Santa Clarita City Council members on Tuesday approved a 375-unit housing project on Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus, after the developer agreed to give the city 40 acres of the project site to preserve as open space.
Councilman Bob Kellar recused himself from the unanimous 4-0 vote, saying it “would be inappropriate for me to participate in this” as his real estate firm would be working in the area.
The 74.66-acre housing project, proposed in May 2018 by developer Bouquet Canyon Project Owner LLC, consists of attached and detached two-story homes with related infrastructure, dedicated open space areas, trails and recreation areas.
The project was originally introduced as a 461-unit development with two- and three-story homes but changed to its current plan after feedback from residents.
Located on the east side of Bouquet Canyon Road and south of Copper Hill Drive, the project suggests closing off a section of Bouquet Canyon Road, between Pam and Hob courts, as well as the construction of a new alignment of the road and extending Copper Hill Drive.
The project will also require about 2 million cubic yards of earthwork to be balanced across the site and the removal of up to 26 non-heritage-sized oak trees, according to the project description.
The council greenlighted the project after the developer agreed to relocate units proposed south of Bouquet Canyon Road onto the northern portion of the road, leaving 40 acres empty for the city to preserve as open space — a suggestion Councilwoman Laurene Weste introduced.
“Give the city the open space property located south of Bouquet Canyon Road where those units were proposed. It is approximately 40 acres,” she said, further suggesting the developer work with the city to provide a “top-notch” trailhead for the community and a wildlife crossing “which will traverse throughout 40 acres and connect through the open space.”
Their approval came after the project’s monthslong trajectory before the Santa Clarita Planning Commission amid concerns from commissioners and residents surrounding potential increased traffic in the area, fire evacuations and geological worries on liquefaction, a process by which water-saturated sediment temporarily loses strength and acts as a fluid, and can be caused by earthquake shaking, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Council members heard mixed commentary Tuesday during public comment, in addition to 35 written comments in support, 10 in opposition and one neutral, according to Mayor Cameron Smyth. A petition with about 150 signatures from nearby residents who opposed the project was also sent to the council, residents said.
“We’re distressed by the amount of traffic that will be added to this community no matter what your traffic study says,” said Sandra Cattell, chairwoman of the Santa Clarita Valley Sierra Club. She urged the council to delay the project and have another hydrologist reevaluate the area after a local geologist the group consulted “indicated that this project will actually endanger lives,” she said.
The project proposes to prohibit three left turns, including drivers who exit David Way onto Bouquet Canyon but will be able to make a U-turn on Kathleen Avenue or use Shadow Valley Lane as an alternate, according to Ian Pari, a city senior traffic engineer.
“The main reason that we are proposing these traffic controls is to minimize impact to some of the more heavily impacted roads in the neighborhood, particularly Benz Road, for example,” he said.
Changes are estimated to add “a few hundred vehicles” to Shadow Valley Lane. Pari said other streets in the area see around 500 to 800 cars a day, which falls below the acceptable 1,500 to 2,000 car-per-day volume under the industry standard. Benz Road sees about 2,500, he added.
Those in support of the project said it would bring much-needed housing and amenities to Saugus, as well as improve roads in the area.
“Overall, it will allow for a more direct route compared to the existing curb now,” said resident Troy Hooper, who also spoke on behalf of the SCV Chamber of Commerce.