Phone Call Flurry in Santa Clarita Valley : Moratorium Drive No Ringing Success

Times Staff Writer

A newly formed coalition of Santa Clarita Valley homeowners conducted a three-day telephone campaign aimed at persuading county officials to declare a moratorium on development in the area.

But, after the campaign had ended, it appeared that the targeted phones weren’t exactly ringing off the hooks.

Jan Heidt, who heads the 3-week-old coalition of 22 homeowner associations, said residents were asked to call Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s office on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to voice their opposition to development. By the end of the campaign, county officials estimated that they had received 73 to 93 calls.


“It’s not enough,” Heidt said of the figure. She said she was disappointed with the number of calls made to Antonovich’s office, adding, “Based on the number of people the coalition contacted, we would have expected a few hundred calls.” Heidt said the Santa Clarita Valley Homeowners Coalition represents about 10,000 residents concerned about the number of homes proposed for the area.

But Heidt called the telephone campaign an overall success.

“I think it was a way to get the attention of public officials,” she said.

The group had more success with a petition drive in support of a building moratorium. “We collected 1,600 signatures on the petition in just four days,” Heidt said. The petition was presented to the Regional Planning Commission last week.

The Santa Clarita Valley embraces the fast-growing, unincorporated communities of Canyon Country, Castaic, Newhall, Saugus and Valencia. A drive to incorporate the five communities as one city was launched last month and is expected to be submitted to voters in November, 1986. However, Heidt said, homeowners cannot wait that long to take control of the area’s destiny.

“Cityhood, I hope, will happen, but we can’t wait for a city to take care of what’s happening now,” she said. “They’ve have been knocking us off bit by bit. Now, you’re looking at an overload.”

The latest proposed housing development, a 6,900-unit complex planned on 1,600 acres of open space in Canyon Country, aroused homeowners, Heidt said. But, she said, the recent proposal by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley to build a state prison in Saugus was “the final insult” that caused residents to unite.

Proposed developments at various stages in the county approval process total 52,000 housing units, Heidt said. She said the area lacks schools, roads, water, and police and fire protection to serve that many more people.


‘Not Anti-Development’

“We’re not anti-development,” Heidt said. “We’re just saying, let’s stop this rapid population growth until plans to improve the infrastructure are in place. We’re saying, let’s stop and take a look at the cumulative effects on the community.”

In a related action, the Santa Clarita Valley Planning Advisory Commission, a 15-member panel that studies land-use issues, voted Wednesday night to ask the Regional Planning Commission and Regional Planning Director Norman Murdoch to take steps to temporarily limit heavy growth in the area until “adequate answers and sound alternatives are presented and explored to guarantee avoidance of serious impacts on the Santa Clarita Valley’s infrastructure system.”

The school board of the William S. Hart Union High School District on Tuesday night also endorsed the coalition’s contention that existing schools are inadequate to handle large enrollment increases. Supt. Hamilton C. Smyth said the five trustees unanimously passed a resolution asking the Board of Supervisors to curtail development until plans can be formed to build more schools.

“The bottom line is, we just can’t handle that many more students,” Smyth said. “We’re already overcrowded.”

The district’s three high schools--Hart, Canyon and Saugus--are filled to capacity, he said. District officials, at the least, must plan for more schools and find a way to finance them before any more housing is approved, Smyth said.

By uniting, residents hope to have more effect on county planners and the Board of Supervisors than they have had in the past when smaller homeowner associations individually tried without success to fight development, Heidt said.