Calgrove Corridor Coalition

 

Group Comments

May 6, 2009 By Glenda B. & Annette L.

Dear CCC membership,

 Thanks for joining with us in efforts to ensure that the inevitable development at the corner of Wiley Canyon and Calgrove be one that enhances our neighborhood and our quality of life. The core group of the Calgrove Corridor Coalition has been meeting and talking with city staff and elected officials since the initial proposal was made. The objections of the Calgrove Corridor Coalition to the proposed mega-development contributed to the rejection of the proposal by the city.  At the moment, there is no plan for the development of the Smiser Ranch and surrounding property.

Since there is no proposed project on the table, Calgrove Corridor Coalition’s focus shifted to the zoning description of this land. The City of Santa Clarita has been working with Los Angeles County on an updated general plan that will redefine the zoning for the Santa Clarita Valley. Our core group studied One Valley One Vision and found that the new Land Use description would allow greater development than the old zoning. We met with the City Manager and City Planners to request changes that would protect our neighborhood. City Planners accommodated our requests by designating this property as a Special Development Area which specifies:

  • A maximum of 830,000 square feet (including residential) may be built on the property – a Floor Area Ratio of .5 
  • The many physical constraints that will limit development on the property
  • Desired characteristics for this Mixed Use Neighborhood development
  • Calgrove Corridor neighbors will be consulted prior to submittal of a new development proposal

Calgrove Corridor Coalition has had a productive working relationship with City staff and we appreciate their responsiveness. Looking ahead, our next concern is the impact of the widening of I-5 adjacent to the Smiser property. Caltrans will add 4 lanes to the freeway and is proposing to build a wall between the north and southbound lanes. Calgrove Corridor Coalition has asked the City of Santa Clarita to work with us to protect our neighborhood from noise pollution and other potential environmental concerns. We will keep you informed!

 Thanks for your support,

 Glenda & Annette

 

May 8, 2009 By Bob S.

With the suggested amendments, the City's proposal for the zoning of the Smiser property is fair, reasonable, and meets our core requests.  I believe it deserves our support.

From the beginning we all recognized that the owner of the property was entitled to develop the land consistent with environmental, zoning, and community concerns.  However, we objected to a proposed development of approximately 2,480,000 square feet of office, residential, and retail space.  Even as that project appeared to be abandoned in the face of community and City resistance, we became alarmed when the "One Valley One Vision" master plan revision created a new zoning designation for the property that would allow significantly greater development than the old zoning.

We expressed our concerns to the City, and they have been working with us.  We asked that the new zoning allow no more than the previous limit of 830,000 square feet of development.  That is one-third of the previously proposed project.  The City agreed that our request was reasonable, but pointed out that there was an existing housing overlay that allowed additional residential development on the property.  When we told the city staff that we believed that anything above 830,000 square feet limit for commercial and residential development combined was excessive for our neighborhood, they listened.  The new proposal reflect the previous limit and is precisely what we requested.  It allows for no more than 830,000 square feet of TOTAL development.  The overlay is now a moot issue.  The City Council members and staff that we contacted have been supportive and responsive to our requests.  The result would allow for development that is reasonable for our neighborhood and for the property.  They also included language that would require any future developer of the property to meet and work with community groups before taking any project for approval.

There have been some residents who have stated that they believe the property would make a good park.  I disagree.  I remember concerns being raised about the development of parks alongside busy freeways in 1975.  It caused me to move my family, with our two young children, from a home where the backyard was right off the 101 freeway.  A quick internet search confirms that this is still an issue with which to be concerned.  (See http://www.sfphes.org/publications/Mitigating_Roadway_AQLU_Conflicts.pdf)  We have nearby parks, including the large Orchard Village and Towsley Canyon parks.  In addition to the serious environmental concerns, there has to be a reality check.  No developer would build a park on the site, and the property is too expensive for municipal purchase.  A reasonable development would provide a buffer against the increased levels of pollution and noise that are sure to follow freeway expansion and future development outside our city limits.

They have given us what we asked for.  City staff has even committed to help our neighborhood with a Caltrans freeway noise issue.  Now we need to act reasonably and responsibly.

Bob S.


 
May 17, 2009 By Tom S.

I just don't think we should be budging from the existing zoning, which is commercial only (no residential), 0,375 FAR max per below (since the property would not qualify for anything above midpoint due to its characteristics). 
Please post my following revised comments on the CCC website:
 

I can't support this Special Development Area (SDA) description for the Smiser property for the OVOV.  There is no lawful residential overlay in effect for the Smiser property.  Any assumptions being made by the CCC that an existing, "unlimited residential" overlay is the starting point for any negotiations with the city regarding Smiser development/density have been in error. This has led to a proposed SDA which is not in the best interests of the neighborhood. Specifically, the SDA would allow for higher overall zoning density than currently allowed, and high density residential housing (apartments) where only commercial development is currently allowed. These concerns are discussed in more detail below.

The SDA definition has an accommodation for extremely high residential use which overwhelms that of the surrounding neighborhoods, and can only be perceived as detrimental to nearby residents.   The SDA does not maintain a critical clarification from the existing General Plan regarding appropriate project intensity, which is that the development intensity “is generally expected to be between the low and mid-point of the allowable floor area ratio range.”  Please recall that the current FAR midpoint for the Smiser property is 0.375, not the 0.5 which is being proposed in the SDA. This means that the SDA allows for at least 33% more development than is allowed under the existing Smiser property zoning.

The city has recognized that, “The provision of adequate park space and facilities to serve residents is not only required by State planning law, but is recognized as necessary to provide for public health and quality of life” and also recognizes that “another issue for park development is distribution of park facilities, as many local parks are concentrated within master planned communities, and outlying areas have access to fewer local parks.” The Calgrove/Wiley Canyon neighborhood was identified in the existing General Plan as being severely underserved with respect to parks, and the only remaining local undeveloped land which can be used for a neighborhood park is the Smiser property.  Yet the proposed SDA for the Smiser property does not include any reference to parkland, but instead proposes to increase the density allowed for development of that property, and add high density housing, thus further compounding the lack of adequate park facilities in our area.  Please note that parkland is not the same as open space, and therefore Townsley Canyon is not a substitute for what our neighborhood is entitled to - a safe place for our children to play - as opposed to being forced to play on the streets. We as community leaders can do much better than capitulate to the desires of developers and their agents at city hall!

I took a look back to CCC's earlier goals and concerns with the Smiser property as stated in our August 28, 2008 letter, and find that the following would not be met by the SDA: 

  1. The guiding principles of OVOV state that "multi-family housing development's building massing shall complement the characteristics of surrounding single-family residential neighborhoods” such as those that surround the Smiser property. 
  2. The City’s Guiding Principles state that parkland will be developed “with priority on locations that are not now adequately served.”  This designation fits the areas adjacent to and surrounding the Smiser property.  The CCC requests that this issue be considered as plans for the Smiser Ranch property progress.

I believe we need to stick by our prior goals and not allow any increase beyond 0.375 FAR, not allow any high density residential use, and require that our area's parkland needs be addressed before we move forward with even considering this proposed SDA.  Please reply to the CCC with your opposition to the proposed SDA.

Tom S.

 

 

 


             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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