City to discuss land deal involving council member, county in closed session


In closed session Tuesday, Santa Clarita City Council members are expected to discuss the continuing negotiations on the price and terms for nine plots of land associated with the city’s plans to extend Dockweiler Drive, a city official confirmed Monday. 

On the other side of the bargaining table from City Manager Ken Striplin and the city’s counsel for those properties: City Councilwoman Laurene Weste and L.A. County, according to a closed session agenda on the city’s website. 

Weste, who has held on to the property for decades according to the L.A. County Assessor’s Office records, could make a significant return on the investment based on recent, nearby land sales; however, neither side is able to make comment on the nature of the deal or what the compensation might look like, as the negotiations are ongoing. 

L.A. County is involved in the negotiations as the county is listed as the owner of three of the nine properties listed on the agenda as being involved in the discussion.   

The city approved spending $3 million to design the Dockweiler Drive extension project in July 2019, according to previous reporting in The Signal. The justification given by the city at the time is that connecting Dockweiler to Railroad Avenue at 13th Street would “alleviate congestion on Newhall Avenue,” according to a city senior engineer. (The vote was approved 4-0 with Weste recusing herself.) 

Six of the plots listed on the negotiation are about one-tenth of a mile from Main Street, across Newhall Creek from Railroad Avenue, stretching from northeast of Railroad and Lyons avenues to just southwest of where Placerita Canyon Road intersects with Aden Avenue. 

These plots belong to Weste, and the assessments available on their values stem from a valuation recorded around December 1981, according to the L.A. County Assessor’s Office.  

The largest parcel is the easternmost land in the deal under discussion, a 141,557-square-foot lot that was assessed at $51,985 more than 40 years ago. (Proposition 13 keeps the county assessment from going up more than 2% a year per state law, with the 2022 assessor’s role valuing it at $101,479, according to records available online.)  

The land mass for Weste’s properties listed on the agenda totals 322,693 square feet. The other five plots range in size from about 25,000 square feet to the parcel in the 22200 block of Placerita Canyon Road — the only one of the five with an address and a home attached — which is a 47,000-square-foot plot with a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home attached. It listed on the 2022 assessor’s role as having a $27,925 valuation with $35,338 in improvements. 

The properties listed on the agenda that are listed as being owned by L.A. County are much smaller in comparison. While some of the plots were triangular in shape, the land, which is all undeveloped, was listed as ranging in size from 125 feet by 60 feet to 125 feet by 175 feet, according to a representative from the assessor’s office in Sylmar. 

To put the potential dollar value of one of those properties in perspective, the closest and most recent land sale in the area was about 450 feet away from the county’s properties, which are adjacent to Weste’s on the west side of her land. A nearby nearly 4,900-square-foot industrial parcel with a building on it was previously assessed in 2012. At that time, it was valued at just over $122,000 with $26,626 of improvements. It sold for $790,007 on July 14. 

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