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By Emily Holmes 9 December 2016 Professor Neil Schaefer

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Field Investigation Via Princessa East Extension Project

A1. The Proposal

There is currently a proposal by the City of Santa Clarita for a new roadway segment

on the Via Prices Highways between Golden Valley Road and the existing roadway

terminus near Sheldon Avenue. It will be a six-lane road with a 14-foot raised

landscaped median, a 10-foot sidewalk/parkway on each side, and a 12-foot two-lane

bike path along the south side, and will be decided by the City of Santa Clarita will

decide at an unannounced date.

A 2. Context and Historical Background

The proposed extension would cut behind a now undeveloped plot of land behind

Golden Valley High School, connecting it to a residential area around Sheldon Avenue.

I have a personal connection to this project, as I went to Golden Valley High School,

lived in the Suburbs of Santa Clarita right off Via Princessa, and have spent much time

running and hiking in the undeveloped wildlife area where the extension is being

proposed.

B. Arguments for the Proposal

There are a plethora of arguments for said proposal. Firstly, both residents in the

affected areas and students and their families would have significantly shortened

commutes. This is due to the more direct route to the school for some students, as well

as the added lanes of the road. In addition, the route for students who walk to school

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would be safer, since students would be walking on a designated paved sidewalk in

visible sight of those driving cars. Sidewalks have a multitude of benefits to

communities, and the addition of a sidewalk would certainly benefit the community of

Santa Clarita more than an unpaved trail, which stands where the road lies presently.

The United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

asserts that it agrees with the multitude of benefits that sidewalks can provide. The

United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration states that

“Sidewalks separated from the roadway are the preferred accommodation for

pedestrians. Sidewalks provide many benefits including safety, mobility, and healthier

communities. In addition to reducing walking along roadway crashes, sidewalks reduce

other pedestrian crashes. Roadways without sidewalks are more than twice as likely to

have pedestrian crashes as sites with sidewalks on both sides of the street…Providing

walkways for pedestrians dramatically increases how well pedestrians perceive their

needs are being met along roadways. The wider the separation between the pedestrian

and the roadway is, the more comfortable the pedestrian facility” Hence, the sidewalks

which would accompany the Via Princessa East Extension Project would allow for a

large number of benefits beyond simply the road.

In addition, the creation of a sidewalk to replace the current dirt trail would increase

the general health of the Santa Clarita Community, since an increasing in the available

space to walk should correlate directly to an increase in walkers, and therefore an

increase in walking an other excersise. This would improve the overall health of the

community, as increased exercise is often correlated to lower risks of disease, such as

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heart failure and diabetes, as well as higher metabolic rates which lower epidemics such

as obesity and contribute to an overall increase in general health. Golden Valley High

School might also consider hiring a cross-walk guide to help students safely travel

across the street, to lessen any other saftey concerns the authorities at the school might

have.

In addition, potentially, rates of Student crime would decrease with the Addition of

the Via Princessa East Extension project, since many students go into the undeveloped

area to commit them. While the rate of personal crimes in Santa Clarita are below

average, as seen in Point2 Homes’ 2016 online article Demographics & Statistics of

Golden Valley, the rate of crime would be decreased even further by the destruction of

the wildlife area through the creation of the Via Princessa East Extension Project, since

many students and residents pedal illegal drugs in the wildlife area.

Santa Clarita would also experience an immediate decrease in traffic congestion,

which would also undoubtedly benefit the society who live around the Area of the

extension project, as well as those who commute to the area daily. This would correlate

to a corresponding increase in the overall morale of the people who live in and around

the affected area.

C. Arguments Against the Proposal

With the Completion of the Via Princessa East Extension project would come the

desecration of a wilderness area behind Golden Valley High School. This area is used

for recreation, and as a community space, both for sports teams from Golden Valley

High School, and well as residents in the surrounding areas. While the sports teams,

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such as the local cross-country team, use the space to train for their competitive athletic

seasons, residents use the space to hike and experience local wildlife and release stress.

Robert H, a Santa Clarita Resident, in an interview conducted the twenty third of

November in twenty-sixteen, stated that “It (The Via Princessa East Extension Project)

would be bad for the people of this community. If they build it, we will lose valuable

space to hike and experience the great outdoors. We will lose space to experience nature

with our neighbors and children, and we will lose many opportunities to learn and

grow.”

As a result of the construction of the project, Air quality in the undeveloped land and

surrounding areas would have an immediate decrease. In an EIR released by the City

of Santa Clarita pertaining to the Via Princessa East Extension project, the City of Santa

Clarita Stated that “The impacts associated with construction of the proposed project

were compared to the thresholds of significance established by the SCAQMD.

Thresholds of significance are used to assess the impacts from projected mass daily

emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), oxides of nitrogen (NOX), carbon

monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), respirable particulate matter less than 10 microns

in diameter (PM10), and fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter

(PM2.5) during project construction. The proposed project would not result in direct

operational emissions other than periodic maintenance of the roadway; therefore,

operational emissions would be qualitatively analyzed.” Hence, though emissions

would not cross any sort of detrimental threshold in the area, they would increase,

leading to a contribution in the overall effect of global climate change. Global climate

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change has its own range of detrimental effects, such as loss of sea ice, accelerated sea

level rise and longer, more intense heat waves would have detrimental effects on

practically all people of earth.

In addition, there might be an eventual decrease in the biodiversity in the effected

areas, as four endangered species live in the effected area. These include the

Unarmored Threespine Stickleback (gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni), Least Bell's

Vireo (vireo bellii pusillus), Arroyo Southwestern Toad (Bufomicroscaphus

californicus), and Southwestern Pond Turtle (Clemmys marmorata pallida). In talking

about these negative effects, an EIR issued by the city of Santa Clarita states that

“Significant impacts would result with respect to the loss of foothill needlegrass

grassland, riparian communities, vernal pool habitat, and hillside seep habitat; the loss

of habitat for common and special- status wildlife species, including riparian-dependent

and vernal-pool dependent species; potential construction-related loss of nests of

common and special-status bird species; the loss of California Native Plant Society

(CNPS) List 1B, and federally Threatened special status plant species; the loss of

protected oak trees; the potential loss of federally Threatened and Endangered fairy

shrimp species, and additional non-listed special-status animal species; the loss of 0.51

acre of California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and 0.85 acre of US Army

Corps of Engineers (USACE) jurisdictional areas; and indirect impacts including

increased lighting and glare, increased landscaping irrigation and stormwater runoff, an

increase in non-native plant and wildlife species, increased human activity and

domestic animal presence, and increased erosion and dust resulting from construction

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and grading activities.” Hence, there would be irreversible detrimental effects on the

local wildlife population of Santa Clarita.

In addition, the project would have other detrimental effects on Santa Clarita. High

school sports teams which use the trails for practice, might have to find other areas to

run workouts. Families and Youth which use the space for recreation, as well as

education, might have to commute to other wildlife areas to engage in similar activity.

The project will have detrimental effects on the Aesthetics of the area. There might be

potentially negative effects on the Geology and Soils in the undeveloped area. In

explaining these detrimental effects, an EIR states that “Soils on the project site are

subject to landslides, erosion, hydro-compression, and expansion. The project site also

may be subject to ground shaking due to its location within a seismically active

region;” There would be an immediate increase in noise around the school and

residential neighborhoods. Climate Change would be sped up as a result of the increase

in traffic and decrease in natural plant life. It is also incredibly costly to build the

extension, and the money spent on the extension might be better invested directly into

building community resources for residents of Santa Clarita.

D. Analysis And Conclusion

Because there are far more incredibly detrimental effects than positive ones, I

conclude that it would not be worth the ultimate opportunity cost of construction the

extension project. The overall toll of the decreased air quality, biodiversity, community

spaces and resources, valuable aesthetics, and increased noise, soil erosion, and rates of

climate change have far too many negative effects. The potential benefits of Both

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Residents in the Effected areas and Students and their families would have significantly

shortened commutes, the route for students who walk to school would be safer, since

students would be walking on a designated paved sidewalk in visible sight of those

driving cars, rates of Student crime would decrease, since many students go into the

undeveloped area to commit them and decrease in traffic congestion would not overall

be worth the detrimental environmental toll. Human beings are the only animals able to

manipulate their environment, and hence, human beings should not take this incredible

power lightly. People should use this power to make decisions which nurture the planet

and the environment. Thereby, the Via Princessa East Extension Project should not

pass.

E. Works Cited and Interviewees

"Endangered Species in the Santa Clarita Valley." Santa Clarita Organization for

Planning The Environment. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2016. <http://

www.scope.org/endanger/>.

12, May. "Endangered Fish Struggles to Survive in Santa Clara River." Los Angeles

Times. Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2001. Web. 21 Oct. 2016

"Environmental Impact Reports Completed." City of Santa Clarita, CA :. N.p., n.d.

"Safety Benefits of Walkways, Sidewalks, and Paved Shoulders - Safety | Federal

Highway Administration." Safety Benefits of Walkways, Sidewalks, and Paved

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Shoulders - Safety | Federal Highway Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.

<http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/tools_solve/walkways_trifold/>.

"Point2 Homes." Demographics & Statistics - Employment, Education, Income

Averages, Crime in Golden Valley - Point2 Homes. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2016.

<http://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/MN/Golden-Valley-

Demographics.html>.

Interviewee: Robert Holmes, Santa Clarita Resident, November 23rd, 2016

Potential Interviewee Contact who did not Respond to my 3 attempts at contact Marsha

Mclean, Mayor of Santa Clarita

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