After a several-month pause amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a developer looking to transform the Sand Canyon Country Club into a 77-acre resort and spa is scheduled to formally introduce the project before the Santa Clarita Planning Commission next month.
The presentation and public hearing are set for Tuesday, Nov. 17, at City Hall, where developer Steve Kim is expected to share his vision to turn the property into a likeness of the Ojai Valley Inn, a five-diamond AAA getaway on the outskirts of the Los Padres National Forest east of Santa Barbara.
Opponents of the project have expressed concern about having a hearing for the project before the environmental impact report, which details any potential impacts to the area surrounding the proposal, is completed.
City officials said the Nov. 17 presentation and hearing would only be the first step.
“This will be the first in a series of meetings for the Planning Commission to hear comments and consider the proposed development at Sand Canyon Country Club,” said Patrick Leclair, a city senior planner, adding that no decision will be made at the November meeting.
The project calls for adding hotel and villa accommodations, multiple dining options and recreational facilities for swimming, tennis and pickleball to an existing 27-hole golf course, as well as the removal of 21 non-heritage oak trees and a zone change from “open space” to “community commercial” for two of the four proposed site lots.
“We’ve been busy running the golf courses during the pandemic and we’re starting to get more people, so that’s good news,” said Kim. “And now, a date is set for the hearing, and we’ve been working on all the details and design, assuming we get the EIR (environmental impact report) prepared.”
Final work on the draft EIR is being completed and expected to be released for a 60-day review period before a scheduled public hearing on Jan. 19, according to Leclair. The draft report will be released for public review around Nov. 23. To review the draft report when it becomes available, the public must set up an appointment with the city via phone or online at santa-clarita.com/planning/environmental.
A group leading the opposition to the project still questioned the logic of why it was necessary to have a hearing at all before the report was ready.
“A Planning Commission meeting prior to the environmental impact report being ready for the community to review and comment on feels like we are getting ready to be railroaded under the cover of darkness by this Planning Commission, the City Council and a billionaire development,” said Alex Guerrero, chairman of the Stop Sand Canyon Resort Task Force, which was formed to stop the project. “There is no reason for this meeting to happen now. It is inappropriate and underhanded.”
Guerrero said opponents’ concerns remain the same and, without the EIR, they can’t be confirmed.
“Our concerns remain the same and those concerns could be confirmed with the EIR,” he said. “Concerns (include) taking away Santa Clarita’s open space, increased traffic, first responders’ ability to save our lives in a fire or flood as we are susceptible to and the very real concern of the viability of a resort in Sand Canyon.”
After the November meeting, the following one is expected Jan. 19, when the EIR will be presented to the Planning Commission and the public can provide comments, said Leclair.