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Slow-Growth Measure Seeks Exemption for Annexation : Santa Clarita: Hoping to facilitate the city’s expansion, a citizens group proposes sacrificing numerical limits on development in new areas.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Santa Clarita citizens group hoping to put a slow-growth initiative on the April ballot released a final draft Friday that would exempt areas annexed by the city in the future from the proposed limit of 475 new housing units per year.

Members of the Citizens Assn. for a Responsible Residential Initiative on Growth, known as CARRING, said they added the exemption to avoid jeopardizing the city’s efforts to expand into much of the surrounding Santa Clarita Valley.

Under a previous draft of the initiative, which would be in effect for 10 years if passed, the numerical cap on housing units would have been increased by only a small percentage as the city grew in size. But that plan was dropped after the group became concerned that developers, whose support is essential if the city is to succeed in expanding, would oppose annexation of their land if that meant they would become subject to strict growth limits.

However, the final version of the initiative still calls for their projects to be evaluated on a point system by the city Planning Commission, which would grant building permits only to projects that got high marks for preserving the environment or providing public services.

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“We want to give those developers the impression they’ll get a fair deal, but we’re still going to be tough on them,” said Councilwoman Jill Klajic, who helped draw up the initiative.

Members of CARRING denied that the exemption would prompt some developers to attack the measure in the courts by arguing that property owners in newly annexed areas held an unfair advantage over them.

The final draft of the initiative also gives the City Council the option of reserving 25% of the construction allotments--about 119 units--for lower-cost housing or of exempting lower-cost housing altogether from the growth cap.

Under a state law, the city is required to make an effort to provide 6,400 new housing units by the year 1994, a quarter of which should be affordable to families of four with annual incomes of less than $33,600, said Joe Carreras, a housing official with the Southern California Assn. of Governments.

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“We gave the council the opportunity to exempt affordable housing because it is a significant social need,” said Allan Cameron, a member of CARRING’s board of directors, “and it’s also a significant political and legal issue that could be used against the initiative.”

The measure includes a provision that would prohibit the allocation of building approvals when domestic water use is restricted. The city is currently asking residents to voluntarily cut back water usage by 25% because of the drought.

In early September, CARRING will begin a two-month effort to collect the 5,757 signatures necessary to put the measure on the ballot.

Scott Voltz, spokesman for a group that opposes the initiative, said it would be preferable to form a consensus on growth management through negotiation instead of mandatory limits. “It’s a shame we have to go through confrontation,” he said.

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