Council’s Legislative Committee weighs in on bills 

Santa Clarita City Hall
Santa Clarita City Hall
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The City Council’s Legislative Committee expressed frustration over what being “tough on crime” looks like in 2024, during the committee’s discussion of bills on justice reform, as well as local control and the fentanyl crisis during Monday’s meeting. 

The committee, which is currently Mayor Cameron Smyth and Councilman Jason Gibbs, regularly reviews taking up positions of support or opposition on an agenda of different bills curated by Masis Hagobian, intergovernmental relations officer for the city of Santa Clarita. 

The bills discussed at the meeting — which included strengthening laws to prosecute misdemeanors, planning and zoning issues and a bill aimed at the fentanyl crisis — are chosen based on issues previously identified on the council’s legislative platform.  

At this point in the current legislative session, most of the bills discussed by the committee have not yet been scheduled for a hearing, which can be checked at 

The exception is Senate Bill 1211, which is authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-San Francisco, in an effort to create more housing supply. 

Skinner, who chairs the Housing Committee, introduced the bill as part of a legislative package intended to “spur the creation of more housing, reduce housing costs, and expand homeownership,” according to a Feb. 16 release from her office. (The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting is here: 

It would “prohibit cities and counties from requiring the replacement of parking spaces, carports, covered parking structures or uncovered parking spaces demolished in conjunction with the construction or conversion of an accessory dwelling unit on a multifamily housing property,” Hagobian said. 

In explaining how the recommendation to oppose the bill was consistent with the city’s position against what it calls Sacramento’s removal of local control, Hagobian gave an example of how the bill could impact local governance.  

Referring to the parking lot for housing units right behind City Hall, Hagobian said the bill means that a developer could turn all of the parking spaces directly behind City Hall into accessory dwelling units, which are also called granny flats.  

“This legislation would require us to review and approve as long as it meets more of the objective standards that we have in place related to health and safety and things like that,” Hagobian said.  

“A lot of cities are now doing away with parking requirements,” Smyth said, adding it’s interesting that “parking is now the evil,” adding that city planners in places like Austin, Texas, for example, are looking to get people out of their cars, which is antithetical to how cities like Santa Clarita have traditionally planned. 

“(Cities like Austin) are feeling like, by cities requiring parking, we’re discouraging public transit and the like, and developers are all for it,” he added. “Because if they don’t have to put in parking, they’re going to put in more units.” 

The bill appears to prohibit such subdivisions without the permission of a homeowners association where applicable, which was a question raised by Gibbs during the discussion. 

The committee also opposed AB 3068, which would allow a developer to turn commercial space into housing without local review. The committee mentioned that could allow a developer to turn a space like the Princess Cruises office space into a significant housing development.  

The committee also recommended support for AB 3171, which adds a sentence enhancement for fentanyl possession over 1 ounce. 

Criminal justice reform 

Santa Clarita’s Legislative Committee supported Assembly Bill 2309, or the California Retail Theft Reduction Act, which removes the requirement that a city, in seeking the authority to prosecute misdemeanors, must obtain consent from the county district attorney.  

As with several of the other criminal justice reforms, Gibbs and Smyth both lamented there wasn’t enough local impact possible, for different reasons. 

As a general law city, Santa Clarita is reliant upon District Attorney George Gascón’s prosecutorial policies, which city and local law enforcement officials have criticized for years as too lenient. 

Santa Clarita lacks a city prosecutor position but still offered positions of support for AB 2309, and for strengthening the laws to prosecute criminals as consistent with its previous positions. 

That included AB 2814, which makes it a crime to enter the exterior of a home with the intent to steal a package; AB 2943, which makes it possible for officers to arrest a suspect on suspicion of theft without having to actually witness the crime; and AB 3109, which amends Proposition 47 to increase the charges for repeat offenders. 

“You have to laugh at these legislators … on their contortions to try and appear tough on crime without really doing anything about crime,” said Smyth, a former member of the Assembly from 2006 to 2012. “You can see the absurdity in it.” 

Smyth’s comments followed a humorous exchange between the council members, after Smyth noted rhetorically that it should already be a crime to steal a package from his front porch. 

“Well, stealing it is,” Gibbs quipped, “but apparently, the attempt to steal is not.” 

“But yes,” Smyth replied for the record. “We are in concurrence for our support.” 

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