A project that’s drawn praise for its potential positive economic impact — as well as ire from neighbors over the traffic and other concerns that come with said impact — Shadowbox Studios is now slated for City Council discussion this month, according to city planners.
The Shadowbox project would turn about 93 acres just north of Railroad Avenue and 13th Street in north Newhall and Placerita Canyon into 19 soundstages and support facilities to create a full-service state-of-the-art television and film production facility.
The developer, represented by Jeff Weber of Shadowbox, has said the project could generate more than a billion dollars in impact and bring about 2,000 jobs to the area.
The residents in the area, largely represented by the Placerita Canyon Property Owners Assocation, have complained at the last four public hearings on the project in front of the Planning Commission about their worries the project would turn the quiet, special standards district that includes equestrian properties and trails into a business hub.
The project’s proponents have brought up a number of traffic studies and other consultant-gathered reports. Local opponents have questioned the veracity of those reports, and the city has essentially accepted the results as adequate based on its standards for mitigation.
The city has pointed out the results of traffic studies provided by Shadowbox indicated the community’s traffic circulation would improve significantly in an emergency situation once the project is in place with its corollary traffic improvements.
One of the main appeals in the project is what the alternative might bring, according to public comments during the first hearing for the project.
Local historian and SCVTV CEO Leon Worden, a former Signal city editor, said he remembers hearing plans for that lot from 17 years ago, when it was zoned for about 900 homes.
However, with developer-friendly laws that include density bonuses meant to encourage as many homes as possible to address the current housing shortage, there could be more than 2,000 homes there now and if a developer wanted to do that, the city would have little recourse.
“Here’s the problem: It’s not 2005 anymore,” he said at the April meeting. “State law has changed. Now a developer can come in with a housing project that fits the zoning and get approved by right. … So, what’s gonna happen? The city’ll say it’s 924, the developer will say it’s more, and they’ll go to court, the judge would pick a number and whether it’s 1,000 or 3,000 homes, you don’t get to reject it.”
The Santa Clarita City Council is conducting a public hearing on the project at the 6 p.m. Aug. 22 City Council meeting in Council Chambers at City Hall, 23920 Valencia Blvd.