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Greater Expectations : Population Projections for Santa Clarita Valley Are Revised Sharply Upward

September 26, 1986|MAYERENE BARKER | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles county planners have revised the Santa Clarita Valley's projected population for the year 2000 upward to 213,000, more than double the number of people now living in the fast-growing area.

The prediction was included in a report presented last week to the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission, county planner George Malone said Thursday. The commission is preparing to hold public hearings the first of next year on how to plan for roads, sewers, water, schools, police and fire protection in high-growth areas of the county.

Eventually, Malone said, the commission will amend the countywide General Plan, last revised in 1980, to reflect the new figures.

Six years ago, planners said they expected the Santa Clarita Valley's population to be only 165,000 by the year 2000, Malone said.

County planners estimated the area's population in 1985 at 97,000. About 103,000 now live there, Malone said.

The new county figures on population growth are reflected in unprecedented enrollment increases in the Santa Clarita Valley's five school districts. The districts--Castaic, Newhall, Saugus, Sulphur Springs and William S. Hart--are proposing fees averaging $6,000 on each new residential unit to help pay for new schools. The proposals will go before voters on the Nov. 4 ballot.

School superintendents said they will have to build at least four elementary schools and another high school to accommodate a student population that also is expected to double within two decades.

The county's predictions exceed by 13,000 the figures that have been used by a committee attempting to forge a city from the unincorporated Santa Clarita Valley communities of Canyon Country, Castaic, Newhall, Saugus and Valencia. The committee, which last month submitted an incorporation application to the county Local Agency Formation Commission, maintains that the area's roads, schools and other services cannot support the projected growth.

Malone said the population projection was based on the number of existing households and building-permit data. In making the prediction, he said, he assumed an average household size of three residents and that an average of 2,500 housing units would be built in the Santa Clarita Valley each year for the next 15 years.

The actual population could be even higher than his projection, Malone said, because in recent years more than 2,500 housing units annually have been built in the area. In 1984, he said, 3,600 residential units were built, and 2,650 were constructed last year.

"We expect building figures for 1986 to be about the same as for 1985," Malone said.

But building may decrease because of a school tax imposed on new units this month by the state Legislature and taxes proposed by the school districts, said Jo Anne Darcy, field deputy to Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley.

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