The Santa Clarita City Council on Tuesday will consider expanding its borders to include 3,200 homes in the Bouquet Canyon, Haskell Canyon, Raintree and Plum Canyon areas of unincorporated Saugus.
Known as the North Copperhill Annexation, the 9,543 residents who inhabit the 2,475 acres would become citizens of Santa Clarita if the council votes to submit an application and the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission approves it.
The process started in July 2008 when the Pacific Crest Homeowners Association asked the city to let it in. The city surveyed area residents, and with a 20 percent response rate, 87 percent of those who completed the survey indicated they wanted to be part of the city.
The council directed the city staff to start drawing boundary maps in March. The Planning Commission held a hearing July 19 and recommended approval.
According to the latest city staff report: “Should the subject territory ultimately be annexed to the City of Santa Clarita, most of the territory between Raintree Place on the west and Bouquet Canyon Road on the east would become part of the City. The annexation area would also include a developed portion of the Plum Canyon area south of Bouquet Canyon Road in the vicinity of Santa Catarina Road.”
The official project description follows.
The 2,475 acre North Copperhill Annexation area contains three distinct residential neighborhoods: Bouquet Canyon, Haskell Canyon, and Raintree. The project area is already included in the City of Santa Clarita Sphere of Influence and carries land use designations under the City’s General Plan. A summary of the three neighborhoods is listed below:
The Bouquet Canyon area consists of approximately 450 acres and constitutes the eastern portion of the project area. The neighborhood is located both north and south of Bouquet Canyon Road and includes the area in the vicinity of Kathleen Avenue, Woodside Drive, Shadow Valley Lane, Rodgers Drive, and Santa Catarina Road. The Bouquet Canyon sub-area includes two County of Los Angeles probation camps, Camp Scott and Camp Scudder, and is primarily built out. This portion of the annexation area also contains Plum Canyon Elementary School, the 12.3 acre David March Park, 928 single-family homes, and has an estimated population of 2,784 permanent residents.
Haskell Canyon is the largest of the project’s three neighborhoods and consists of approximately 1,821 acres, 1,940 single family homes, and an estimated population of 5,820 residents. The Haskell Canyon area is bounded by the current City of Santa Clarita corporate boundary on the south, the Angeles National Forest on the north, the Dry Canyon Reservoir property on the west, and an undeveloped 10 acre parcel immediately south of the Dry Canyon dam. The area is bounded to the east by privately owned parcels west of Blue Cloud Road. Primary streets within this sub-area include Haskell Canyon Road, Rock Canyon Drive, Garnet Canyon Drive, and Cypress Place. The Haskell Canyon neighborhood contains an 18,860 square-foot commercial center, Mountainview Elementary School, the unused (closed) Bouquet Canyon Elementary School, the 7 acre Pacific Crest Park, and an undeveloped, 8 acre park site south of Copperhill Drive, opposite Deer Springs Drive. Los Angeles County Fire Station 108 is located on Rock Canyon Drive.
The existing neighborhoods were developed under Tract Map Nos. 35783, 46183, 46908 (partially built), 47657, 50586, 51789, and 52807. Three other tracts have been tentatively approved by Los Angeles County but are not yet built. Tract 52829 would allow 95 new single-family homes to be constructed on 74.76 acres at the northern terminus of Wellston Drive, south of Copperhill Drive. The tract map expires on March 19, 2014. The applicant has the option for four (4) one-year time extensions with the County, which means the expiration date may be pushed out as far as 2018. Tract 66561 would allow for 29 single-family units to be constructed on 80 acres of land at the northern terminus of Phantom Trail and expires on December 17, 2014. The applicant has the option for up to six (6) one-year extensions which means that the expiration date could be as late as 2020. A Mitigated Negative Declaration was prepared for each of these tracts and was adopted by the County of Los Angeles. The final portion of Tract 46908 is located at the end of Discovery Ridge Drive and includes eight single-family homes. That map will likely record in October, prior to annexation. As with the other tract maps, Tract 46908 was approved and environmentally cleared by Los Angeles County.
The Raintree neighborhood is located generally east of San Francisquito Canyon and consists of the developed areas north of the existing City of Santa Clarita corporate limits and south of the Angeles National Forest. Primary streets within the neighborhood include Raintree Place, Valley Oak Place, Black Pine Way, and Boxwood Lane. The Raintree neighborhood consists of approximately 203 acres, 313 single-family homes, and also includes the Dry Canyon Reservoir site that is owned by the LADWP. The area was developed under Tract Map Nos. 45137, 46564 (01, 02, 03, 04, and 05), and 49958. There are no commercial centers, public parks, or schools in the Raintree area, although a private park is located off Black Pine Lane. The area is primarily developed with an estimated population of 939 people.
In total, the entire North Copperhill Annexation area has almost 3,200 homes and an estimated population of 9,543 permanent residents. The annexation area contains the recently-purchased City-owned open space parcels north of Copperhill Drive, and would be the largest annexation in the City’s history aside from incorporation in 1987. Should Council approve the project, a project application would be submitted to LAFCO in October 2011 with the intent of the annexation being completed by June 2012.
Pursuant to the State of California Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000, annexing cities are required to prezone land. The City proposes a Prezone that would change the zoning designations of the annexation area in order to be consistent with the City’s zoning ordinance. The prezone designations would be consistent with the existing Los Angeles County land use designation for the Santa Clarita Valley area plan and would reflect the existing development and conditions within the proposed annexation area.
The project is located within the City’s existing General Plan planning area and consists of land use designations that include Commercial Neighborhood (CN), Non-Urban Residential (NU2), Non-Urban Residential (NU3), Non-Urban Residential (NU-5), Open Space (OS), Open Space—Bureau of Land Management (OS-BLM), Public Institution (PI), Urban Residential 1 (UR1), and Urban Residential 2 (UR2). As no changes to the General Plan are proposed, a General Plan Amendment is not required.
The current land uses in the project area are consistent with the City’s General Plan. The project would assign residential, open space, and commercial prezoning to the unincorporated territory, that both support and are consistent with the General Plan. Specifically, the project is consistent with the following policies of the Land Use Element of the General Plan:
Objective LU 1.1: Maintain an urban form for the Santa Clarita Valley that preserves an open space greenbelt around the developed portions of the Valley, protects significant resources from development, and directs growth to urbanized areas served with infrastructure.
Policy LU 1.1.3: Discourage urban sprawl into rural areas by limiting non-contiguous, “leap frog” development outside of areas designated for urban use.
The project supports this objective and policy because it would prezone 810 acres as open space which would prevent additional sprawl into natural areas. The project would direct growth into areas that are currently served by infrastructure and assign residential zones to the unincorporated territory that carry appropriate densities.
The proposed prezone designations for the annexation area include Commercial Neighborhood (CN), Open Space (OS), Residential Estate (RE), Residential Suburban (RS), and Residential Very Low (RVL), consistent with the City of Santa Clarita General Plan and zoning ordinance. The proposed Prezone and associated annexation would neither create County islands nor result in non-contiguous City territory. The Prezone would be consistent with the existing neighborhoods and also the approved, future, development and would likewise reflect the City’s commitment for preserving open space in undeveloped portions of the Santa Clarita Valley. Any future development that was not previously approved and/or environmentally analyzed by the County of Los Angeles, would be processed, analyzed, and reviewed by the City. The Prezone would become effective when the project area is formally annexed by the City of Santa Clarita.
An Initial Study was prepared that evaluated the potential impacts of the project. No significant impacts were identified that could reasonably result from the Prezone or ultimate annexation. It is therefore determined that Master Case 11-038 and its associated entitlements would not have a significant effect on the environment. The requested Prezone is consistent with Los Angeles County land use planning policies and reflects the project area’s existing development land uses. The Negative Declaration for this project was prepared and circulated for public review and comment beginning June 17, 2011, through July 19, 2011.
The project was the subject of a duly noticed public hearing before the Planning Commission on July 19, 2011. In compliance with the UDC noticing requirements for tonight’s public hearing, a notice advertising the hearing was mailed to the more than 3,200 property owners who own land within the project area. Additional notices were sent to the almost 3,400 property owners who own land within a 1,000’ radius of the proposed annexation area. An 1/8-page advertisement was placed in The Signal newspaper on August 2, 2011, and six public hearing signs were posted in the project area.
Other actions as determined by the City Council.
Overall, the annexation of the North Copperhill area would generate a neutral/no net fiscal impact to the City of Santa Clarita. Anticipated public service expenditures such as Parks and Recreation, Sheriff, Community Preservation, etc., would be managed so as not to exceed the future projected revenues generated from the annexation.