Wrench Thrown Into Newhall Habitat For Humanity Project
For the past few years, the City of Santa Clarita has worked with Habitat for Humanity to bring affordable housing to Kansas Street in Newhall.
Recently, however, the City has expressed concern with the nonprofit’s architectural design.
According to City Redevelopment Manager Arminé Chaparyan, Habitat’s plan isn’t conducive to Santa Clarita’s Community Character and Design Guidelines.
The City’s primary concern is the design’s central drive aisle -- an elongated driveway that would divide each side of the housing units.
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“We foresee that as a problem with kids playing in the area,” said Chaparyan. “There wouldn’t be enough access points to the development, and that would be a safety issue for children.”
Habitat for Humanity originally proposed building 16 units on the Kansas Street site, needing to bring down two or three existing structures in the process.
One of those structures included the historical Newhall School, a landmark the City intends to preserve.
To mitigate these issues, the City contracted its own architecture firm to work with Habitat for Humanity, but they remain unsolved.
To Bill Kennedy, the problems have piled up to a point where the project is at an absolute standstill. Kennedy is both a board member for the Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys and a member of the City’s Planning Commission, so he has a vested interest to say the least.
“The City is not happy with the design,” said Kennedy, “but it’s getting to the point where families wouldn’t be able to afford the housing after Habitat for Humanity has made all the changes recommended by the City.”
Kennedy believes a family of two and a family of four, with gross annual incomes of $30,000 and $40,00, respectively, are the target audiences for the project in Newhall.
To make the project acceptable to the City’s guidelines, Habitat asked for $3.7 million of redevelopment money, said Kennedy, but the City refused.
Chaparyan believes the City could better spend that money on affordable housing, in a different location than Kansas Street, no less. “We want to get the bang for our buck.”