City Council to vote on increasing contract for homeless encampment cleanup

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

The Santa Clarita City Council is set to vote on Tuesday on a possible amendment to an existing contract regarding homeless encampment cleanup, according to the night’s regular meeting agenda.  

The agenda states that the item — a part of the night’s consent calendar agenda — would increase the amount of the total contract for the cleanup with Woods Maintenance Services Inc. in the amount of $50,000 for the current one-year contract, bringing it to a total not to exceed $200,000.  

“During Fiscal Year 2021-22, staff in the city’s Community Preservation division addressed 408 cases related to homelessness, a 37% increase when compared to the previous fiscal year, while also seeing a 30% increase in encampment cleanup costs during the same time frame,” the agenda packet reads. “With the increased contract authority and funding, staff will work with WMS to identify a schedule and cleanup days that address community needs, while staying within the allotted budget.” 

According to the agenda, the city had approved the WMS contract at the Dec. 14, 2021, meeting, and since Jan. 1 WMS has completed three large-scale cleanups, with each one taking an average of four days to complete. 

In addition to considering the WMS contract, the City Council, in a closed session meeting before the regular meeting, is scheduled to discuss ongoing developments in the Michael Cruz et al. v. City of Santa Clarita litigation.  

The California Voting Rights Act lawsuit, filed in December, forced the City Council to move their future elections to a by-district system. The council approved a settlement agreement in April. 

In addition to agreeing to move to district-based elections, the city will also pay a total of $370,000 to Scott Rafferty, the Northern California lawyer representing himself and the two other litigants in the lawsuit, in order to cover his legal fees and expenses.  

The litigants argued that voting for a single representative from their neighborhood district would result in more representative candidates for local communities with large Latino and minority populations in future City Council elections — groups whose populations have grown since the city’s system was implemented decades ago and are protected by the CVRA.   

In past meetings, City Council members expressed their displeasure with the lawsuit and the litigants, saying that it will dilute the votes of residents and divide the local community. 

A map for the new district lines is currently being drawn, and the council will have until June 30, 2023, to accept a map with five electoral districts.   

The regular meeting for the Santa Clarita City Council is slated to begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and take place in the City Hall council chambers, located at 23920 Valencia Blvd.

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