Prior to becoming a city, two separate efforts would occur attempting to have the Santa Clarita Valley secede from Los Angeles County.
In 1976, Proposition F appeared on the November ballot, calling for the Santa Clarita area to become its own county, called Canyon County. The effort failed, and was attempted again in November 1978, appearing as Proposition K, but again, it would not succeed.
Not because the people in the proposed new county were not supportive, but because succession requires approval by all voters in Los Angeles County.
So, we would forge a new path to provide local control, and on Dec. 15, 1987, the city of Santa Clarita was born.
Nearly 36 years later, it is hard to say our “little experiment” was not successful. Considered one of the most business-friendly, fiscally sound and family-oriented cities in Los Angeles County, our leaders have championed the virtues and success that can accompany “local control.”
Financial, planning and community decisions made right here in Santa Clarita, and elected leaders being held accountable for the decisions that affect all of us inside the city boundary.
But, for years now, that accountability and track record of success seems to just get in the way of our state Legislature’s policy and romanticism with believing that the only way to solve state problems is to have control over everything in the state!
Want to decrease the prisoner populations quickly? Just remove enhancements and penalties for committing crimes instead of building a culture of lawfulness and respect of law enforcement.
Want to get gas-powered cars off the road? Just set a date to ban their sale with no serious state investment behind alternative modes of transportation (well, unless you count the non-functioning, overpriced bullet train).
Want to address the state’s housing shortage? No problem, just pass laws allowing housing and conversions to be built anywhere with no regard to the communities or environments they impact.
With the current legislative session now at an end, and the governor deciding what to sign or veto, we are already seeing more local control erosion measures coming to fruition.
Assembly Bill 1490 will allow 100% affordable housing projects that adaptively reuse existing residential buildings, regardless of any local zoning or regulations, to be approved.
This includes disallowing local government the ability to impose maximum density to floor area ratio requirements, or any additional parking requirements.
I guess people who live in higher-density affordable units don’t need a place to park their cars.
AB 1630 throws local control out the window by saying student or faculty housing, if it’s within 1,000 feet of a university campus, will automatically be permitted ministerially.
No discretionary review, no input from the planning commissions or city councils to discuss the potential impact of high-density housing on existing communities.
Once again, parking requirements, setbacks, density concerns, or any other mitigation possibilities to properly handle these projects are simply unreasonable impediments to a one-size-fits-all solution.
Senate Bill 4 dictates that certain housing development projects on higher education or religious institutions’ land be granted use by right and is yet another bill limiting a local government’s ability to impose parking requirements, density and height standards based on project zoning areas.
But hey, what would a city like Santa Clarita know about long-term planning and creating a place for businesses, residences, parks and open spaces, and a myriad of other infrastructure needs that all play into creating a thriving and successful community?
Apparently, quite a lot!
We have been recognized as one of the safest cities and best places to raise a family in the country, one of the healthiest cities, and one of the most fiscally sound. All of this happens while supporting smart, inclusive and well-rounded residential and commercial projects, being recognized as a Tree City USA for over 30 years and maintaining thousands of acres of untouched natural open space for our community to enjoy.
It is dumbfounding, as someone who was given the incredible honor to serve as a City Council member and now the mayor of this beautiful city, who has watched councils before building this young city into the beacon of success that it is, to have our advocacy fall on death ears in Sacramento.
Perhaps if the Super Majority cared less about pushing ideology, and more about supporting policy that respects local uniqueness and solutions, we could start fixing problems.
The governor might like taking credit for building thousands of residential units in preparation for a presidential run, but is that worth ignoring the beauty, character and needs of our local communities?
Sure looks that way …
Jason Gibbs is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.