Imagine you purchase a slice of Santa Clarita where you walk your kids to school, make friends with the neighbors and stay through retirement if you choose. Then a self-described billionaire businessman comes in and decides to build one of the largest resorts in L.A. County a few blocks from your house. And when you protest the development, he calls you “selfish.” Opposing the Sand Canyon Hotel & Spa Resort project is not selfish – it’s self-preservation.
Hundreds of us have written letters, sent emails and made phone calls asking city leaders to reject the multi-level hotel and resort project proposed by Steve Kim. We have more than strong feelings. We’ve offered rock-solid arguments detailing why it’s unsafe and unacceptable.
But Mr. Kim fails to acknowledge his project’s danger to the lives of residents; instead, he discusses the damage to his emotions. “I take it so personally, it really hurts me,” he said to the Santa Clarita planning commissioners. “It’s very hard to bear … I thought I lived in a much fairer world in the United States.”
Actually, fairness is why we’re asking the commissioners to do two things: Consider the emotions of thousands of the area’s residents as more significant than one man’s ambitions; and reject the project because of the reasons listed below.
If you live elsewhere in SCV, DON’T doze off! This misplaced, unnecessarily oversized commercial project – in the middle of a residential community – would set a precedent that can hurt your neighborhood next. How? Let me count the ways:
1. It will mean our leaders do not honor their promises: We’re asking the Planning Commission to stand by the crucial agreement of 1996 regarding Robinson Ranch construction – unanimously passed by such esteemed City Council members as Carl Boyer, Jo Anne Darcy and Clyde Smyth. It promises the preservation of approximately 300 acres of that land into perpetuity as recreational/open space. Mr. Kim wants it changed to commercial zoning. Please, commissioners, vote against reversing our special standards.
2. It will mean your safety ranks below profit: Remember the Sand Fire? A hallmark of Sand Canyon is its frequent wildfires. There is only one road out, so we load families in cars and livestock in trailers and idle for hours, hoping we don’t block lifesaving equipment or firefighting personnel. Why would you add hundreds of guests to our area when we can barely get out during emergencies?!
3. It will mean that overbuilding is vanquishing the priority of open space, making our valley look and feel more like the San Fernando Valley. Canyon Country is experiencing commercial development now – and it’s HUGE. Vista Canyon will create monumental changes here, including a train station and a hotel! It makes no sense to greenlight another hotel project before we’ve seen the impact of this one.
4. It will mean people can be bought: This is uncomfortable, but I have to say it. I am dismayed to see people call in to Planning Commission meetings to support Mr. Kim based on nothing more than the fact that he gave their nonprofits money. They don’t live here. They won’t be affected by overcrowding, the added danger during wildfires, a loss of guaranteed open space, and years of unwanted noise and upheaval from construction for a commercial project right smack in the middle of our homes. When Mr. Kim asks for your backing, please say “no.”
5. It will mean developments can crush local concerns. We live here for factors this project threatens to destroy. The zoning includes horse trails and ownership of everything from RVs to llamas. Commercial zoning in our residential neighborhood defies that purpose.
Perhaps it’s Mr. Kim’s Disney-sized aspirations, but Sand Canyon lacks the space, the weather and the allure for any notable vacation destination. If he would just restore the golf course and restaurant to its former glory, we’d applaud him.
“A good cause” is what Mr. Kim calls this project. “I’m not trying to make money,” he said. “I found this is a really good opportunity for (the) local community.”
Perhaps he can bring the “opportunity” to an area that both wants and needs a resort. Meanwhile, the planning commissioners get a win-win if they reject the proposal: There is greater consideration for Mr. Kim’s feelings by releasing him early from an unsuitable business project; and it keeps the safety of our canyon from going up in smoke.