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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Businesses, Schools Back Redevelopment Plan : Construction: Santa Clarita officials attach condition to approval--a say in how the funds are used.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

With one condition, a proposed multimillion-dollar city redevelopment plan has gotten support from local business and education officials.

That condition, expressed at a City Council study session Wednesday night, is that they be given “meaningful participation” in governing the plan, said Joan MacGregor, a trustee for the College of the Canyons who spoke on behalf of all Santa Clarita campuses.

Representatives of Santa Clarita’s five school districts and three of its business groups suggested the creation of an advisory board to directly oversee the redevelopment plan.

MacGregor said school officials want much more than occasional monthly status reports on the plan.

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“Schools are the largest combined single employer in the valley,” MacGregor told the council. “We are an important player.”

Council members adopted the redevelopment plan in February to help Santa Clarita recover from the Northridge earthquake and also to improve its infrastructure, redevelop blighted areas and build affordable housing. The plan is to be funded by property tax increases.

Also on Wednesday, council members got their first look at the responses to a 50-question survey given to residents who participated in public meetings this past summer about the redevelopment plan.

Of the more than 3,900 surveys distributed, only 232 were returned. Many urged caution.

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“Restraint needed,” wrote a Castaic resident, warning against getting Santa Clarita in debt.

“The (redevelopment agency) is a very dangerous governmental unit,” wrote a Canyon Country respondent. “There is great potential for cronyism, corruption and general abuse.”

A strong majority of those who sent in surveys supported projects that focus on earthquake recovery, such as road and bridge repair, debris removal and the renovation of damaged schools.

They were less enthusiastic about providing funds for first-time home buyers or to purchase mobile homes.

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“How dare you put this in!!” wrote a Newhall respondent. “Redevelopment was meant to revitalize run-down areas, not to (be) a welfare program for middle America.”

Least popular was the suggested construction of a multipurpose sports complex, which 60% of those surveyed indicated was “not important.”


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