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Courtesy of The Signal, signalscv.com
| Monday, Aug 30, 2021
Pico Canyon Proposed Expansion
A proposed 37-home project would extend Magnolia Lane in the Southern Oaks of Stevenson Ranch to provide access to the single-family home residential development. Kev Kurdoghlian/The Signal.

 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will hear an appeal Tuesday for a 37-home development proposed for a 94.38-acre parcel of undeveloped land located southwest of Pico Canyon Road near Interstate 5, just east of Magnolia Lane.

The county Regional Planning Commission approved the project, known as Canyon View Estates, and the project’s mitigated negative declaration in May.

The negative declaration is an environmental document that identified potentially significant environmental effects of the project and mitigation measures that would avoid their effects or reduce the effects to less than significant, according to a county staff report prepared for Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Paul Edelman with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, which manages open space land adjacent to the proposed project, and Dean Wallraff, an attorney representing residents in the Southern Oaks community next door, appealed the commission’s approval shortly after.

Alyssa Banko lives in Southern Oaks in one of the homes near the end of Magnolia Lane, which would be extended into adjacent canyons to provide access for the proposed 37 single-family homes.

Banko said she’s primarily concerned about what adding 37 new homes dependent on Pico Canyon Road will mean for evacuations in the event of a fire.

“We’ve been evacuated in the past and we’ve had fires around the development. It’s chaotic,” she said, noting a 102-home project, west of Southern Oaks, known as Aidlin Hills, is also planned. “You’re just adding more people, you know, to the craziness of trying to evacuate in the event of an emergency, and we don’t want to become another Malibu or Paradise.”

Lynne Plambeck, president of Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, said the project should be denied by the Board of Supervisors.

Her organization has fought the project as it’s made its way through the county approval process.

“We’re asking for an environmental impact report that will address the fire danger,” she said, adding the negative declaration did not sufficiently address fire risk.

Banko said she’s concerned about the lack of protections for existing homeowners in the Southern Oaks community, too.

“They’re going to be pounding and grading over 800,000 cubic yards in this canyon and this road is 40 feet off the edge of my house,” she said. “There’s no mitigation measures in place to protect us as homeowners.”

Banko also worked with a wildlife photographer to try to observe the wildlife that currently inhabits the space.

“Mountain lions is one aspect that they…didn’t even take in consideration whether they’re there or not,” she said, noting that the a recently installed wildlife camera captured a mountain lion on Aug. 9 in the proposed development area.

Nearly 79 acres, or 83.4%, of the development area is proposed as open space and lots are designed to range from 8,692 square feet to 31,868 square feet, according to the county’s staff report.

The Regional Planning Commission acknowledged the possible fire risks associated with the proposed siting of the 37 homes.

“A fuel modification plan for the perimeter of the proposed development envelope would be required and has been conceptually approved by the county Fire Department,” according to the commission’s finding, which indicate the project site is a “very high fire hazard severity zone.”

Jon Friedman, of Thousand Oaks, is the developer of the project. Friedman declined to comment for this story, directing The Signal to Williams Homes, a Santa Clarita-based homebuilder, which will manage the project if the Board of Supervisors denies the appeal.

Nathan Keith, the director of entitlements at Williams Homes, oversees the proposed project and will present the developer’s case to supervisors on Tuesday.

“Though we are disappointed that a project consistent with the L.A. County General Plan and Santa Clarita’s One Valley, One Vision, has resulted in an appeal, we look forward to the Board of Supervisors affirming the project’s approval that the Regional Planning Commission already considered and voted on,” he said in a prepared statement.

The 37-home project was first considered by the county Regional Planning Commission in 2018.

“For over four years, we’ve worked closely with L.A. County Regional Planning to ensure this project is consistent with the goals and policies of the county and that it will be a benefit to the local community and the Santa Clarita Valley,” Keith said. “This project is the final phase of Southern Oaks, which was always planned for, and will bring access to trails and preserve open space for residents.”

To learn more about Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, visit bos.lacounty.gov.

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