Commission approves transitional housing for families

A vacant lot on Newhall Avenue between Railroad Avenue and Sierra Highway will be the new home of transitional housing for single mothers and their children. Kev Kurdoghlian / The Signal.

Ed. note: This story was revised for clarification.

The Santa Clarita Planning Commission unanimously approved five single-story apartment units Tuesday for low-income families with children in Newhall. 

Four two-bedroom, one-bathroom units will be in one of two approximately 3,000-square-foot buildings slated for a 30,000-square-foot vacant lot on Newhall Avenue between Railroad Avenue and Sierra Highway. 

The second building, which will front Newhall Avenue, will include one of the five apartment units, a community room, two restrooms and four office spaces for Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley, the project applicant, to support tenants with skills like resume writing, interviewing, healthy cooking and budgeting. 

Laurie Ender, a Family Promise board member presenting to commissioners, said this new transitional housing for families who have graduated from the local nonprofit’s emergency shelter program marks the second phase of their work. 

“These apartments will be available to families who have shown progress toward their goals and have agreed to continue case management and supportive services until they can afford market-level rents,” Ender said. “Our focus is on meeting the needs of one child, one family at a time.” 

Family Promise partnered with a local developer and another private partner for construction financing before working with the city to identify the Newhall Avenue location, which was formerly owned by the city. 

“This is a great public-private-nonprofit partnership,” Commissioner Renee Berlin said. 

Roché Vermaak, director of Family Promise, said the new housing will support families that have graduated from their program but are still unable to afford housing in Santa Clarita.  

“This is a great opportunity for Family Promise (and) for the community to come together to address family homelessness,” he said. 

As part of their approval, the commissioners also added the conditions that the project increase the size of the proposed trees from 24- to 36-inch boxed trees and adding bolder accents to the buildings’ windows. 

Circle K hearing continued 

The Planning Commission requested Tuesday that city staff prepare a map of properties that sell alcohol in the area of a Circle K convenience store on the northwest corner of Copper Hill Drive and Seco Canyon Road as part of their review of the store’s request to expand its alcohol sales. 

Circle K officials appeared before the commission Tuesday to make their case to sell liquor and spirits, which would be stored in a 20-square-foot space behind the cashier’s desk, according to Erika Iverson, an associate planner with the city. 

“The census tract is not over-concentrated, and this request before you tonight would not actually increase the number of licenses within the census tract,” said Iverson of the number of alcohol licenses. 

The commissioners decided to continue the convenience store’s hearing to the commission’s July 6 meeting when they’ll consider the requested map and the hours that other similar stores are permitted to sell liquor and spirits. 

Commissioner Tim Burkhardt called the allowable hours to sell liquor a “fairness issue,” citing a store across the street from the Circle K that had its liquor sale hours restricted.  

He also asked for a map of nearby stores with alcohol sales. 

“I just wanted to clarify that the statement that the census tract doesn’t accurately reflect, I think, what’s going on in that immediate area,” Burkhardt said. 

The Circle K currently sells beer and wine.  

Patrick Leclair, a senior planner with the city, said the convenience store is 20 square feet short of being considered a market, which would not need the Planning Commission’s approval for a license to sell liquor. 

“Were it not for those 20 square feet, we would not be here tonight even discussing this item,” Leclair said. “We are here. It is what it is in terms of the size of the store.” 

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