After strong push by Council members, voters say yes.
The votes are all tallied and the open space initiative that would provide the means for the city of Santa Clarita to buy and preserve undeveloped land in and around Santa Clarita has been given a green light. The open space initiative has passed by an overwhelming amount. Nearly 70% of voters were in support of the initiative.
The initiative carried with it a property tax assessment of $25 a year for 30 years, and it could only be increased a maximum of $1 per year, but even that would take a vote by the City Council to approve.
Proponents of the plan included all of the City Council, the SCV Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club and many of Santa Clarita’s business leaders. Council member Laurene Weste worked especially hard on promoting the idea, a part of her long time advocacy for preserving parkland, open space and trails.
So it was fitting that Weste was the one to make the announcement of the initiative’s passage. “I am very pleased that our City property owners supported the formation of this important new district,” Weste commented. “Preserving open space in and around our City is a tremendous priority for the community and for our City Council; and the formation of the new Open Space District will enable us to move forward.”
When asked how this success ranks on the list of accomplishments the City has compiled in its 20 years, Councilmember Weste replied “After City formation…number two!”
The broad spectrum of support for the initiative can be credited to the broad range of people who grouped together to actually write it. Santa Clarita had proposed such a plan a few years ago, only to see it fail with the voters because it lacked a balance of government limitations.
This time around, environmentalists, residents and business leaders worked together to produce a more balanced plan, with specific restrictions on the government’s handling of the land purchases.
As it was written, no less than 90% of the land can be left as open space parkland; with trails and, potentially camping sites. No more than 10% of the land can be transformed from open space to active parkland; with sporting fields and playground equipment. Other limitations of the initiative include a max on how far outside of City boundaries land can be purchased.
All land purchased by the City will be designated public land in perpetuity.
So now, the City Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday July 17th at 4:00, where they will adopt a resolution to form the Open Space Preservation District. This will officially kick off Santa Clarita’s open space preservation efforts.
Some of the potential benefits of the passage include the promise of a greenbelt around Santa Clarita that will increase home values, and stave off growth along the edges of Santa Clarita.
There will also be ample public benefit in the way of new parkland and additional trails. A reduction in crime is also a great possibility, as LA County Sheriff Baca has already predicted.