The city of Santa Clarita held its annual State of the City address Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Valencia, and it was no doubt the first such banquet function to come with its own historical coloring book.
That’s because Santa Clarita, dubbing itself “City of the Arts,” emphasized its artistic and creative side in a program that summarized the numerous civic and commercial projects currently underway.
“I encourage all of you to enjoy art, create art and advocate art in the city,” were Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste’s words to some 300 locals in attendance.
New arts venues will include the Newhall Family Theatre for the Performing Arts and the recently completed, 886-seat Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center.
Bookended by an intro and outro by Weste, such civic leaders as City Councilmembers Bob Kellar, Bill Miranda and Cameron Smyth took to the dais to introduce short videos capsulizing the community’s endeavors.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this city,” Kellar, rounding his 18th year on the City Council, told the room.
At the luncheon, Weste alluded to her city’s decades-long relationship with Hollywood as a region where studios like to shoot films and television series dating back to silent movies’ cowboy actor William S. Hart. In addition to such production lots and facilities as Blue Cloud Movie Ranch and Santa Clarita Studios, the first half of 2018 saw filmmakers obtain 323 film permits, which translates to 742 film days and a $16.9 million windfall of local economic benefit.
The cornerstone of Santa Clarita’s civic projects is laid out by the Santa Clarita 2020 Plan, the city’s ambitious five-year development slate. Currently halfway complete and including some 160 civic projects, the 2020 Plan includes the trifecta that is the redevelopment block in Old Town Newhall — comprised of a just-opened multi-level parking structure, plus a Laemmle arthouse movie theater and mixed-use Newhall Crossings restaurant and retail destination, both due next year.
Additionally, a new sheriff’s station is in the works.
In May, Los Angeles County Business Federation deemed Santa Clarita as No. 1 on its list of business-friendly cities of Los Angeles County’s 88 incorporated communities. In the city’s fiscal 2017 year, the number of businesses in Santa Clarita grew 4.9 percent while the number of jobs grew by 5.4 percent. This equals 445 new businesses and more than 4,600 additional jobs in the community within that year.
In this sphere, one of Santa Clarita’s big undertakings is the Business Incubator, in which the city has partnered with College of the Canyons since 2014. The tech initiative is currently supporting three startups: CeliTech, Rangle News and Acqubit. Through such collaborations, Santa Clarita, which boasted a 5.1 percent unemployment rate, seeks to live up to its nickname as the “Silicon Suburb.”
Civic leaders also discussed Santa Clarita’s 9,495 acres of open space, which includes 176-acre San Francisquito Canyon and 132 acres of Bee Canyon, currently in escrow.
Commercial real estate developers in the room included a team from FivePoint, the firm behind the massive Newhall Ranch project, which has 21,500 green homes in the pipeline, and Vista Canyon mixed-use project overlord JSB Development.
Reinforcing the event’s accent on arts and culture, Mayor Weste singled out Ravi Rajan, president of CalArts in Valencia, and Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook, chancellor of College of the Canyons, both of whom were in the room.
In addition to the arts and business sectors, the program covered public transportation, which will see a new Metro station and bus transfer center in Vista Canyon, as well as crime, safety, municipal renovations and recreational initiatives. The speakers also touched on Santa Clarita’s comprehensive homelessness action plan and aggressive anti-drug campaign.
Fueling all of this activity is the city’s 2018-19 fiscal budget of $203 million and a AAA credit rating from Standard and Poor’s.