Decrying the state’s orders for “housing at any cost” and supporting a call to honor a fallen deputy, among other topics, the Santa Clarita City Council’s Legislative Committee met to recommend opposition or support positions for the latest legislation from Sacramento.
The nine pieces of legislation that were discussed addressed topics including: the fight against fentanyl; a portion of the freeway being named after a Santa Clarita Valley deputy killed in the line of duty; more housing regulations; and a handful of measures intended to increase open space.
Fight against fentanyl
The committee recommended support for Assembly Bill 701, authored by Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua, D-Stockton, which takes aim at a deadly problem that Santa Clarita has faced, fentanyl.
“In 2022, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department reported 32 overdoses in the SCV as a result of fentanyl. The Santa Clarita City Council supported similar legislation, Senate Bill 13 (Ochoa Bogh) Senate Bill 44 (Umberg) and Assembly Bill 367 (Maienschein) at the March 14, 2023, regular City Council meeting,” according to a staff report.
As a means of trying to disrupt the marketplace for the drug, the bill would add mandatory sentencing enhancements for offenders caught with the dangerous narcotic.
“If the substance exceeds 1 kilogram by weight, the person shall receive an additional term of three years,” which increases until, “If the substance exceeds 80 kilograms by weight, the person shall receive an additional term of 25 years.”
The staff report notes Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, who represents most of the SCV, voted in favor of the bill, which is now headed to the state Senate’s Public Safety Committee.
Land-use and local control concerns
Committee members recommended opposition to Assembly Bill 1308 and Senate Bill 450, the latest efforts from the Legislature that are meant to make it easy to create housing.
They’re being viewed by the Legislative Committe amid efforts by state lawmakers to further erode a local government’s ability to make decisions about what types of projects are most appropriate for its community.
The first is AB 1308, authored by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva.
“The law would prohibit local governments from increasing the minimum parking requirement as a condition of approval for any project that remodels, renovates or adds to a single-family residence,” said Masis Hagopian, intergovernmental relations officer for the city. “An example that’s identified in the staff report is if we had a homeowner come in and propose a project that would renovate their garage into anything but a garage … if this bill were to be signed into law, planners would essentially be tied in not requiring that they add additional parking spaces to that property.”
Councilman Cameron Smyth, a committee member and former state assemblyman, said both bills show how housing advocates are using the legislation to look at ways cities and counties have tried to retain control under increasingly restrictive state laws, and then remove them.
Mayor Jason Gibbs, the committee’s other member, asked whether the city would be able to create a limit on occupancy for safety reasons in high fire-severity zones.
City Manager Ken Striplin said the city had such restrictions in its housing code for accessory dwelling units, but the state forced their removal.
Senate Bill 450 builds on SB 9, both of which were authored by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, according to Hagopian.
“If you remember, the key takeaway of (SB 9) was that it required … an administerial streamlined approval process,” he said. It meant all lots at least 1,200 square feet in size could be split without any hearing, review under the California Environmental Quality Act, or public approval process, and similarly, any single-family residence could be split into a duplex.
Depending on your lot size, you could take one home and create four separate homes, Hagopian added. However, there hasn’t been much use of the law, so to incentivize its use, the bill puts a 60-day “shot clock” on a city to review any applications related to the SB 9-type splits. It also puts “teeth” on SB 9 by adding an enforcement element if cities aren’t in compliance, he added.
Preserving open space
House Resolution 2887, HR 3681, Senate 1466 and S 1776 are all meant to promote open space in and around the SCV.
HR 2887, authored by Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, expands the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to include the Rim of the Valley Corridor, according to city staff. S. 1466 is a similar effort in the Senate supported by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
HR 3681, authored by Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, “expands the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to include the western Angeles National Forest,” according to the staff report.
S. 1776, Authored by Sen. Alex Padilla, is a similar effort in the Senate.
The city’s support is recommended for these bills for a number of reasons, including that supporting such efforts has long been consistent with city policy, and also because it helps fight the multinational mining corporation, Cemex, seeking to mine 56 million tons of aggregate from just east of city limits.
“So really, any enhancement to the national monument, additional attention to the national monument, would be beneficial in the city’s efforts in combating the proposed mining project,” Hagopian said. “And this also would be consistent in previous action taken by the City Council dating back again to 2012 leading up to the initial designation of the national monument.
Other public safety-related measures
Also discussed Tuesday were two other support positions: one for Assembly Concurrent Resolution 92, a piece of legislation that would rename a stretch of Interstate 5 after Deputy Hagop “Jake” Kuredjian, who was killed in the line of duty in August 2001; and another for AB 474.
ACR 92 would “designate the portion of Interstate 5 between the Pico-Lyons Overcrossing and the McBean Parkway Overcrossing in the city of Santa Clarita” as Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Hagop “Jake” Kuredjian Memorial Highway, according to the text of the legislation, authored by Schiavo.
AB 474 would require state agencies “and the Office of Emergency Services to prioritize, to the greatest extent possible, cooperation with state and local efforts to illuminate, disrupt, degrade, and dismantle criminal networks trafficking opioid drugs that pose a threat to California,” according to the text of the legislation.
“The bill would require the STAC to support state and local interagency task forces to combat illegal opioid trafficking in California, as specified, including preparing and disseminating intelligence products for public safety entities.”
The committee-approved recommendations are expected to be brought to the full City Council for a vote at the council’s next meeting.