City of Santa Clarita officials are scheduled Tuesday to host another discussion about a plan to expand the film industry’s local footprint by about 1.3 million square feet.
Shadowbox Studios is requesting a zone change and a conditional use permit, among others, that would allow the developer to build 475,000 square feet of sound stage, about 560,000 square feet of workshops and other support space, about 209,000 square feet of production space, and 35,000 square feet of catering and other specialty services.
The project’s main entrance is slated for a neighborhood the city has designated as North Newhall Area, and spreads into Placerita Canyon as well.
On Tuesday, the Planning Commission is expected to review a report that responds to a number of items raised during the project’s first hearing last month, according to Jason Crawford, director of community development for the city of Santa Clarita.
“Staff is going to respond to the questions and comments that were brought up by the commission at the last meeting,” Crawford said Monday by phone.
Details discussed at the previous hearing April 18 included traffic concerns, whether there should be more access points and questions about whether the plans would violate the special standards district in the equestrian community of Placerita Canyon.
The traffic study in the staff report drew the most inquiry from planning commissioners, who asked for an explanation of how the numbers for a traffic increase for such a big project were deemed within the city’s allowable threshold, per the staff’s previous comments.
The staff report on the Shadowbox project notes the traffic study that deemed the circulation within the threshold was done prior to the pandemic, and that current levels have not yet hit pandemic levels. The pre-2020 report also accounted for a 1% growth each year, and the city report also notes that there will be significant work done on Dockweiler Drive to accommodate the project’s anticipated growth.
While the neighboring residents also brought up concerns about the relatively limited access points — there are two main gates, with a third available for emergency egress — the developer planned to address that concern as well. A city report notes the studio facility is planning a queueing system that will let traffic off the street near the main entrance at 12th and Arch streets, where they will idle while they await entrance, lessening the local impact.
The project applicant is also expected to review the plan to stabilize Placerita Creek, which residents also asked about in April.
The public has until May 22 to leave comment with City Hall on the project, according to Crawford, although he also said there have been three requests to extend the public-comment period, so those requests also are expected to be discussed by the commission Tuesday.
If the Planning Commission likes what it hears on Tuesday, the project would then return to the Planning Commission on June 20, according to a city report.
At that meeting, if the commission recommended forwarding the project, it could go to the Santa Clarita City Council as early as August.