[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy
74°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
July 19
1924 - Sherman Block, L.A. County's 29th Sheriff (1982-1998), born in Chicago [story]


Commentary by Leon Worden
| Sunday, Dec 10, 2017

Patricia Navarro was a UC Berkeley student in 1998 when she put the finishing touches on a plan to restore the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall and turn it into a historic park.

I wonder where Navarro is now. I wonder if she knows it still hasn’t happened.

Located off of Pine Street in Newhall, the Pioneer was operated by a predecessor to Standard Oil of California from 1877-1888. It was the first productive oil refinery in the American West and is believed to be the oldest existing refinery in the world.

Chevron USA, the 1977 merger company of Standard and Chevron, donated the refinery and its 4.6-acre parcel to the city of Santa Clarita in 1997-98. The Santa Clarita City Council voted to accept the donation in August 1997; escrow closed in April 1998.

The Pioneer Oil Refinery had been a park in the past, albeit a privately owned one, when Standard Oil restored the refinery to its former glory in 1930 — and again in the 1950s — and again in 1976 for the nation’s bicentennial and what Standard considered its own centennial: the 100th anniversary of its predecessor’s success in Pico Canyon. From Pico (Mentryville), the oil was piped six miles to the little refinery in Newhall, making both equal partners in the birth of the California oil industry.

But now, in 1998, the refinery sat derelict, its two original stills (of four) having been whisked away to Chevron’s headquarters in the Bay Area and its brick chimneys victimized by the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Corporate pride and a directive to shed nonproductive property compelled key people at Chevron USA to remove the refinery from the company’s books while simultaneously setting a plan in motion for its preservation.

In addition to donating the refinery to the city, Chevron committed to preparing a plan (Navarro’s plan) for its restoration and pledged $15,000 to kick-start the effort. The resulting plan earmarked Chevron’s $15,000 for signage and anticipated a total cost of $274,300 to restore the structures and create a park setting around them.

An unanticipated, quarter-million-dollar historic restoration project was not in the 10-year-old city of Santa Clarita’s budget. But change was afoot. A funding opportunity presented itself when the adjacent property owners — Mark Gates, Hank Arklin and Eternal Valley Cemetery — started planning an industrial park that would surround the refinery on three sides.

In November 2000, the City Council ordered an environmental impact report for the 584-acre Gate-King Industrial Park. Of the 584 acres, 337.5 acres were zoned industrial-commercial, 29.2 acres were zoned community commercial (retail), 124.1 acres were zoned residential and 93.2 acres were zoned open space.

Gate-King instead proposed to develop 344 acres as industrial-commercial, build zero homes, and give the rest of the land — 240 acres of riparian woodlands, or 41 percent of the total project area — to the city of Santa Clarita as permanent open space. (See chart on page 2-11 of EIR.)

It also promised to create connections to the Pioneer Oil Refinery and Hart Park, as well as hiking trails overlooking the San Fernando railroad tunnel with interpretive signage along the way. The EIR anticipated “less than significant impacts” to the refinery because the development project would “avoid the use of heavy equipment” near the refinery and/or stabilize the refinery’s acid tank; provide a drainage system to avoid the deposition of materials on the city’s refinery property; and provide “improved access and parking for the historic Pioneer Oil Refinery.”

In addition, the developers would pay $2.4 million to the city for public improvements, to be spent at the city’s discretion — in part to restore the refinery, according to public statements by city officials. After all, the developers would want it fixed up. They wouldn’t want a pile of broken bricks in the middle of their modern business park — and they said so.

Then came the lawsuits. The city certified the Gate-King EIR in June 2003; by July the developers were in court. The Santa Clarita Oak Conservancy, Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, the California Oak Foundation and others alleged that the EIR did not adequately address water supplies for the project.

The development was sidelined for more than a decade by the litigation and the subsequent economic recession, during which time the city completed most of the other off-site public improvements it had expected to make with the developer’s $2.4 million.

The Pioneer Oil Refinery park project was idle but not forgotten. Every year until his untimely death in 2015, Parks Commissioner and SCV Historical Society board member Duane Harte kept the refinery restoration on the commission’s “priority” list, even as it languished on the city’s “unfunded projects” list (at an anticipated cost today of $500,000).

In 2004 the city announced it would be applying for a state parks grant to restore the refinery. State records show no such grant was awarded — which makes sense if a restoration plan hadn’t been finalized and the city’s matching funds (the Gate-King dollars) were tied up in court. The city also applied for a Getty Foundation grant that did not come through.

In July 2011, the City Council approved a new master plan for the refinery site that would preserve the existing structures and add trees and parking spaces. In June 2013 the council approved a minor land swap that had the net effect of adding 0.75 acres to the refinery site.

Now, more than 14 years after the City Council gave the go-ahead, the Gate-King Industrial Park is happening. Grading on the first of three phases started last month.

Today’s little walk through history has no happy or snappy ending. The final chapter has yet to be written. I hope Patricia Navarro will still be around to read it.

 

Leon Worden is president and CEO of SCVTV. His opinion is his own.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

2 Comments

  1. jim says:

    Nicely put Leon. As Judge Gideon J. Tucker (or Mark Twain, take your pick) said; “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session”.

    Given enough different legislatures, I suppose that no one will ever know just how hosed they have become.

    I sincerely hope that a reasonable local dickering over the various issues will end up with something that won’t make us all feel like we’ve been hosed.

    At least more than is usual.

  2. Brown says:

    Thank you.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Monday, Jul 2, 2018
In her July message, Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste wishes residents a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July, and recaps a bit of local history.
Sunday, Jul 1, 2018
The Mojave rattlesnake or “Mojave green” is a highly irritable and unpredictable pit viper. By comparison, the Pacific rattlesnake you might be accustomed to is fairly tame.
Friday, Jun 15, 2018
Your rights guarantee that you get the health services the law says you can get, protect you against unethical practices, and ensure the privacy of your personal and medical information. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times, and to be protected from discrimination.
Friday, Jun 15, 2018
California voters just bought the feel-good tax proposition that was stated to raise yet another $4 billion for “clean water” funds. Days later, Brown declared it isn’t enough. There will be another ballot measure in November to raise another $8 billion.
Friday, Jun 8, 2018
Our state leaders are finally working together to address one of the greatest inequities in higher education – funding for California community colleges that serve high need students.
Wednesday, Jun 6, 2018
Not every decision on the table must be made within the next week. When it comes to deciding how to fund community colleges, it would be wise to hit pause and devote more careful consideration to the discussion.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1924 - Sherman Block, L.A. County's 29th Sheriff (1982-1998), born in Chicago [story]
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies have arrested a Santa Clarita woman who allegedly spray-painted walls on a city park building in Saugus early Tuesday morning, also discovering she was allegedly in possession of forged checks.
Woman Charged with Defacing Park Building, Check Forgery
The Paramount Network has set Aug. 11 as the premiere date of 'I Am Paul Walker,' a new film documentary tracing the life of the late actor, who was killed in a 2013 car crash in Valencia.
Aug. 11: Paul Walker Film Doc to Debut on Paramount Network
Marston's Restaurant in Valencia is helping raise funds for Carousel Ranch, Santa Clarita Valley nonprofit organization that provides equestrian therapy for disabled and special needs children and adults.
July 15-Aug. 15: Marston’s Restaurant Fundraising for Carousel Ranch
Members of Santa Clarita Valley home haunters Beware the Dark Realm will appear on a panel at the third annual "Midsummer Scream" Halloween Festival and scarefest at the Long Beach Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday, July 28-29.
July 28: SCV’s Beware the Dark Realm to Join Panel at Midsummer Scream
The Sierra Hillbillies Square & Round Dance Club will throw a good old-fashioned picnic and dance to the calls of Jay Henderson at the SCV Senior Center on Sunday, August 5 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Sierra Hillbillies Set 2 Dances for August, September
A Spring Valley, California woman was arrested and charged for evading and resisting arrest on southbound Interstate 5 in Valencia late Tuesday night after a pursuit by the California Highway Patrol, according to the CHP.
CHP Pursuit Ends With Arrest of Woman on I-5 in Valencia
If you are a member of the U.S. House of Representatives with a private prison in your district, you are also more likely than your peers to co-sponsor punitive immigration legislation, according to a groundbreaking study by California State University, Northridge political science professor Jason Morin.
CSUN Study: Private Prison Operators Influencing Immigration Policy
Wealth | Wisdom | Wellness, a new quarterly magazine featuring collective wisdom on family wealth and health for families in the Santa Clarita Valley, has just published its second 2018 edition with exclusive showcase interviews of top local business owners.
New SCV Print-Online Magazine Profiles Top Local Business Owners
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies handed out 25 traffic citations during a motorcycle safety enforcement operation in Santa Clarita on Saturday.
SCV Deputies Hand Out 25 Traffic Tickets in Safety Push
A Santa Clarita bank robbery suspect dubbed by the FBI as the "Faux Badge Bandit" is now also suspected of robbing banks in Northern California, according to authorities.
‘Faux Badge Bandit’ Also a Suspect in NoCal Bank Heists
A Ninth Circuit panel on Tuesday affirmed a federal judge’s order preliminarily barring California from enforcing a voter-approved ban on high-capacity gun magazines.
Ninth Circuit Upholds Block of California Gun Magazine Ban
The California Department of Motor Vehicles now offers customers a convenient way to complete a driver license or identification card application online before visiting a field office.
DMV Debuts Online Application for Driver License, State ID Card
2009 - Two killed in crash of experimental plane in Sand Canyon [NTSB report]
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce is holding a Business After Hours Mixer at Valencia Acura, Wednesday, July 18, at 5:30 p.m.
July 18: SCV Chamber’s Business After Hours Mixer
Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the lone vote opposing a motion to place a measure on the November ballot which seeks to increase property taxes on residential and commercial properties to generate approximately $300 million a year to fund additional stormwater projects.
Barger Casts Lone Vote Against Proposed Stormwater Tax
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to move forward with a comprehensive plan to increase local water supply and improve water quality.
Supes Move Forward with Efforts to Improve Local Water Supply, Quality
The county of Los Angeles and community partners are working hand-in-hand to combat homelessness, which has decreased for the first time in four years.
County Combines New, Existing Programs to Combat Homelessness
Officials at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner have identified the body of a man who was found in a Canyon Country field Monday night.
Man Found Dead in Canyon Country
Single Mother's Outreach is currently accepting honoree nominations and artist applications through July 30.
Single Mother’s Outreach Accepting Nominees, Artist Applications
The Stay Green Inc. team has been rewarded for its excellence with eight awards — including four prestigious first-place honors — in the 59th Annual Landscape Beautification Awards presented by the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA).
Stay Green Earns Four First-Place Landscape Honors
Here is the list of Santa Clarita arts-related events for July 18-20:
July 18-20: Santa Clarita Arts Calendar
The city of Santa Clarita saw an increase in on-location filming in Fiscal Year 2017-2018 (July 2017 to June 2018), with the Film Office recording 560 film permits and 1377 film days, which generated an estimated $33.1 million in economic impact to the local community.
Santa Clarita Sees Increase in On-Location Filming for 5th Straight Year
Six Santa Clarita Artists Association members were accepted in the impressive La Galeria Gitana exhibit, "Around the World in 80 Paintings."
Aug. 11: Artists Association Presents, ‘Around the World in 80 Paintings’
LOS ANGELES – A former staffer for a member of the United States Congress was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for bribery and attempted extortion after demanding and accepting $5,000 to prevent the closure of a marijuana shop in the city of Compton.
Santa Clarita Man Gets 18 Months in Prison for Bribery, Attempted Extortion
1834 - Sinforosa, daughter of Narciso and Crisanta, born at Mission San Fernando; mom from Tejon, dad from Piru; believed to be last speaker of Tataviam language (died 1915) [record]
Berry Petroleum Corp., owner of the Placerita oil field west of Sierra Highway between Placerita Canyon Road and Golden Valley Road in Santa Clarita - and many other oil properties in the San Joaquin Valley - announced Monday that it has launched an initial public offering of its common stock.
Placerita Oil Field Owner Going Public Again
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting health care professionals and patients of a voluntary recall of several drug products containing the active ingredient Valsartan, used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.
Blood Pressure Medicine Valsartan Recalled for Cancer-Causing Impurity
The next regular meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is Wednesday, July 18 at the Administrative Center, 21380 Centre Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita 91350.
July 18: Hart District Governing Board Regular Meeting
The Canyon Country Advisory Committee, a division of the Santa Clarita City Council, will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, July 18, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
July 18: Canyon Country Advisory Committee Meeting
Since April, TMU grad Zach Klindworth has worked and trained with a soccer team in Iceland, 4,000 miles from Santa Clarita, the only city he'd ever known.
TMU Soccer Alum Zach Klindworth Takes Talents to Iceland
The Lancaster JetHawks scored a run in the seventh inning to take the lead and hung on to beat Lake Elsinore, 3-2, Sunday evening at The Hangar.
JetHawks Hang on for Sunday Win Over Storm
Lake Elsinore proved too much for the JetHawks Saturday night, handing Lancaster an 11-4 loss at The Hangar.
Lancaster JetHawks Overcome by Storm Saturday
The Lancaster JetHawks opened up a four-game series with a 6-2 win over the Lake Elsinore Storm in front of 4,348 at The Hangar Friday night to kick off Star Wars Weekend.
The Force With JetHawks in Friday Win Over Storm
Saxtravaganza, Santa Clarita's all-saxophone chamber ensemble, will play a free concert at Hart Hall (inside Hart Park) on Thursday, July 19, starting at 7 p.m.
July 19: Saxtravaganza Chamber Ensemble Returns to Hart Hall
Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley will participate in the semi-annual Pinewood Derby at the Newhall Clubhouse on Wednesday, July 18 starting at 4:30 p.m.
July 18: SCV Boys & Girls Club Pinewood Derby