The City of Santa Clarita said goodbye to its Director of Community Development, Paul Brotzman, at a retirement ceremony Friday.
As he was making his way back to his home in Hawaii, Brotzman reflected on his successes and disappointments during his seven years working for the city.
On the positive side of the ledger he listed the joint city and county general plan known as One Valley, One Vision. Brotzman says the city has adopted its portion and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has indicated their intent to adopt their side.
“It was a very complicated, involved, collaborative planning process that updated the general plan for the city and the area plan for the county and will serve the city for many years to come,” said Brotzman.
There were several projects that escaped completion by Brotzman and the city. Among those were plans for the Soledad Townhomes and mixed use development in Canyon Country that would have “revitalized one of the older shopping centers out there.”
Brotzman said the economy got in the way.
“Both, as they got their approval the economy and housing market was just beginning its downcycle. So they never got off the ground,” said Brotzman.
Probably the biggest disappointment was seeing the redevelopment law change in the state of California to essentially eliminate redevelopment activities. This was particularly troublesome for plans in downtown Newhall.
“The city has acquired a major block in downtown Newhall, and we had a significant project that was in the works that would have been a major revitalization for that area. It’s questionable now whether that project can ever proceed,” said Brotzman.
Even though retirement has arrived, Brotzman will continue to consult for the city on two lingering projects. The first is the clean up and development of the 996-acre Whittaker-Bermite.
“It’s addressing the clean-up issues. It’s addressing the bankruptcy issues around the property and trying to identify a way in which we can get the clean up done at the earliest possible date and also address the future development of the property in a way that will be consistent with the general plan that’s just been adopted by the city,” said Brotzman.
The second issue has to do with billboards.
“We are working to try to remove some billboards within the city. Much of that is still in negotiations with some closed session discussion with the council. So I can’t get into that one with more detail than that,” Brotzman said.
The City of Santa Clarita said Brotzman has been busy since he joined the city in 2005. They issued a list of his accomplishments:
* Managed the adoption of the first City and County joint General Plan for the Santa Clarita Valley, thereby unifying land use goals, development standards, and a shared vision for both City and unincorporated areas;
* Championed Vista Canyon, the City’s first transit-oriented, mixed-use, and pedestrian-oriented village that will bring jobs, housing, services, and a new Metrolink station to Canyon Country;
* Adopted the City’s first comprehensive, award-winning Community Character and Design Guidelines that includes style and character standards for each of Santa Clarita’s distinct communities;
* Pushed for the expansion of Valencia Town Center, not only bringing high-end retailers and restaurants to Santa Clarita, but entirely revisiting the development potential and future for the Town Center/Civic Center area;
* Implemented the Downtown Newhall Specific Plan, including the reconstruction of Main Street, the installation of streetscape elements, outdoor dining standards, as well as plan amendments that support business expansion;
* Brought a state-of-the-art library to Downtown Newhall, a facility that will anchor the revitalization effort on Main Street while serving the needs of local residents and students;
* Oversaw “Senses” and “Thursdays in Newhall,” two events that bring out community residents in a festival atmosphere to support local businesses and to foster the creation of a thriving arts and entertainment district in Downtown Newhall;
* Directed and guided a diverse group of stake-holders to create a development strategy for the Whittaker-Bermite property, nearly one thousand acres of undeveloped land in the geographic center of Santa Clarita;
* Was the driving force behind the effort to create the Newhall Gateway plan, creating a workable market concept to develop the highly-visible gateway at Newhall Avenue and the Antelope Valley Freeway;
* Spearheaded the effort to approve the City’s first affordable family housing development on Newhall Avenue;
* Established the “Extreme Neighborhood Makeover” program that allows residents to come together to improve their neighborhoods through property clean-up, repair, and community involvement.
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