A few weeks ago, the Westridge Town Council hinted at the fact that they might be open to talking to the city of Santa Clarita about annexation. A few days ago, Castaic spoke a similar theme. Stevenson Ranch, who has been on again, off again about the issue for years also extended some hope to the notion.
Tuesday night, City Manager Ken Pulskamp said that he would direct his staff to look into alternatives to the pre-annexation checklist communities must go through before they can receive help from the city, to make it easier for residents of those areas to get the process going.
With all the buzz in the air about this, it almost seems as if this could be the year Santa Clarita finally gets those communities.
Should all of those annexations actually take place, estimates on the resulting population gain say that 30,000 residents could be added to Santa Clarita.
To put that into perspective, in the city’s history, they have successfully annexed 28 communities. All of those combined accounted for between twenty and thirty thousand new residents.
So how does annexation work?
According to Kai Luoma, Senior Planner for the city, annexation is composed of three steps. “It starts with the residential step, where we require a majority of residents in the area to sign their names saying that they would support annexation.”
Usually, they look for 60% of the residents to sign in favor, and this is needed because the city wants to make sure that they have a good chance of passing the communities through the process before they put up the money to pursue it. The process can get expensive.
Ken Pulskamp’s interest in finding an alternative deals with the 60% of signatures required. His staff is currently looking for other ways to pre-qualify communities for annexation that might be easier.
“Step two is essentially the city step, where we conduct several studies to analyze the impacts of adding the particular area to our city,” said Luoma. This is also where the city will take the information to the city council, and if the council approves it, they will draft an application for LAFCO.
LAFCO stands for Local Agency Formation Commission, “LAFCO is a state run organization that we need to bring it to for step three.”
Should the application be approved by LAFCO, then the process will be a success, and the new sections will become a part of the city.
There are certainly benefits to joining the city, which include easy access to local officials, a better understanding by the local government of regional issues, and of course, the fact that Santa Clarita will be an enterprise zone for the next 15 years.
It would also benefit the city, because just out of logistics, residents in surrounding communities benefit from services that the city pays for. For example, The Sheriff’s Department is contracted to protect and serve Santa Clarita, however they are also a county office, which means they patrol the unincorporated sections as well. The Sheriff’s station and the Sheriff’s local resources are used for patrolling the outside areas and yet the city foots the bill.
There is no doubt the significant impact it will have on the city if these areas decide to annex. Maybe this time it’s for real, or maybe it’s just a passing tease. One way or another, we will find out in the not so distant future.