City approves resolution asking for more local land use, zoning control

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on Feb. 26. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The Santa Clarita City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday calling for more local control over zoning laws and land use. 

The resolution was in response to bills recently passed into state law that would strengthen the state’s authority over land use and zoning. One of the pieces of the legislation, Senate Bill 9, is a primary focus of local control advocates’ ire as it would allow duplex and lot-split provisions to increase density, or “upzone,” in single-family neighborhoods without regard to local zoning codes, community input and environmental review processes. 

While advocates for SB 9 have said that it would create more affordable housing, opponents have said that it would dramatically damage single-family neighborhoods.  

“At this point, it really is no secret that the state has been taking a greater and greater role in housing and land use,” said Assistant City Manager Frank Oviedo.  “In doing so, they continue to usurp the authority of local elected officials’ ability to control (their) own destiny and shape the future of their communities based on local circumstances and issues unique to individual cities.” 

The resolution stems from the city being contacted by California Cities for Local Control, an organization founded in July 2020 that advocates for enlisting the support “from cities and local elected officials to further strengthen local control as it relates to local zoning and housing issues,” according to the city agenda. 

Santa Clarita now joins more than 70 other cities in California that have adopted a similar resolution showing support for the CCLC’s mission.  

Showing her support for the resolution during the meeting, City Councilwoman Laurene Weste said that parking and increased capacities would be controlled by Sacramento, by state officials who don’t understand the local issues as well as regional bodies could.  

“I do want to keep local control and do what’s best for our community with our community here telling us what they feel is best,” said Weste. “But we also have to be realistic about the capacities and what’s already in existence, and how much stress you can put on those different infrastructure segments in order to accommodate new buildings.” 

“Because every time we add something, you’re absolutely using more gas, water, sewage and power,” added Weste. 

City Councilwoman Marsha McLean said that while she also worries about single-family residences and neighborhoods, she was also concerned about environmental issues. McLean said that by increasing the number of homes on a single plot of land, you would, by exchange, be eliminating more grass and trees. 

“I wish that everyone who’s concerned about climate change would be a little more concerned about what Sacramento and our governor wants to do to our neighborhoods, and the air we breathe,” said McLean.  

City staff informed the council that with their collective signatures, the city now joins the list of other cities supporting the CCLC. Councilman Cameron Smyth said he would imagine the coalition would then be more engaged as Sacramento issues similar bills.  

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