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CASTAIC TOWN COUNCIL FIGHTS PARTIAL ANNEXATION ADDING 3 TRACTS, BUSINESS CENTER TO SANTA CLARITA COULD WEAKEN A FUTURE WEST-SIDE CITY.

Byline: ALEX DOBUZINSKIS

Staff Writer

CASTAIC -- The Castaic Town Council opposes Santa Clarita's move to annex a few Castaic neighborhoods -- a move prompted by those area residents -- arguing that it could jeopardize the creation of a new city on the west side.

As they discussed the proposed annexation of Hasley Hills, North Bluff, Live Oak and the Valencia Commerce Center, some Town Council members disputed what they call false assumptions about annexation.

The city is pursuing the annexation at the request of 70 percent of the residents who live in those neighborhoods and signed petitions.

Joining the city does not automatically mean more police patrols, said Town Council member Phil Hof. Councilman John Kunak said if the areas annex, residents would save less than 50 cents a day in fees and taxes.

At the Wednesday night meeting, members also said a new city that includes all of Castaic could be good for the area. The Castaic and West Ranch town councils are studying whether a new west-side city next to Santa Clarita would be viable. West Ranch represents the communities of Sunset Pointe, Valencia Westridge and Stevenson Ranch.

"I think that two cities obviously can coexist, if that's the way we decide to go and the residents decide to take it," said Town Councilman Robert Kelly.

Councilman Bob Lewis said Santa Clarita's proposal might take away major revenue sources with the annexation of the commerce center and a couple of shopping centers.

That money could instead help finance a new west-side city, a city that might not be viable if the center becomes part of Santa Clarita, Lewis said.

Paul Brotzman, Santa Clarita's director of community development, told council members annexation would take time. It won't happen before the town councils finish their study of how the west side should be governed, he said.

That initial feasibility analysis is being funded with $25,000 from county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

Safeguards are in place to hold up annexation if residents oppose it, Brotzman said. If only 15 percent of residents protest annexation, it automatically goes to a vote by residents, he said.

The Castaic Town Council voted 7-1 to send a letter to Santa Clarita officials opposing their moves to annex Hasley Hills, Live Oak, North Bluff and the Commerce Center without first having the results of the feasibility study.

The motion also accused Santa Clarita of "cherry picking" in its proposed annexation.

Kunak acknowledged some Castaic residents believe their tax money goes into a "black hole," siphoned off to the county's budget, while local needs go unmet. But, he added, annexation is not necessarily the answer.

"I think we should be concerned that the revenue doesn't go into a -- slightly less -- but a black hole nonetheless in Santa Clarita," Kunak said.

alex.dobuzinskis(at)dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 20, 2007
Words:469
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