City discusses potential open-space deal 

A developer map from the website for The Trails at Lyons Canyon. Courtesy
A developer map from the website for The Trails at Lyons Canyon. Courtesy

The Santa Clarita City Council held a closed-session discussion April 9 over negotiations for a pair of properties near a project site on the west side of the Santa Clarita Valley that’s been the subject of development talk for more than 20 years. 

There was no action reported out of the closed-session discussion. 

The Trails at Lyons Canyon is a multifamily housing project looking to put more than 500 units, including affordable housing, just west of city limits. 

While the land associated with the project is more than 230 acres, the development would be clustered on about 40 acres in a Hamburger Hill-adjacent neighborhood next to The Old Road, south of Sagecrest Circle, according to planning documents.  

“We’re pleased to be working with the city of Santa Clarita as they look to further expand their open space district,” Adam Browning, president and CEO of New Urban West, said in a statement sent via email. “Our revised project reduced the overall development area allowing a large, contiguous 151-acre piece of natural open space to be preserved, which will include public hiking trails. Our open space is immediately adjacent to the city’s Taylor Trail open space area. Adding our open space with the city will seamlessly create greater connectivity of trails. We believe the city is the right partner to work with to care for our open space into the future.” 

The Trails at Lyons Canyons 

The project’s application is being processed by the county’s Department of Regional Planning, according to a spokeswoman for L.A. County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the SCV. 

The next hearing date was not immediately available from county planners. The plans are going through the entitlement process and have not yet been approved, according to officials.  

The project is looking to build attached and detached residential units, including affordable senior housing, a recreation center and a designated lot for a future fire station, according to a draft notice of preparation submitted to the L.A. County Department of Regional Planning. 

The draft notice of preparation also mentioned on-site utility and roadway infrastructure, a water tank, with three Los Angeles County Flood Control District lots, and approximately 160 acres of natural open space with multiuse trails. 

John Musella, a spokesman for the project on behalf of New Urban West, confirmed the project’s plans call for more than 150 acres of open space that would go to the city, which would help with local trail connectivity.  

City negotiations 

The city’s closed session negotiations involve its potential acquisition of two lots with two parties, according to officials and records publicly available with the L.A. County Assessor’s Office: one owned by a local couple, Daniel and Caroline Regan, and the other listed as Lyons Canyon Development. 

The two lots are listed as west of The Old Road and north of the Taylor Open Space, which is currently undeveloped land. 

Based on the Assessor’s Office records and the City Council’s closed session agenda, the parcel numbers indicated the negotiations involved just under 41.5 acres of land owned by the Regans, and nearly 160 acres owned by the developer for The Trails at Lyons Canyons, which is listed to Adam Browning of New Urban West. 

When reached by phone prior to the discussion, Daniel Regan said he was unaware of the negotiations at that point but that he and his wife liked the thought of the land being preserved in perpetuity. 


The land associated with The Trails at Lyons Canyon was eyed for a possible city annexation back in 2002, according to a September 2006 notice of preparation for a previous development plan for the property called Lyons Canyon Ranch.  

Those plans were ultimately withdrawn after discussions with the developer, according to Councilwoman Laurene Weste.  

In a phone interview Wednesday, Weste said she supports the current effort by New Urban West, which will greatly improve trail connectivity for the city and L.A. County.  

The Lyons Canyon Ranch proposal called for the development of 190 housing units, including 90 condos for seniors, on nearly 70 acres, with about 135 acres of open space and 28 acres of debris/detention lots, as well as parks, parking and a fire station.  

The developer that proposed those plans, DR Horton’s Western Pacific Housing Inc., had plans for fewer units but more land development than what’s currently being proposed.  

The Lyons Canyon Ranch version did not secure as much open space. 

Part of the discussion of the previous plan involved the request to rip out 162 smaller oak trees, transplant 13 big oaks already on the land and get permission from the county to encroach on another 52 oaks, six of which are also classified as heritage oaks, according to previous reports in The Signal. Heritage oaks are scenic or older oaks under the county definition. 

Market forces also probably played a factor in the outcome for the housing plans presented to the county about a year before the onset of the Great Recession. 

Due to extensions and resubmissions, the county still reported the Lyons Canyon Ranch plans as under review as late as August 2019; however, by that point, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy already had put together an application in a city-supported effort to buy the land for open space. 

In a grant application seeking $100,000 of a proposed $18 million acquisition cost, the conservancy was looking to purchase all 230-plus acres of the land for permanent open space acquisition in a request dated August 2018. 

While Weste said she would have liked to have seen the whole lot become open space, she’s happy to see a piece of it being designated as such.  

“We tried to buy it for open space,” she said, “but in a sense, you’re getting the benefits of natural lands and trails and they’re putting in some senior units and some other units, and it’s a much smaller project.” 

Weste said she was grateful Barger, county officials and the developer were supportive of a potential addition to the city’s greenbelt, a connected patch of open space surrounding its borders. 

New Urban West is also the developer looking to build 6,550 multifamily homes in the center of the city for a project called Sunridge, a nearly 1,000-acre property formerly known as the Whittaker-Bermite site. 

The land was cleared for development in 2021, after a yearslong hazardous-waste cleanup effort overseen by the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. 

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