City Council hears from opposition to Sand Canyon resort plans

Courtesy image This rendering depicts a planned two-story, 100-room resort hotel with a wellness center, spa and fitness center on the first floor, and yoga and meditation deck upstairs.

Sand Canyon residents urged Santa Clarita City Council to offer solutions Tuesday, or put an end to possible land rezoning of a proposed 77-acre resort and spa that opponents say would change the neighborhood’s rural character. 

The project, if approved by council members, would change Steve Kim’s 200-acre Sand Canyon Country Club, formerly Robinson Ranch Golf Course, by adding the Sand Canyon Hotel and Resort, to include hundreds of hotel rooms and villas, ballrooms, restaurants and recreational facilities for swimming, tennis and pickleball to an existing 27-hole golf course. 

The developer would have to make several changes, including to rezone portions of the property, which is located on the northeast corner of Sand Canyon Road and Robinson Ranch Road, from an “open space” to a “community commercial” zone. Residents fear this could increase traffic congestion and noise levels, and threaten public safety during emergency evacuations. 

Homeowners are asking why a zone change is being considered after the 1996 approval of the Robinson Ranch Golf Course by the City Council at the time, which “would preserve approximately 300 acres of land into perpetuity as recreational/open space,” resident Michael Hogan said Tuesday to council members, quoting a portion of the approval.  

“I urge the City Council to direct staff to uphold the decision of the 1996 City Council and put an end to the possibility of commercial zoning of the Sand Canyon Open Space or current open space anywhere else in the Santa Clarita Valley,” said Hogan. 

Kim, who was not available for comment Wednesday, said during a public meeting he hosted Sept. 12, that the project will bring several benefits to the community, including jobs and amenities, while keeping a low profile.

Another resident suggested the City Council require Kim to construct a road from Soledad Canyon Road to directly connect to the project site, as well as asking if residents will have a say in the proposal. 

“There will be public hearings, there will be opportunities for input from the public and eventually it will make its way to the City Council for an ultimate decision to determine what the future of that project will be,” said City Manager Ken Striplin. 

The project is undergoing an environmental impact report, which has not yet been completed, according to Hai Nguyen, an associate planner with the city’s planning division. 

“We’re still working on it, so obviously, we don’t know (when the report will be complete),” he said Wednesday. “We’re not keeping it or sitting on it or anything like that.”  

Nguyen said once the draft report is publicly released, the community will have a chance to offer input, followed by review from the Planning Commission. 

The City Council did not comment Tuesday, but Councilman Bob Kellar, whose term ends in 2020, said Wednesday he believes the project, if approved, “will be a very positive amenity” to the area. “But my mind is not made up — it’s too early. I’m not sure this will come before the City Council while I’m still on the council.” 

Striplin said Tuesday that Kim “has the right to submit an application” and that staff “does not have the authority to simply deny a project based on something (Hogan) mentioned.” 

Kim has said he expects a green light from the City Council by the end of the year. 

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