City Council OKs JAG grants, new buses

City of Santa Clarita City Hall. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Aimed at improving public safety in Santa Clarita, the City Council accepted Tuesday more than $24,000 in grant funding from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance granted the city a total of $24,647 for 2018 through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program, just $30 less than in 2016 but nearly $800 more than in 2017.

“The city applies for this grant every year and funds are really to improve safety through a collaboration between the city and the (Santa Clarita Valley) Sheriff’s Station,” said Jerrid McKenna, assistant to the city manager.

State, tribes and local governments like Santa Clarita can receive grant funding to support multiple programs in law enforcement, education and mental health, according to the Office of Justice Programs website.

In late August, the city sought feedback from the community on the grant when it was first proposed for 2018. Questions prepared for those to provide commentary included where residents perceive gaps in public service exist. No feedback was received, however, McKenna said.

Despite no public commentary is received, the city and the Sheriff’s Station worked together decide funds will be used for the purchase of technology-advanced equipment to “enhance existing law enforcement, advance community policing efforts to help reduce crime, address quality-of-life issues and safeguard public safety” in the city, the agenda report reads.

With funds granted in the past, the Sheriff’s Station has obtained laser radars for motor deputies, electronic ticket writers and Automated License Plate Readers, which scan cars traveling on roads to alert deputies should a car be reported as stolen. Recent grant funds would cover for similar technology. 

“JAG funding is important to the city of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, because it supports ongoing crime prevention programs that have been proven successful in our community,” Mayor Laurene Weste said when feedback was sought.

The City Council also awarded contracts to two companies for the purchase of the five new, environmentally friendly Santa Clarita Transit buses. After reaching their 12-year cycle, two commuter buses and three local buses will be replaced with compressed natural gas-powered vehicles, which are “much more efficient, cleaner and a lot more reliable,” Transit Manager Adrian Aguilar said.

Additionally, City Council approved the Final Tract Maps for the Needham Ranch project, which includes a subdivision of 40 acres into six open space lots and five industrial and commercial lots west of Sierra Highway and south of Newhall Avenue.

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