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Annexation in the SCV
December, 2004 - Issue #3
The Valencia Commerce Center is one of several areas the City of Santa Clarita would like to annex into its incorporated territory
The Valencia Commerce Center is one of several areas the City of Santa Clarita would like to annex into its incorporated territory
Do you live in the City of Santa Clarita, or are you really a resident of Los Angeles County that lives in the Santa Clarita Valley? If you fall into the later category, your answer may change in the near future. Approximately 25 areas, including neighborhoods, have been annexed into the City of Santa Clarita since its incorporation 17 years ago. Currently, the following areas are at some point in the process of annexation: The Stonecrest Community, California Canyons, Lyons Ranch, North Park and the Valencia Commerce Center.

If you are a future or current resident of the city, there are a few things to look forward to. Incorporation into the City of Santa Clarita has many benefits. "Locally-elected representatives, a higher level of police services, top-notch street maintenance, parks and trails are just a few of the reasons why the City of Santa Clarita is a great place to live and work," says Assistant City Manger Ken Striplin, when questioned about the plus-side of annexation.

Not on the list above is the community of Stevenson Ranch, one area that has residents largely supporting the possibility of annexation into the city. In an online poll administered last year, over 90 percent of SR residents supported annexation. Because the Stevenson Ranch area is under Los Angeles jurisdiction, the community does not always enjoy the services provided to areas within the City of Santa Clarita. Many Stevenson Ranch locals do, however, take advantage of Santa Clarita's school systems and parks and recreational facilities.

This has been a thorn in the side of some Santa Clarita residents who have experienced difficulties enrolling their children in city programs; on occasion, Santa Clarita kids have been turned away after some spots were filled by children who live beyond city limits. The Santa Clarita City Council has hinted that situations like these won't be permitted much longer, arguing that the city must first prioritize the needs of its own residents.

So, why has Stevenson Ranch yet to incorporate? The answer might have something to do with Los Angeles County not wanting to do without the tax dollars generated from the shops west of Interstate-5. The annexation of Stevenson Ranch without the Valencia Marketplace, home to huge money makers like Wal-Mart (which generates about $4 million in taxes annually), Bed, Bath & Beyond and numerous successful restaurants, would not be possible because cities can only annex areas adjacent to each other. Residential portions of Stevenson Ranch are not directly contiguous with city boundaries. Also, an annexation that has negative-revenue ramifications isn't appealing for the City of Santa Clarita. With a growing community, taking on additional costs and responsibilities without a strong sales-tax base to support the expense doesn't make a lot of financial sense.

The annexation of residential areas in the Santa Clarita Valley isn't the only topic up for debate. Perhaps the biggest issue concerning annexation at the time is whether or not the City of Santa Clarita should (or can) annex the Valencia Commerce Center. The city considers its projected annexation a good move; many residents of Castaic, however, feel differently. The phrase "land grab" is used frequently at Castaic town hall meetings and in online forums in reference to the city's plan.

The business center, which is still growing, was developed by Newhall Land and sits between the Golden State Freeway and Highway 126. It is under Los Angeles County jurisdiction, is represented by the Castaic Town Council and lies within Valencia's zip code. Presently there are 66 companies with more than 7,430 employees in the center. It is estimated that there will be more than 500 businesses employing more than 20,200 people upon its completion. If the center is annexed, a big bonus for businesses is that the City of Santa Clarita will not charge the 5-percent utility users tax and business license fee that companies in unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County are charged.

According to an online poll found at www.castaic.org, Castaic residents are closely divided into two camps on the topic. The following question was asked: "Given Santa Clarita's persistence to annex Castaic's industrial area, what should we do?" At the time of print, 47.54 percent of those polled voted to push for an annexation of all of Castaic into Santa Clarita, but 49.18 percent expressed their desire to incorporate Castaic into its own city. Only 3.28 percent hoped that Castaic would fight annexation to remain unincorporated.

Larry Mankin, CEO and president of the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce, says that the chamber is completely behind the City on this issue. "The Chamber is very supportive of what the city is doing, primarily because our business members in the industrial area are also very supportive. Many already think they are members of SCV. On the other hand, we are also very supportive of Castaic and we want them to continue to grow and prosper. However, in this sense we believe that the greatest employer in Santa Clarita should be part of the city. We disagree with the city on many things, but on this issue we strongly agree," stated Mankin. Like it or not, issues revolving around annexation won't be going away any time soon.
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