[KHTS] – Santa Clarita City Council members are set to look at a controversial billboard proposal and support for a regional water plan, among other city business at Tuesday’s meeting.
A proposal brought to the city by Metro would get rid of 118 billboards on 62 structures in favor of three prominent two-sided electronic billboards located on city-owned property near Interstate 5 and Highway 14, according to a website the city created for the billboard proposal.
Santa Clarita city officials are in the process of trying to negotiate a buyout of “46 billboard structures and associated lease rights located along Newhall Avenue, Railroad Avenue, Bouquet Canyon Road, Soledad Canyon Road, Sand Canyon Road and Sierra Highway,” according to a closed session agenda listed on the city’s website.
Metro’s proposal, which has been OK’ed by the Santa Clarita Planning Commission, has been praised by supporters who claim getting rid of the billboards would beautify the city, and decried by opponents who say officials are trading one blight for another while hurting local business.
The Santa Clarita Planning Commission voted 3-1 to recommend the proposal in January, with Commissioner Lisa Eichman opposed and Commissioner Dennis Ostrom absent.
The three signs would be 14-feet-by-48-feet in size, and sit on 50-60-foot-tall poles, according to city information.
The verbiage in the proposal also would preclude Allvision and Metro from advertising “tobacco products, medical marijuana, adult businesses, as well as all political advertising.”
“We have been trying for years to get rid of the billboards, especially along the Metro right of way and found it’s been very expensive to do that,” she said, alluding to past negotiations between city officials and Edwards Outdoor, a local company that owns about one-third of the billboards in question.
The water management plan was created locally by the Castaic Lake Water Agency, but by supporting the plan, Santa Clarita officials make the city eligible for state grants, said Travis Lange, Environmental Services Manager for Santa Clarita.
The Castaic Lake Water Agency purchases water wholesale from the state and then sells it locally to several different retailers.
“We’ve received money in the past for it,” Lange said, “And we’ve been told that we’re receiving money for our (future) projects, as well.”
One of the projects that are supported by the state grants in discussion is the city’s removal of arrundo, an invasive, non-native species threatening the natural habitat of the area, Lange said.
The arrundo also represents a fire hazard, due to its flammable nature. It’s growth in river areas allows wildfires to move more easily across a river that otherwise would be a natural barrier, Lange said.