Businesses support proposal for streamlining city regulations

Progress continues on Center at Needham Ranch in Newhall as viewed from Sierra Highway on Wednesday. The development is an example of how new construction is helping to attract new quality jobs to the area, according to business officials. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Santa Clarita Valley business community is expressing support for new zoning rules the city hopes will help streamline development and reach its goal of “providing two jobs per every new housing unit constructed.”

The Job Creation Overlay Zone was supported by both the SCV Chamber of Commerce and the SCV Economic Development Corp., which noted these standards would help further the city’s “business-friendly” reputation.

One of the biggest impacts is that it would raise the allowable height for office buildings, which is a necessity to make local industrial space competitive with locations south of the Newhall pass, business officials said.

“The SCV Chamber also supports increasing beyond the proposed allowable height on office buildings to six stories and to establish an equivalent height for industrial buildings, as well,” according to a statement put out by the business-advocacy group Thursday.

“As our business community continues to grow with new business moving here and local company expansions,” said Nancy Starczyk, chair of the board for the SCV Chamber of Commerce, “it is vital for the city of Santa Clarita to provide appropriate development opportunities that meet current and future needs of business which bring high-paying jobs to our city.”

Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corp., praised the proposal as a move “in the right direction and consistent with the trends we are seeing.”

“Changes in technology have made these taller buildings for industrial centers much more efficient; they’re also much more desirable for the film and entertainment industry,” Schroeder said, “and if we want to keep attracting these jobs to the Santa Clarita Valley, we need to be proactive in meeting the needs of these industries.”

The new regulations would impact existing business parks and industrial centers, according to Jason Crawford, manager of economic development for the city of Santa Clarita.

“We tried to be very responsible in how we looked at streamlining this, where the new office buildings of this height would make the most sense,” Crawford said. “In trying to be responsible, we only have this pertaining to existing business parks where there are already buildings of an existing size today.”

Crawford added the new rules wouldn’t impact construction next to residential areas.

“These are locations that are not near houses, that are in or close to business parks, that are in a transportation corridor,” he added. “We want to find that balance of increasing the job opportunities for high-paying jobs while making sure our neighborhoods keep the same character and quality of life that folks are accustomed to.”

The move to streamline procedures wouldn’t impact the state’s California Environmental Quality Act guidelines that require environmental review for new development, according to city officials.

The plan has been well-received so far, Crawford said, noting there would be further discussion of the plan at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting.

If the commission approves the plan, it could be before the City Council for approval in June.

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