Residents sound off on Wiley Canyon plans 

A map of the Wiley Canyon project area. Courtesy
A map of the Wiley Canyon project area. Courtesy
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Santa Clarita planners received a litany of concerns from residents over a proposal years in the making for a 31-acre property in Wiley Canyon, alongside Interstate 5, between Hawkbryn Avenue and Calgrove Boulevard. 

Dubbed the Wiley Canyon Mixed Use Project — a name criticized for a mix of 668,000 square feet of housing to 9,000 square feet of commercial — the project is looking to add 509 housing units to the corridor that formerly hosted the Smiser Mule Ranch. 

In addition to a 277,000-square-foot, four-story senior living facility, the project would add nearly 380 apartment units and about 50,000 square feet of “open or recreational space,” which also includes the balconies on the units. 

The city’s Planning Commission requested dozens of revisions and reconsiderations that are expected to be brought back for another hearing June 18. 

“Looking at our notes from the meeting, we’ll be working to address Planning Commission requests for additional information on topics related to the project parking, emergency evacuation of the project, geological characteristics, and construction management plans for the roadway and onsite construction, providing rendered views of the proposed project and a traffic simulation, as well as exploring for a potential second project access,” according to an email from Jason Crawford, director of community development for the city of Santa Clarita. 

After a handful of residents expressed support for the area improvements that would be brought to the surrounding neighborhood, including more sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic mitigation measures, other residents shared concerns that planners are expected to bring back for further consideration in June. 

A decision on the project’s outcome isn’t expected at that time due to the volume of feedback requested by commissioners and the public. 


One of the most repeated concerns for the project was the number of parking spaces being planned, which is part of the zoning requirements for any project. 

The project supplies 966 spaces, according to Erika Iverson, the city’s senior planner on the development, and the zoning only requires 943.  

Planning Commissioner Lisa Eichman said a number of times that anyone who’s ever visited a friend or family member who lives in an apartment understands how much parking is a problem at most complexes.   

Another resident said that for practical purposes, most of those one-bedroom units are going to have at least two cars, and the problems only start there.  

“The parking for this project is very inadequate,” Eichman said. “I just can’t see how it’s going to work. I don’t even know where (residents are) gonna park, except in the neighborhoods, because you can’t park on Wiley Canyon, and we all know there’s going to be a lot more parking,” she said, referring to guests who will be forced to park outside the project. 

She also suggested a look at a less-dense alternative plan, which was not explored by the commission. 

During the discussion, Iverson stated the zoning requires one parking space to be provided for a studio or a one-bedroom unit, and two spots for a two- or three-bedroom apartment, which Eichman called “ridiculous.” 

Commissioner Patsy Ayala echoed the concern and asked if two spots per unit could be required or if the reduced-build alternative could be explored. 

Commission Chair Tim Burkhart later requested planners create a comparison on the parking situation to the spaces related to the multiunit housing complex on Jakes Way, which was approved when the area was part of the county under similar conditions with respect to its housing-to-parking ratio. 

“I’ve heard lots of questions on the parking — and I think coming back we can outline exactly what it is and designate where (the spaces) are,” Iverson said, in response to the disabled-access parking spaces for the senior-living portion.  

Iverson also said the L.A. County Fire Department cleared the project’s circulation plans and parking element as compliant with its safety requirements. 

Evacuation plans  

One of the aspects of the development questioned by Commissioner Renee Berlin was an element that mentioned rideshare services might be relied upon in an evacuation scenario. 

“You’re not going to get a med-evac company to come in in a fire — you’re lucky if you call them right now and you get them there within an hour,” she said. “So I don’t think that that’s going to work.”  

She also wanted more information about an emergency manager position designated for the development and questioned the evacuation times mentioned in the project’s circulation study. Berlin asked to see a simulation of the evacuation plan at the next meeting for the project.  

“I understand exactly what people are saying, that it could take three hours to get out,” she said, referring to the community’s egress. 

Burkhart said there are citywide evacuation plans for communities in emergency situations, but with a project like this, it should be viewed in two steps, referring to a priority for those who can’t help themselves. 

“We need to be convinced that the operators of that plan have a good plan to get those people out of there,” Burkhart said, “and calling rideshare ain’t it.” 

There needs to be coordination with the plans the city has in place, Burkhart said.  

To address some of the concerns, the project’s applicant, Tom Clark, said he was deferring to evaluations from the project’s consultants, engineers and city planners in terms of those calls. 

Noise and traffic 

One of the unavoidable impacts to residents for the project was the noise impacts, which are expected to be augmented by a sound wall that L.A. County Metro is committed to start construction on this fall, according to city planners. 

That construction is part of a separate timeline as a county project, but it would help the noise by putting a sound-retention wall between the development and the Interstate 5 freeway.  

Berlin also said if some of the project’s housing stays within 200 feet of the interstate, then the project should probably disclose to residents that the California Air Resources Board recommends a distance of 500 feet between housing and a freeway to lessen any health impacts. 

Ayala also requested further traffic study for the project with respect to its circulation elements on Wiley Canyon Road, and the three roundabouts mentioned: one for the project’s entrance; one at Wiley and Calgrove Boulevard; and another at Wiley and Canerwell Street.  

The city’s general plan allows the former mule ranch to have 830,000 combined square feet of residential and commercial space, planners said Tuesday. 

The city has heard various plans for the land since 2006, according to city Planning Manager Patrick Leclair. 

The current plans being discussed were submitted in 2020. 

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