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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : 3-Year Planners Call for City to Expand Boundaries : Government: Brainstorming residents and community leaders also advise taking control of ecological areas.

October 11, 1994|DOUGLAS ALGER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SANTA CLARITA — City leaders should quintuple Santa Clarita's size and take control of ecological areas now under county protection.

But at least they can cut back on efforts to get a Nordstrom store.

This was the consensus reached by about 100 residents, business leaders, school officials and city personnel during an eight-hour brainstorming session on Saturday to formulate a new, three-year Community Strategic Plan for Santa Clarita.

Many of the top issues identified by participants--new roads, more youth programs, defeating a proposed landfill, reducing gangs, greater economic development--are already being addressed by the city.

"I would say, as an organization, we are fairly in tune with our constituency," said City Manager George Caravalho.

The most ambitious suggestion on the list was to expand city boundaries from 43 square miles to the entire 200-square-mile Santa Clarita Valley.

If accomplished, it would be about the same size geographically as the state's third-largest city, sparsely populated California City in Kern County. This new Santa Clarita would, for example, encompass twice as much land as Bakersfield.

Allan Cameron, a resident who suggested the larger boundary, said institutions ranging from school districts to the phone company already address the Santa Clarita Valley as a single entity.

"The initial proposal for the city was 200 square miles," said Cameron, who was involved in the cityhood drive that resulted in Santa Clarita's formation seven years ago. "It was only after the nasty, vile Los Angeles County governing process that we got this peculiar little aberration of 39 square miles." Santa Clarita covered about 39 square miles when it became a city.

Also thinking big, participants Saturday called for taking over areas identified by Los Angeles County as significant ecological areas that deserve special protection. Those areas include the Santa Clara River, San Francisquito Canyon, an oak savanna west of the Golden State Freeway and a woodland habitat also west of the highway.

Less traditional ideas such as creating a Santa Clarita float for the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, building a small airport, launching an additional local newspaper and renovating an elementary school auditorium for use as a community theater earned little support among the crowd.

Three years ago, when residents first met to formulate a plan, city officials were surprised by the clamor for a Nordstrom store. The department store chain has not yet opened a local branch, and some residents mentioned that they wanted it in the new plan. But this time the idea did not generate enough support to make the cut.

Other items in the 1991 plan that have not yet been obtained for the area are a state university and a conference center.

"The strength of this program is getting people here to participate," said Councilman H. Clyde Smyth. "Long-range, as the city does things, you've got a nucleus of people who were here and part of it."

Council members are scheduled to review a final draft of the strategic plan in November.

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