Santa Clarita ends Cal Cities membership over advocacy dispute 

Politics and government

The city of Santa Clarita has ended its membership in the League of California Cities after city officials let the regional advocacy group know it was withholding dues over ongoing concerns about the agency’s inaction on a number of issues important to the city. 

The Santa Clarita City Council is planning to discuss the possibility of resuming its role in the statewide advocacy organization during the council’s regular meeting Tuesday. The council is also scheduled to review decorative lighting plans for Central Park, part of Santa Clarita’s five-year citywide improvement plan.  

The League, or Cal Cities, as it’s also known, describes itself as an organizaton that “has been shaping the Golden State’s political landscape since the association was founded in 1898,” according to its website. “We defend and expand local control through advocacy efforts in the Legislature, at the ballot box, in the courts, and through strategic outreach that informs and educates the public, policymakers and opinion leaders.” 

City advocacy 

Councilman Cameron Smyth, who also discussed the league from the dais at the council’s July 11 meeting, has had concerns about whether the organization’s agenda aligns with the city’s. 

“For the last two legislative sessions I have had concerns with the league taking positions that were in conflict with Santa Clarita’s legislative platform, specifically around land use,” Smyth said. “And I felt it was time to have a discussion with the full council about how we want to proceed into 2024.” 

Back in July, Smyth recalled a presentation to the council’s Legislative Committee in which Masis Hagobian, the city’s intergovernmental relations officer, noted the league was taking positions on a number of bills the city was watching. 

“The lack of any type of input from the league really plays a role in why you see such wide margins,” Smyth said.  

City representatives met with the league earlier in the year to express Santa Clarita’s concerns and withheld from processing this year’s Cal Cities membership due to the concerns, according to the council agenda.  

On Sept. 5, the league notified the city that its membership would be terminated if the $45,000 annual dues were not paid by Sept. 19. 

The city said it would put an item on its council agenda and asked the league for an extension on the dues until Sept. 26, which was denied.  

“The city did not pay this year’s membership dues by Sept. 19, 2023, and as such, is no longer a member of Cal Cities,” according to city officials.  

Central Park 

The City Council is expected to consider plans that could light up Central Park at the cost of approximately $1.3 million at Tuesday’s council meeting. 

City staff have a few options with different cost estimates that are going to be discussed for the southwest corner of the park, near the intersection of Bouquet Canyon Road and Alamogordo Road. 

The agenda mentions three separate decorative lighting options for council members to mull over and asks for the council to give staff direction. The next step would be a bidding process once the scope of work is determined.   

The first option includes lights embedded in the concrete of the park’s plaza “in a flowing, curvilinear fashion,” according to the city. The lights would stretch from the shade structures to the public art installation, “When a Cloud Met a Cloud.”  

The second option would be for the nearby hillside at the park, where its exercise stairs are located. 

The plan would call for the installation of approximately 80 pole-mounted lights on the hillside along the exercise stairs. The lights will be mounted on 4-foot poles, according to the plan. 

The agenda also notes that the lights will be programmable and capable of changing colors and levels of brightness to create visual effects, such as flowing water.  

The first option, including the necessary infrastructure, would cost about $900,000, according to the city’s estimate, and choosing just the second option, the path up to and including the exercise stairs, would be $1 million. 

Both options together would cost around $1.3 million. 

In the project’s supporting documents, Shannon Pickett of the city’s Public Works Department states the plans, if approved, would start and finish in October, “and supports the Building and Creating Community theme of the city of Santa Clarita’s five-year strategic plan, Santa Clarita 2025,” according to the agenda. “In an effort to enhance the experience of park users, staff has evaluated concepts to incorporate decorative lights into the project.” 

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