Let’s understand this, too: That growth isn’t going to stop.
In the first 18 years of this century alone, Santa Clarita gained nearly 68,500 new residents – or, more than the total population of the largest cities in Maine, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming – to solidify its standing as the third-largest city in Los Angeles County.
And, by 2035, the Southern California Association of Governments predicts Santa Clarita will be hovering around 240,000 residents.
We can’t post a “no vacancy” sign at the city limits. We can’t turn away people at Sylmar to the south or Gorman to the north. People will move here – and we can’t stop them.
We can’t wish them away with cranky Facebook posts, either. Or simply cease building homes in already-approved residential developments to accommodate them.
What we can do is engage. We can take an active role in a civil dialogue. We can attend planning commission and city council meetings. We can read the local news to stay in the know. We can communicate with our elected leaders.
We applaud the few dozen Tesoro residents who came out for a public hearing on March 30, with many expressing worries about a proposed project that would add 820 homes to the existing community.
Traffic was the chief concern. There’s already enough of it, they contend.
There’s an ongoing conversation about the proposed Centennial project, too, with a public hearing set for April 25. Given its location in the far northwestern corner of the county, nearly as convenient to Bakersfield as to Santa Clarita, we wouldn’t expect this 19,000-home development to have a direct impact on the heart of our city.
That doesn’t, however, lessen the impact for a constructive exchange of ideas and concerns. This is an opportunity to help shape the future.
Some local projects already have the green light, including the 21,000-home Newhall Ranch development on the valley’s west side that won approval last year following a spirited public process that motivated both proponents and opponents.
We still hear unhappy grumblings from some of those opponents. That’s simply wasted energy at this point, and we encourage those folks to find a conversation in which their passion can make a difference.
We’ve heard similar complaints, too, about the city’s plans to extend four major roadways – Dockweiler Drive, Magic Mountain Parkway, Santa Clarita Parkway and Via Princessa – by 2035. The goal is to help alleviate traffic snarls that are sure to become more pronounced with an increased population.
No amount of griping will make a difference in this conversation. Those angry social media comments won’t change anything. These projects, long ago approved as part of the city’s strategic planning efforts, are going forward and we contend that the short-term inconveniences will be a small price to pay.
Evolution requires foresight. We live in a desirable place. More people are coming. What we do now to accommodate the changes that are sure to happen in the future will be critical to our way of life.
Once upon a time, city officials and residents planned for your relocation to this valley. They considered housing and transportation infrastructure. They recruited restaurants and retail outlets. They sought answers for possible pitfalls.
We must do the same today. Be engaged. Be active. This is where your voice is most vitally important – in the planning process.