Review of fire fee offers look into county station plans 

Los Angeles County Fire Station 104 located on Golden Valley Road in Canyon Country is now open and operational. June 18, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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In order to keep up with the rising costs of financing fire equipment and stations in Los Angeles County, Santa Clarita is hosting a required public hearing to raise the cost for new construction in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to Tuesday’s City Council agenda. 

The Consolidated Fire Protection District is an agreement with L.A. County through which it provides the city of Santa Clarita with fire service, which is paid for in part by developer fees the city levies for new construction. 

While the cost doesn’t impact residents directly, per se, the justification for the developer-fee increase in Tuesday’s City Council meeting agenda revealed insights as to the county department’s plans to expand services throughout the area.  

The fire district fee set by the county is paid for by developers when new commercial developments are constructed, according to city officials. After a hearing Tuesday, the fee is expected to increase from $1.4316 per square foot to $1.5499 per square foot, meaning the cost is going up about $118 per 1,000 square feet of development on new residential buildings, detached accessory structures, commercial buildings or any additions over 2,000 square feet. 

The fee, which was set by L.A. County on Jan. 31, is collected at the time a building permit is issued. 

“The proposed fee is largely a result of cumulative fire station development financing costs, as well as increased fire apparatus and equipment costs,” according to the City Council agenda, which notes the city has been a part of the district since 1992. 

The rapid growth of the SCV over the past two decades, and the fact that it’s expected to continue, are also factors in the growing cost. As a reference, the SCV’s Urban Water Management Plan estimated that it served 289,192 people in 2020, and projects the valleywide figure to be 362,100 in 2030 and 432,300 in 2050. 

The city’s agenda item also includes the L.A. County Fire Department’s future plans for fire stations throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, including unincorporated areas, as well as the cost of more recent stations that are still being financed by developer fees.  

The most recently completed station in the local fire district is Fire Station 104 on Golden Valley Road, an 11,450-square-foot “Engine,” or fire station, which was completed in 2020. 

The plans mention three new fire stations being looked at for the development previously known as Newhall Ranch, which is now being marketed by Five Points as Valencia Five Point. One of those is expected to be 13,500 square feet and have an engine and a quint; the other two are expected to be approximately 9,800 square feet. They are being slated for the Mission Village, Landmark Village and Portrero/Homestead tracts, respectively. The cost of the stations, which are paid for by developer fees, is expected to range from $11.59 million to $13.7 million, according to estimates from the Fire Department. 

The Lyons Ranch project, which is identified by the county as about 235 acres north of Towsley Canyon and west of Interstate 5, is expected to get a 10,000-square-foot “Engine” for $11.59 million. 

A 10,000-square-foot station and helipad is also on the list for Needham Ranch Parkway, near Eternal Valley Memorial Park, for $16.25 million. The helispot is complete, but the accompanying station has been delayed until further notice, according to the Fire Department’s report. 

A future site at the currently undeveloped location of Valley Canyon Road and Spring Canyon is expected to be gifted to the fire district by Pardee Homes for future development. There’s also another helipad request in the works for the still-being-built-out Tesoro Del Valle development on the West side. 

The list of projects also includes four fire stations for the Centennial project in Gorman, and a nearly $13 million station slated for north of Lake Hughes Road, east of Interstate 5, west of Castaic Lake, for the second phase of Castaic Canyon. That would also have a 1.4-acre heli pad. 

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