Planning Commission approves general plan update

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal

The city of Santa Clarita Planning Commission approved Tuesday updates to portions of the municipality’s general plan, bringing the decade-long outline into alignment with current California state housing and safety requirements.  

The need to update the city’s General Plan is a common occurrence, according to city staff, as laws change over the course of the projected 10-year model, and the various components of the local plan need to adjust accordingly.  

However, Senior City Planner James Chow said Tuesday that the latest update needed for the city’s 2021-2029 General Plan stood out from years past due largely to housing demands made by Sacramento on local governing boards.  

“(The Regional Housing Needs Allocation) for the cycle has increased significantly statewide as compared (to previous years) in order to address the state’s housing crisis,” said Chow during the Planning Commission meeting. “Goals set by (Gov. Gavin Newsom) and by the new state housing plan set a target of 2.5 million new homes by 2030 in the state.”  

“As a reminder, our allocation of RHNA for the cycle is 10,031 units, which are spread across four income categories,” Chow continued. “It’s important to note again that RHNA is a zoning requirement, requiring cities to plan for and zone for their housing needs… it is not an obligation or requirement to build housing.” 

By making 27 various sites within the city’s inventory available for the required zoning, combined with a handful of other ongoing housing projects, Chow said that both the vacant and non-vacant lots in the group will be able to accommodate the newly heightened RHNA allocation.  

Chow finished the housing element of his presentation by drawing two conclusions for the commission, with the first being that no general land use changes or zoning changes will be necessary to accommodate for the city’s RHNA allocation.  

The second conclusion he made, however, was that minor modifications to the city’s housing goals, policies and programs for the coming years would need to be updated.  

Ultimately, the commission voted 5-0 in accepting city staff’s recommendation to move forward with the draft general plan change, with plans to bring it forward for public comment in the coming weeks.  

The other category for the General Plan update, the Safety Element, did not require a “comprehensive rewrite,” city staff said in their proposal, but rather it required the inclusion of revisions to address new statutory requirements, which would draw on the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan adopted in September of last year.  

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