Some still upset over Wiley Canyon outreach  

A map of the Wiley Canyon project area. Courtesy
A map of the Wiley Canyon project area. Courtesy

While the Wiley Canyon Project is coming back before the Planning Commission later this year, several upset residents spoke out at City Hall regarding the plans last week over a lack of Spanish-language outreach to neighboring mobile home park residents.  

A repeated claim that arose from the nearly two-hour talk about the plans for Wiley Canyon is that the city’s process for developer outreach is largely guided by and up to a project applicant.  

City officials said there’s a process for legal notices, which does have specific requirements, and a process for when a developer is asked to do outreach, which is less stringent. 

The plans 

On the property that was once known as the Smiser Mule Ranch off Wiley Canyon Road between between Hawkbryn Avenue and Calgrove Boulevard, there’s currently a plan before the city to build a 379-unit mixed-use development and a senior living facility with another 217 units. 

In response to residents’ concerns at the March 19 meeting of the Planning Commission, the commission asked the developer to conduct more outreach to address residents’ concerns that were mentioned. 

That became a point of contention for residents at the June 18 Planning Commission meeting, when a handful of Mulberry Mobile Home Park residents were angered that the notices for two meetings the developer held were not posted in Spanish. 

There also was no bilingual interpreter at the June 10 and June 11 meetings scheduled by developer Tom Clark at Smiser Mule Ranch, according to attendees. 

In an email Tuesday, city planners said staff has a list of items that it’s working on with the developer in response to residents’ concerns and the commission’s comments from the meetings and the two hearings.  

The list includes: traffic circulation on Wiley Canyon Road; necessary right-of-way acquisitions; visual representation of the project, both interior and exterior to the site; parking management for project operations and construction operations; emergency evacuation plans/operations; and draft environmental impact report comments. 

Clark said in a phone interview Wednesday he told the commission additional outreach in Spanish would not be a problem ahead of the next discussion. 

We’re definitely going to have a meeting with the mobile home people. We’ll have a Spanish language interpreter there to help make sure they all understand what I’m talking about, and they can ask questions,” he said.  

Second hearing  

During the public portion of the second hearing for the Wiley Canyon Project on June 18, Marco Montoya identified himself as a longtime resident of the mobile home park next to the planned project site, and objected to the development over its outreach, among other concerns. 

“My first objection is that myself and many of the residents feel extremely discriminated against and are afraid to speak out,” he said at the meeting. “We were not notified in a timely manner of this project just next door to us. When we found out, it was through a private social media group. Why did the city not properly notify us?” 

The developer’s notice didn’t have all the information a proper legal notice should have, he added, holding up a copy of the notices and saying it lacked the project’s title, description and a contact for the development. 

“Who enforces this?” he added rhetorically, adding the lack of notice at the very least is cause for a delay in approval for at least six months, and that there was no translator available for those who wanted to speak, like his father. 

Montoya went on to echo other concerns that residents had mentioned regarding emergency circulation and traffic flow. 

Developer, commission discussion 

Glenn Adamick, a registered lobbyist with the city of Santa Clarita who represents the project, said some of what was being asked for by residents simply wasn’t required by the city. 

“Legal notices were provided to the city. Those notices went out to everybody within that 1,000-foot radius,” Adamick said to the commission.  

“The notices that were sent out by the developers — you know, they’re not required to be legal notices,” he said.  

“They basically put a notice in the mail indicating they were going to have a community meeting at the barn,” he added. “They don’t have to meet the same requirements as what the city has to meet when a formal legal notice goes out.” 

After the developer spoke, Planning Commissioner Patsy Ayala said the community nearest the project is largely Spanish-speaking, and that should be a consideration for outreach. 

“I just want to encourage, of course, the developer and the city, because in Newhall, we have around 60% of Hispanics, and I think it’s worth it (to) everybody to understand what is happening with the projects around,” said Ayala, whose first language is Spanish.  

“If you need help,” she said, raising her hand, “I’ll be happy to communicate in Spanish of course, at some point.” 

Commissioner Rene Berlin brought a similar concern, saying she appreciated the attempts at outreach but that it was “really important to have a meeting in Spanish, especially for the mobile home park people.” 

Ayala suggested perhaps translation devices could be made accessible. 

“It’s like being a good neighbor,” Berlin said, also mentioning the concerns of the Kelton Estates residents, who said they weren’t notified of the meetings. “You’re going to be their future neighbor.” 

Clark also said Wednesday he thought the project’s addition of parking, which now means it has 70 spots over code, addressed a lot of residents’ concerns.  

Residents also repeatedly asked for four lanes on Wiley Canyon Road. Clark said he thought the city’s senior traffic engineer, Ian Pari, did a good job of explaining why his project relied on traffic improvements centered around two lanes there, as well as three roundabouts. 

He also repeated the city staff’s comments that the project being planned for the area now will create traffic volumes much lower than originally intended for the area, making two lanes for Wiley acceptable. 

City process 

Jason Crawford, director of community development for the city, said that for required meetings, the city takes the lead. That applies to a notice of preparation meeting or a scoping meeting.  

Crawford said for the Wiley Canyon project specifically, the city held a site meeting and invited the public. The city’s site visit was in February 2023

“And then we typically ask big projects, every project pretty much, to do some amount of neighbor outreach,” he said. “We hold them to making sure that they’ve done some amount of neighbor community outreach.” 

That information, which includes when and where the meeting was, who showed up and what time did it occur, is reported to the city’s project planner, and then included in the planner’s report to the commission, he said. He added that the commission’s request for more outreach came from their learning through the outreach process that a couple of groups had not been reached.  

Adamick also said Clark’s project “is not proposing that anything happen to the mobile home park” in response to concerns raised by its residents that they’ll be priced out of their units once the new development is built. 

“That property owner, at some point in time, if he makes the decision to do something, that’s his decision, and he’s going to have to go down through an entitlement path, and deal with a mobile home park closure, and those are all very difficult things to do.” 

The project doesn’t yet have a date for when it will be back in front of the commission. 

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