Developer to conduct outreach on Wiley Canyon project 

An artist's rendering of what the developer of the Wiley Canyon project is expected to look like. Courtesy
An artist's rendering of what the developer of the Wiley Canyon project is expected to look like. Courtesy

A developer is hosting a pair of community meetings next week on the former Smiser Mule Ranch property, which has been proposed for a 379-unit mixed-use development with a senior living facility with another 217 units. 

The Santa Clarita Planning Commission asked the developer at a March meeting to conduct additional community outreach after concerns were raised about traffic and circulation around the 31-acre Wiley Canyon property. 

The comment period has already ended for the project’s environmental impact report, but project developer Tom Clark said any concerns raised at the meetings, which are set to happen on two nights, at 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, will be addressed in the process. 

He said the meetings would be for the homeowner associations, nearby mobile home park residents or anyone else who might have a question about the project. 

The Interstate 5 corridor between the freeway and Wiley Canyon, starting just north of Calgrove Boulevard, has been the subject of a number of plans since it hosted the ranch started by Sam Smiser, a home for mules that famously pulled Rose Parade floats. 

After the ranch closed and was then sold in 2004, the project was eyed for a 600,000-square-foot development that would have added about 1,000 condo units to the area in a mixed-use development.  

Jason Crawford, director of community development for the city of Santa Clarita, said residents balked at the proposal at the time, which ultimately resulted in amendments to the general plan that guides development for the area.  

Clark, who’s also the developer behind Sand Canyon Plaza, said he became involved in the property about five years ago, long after the development cap was set.  

He said the project he’s proposing, which does not have an affordable housing component, is going to create a five-star assisted-living development for seniors and nearly 380 apartment units.  

“I would say that it’s going to be, both the apartments and the senior assisted-living and such, are going to be very well done. It’s kind of like if you’re comparing it to a hotel — these are going to be five-star,” he said, touting walking and bike trails, as well as recreational areas that will be built. 

“It’s going to be beautiful,” he said Tuesday in a phone interview.  

He added the project was also going to bring a number of improvements, such as sidewalks for Wiley Canyon Road, signal lights at Calgrove Boulevard on either side of the interstate and trails intended to make the area more connected.  

Despite the promised improvements, there was some pushback from residents who expressed a number of concerns, including circulation issues revolving around whether Wiley should be a two- or four-lane road as originally planned, as well as impacts to local wildlife in the corridor.  

They also brought up concerns about the outreach process, and whether their concerns were being heard. 

Clark listed several outreach meetings he’d had on the property, which had been reported to the city. However, some questioned whether the outreach should be supervised by the city. 

The timing of the outreach meetings, so close to the end of the process, was one concern. 

Annette Lucas, a Santa Clarita resident who expressed concerns about the project during the March meeting, asked why the city wasn’t conducting the meetings if officials were asking the developer to do more outreach or if there were concerns. 

Crawford said the city’s process involves the developer conducting the outreach and reporting the results to the city’s Planning Division staff, including what concerns were mentioned by residents. 

Weston Monroe called the project “a bottleneck waiting to happen,” due to the concerns over the two-lane road that’s been proposed for the project’s frontage along Wiley Canyon Road. 

Monroe said that, while he lived in the area, he had no problem with more development as someone who works in construction, but as a resident he wanted the city to make the developer accountable for what had been planned.  

When asked about the initial circulation plans, city officials said a development cap was struck after 1,000 condos were proposed, which limited the potential scope of development, and therefore the necessary circulation numbers.  

“The city’s General Plan does identify the segment of Wiley Canyon Road along the project frontage as a four-lane road,” according to an email from Jason Crawford, in response to questions from the March meeting. “The reason being that the General Plan had assumed about 27,000 daily vehicle trips for future development at the project location based on the potential maximum buildout of the property.” 

In a phone conversation Friday, he also said plans have changed significantly since the One Valley, One Vision plan was created, including an agreed cap on the area’s buildout. 

Clark on Tuesday said the project would add 596 units total, and the development cap reached was 572; however, only 509 of the units being built — 379 residential and 130 independent living — count against the cap. The 87 units that will be assisted and dependent living are considered commercial units, he said. 

Crawford also said the proposed project is significantly less than the maximum buildout that was analyzed. The anticipated daily vehicle trips generated by the proposed project are about 3,500 trips.  

He said the area’s buildout plans now are estimated to generate about 10,000 total daily trips, which was a little more than one-third of what was originally projected. 

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