An email went out to Sand Canyon homeowners at the beginning of April 2019 informing the neighborhood that the original Notice of Preparation, or NOP, for the property – formerly Robinson Ranch – had been amended. The email from Hai Nguyen, associate planner for the City of Santa Clarita, informed residents of the revised NOP and gave them the opportunity to give him feedback over a one-month period.
A meeting was called for May 21, 2019, offering interested parties the chance to go to Sand Canyon Country Club to meet with Nguyen and Steve Kim, who has owned the 77-acre golf course for approximately three years. About 50 residents gathered at the site for a short tour and general briefing.
Before all attendees had assembled, Kim told a few residents who arrived early, “This used to be a 36-hole golf course. Because water has always been an issue, we changed it to a 27-hole golf course, which is plenty, because the golf population has dropped significantly, as you know. Not many people play golf anymore.”
The project site is located at 27734 Sand Canyon Road at the northeast corner of Sand Canyon Road and Robinson Ranch Road.
According to the NOP, the proposed project would result in the replacement of existing open space that was formerly a part of the Mountain Course of Robinson Ranch Golf Club with a new resort and spa consisting of the following:
Main Hotel: three-story building with 241 rooms/keys totaling approximately 165,000 square feet, and back of house and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing space in the Main Hotel basement totaling approximately 23,000 square feet
Wedding Hotel: three three-story buildings with 81 rooms/keys totaling approximately 50,000 square feet air conditioned space and 17,500 square feet of open non-air-conditioned space with an outdoor wedding ground and pergola
View Villas: 14 two-story villas with 56 rooms/keys totaling approximately 110,000 square feet
The Sand Canyon Homeowners Association Board of Directors drafted a list of “major concerns” with the proposal, which was sent to residents in the area: (SC=Sand Canyon and RR=Robinson Ranch)
Primary reasons that the SCCC Resort is a seriously inappropriate project for the Sand Canyon Community.
- Dangerous. The project is dangerous to Sand Canyon residents and resort guests/workers because:
Currently, there is no way to quickly and safely evacuate SC residents, and resort guests and workers, from the canyon in the event of a wildfire. Adding hundreds of hotel occupants and staff will only exacerbate the already existing and dangerous evacuation problem.
Even if a 2nd access road across the Santa Clara River is added to service the SC and the resort, the number of people and vehicles involved in an evacuation would still radically slow evacuation of SC residents on SC Road and at the intersection of SC Road with Lost Canyon Road, increasing the risk of death and injury to residents and resort visitors.
If the resort is used to ‘shelter in place’ firefighting resources will have to be devoted to the resort instead of saving SC residences and fighting spread of the fire. Shelter in place is a last resort and not a first line of fire defense.
Building any high-density facility in a high-risk fire area such as Sand Canyon is simply irresponsible, especially as climate change and drought periods have increased, and will continue to increase fire risk in the area.
Sand Canyon Special Standards District (SCSSD). The resort is inherently incompatible with the purpose of the SCSSD, which is to “maintain, preserve and enhance the rural and equestrian character of Sand Canyon.” The resort would be a high-density, purely commercial and non-rural use in direct conflict with the purpose and intent of the SCSSD standards.
- Zoning. (It is) incompatible with Sand Canyon zoning, which is low-density residential throughout Sand Canyon (1 or 2 acre min. lot size). Resort would be a high-density commercial use completely incompatible with the zoning that applies to all other areas of Sand Canyon. Most Sand Canyon residents live here BECAUSE of the zoning and SCSSD protections against commercial uses and developments like the proposed resort. Consistent zoning protects community character and property values.
- Water. The resort will require significant and enormous water volumes to operate even in drought periods, using resources that would otherwise be available to existing residents and businesses.
Cumulative projects an impermissible burden on infrastructure. When analyzing this project and its effects on SC (and the Sand Canyon 14 freeway on and off ramps), the other current and planned projects must be taken into consideration. The Vista Canyon project and Sand Canyon Commercial Plaza (NE corner of Sand Canyon and Soledad) are already underway and contain hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, office and residential square footage. When the Mancara project is factored in along with Ted Robinson’s land, hundreds of acres of development are going to cause unmanageable and dangerous overloads on the existing infrastructure. Simply put, this project cannot be looked at in a vacuum.
Open Space Conversion. (It) takes away 75 acres of Open Space that SC residents were specifically promised as part of the Robinson Ranch Golf Course approval. The RR golf course project approval included dedication of acreage on the RR property to be Open Space, which was an essential element of that approval to many SC residents who otherwise would have opposed the RR golf course.
- Traffic. The resort itself (even when one does not consider the other projects) will add substantial traffic to Sand Canyon Road, from resort guests, workers and service vehicles, when SC is already very busy and backed up at Lost Canyon Road many times during the day to traffic diverting (due to Waze and Maps) from Hwy 14, school traffic, and other local traffic use.
- Noise. The resort would have noisy outdoor activities for most each day and into the night, including a water park, outdoor pools, outdoor wedding venue and sports courts, which will impact surrounding neighborhoods and wildlife in the National Forest Area adjacent to SCCC. Hotels require large delivery trucks and trash trucks that bring noise at odd hours.
- Lights. Night lighting at the resort will impact surrounding neighborhood and wildlife in the adjacent National Forest Area.
- Viability. If the resort fails, which many think is likely due to weather, setting and lack of nearby attractions that would be of interest to potential guests, and expected of a 5-star resort, the buildings will be a blight in the community, with no alternative use that is compatible with SCSSD or surrounding zoning.
- No Development and Hotel Management Experience. The current owner has already stated his intention to “run” the hotel himself. Simply put, he has no hotel or development experience. His lack of experience in running a golf course has already created unfortunate results. Further, the current ownership has no experience in developing such a large project. The inevitable missteps and mistakes will have drastic impacts on many unintended victims (the SC residents) who will have to live with those impacts for dozens of years.
- Negative Impact on Property Value. Buyers looking for a new home will avoid homes near Hotels and Commercial Properties due to noise, transient activity, increased traffic, and potentially unwelcome events. Homeowners who must sell could become “distressed sales.”