Pine and then over to Market Street.” City officials are expected to address the comments and suggestions made by the Placertia Canyon residents.