By Signal Staff
The Santa Clarita City Council is scheduled to hold a special closed session meeting Tuesday to confer with legal counsel regarding two pending cases: A lawsuit that alleges the city’s “at-large” system of electing council members violates the California Voting Rights Act, and the city’s lawsuit that sought to force the removal of a solar panel array from a hillside above Canyon View Estates.
The 4:30 p.m. closed session precedes the council’s regularly scheduled 6 p.m. meeting.
An L.A. County Superior Court judge ruled in the city’s favor on the Canyon View Estates lawsuit in June, finding that the property owner violated its conditional use permit that demands a certain portion of the mobile home park’s land be open space. However, the removal would come with a $5 million price tag for the city to compensate the property owner for the cost.
The city has the right to have Canyon View’s panels “demolished, removed and the open space restored,” the ruling stated. “At the same time, if the city decided to exercise this right, the court is imposing the condition of repayment to the defendants on the granting of the injunction.”
The CVRA lawsuit was filed in December by Walnut Creek attorney Scott Rafferty on behalf of plaintiffs Michael Cruz, Sebastian Cazares and Neighborhood Elections Now, an organization run by Rafferty, for injunctive relief on the basis of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.
“Be electing its council at-large, the city of Santa Clarita dilutes the votes of Latino citizens, suppresses the ability of their communities to recruit and support candidates for public office, and presents them from aggregating their votes to elect those candidates in single-member districts,” reads the lawsuit. “In recent elections, Latinos, Blacks and Asians have voted in coalition.”
The city has made no official comments about the lawsuit, but council members Bill Miranda and Marsha McLean have said the at-large system has the benefit of giving every city voter five representatives on the council instead of just one.
“We on the City Council represent every single resident and it doesn’t matter what color they are or what color you are,” said McClean in a previous council meeting. “It doesn’t matter what religion you are, it doesn’t matter at all… We are representing everyone, all five of us represent everyone, and going to districts will dilute our community.”
The council has discussed the litigation in previous closed sessions, but has not announced any action taken.
The closed session meeting is scheduled to begin 4:30 p.m. at City Hall, 23920 Valencia Blvd. The regular meeting is scheduled to begin 6 p.m. in City Hall’s council chambers.