Proposed Sand Canyon Resort site visitors raise concern over open-space preservation

File Photo: Associate Planner Hai Nguyen speaks to a crowd as he gives a tour of the site of the proposed Sand Canyon Country Club.

More than two dozen people had the opportunity Tuesday to tour the proposed Sand Canyon Resort project site, with the majority voicing concerns over open-space preservation.

The Santa Clarita Planning Commission and members of the public, mostly Sand Canyon residents, saw firsthand two portions of the would-be, 77-acre resort, which is proposed for the northeast corner of Sand Canyon Road and Robinson Ranch Road.

The group first stood on land designated for the suggested three-story main hotel, which is planned to have 240 rooms at 165,000 square feet. Adjacent to the ground-level area is a hill that would need to be graded for the project’s wing for ballrooms, as well as fitness and salon facilities. This portion of the property is proposed to change from open space to “community commercial” land, according to Hai Nguyen, associate planner with the city.

The 30-minute tour ended on the western part of the site, where attendees saw the area suggested for the project’s oak villas, which are nine, one-story villas at about 38,000 square feet and one 9,500–square-foot, two-story villa.

While the site visit was no hearing or formal presentation, participants had a lot to say.

Among them was Sandra Cattell, chair of the Santa Clarita Valley Group of the Sierra Club Angeles chapter, who said she was mostly concerned about what the project would mean to preserve the area’s special standards district.

“I’m really upset,” she said. “This is designated open space. This is wildlife habitat. Since when do we just give away 77 acres just so somebody can have some financial gain?”

Sand Canyon is a special standards district under Chapter 17.39 of the Santa Clarita Municipal Code, meaning the area is to “maintain, preserve and enhance the rural and equestrian character of Sand Canyon.”

With multistory buildings and outdoor recreation areas, site visitors said they’re worried the project could change the neighborhood’s quiet, rural lifestyle with increased traffic, street lights and noise.

David Hong, Sand Canyon resident and local attorney, said this project does not only affect Sand Canyon residents. “People will say, ‘This is a country club, and this doesn’t really affect me.’ But it does affect people, because people come here to escape the bustle of the city and enjoy the rural life.”  

Steve Kim, CEO of Sand Canyon Country Club and applicant of the project, said after the tour in regards to the concerned residents’ comments: “More people support this; there’s only a few that don’t. This will add to the community and will bring amenities Sand Canyon doesn’t have.”

Supporters have said the resort will offer residents on the east side of the SCV more entertainment and dining options without having to travel across the valley to Valencia.

“Mr. Kim has the absolute right to develop his property, but within the confines of the law,” Hong said. “We hope the city and our elected leaders step up and protect us, and we are absolutely going to keep their feet to the fire on that.”

The Planning Commission said at its regular meeting after the tour that the body would like to see detailed project maps to get a better picture of the plan as several questions arose.

Nguyen said the next step is to release a draft of the project’s environmental impact report by the summer, followed by a Planning Commission review. A comment period will open after the EIR’s release.

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