Chris Werthe | Property Owners Need Representation

Commentary

The city of Santa Clarita is undergoing rapid changes, booming economically and growing in population — signs of strength and promise to all. We want Santa Clarita to have a positive, business-friendly environment. However, we also want to make sure development does not come at the expense of the safety of its citizens and the detriment of our environment.

If you haven’t heard, the owner of the Sand Canyon Country Club plans to build the Sand Canyon Resort. The residents of Sand Canyon held a meeting in September 2019 that addressed various concerns with the resort, chief among them being safety, traffic and preserving the rural way of life in Sand Canyon. 

The owner also had a meeting with residents at the Sand Canyon Country Club in a further attempt to address concerns. I was surprised that none of the current members of the City Council appeared at either meeting.

Development and infill are needed within the city to promote economic growth, and I am a proponent of such. But not at the expense of the people who already live here, who have made lives here and have been ignored or pushed aside in the name of burgeoning our city credentials. 

The residents of Sand Canyon, by the way, are not against economic development. Many residents of Sand Canyon are themselves business owners or former business owners, and they support free markets and enterprise. These are folks who simply want to keep their family, friends and animals safe, reduce traffic through Sand Canyon and preserve the rural and equestrian character of Sand Canyon, which is the purpose of the Sand Canyon Special Standards District.

Santa Clarita has tough battles ahead that we are just beginning to understand the full gravity of. A housing crisis will exist in the foreseeable future, and men and women who have served our country are going homeless today. Climate change is affecting cities and towns across the country, and Santa Clarita has been the victim of multiple wildfires, which ravaged the land and homes we hold dear and trapped us in neighborhoods that are already difficult to evacuate from. 

On top of these, our first responders would have to expend additional efforts to protect anyone sheltering in place, putting other residents who live there and their property at risk. 

Day to day, residents of the Sand Canyon community will be dealing with a huge influx of visitors, increasing traffic congestion, which in turn requires infrastructure upgrades to the one-lane roads in and out of their rural area. 

So far, the residents have been unable to extract any guarantees from the owner of the Sand Canyon Country Club, including a promise to hire a majority of the staff from within our city. The owner himself has been unable to prove a solid business plan given the factors mentioned above, and there is a noticeable decline of the Sand Canyon Country Club in recent years. 

Negotiations can happen, compromises can be made and maybe a resort could open someday, but if the city does not step in to put the interests of their constituents first and foremost, we could all lose something incredibly valuable. Importantly, the City Council has made promises to this community in the past, to protect their values and open space. To renege on the residents of Sand Canyon would be a betrayal of all of us. There is reason to believe the City Council has no intention of validating their concerns.

We need real fighters on the City Council to advocate in the interests of Santa Clarita’s citizens. This means advocating for a business-friendly environment while also listening to the citizens who live here. I stand with Sand Canyon residents, and as a member of this vibrant city, I want to represent your concerns on City Council. 

Chris Werthe is a Santa Clarita resident.

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