City council to consider natural gas moratorium letter

Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean Katharine Lotze/Signal

The Santa Clarita City Council will consider joining other area groups in writing a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission expressing concerns about a proposed moratorium on new commercial and industrial natural gas service connections in both incorporated and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.

The council will take up debate during its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday after it was first requested by Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean.

“The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation estimates 5,160 fewer total jobs would be created in Los Angeles County. Additionally, the report estimates $879.5 million lost in future economic output, $323.9 million lost in future labor earnings, and $119.7 million lost in future federal, state and local tax revenues, of which $5.8 million will be lost in tax revenues to local cities,” city documents said.

The moratorium was initially going to be voted on this week and go into effect until March 31, but a vote on the moratorium was delayed until a Feb. 8 hearing in San Francisco.

Council agenda documents also referred to the moratorium’s potential impact to two healthcare projects: the opening of a new Northeast Valley Health Corp. clinic in Newhall and the opening of a new patient tower at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.

“The proposed moratorium also applies to new industrial and commercial connections in existing buildings. Therefore, a new tenant in an existing facility would also be unable to access natural gas during the moratorium period,” the council’s agenda packet said.

The CPUC said the moratorium would affect new commercial and industrial connections in areas of Los Angeles County that would rely on natural gas from Aliso Canyon, the site of the 2015 natural gas leak and is primarily meant to preserve public health and safety.

Theresa Nitescu, COO of Northeast Valley Health Corp., said earlier this month the group is one of the largest community health centers in the nation with existing offices in Canyon Country and Valencia, as well as the San Fernando Valley. The agency provides health care to needy families, many of which live below the federal poverty level.

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Roger Seaver said earlier this month the hospital’s new $151 million patient tower currently under construction is “desperately needed.”

Hilary Norton, chair-elect of the BizFed, said at a press conference earlier this month more than 400 businesses, employees and residents have signed the group’s petition against the moratorium. She said the moratorium would impact 700 public and private projects in the closing stages of development.

State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, and state Assemblyman Dante Acosta have both spoken against the proposed moratorium, the former saying it would have unintended consequences in a Jan. 4 letter to the commission.

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