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Santa Clarita City Officials Discuss 'Double Taxation,' Mayor Choice

 City officials formally approved their Historic Preservation Ordinance, decided to protest a county tax and voted down a return to a mayoral rotation at Tuesday’s meeting.

Before city officials discussed the action items on the agenda, they took a moment to honor Saugus High’s boys and girls cross country teams -- city officials honored the boys team with a certificate of excellence for its record-breaking season and commended the girls for winning an unprecedented seventh straight CIF state cross country championship.

The city arts commissioner John Dow also reviewed the commission’s goals and obstacles, which included postponing the formation of an Arts Foundation. City Councilwoman Marsha McLean asked Dow and the commission to look into at least forming the basis for the group, even if the proposed group’s operation wasn’t feasible.

 


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Historic preservation 
The Historic Preservation Ordinance was a formality, after little protest preceded a vote 3-1 vote to approve the measure.

The ordinance OKs 11 structure that would be put on the city’s historic preservation list.

Those structures, plus those in Heritage Junction Historic Park, will be designated as historic.

The buildings are:
* The Newhall Ice Co. (5th Street)
* Sheriff Substation #6 (now part of Canyon Theatre Guild)
* Tom Mix Cottages (two structures on Main Street)
* Three structures at Melody Ranch (Main Gate, Gene Autry House, Barn)
* California Star Oil Company / Standard Oil House (now a private home)
* Old Newhall Jail (next to Old Town Newhall Library)
* American Legion Hall / American Theater (next to library)
* Santa Clarita Courthouse (at Railroad & Market)
Under a 2008 ordinance that remains in place until the new preservation ordinance takes effect, 43 properties are deemed historic.

The new ordinance relieves most of them from the designation. It requires property owners raise the standard for property owners who wish to demolish one of the 11 historic structures.

Instead of obtaining a demolition permit over the counter from the city’s planning division, the permit would have to be approved by the City Council. The ordinance gives the council the right, in such a case, to require that the building be moved to a location such as Heritage Junction or to a city park.

How the city chooses its mayor
CIty Council members will not entertain plans to change how the city’s mayor is chosen, after a 4-1 vote on an agenda item requested by TimBen Boydston.

Boydston asked his fellow City Council members to look into changing the mayor selection from a majority vote by council members to a simple rotation.

Boydston cited a history of “nasty politics” since the council decided to go to a majority vote in 1999.

Frank Ferry denied nasty politics existed, saying it was important that the mayor had to be a consensus builder, and that was why council members went to a majority vote.

Boydston was the only member who voted in favor of a rotation, explaining that the issue was about civility and fairness for all -- everyone should get a turn to be mayor. His fellow council members disagreed.

Stormwater protest
A stormwater-control tax, which city residents already pay, is being proposed by Los Angeles County Flood Control District officials, with the county set to have a hearing on the measure Jan. 15.

If county residents don’t hear protests from one more than 1.1 million residents by that date, which is considered unlikely, then voters will see the measure on a mail-in ballot in March.

The measure was assailed unanimously by council members who voted 5-0 to follow city staffers’ recommendation of filing a protest on behalf of all city properties.

The measure, which doesn’t exempt churches, schools or other nonprofits, would cost the city more than $450,000. A few of the larger churches and businesses could face a tax increase in the tens of thousands of dollars. School officials with local districts, such as William S. Hart Union High School District and Saugus Union, also filed complaints.

A big-lot store such as Target would face similar increases, as the only group that has a cap would be single-family homes.

“And they wonder why businesses are leaving California,” Kellar said, after the vote. “You wonder when the insanity will ever stop.”