SCV developing on pace with state priorities: homes, jobs, environment


It’s hard not to get excited when thinking about all that’s to come on the horizon for the Santa Clarita Valley.

Santa Clarita remains one of the safest cities in America, and projects like FivePoint’s Newhall Ranch, Pardee Homes’ Skyline Ranch and JSB Development’s Vista Canyon, to name a few, plans to bring thousands of new homes and jobs to an already-thriving spot that lays claim to being the third-largest city in Los Angeles.

With the Santa Clarita Valley’s detailed One Valley, One Vision unfolding according to, well, plan, there are several developments that have been creating not only jobs and homes, but also attention for the groundbreaking new ways they’ve been able to create sustainable communities.

From the 21,000 sustainable homes being built for Newhall Ranch on SCV’s west side to Vista Canyon on its east side, bringing with it Santa Clarita’s first large scale recycling facility, the projects are in pace with state priorities: homes, jobs and the environment.

Collectively, they reflect not just hammer-and-nails projects, but the crafting of a future that’s garnered attention beyond the serene greenbelt that surrounds the Santa Clarita Valley, and many would say even surpasses the goals for the One Valley, One Vision development plan when it was adopted as the SCV’s blueprint in June 2011.


Newhall Ranch: homes

This April, when county supervisors gave FivePoint the green light to proceed with two Newhall Ranch housing projects after certifying revamped reports on their environmental impact, what they approved was more than hammers-and-nails projects.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger described Newhall Ranch as being: “The nation’s first and only development that offsets all greenhouse gas emissions with innovative and state-of-the-art strategies, amenities and services.”

“The ‘Net Zero Newhall’ plan, she said. “Provides solar energy units, electric vehicle charging stations in every home, subsidies for zero-emission electric vehicle purchases, zero-emission school bus and electric bicycle programs, transit subsidies, and bike and car share programs.”

Sales for some of the 21,000 homes of Newhall Ranch could start as early as the first quarter of 2020, FivePoint spokesman Steve Churm said this month.

As well, land sales to homeowners could begin next year, he said.

“We really remain shoulder-to-shoulder with state officials on three pressing priorities: homes, jobs and the environment,” he said.

“So, we feel the project reflects that commitment,” he added.

Grading for homes west of Interstate 5 and south of Highway 126 began in the fall of 2017 and that “remains the primary action on the project at this moment,” Churm said.

Project collaboration

Thirty years ago, with Santa Clarita not even a year old and two decades away from being defined by One Valley, One Vision development was slow but sure with the assurance made to all involved that development was sure to include close negotiation with civic leaders.

In July 1988, as Los Angeles County supervisors worked with hotel developers to build a “5-storey upscale hotel and apartment complex behind Dennys” businesses jumped on the chance to set up shop on what is now referred to locally as Hamburger Hill.

The same story of economic development published in The Signal July 13, 1988, said supervisors were also working with Warner Brothers and other property owners to develop a 100-foot strip between Calgrove Boulevard and “dead end” of The Old Road.

The spirit of developer/legislator collaboration was hammered out six years ago when members of Santa Clarita City Council articulated precisely what economic growth should look like.

More development in SCV, means more money in SCV which means more jobs in SCV and more spending in SCV.

What they came up with – unanimously – was One Valley, One Vision.

One Valley, One Vision

They envisioned a jump in population from 167,185 in 2005 to 239,923 by 2035, according to the number crunching done by the Southern California Association of Governments, or SCAG. The ultimate “build-out” goal for the SCV caps at 483,000.

The population for the city of Santa Clarita is now about 225,000, according to City spokeswoman Carrie Lujan. County officials put the city population at 219,611.

The number of people already living in the Santa Clarita Valley, which includes the city and its unincorporated area, is estimated to be 293,042.

When the SCAG tried to gauge the rate of SCV’s growth back in 2011, the group looked at the years 1990 to 2000, when the city of Santa Clarita suddenly became the fourth largest community in the county. (The city is now the third largest city in L.A. County, surpassed in population size only by Long Beach and the city of Los Angeles.)

Planners found during that period, 60,000 people had settled into the SCV in about 10 years  — a jump of about 39 percent — reaching a population of 212,611 by 2000.

A tally of all the building projects underway in the SCV — from 1,000 homes being built as part of Vista Canyon in the east end, to 21,000 Newhall Ranch homes planned for the west side  — shows we still haven’t reached the “build-out” civic leaders agreed to back in June 2011.

Vista Canyon’s ‘Live, Work and Play’ plans

“We’ve been working on this project for more than a decade,” Vista Canyon developer Jim Backer said.  “It will provide a great center of activity for the East side of the (Santa Clarita) Valley, the way Town Center has done on the west side.

Backer highlighted aspects of the “sustainable model” he and his team have been striving to achieve.

High on the “net zero” list is introducing “multi-faceted modes of transportation,” he said, describing those modes as facilitating a close proximity to the Metrolink and a bus transfer station, promoting walking and biking.

“We want working, living and playing all in close proximity,” Backer said.

More than 10 miles of walking trails have been dedicated to the project, all of which connect with existing SCV trails.

What puts Vista Canyon on the cutting edge of local sustainability is the Water Factory – the city’s first large scale water recycling facility.

“We will achieve net zero,” Backer said, defining neto zero as “creating more water on annual basis than we use.  That’s what makes us unique.”

On the energy side of the net zero ledger is the pledge by Vista Canyon to dedicate 80,000 square feet of solar panels, envisioned on the tops of parking structures and office buildings.

And, if you need any further assurance that the project will benefit Santa Clarita remember this assurance from Backer: “Vista Canyon creates a significant job center by making it easier for people to stay here.”

Lincoln Place is ground zero in his vision of a centralized community on SCV’s east side.

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