Although the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce receives widespread support from the City Council, that alone does not guarantee the city will continue to let it keep its rent-free digs at City Hall.
Granted, the chamber is ensconced in Suite 265 until Nov. 30, giving the council plenty of time to decide what to do, but at least three members have indicated the council will not give the chamber carte blanche just because it has in the past.
Mayor Cameron Smyth made it clear he wants to examine the lease that brought the chamber to City Hall in the first place, since he wasn’t on the council when the two parties drew up the agreement.
“The city needs to take a real fine look at whether the city wants to extend it,” he said. “When the lease comes due, I would expect the council should take a close look.”
The lease agreement, which the city provided to The Gazette, was for 12 months free rent, although the chamber has to pay monthly utility charges or $342.29, or $4,104.48 over the 12 months. Additionally, the chamber has to pay for its own telephone, internet and insurance.The lease agreement, which the city provided to The Gazette, was for 12 months free rent, although the chamber has to pay monthly utility charges or $342.29, or $4,104.48 over the 12 months. Additionally, the chamber has to pay for its own telephone, internet and insurance.
Furthermore, should the chamber remain there after Nov. 30, it would have to pay $5,000 a month in rent for the 1,048 square feet it currently occupies — that’s if the city allows it to stay. The terms say the city has the right to boot the chamber out on Nov. 30.
The other councilmembers who want to take a look at everything are Marsha McLean and Mayor Pro-Tem Laurene Weste. Both ardently support the chamber and appreciate its purposes and functions “for a number of generations,” Weste said.
“At the end of the year, we need to take a look and see if they’re doing what we hope they’re doing,” McLean said.
McLean also said she is “not ready to see the chamber go away because it’s such an important tool for small businesses,” including her window-cleaning business. When she moved to the area in the 1970s, she joined the chamber and said she held various positions on various committees over the years.
Although she said she is no longer a chamber member, “I want to see the chamber succeed,” she said.
Councilmember Bob Kellar said he thinks it’s too early to decide the chamber’s fate, but he made it clear he is a big supporter and would do just about anything to keep it alive, including letting it continue to stay at City Hall.
“I have no issue with making their home at City Hall a while,” Kellar said. “We had the space available, so why not? When we help the chamber, we’re helping businesses as well.”
The city also currently commits $40,000 to the chamber every year. None of the council members interviewed (Bill Miranda didn’t return calls) indicated they want to change the financial commitment in any way.
“At this point, I am still comfortable maintaining the city’s (financial) involvement,” Smyth said.