Construction continues at Needham Ranch in Newhall as viewed from Sierra Highway on Wednesday. The Santa Clarita Planning Commission on Tuesday approved the construction of building 6, a more than 97,000-square-foot industrial structure.

City Council OKs new zoning rules that allow for taller industrial buildings, more jobs

The Santa Clarita City Council adopted new zoning rules Tuesday allowing for taller office and industrial buildings, a move aimed at enhancing the area’s business-friendly reputation and creating more jobs. 

After hearing from the public before their summer break, council members unanimously approved the Jobs Creation Overlay Zone, or JCOZ, to help reach the creation of two jobs for every new housing unit balance and “attract corporate headquarters and businesses within the key sectors of the film/television, biomedical, technology, and aerospace industries,” according to the city staff report. 

“It’s a great move from the city to stay at the forefront of what the needs are so that we can continue to attract jobs,” said Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. 

It’s time to plan for the future: That’s what other local business leaders voiced to the City Council when considering the first reading of the overlay zone ordinance in July. 

“It’s vital for the city to provide appropriate development opportunities that meet the current and future needs of businesses,” said John Musella on behalf of the SCV Chamber of Commerce during the July meeting. “If we can signal to companies that our planning allows for taller buildings in the overlay zone it will spur businesses to further growth opportunities in Santa Clarita. We need to look just no further than across the street to Princess Cruises when we attracted a corporation to come to Santa Clarita they moved into a six-story building.”

The attraction of projects and businesses to Santa Clarita that maximize employment opportunities is expected to reduce the 53% of residents who commute outside of the SCV for employment, according to city staff. 

The overlay zone will offer streamlined permitting and design incentives for qualifying office and industrial projects within eight targeted business park areas of the city, such as the Valencia Town Center, Tourney Road, Centre Point, upper Sierra Highway and Needham Ranch. 

The Needham Ranch location caused concern for at least one resident, however, for environmental purposes. 

“I was discouraged to see the city say that there were no environmental issues identified when in fact in that area there’s substantial environmental issues because it’s a wildlife corridor. There were oaks. There were all sorts of things,” said activist Lynne Plambeck. 

“The environmental issues with Needham Ranch is probably one of the most environmentally studied projects that we have here in development,” said City Manager Ken Striplin in response. “We’ve always gone back and made sure that each of the mitigation items that are included in Needham Ranch are being adhered to and this doesn’t change the environmental impacts .”

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