Santa Clarita will charter a bus to transport opponents of a proposed 7,200-unit housing tract to a Palmdale City Council meeting, hoping to prevent the project from adding to traffic problems in Santa Clarita.
The Santa Clarita City Council decided to spend $288 to hire the bus in response to a request from the Santa Clarita Citizens Transportation Committee and the Civic Assn., which are worried about the traffic impacts of the 10,625-acre Ritter Ranch project on local roads, said City Manager George Caravalho.
Santa Clarita city planners are also worried, especially about additional traffic on Bouquet Canyon Road, he said.
Although Santa Clarita frequently comments on projects in surrounding communities, this is the first time since it was incorporated four years ago that it has agreed to help organize a protest, said Gail Foy, Santa Clarita's spokeswoman.
"I'm amazed they're doing this," said Steve Buffalo, Palmdale's spokesman. Bouquet Canyon Road--a winding, narrow alternative to the Antelope Valley Freeway between Palmdale and Santa Clarita--"is a nice peaceful Sunday drive, but I can't see anyone taking it to work," he said.
Ritter Ranch is off Bouquet Canyon Road about 10 miles north of Santa Clarita in what is now unincorporated Los Angeles County. The city of Palmdale would annex the property under a development proposal by entertainment industry executives Merv Adelson and Irwin Molasky, builders of the upscale La Costa resort near San Diego.
About 20,000 residents are expected to move into Ritter Ranch. Palmdale city planners have predicted that most of those residents will use the Antelope Valley Freeway and that only 100 trips per day will be added to Bouquet Canyon Road as a result of the project.
But Santa Clarita city planners dispute that finding, saying there will be substantially more cars on Bouquet Canyon Road, particularly when the Valencia Commerce Center west of Santa Clarita is developed in the mid-1990s.
Santa Clarita has asked Palmdale to help pay an unspecified amount of money for road improvements along Bouquet Canyon Road to reduce the impact of the Ritter Ranch project.
The Palmdale City Council is scheduled to consider the project Thursday, but Palmdale Mayor Pete Knight said the council may postpone the issue. The Palmdale Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the issue today.