Santa Clarita is a confusing place. Our roads teem with BMWs and Mercedes while our strip malls brim with Walmarts and Dollar Trees. The same fridge might contain groceries from Whole Foods, Ralph's and Target. We splurge here and skimp there, hoping it all works out. Unfortunately, there's very little logic when it comes to what we're willing to spend a little extra money on. The question of whether Claritans will pay more to get more is weighing heavily on the minds of many, and the answer will shape our valley for years to come.
Arthouse Cinema Meets Newhall
"Businesses may heart Santa Clarita because we'll WORK FOR LESS, but hopefully, they'll offer a little extra on their own."
Would you pay a little extra to see an independent film in a particularly-pleasant art house theater? That's what the City of Santa Clarita is pondering as it enters exclusive negotiations with Laemmle Theatres and Serrano Development Group. It's not that movie tickets at a Laemmle are priced much differently from tickets at an Edwards. Rather, the city would have to throw down some serious cash to get one in the first place.
City staff is currently negotiating to bring a six-screen theater, large parking structure and mixed retail/residential spaces to the property opposite Newhall Library. It's envisioned as a means of anchoring the supposed arts district of Old Town Newhall and catalyzing development. Santa Clarita Economic Development Manager Jason Crawford explained that Laemmle and Serrano were looking for "somewhere between 12- and 13-million dollars of city participation." That's a pretty pricey movie ticket. Of course, it's hoped that better parking, more shops and a re-energized Newhall would eventually generate even more in tax revenue; Greg Laemmle projected up to 200,000 customers annually. Residents have been very supportive, ready to pay extra to get an extra special art house chain.
Golden Year Developments
The Five Knolls development is currently expanding in the hills of Santa Clarita, and developer Rick Doremus (of Synergy) has an appetite to build even more. Originally, the project dedicated a large parcel for a new junior high, another for a YMCA. This was a "public benefit" agreed to by covenant between developer and city. When the school district decided that building a new school wasn't its best option, that left a large piece of land.
Recently, Doremus presented a plan to the City Council to build the YMCA and throw in land for a big new senior center as well. Most seniors speaking at the meeting were ecstatic. Conveniently for Synergy, this plan left enough land to build a slew of new condos. They'll be age restricted to those 55 and older, targeting the boomer who wants a little extra in retirement. The master suite is on the ground level for easy access and arthritic knees, but there are still two stories, a couple thousand square feet and another two or three bedrooms. Councilman Dante Acosta wondered whether seniors really want to look after so much extra space, but he was assured that there's a market.
Fight for $15
It costs a little extra to get a little extra. But sometimes you have to pay a little extra just to get more of the same. That's the case for minimum wage jobs in Los Angeles, which will earn workers $15 an hour through a series of increases in coming years. The same goes for Santa Clarita Valley communities that aren't officially part of the city, like Stevenson Ranch. Since they're governed by the LA County Board of Supervisors, which recently approved a similar measure, their businesses will go from paying $9 minimum wage to $15. In other words, much of LA County will soon be paying their employees higher wages, from city to countryside.
This little extra could cause big changes for Santa Clarita. Supervisor Mike Antonovich predicted that Six Flags might pursue annexation to avoid paying its employees $15 an hour, and nearby communities might do the same. Holly Schroeder, CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corporation, said in interviews that a lot of businesses are talking with her about the implications of the wage hike. Businesses may heart Santa Clarita because we'll work for less, but hopefully, they'll offer a little extra on their own.