Sunday, January 27, 2008

Only in SCV: Interview with a Coot

The American Coot/Bridgeport controversy shows that most of Santa Clarita is profoundly disconnected from the environment. This disconnect takes one of two forms.

In the first case, we have well-intentioned romanticizing of the plight of the coot. They are seen as beautiful, peaceful birds that escape Alaska’s brutal winters by migrating to balmy California. Once here, they’re slaughtered by the very people who laid out a welcome mat of lake and lawn. People with this view tend to overlook the facts that coots are very common, loud, and poop rather a lot.


Then we have people like Christine Korenthal and Bridgeport homeowners who adopt an even more na├»ve view. Indeed, they believe that they get to have nature act according to their own, personal terms! Coots are fine, they say, so long as the lawn they poop in isn’t mine and the grass they eat isn’t on my private property. Explained C. Korenthal in Friday's paper[1], “I think that conservation is important and that animals deserve the right to live in relative peace in their own territory.” Clearly, Christine, the problem is one of poor communication. You need to work with the animals to make sure they know which bits of land are “their own territory” and which bits are yours. Until we can better bridge the communication divide, I'm afraid we're going to to see animals blatantly disregard private property rights more and more.

So what’s the solution? Homeowners should deal with the unpleasant American Coots. They’re crapping on your lawn, and you’re figuratively crapping on theirs with car exhaust, lawn runoff, etc. Let’s both get over it.

Well that’s all I have to say about the issue, but an American Coot named Coco wanted to set a few things straight as well.


Interview with Coco the Coot

Coco, an American Coot. Photo taken over lunch interview; location to remain undisclosed at request of restaurant owner who feared LA Co. Health Dept. officials might frown upon allowing live waterfowl on the premises.

Hello Coco. Tell me a little about yourself.

Sure. I’m a 3-year old American Coot. I’m a mother of 24, but six of my kids were eaten by cats that Bridgeport homeowners let run around the neighborhood. When not procreating, I like eating grass, I love swimming, and I typically shit on the lawns of people whose kids chase me around.


Did you migrate here from Alaska?

Absolutely not, despite the fact that reporter Katherine Geyer and others have repeatedly stated that us coots migrate to and from Alaska[2]. It takes about 15 seconds online to find out that there is just one, tiny isolated group of coots that live in extreme eastern Alaska[3]. Hundreds of thousands of us live and breed in California yearround. I myself grew up in the Central Valley.

How do you feel about the people who want to kill you?

I don’t really get it. No one sits on the grass whether I crap on it or not. I help keep the algae down in the lake, and kids love watching me swim and walk and fly.

How will you respond if homeowners lay out corn laced with the tranquilizer alpha-chlorolose?


I have very little self-control, so I’ll probably eat it. Then I’ll be euthanized, placed in a black trash bag, carted off to a landfill, and slowly decompose.

Is there anything else you’d like to say, Coco?

Are you going to eat that? [motions towards the remainder of my salad; I acquiesce]

[1]"Who Gives a Coot?", commentary in The Signal's Friday, January 25, 2008 paper.
[2]For example, from Katherine Geyer's January 26, 2008 The Signal article "Coot Flap Flocks to Council":
"U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service records show the Bridgeport Community Association applied for permits in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 to be able to kill the coots that migrate each year from Alaska and Canada." Alaska? Probably not. Canada? Maybe Manitoba. California? More likely yet.
[3] Brisbin, Jr., I. Lehr, and Thomas B. Mowbray. 2002. American Coot (Fulica americana), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/697a
Here’s a range map for the American coot from the Cornell University's Birds of North America project. Note the one little dot in Alaska.

Happenings: Street Re-re-naming Rights County Wrongs

NOTE: Below, Tony Newhall describes and comments on the re-re-naming of San Fernando Road. This story shows us how quickly our own history can be forgotten. The names of places lose their connections to actual people, the way things were fades from memory...you know the drill. It also shows us how L.A. County has never once overlooked, ignored, or blatantly disregarded local concerns.

(Thanks also to Pauline Harte who relayed part of this chapter in SCVistory as a comment in an earlier post.)

The Santa Clarita City Council voted Tuesday night (January 22) to rename San Fernando Road (the portion from Hart Park south to Highway 14) as “ Newhall Avenue .” They voted also to rename the part of San Fernando Road running through downtown Newhall as “ Main Street .” I believe the part of San Fernando Road running north from Newhall to Magic Mountain Parkway will be renamed Bouquet Canyon Road (which makes sense), but I don’t think that’s resolved yet.

Some have decried this renaming local streets as revising history. It is far from it. When Henry Mayo Newhall laid out the town of Newhall in 1876, he named the streets after those in downtown Philadelphia where he worked as a surveyor in 1842. (Check the streets of downtown Philly and you’ll see such names as Walnut, Race, Arch, Spruce, Pine, Chestnut, etc.) H.M. Newhall named the main street through the downtown as Spruce Street . It remained that name for 77 years.

In 1953, the County of Los Angeles Surveying Department moved in and changed the name of three local streets – all without informing anyone here about it. They did this as part of their county-wide street naming and addressing system. Spruce Street was changed to San Fernando Road ; Pico Road was changed to Lyons Avenue ; and the tiny Hill Street was renamed Wayman Street . No one in town knew why they renamed Pico to Lyons ; it wasn’t for Sanford Lyon, the local stage station operator in the 1870s, because he spelled his name without an "s." And no one knew who “Wayman” was; it wasn’t in honor of Walt Wayman who had yet to establish himself in the community. The county simultaneously installed the five-digit countywide address system which haunts us today (you know, "23645," just one digit more than you can memorize).

So the City Council did right. It makes complete sense to eliminate the name San Fernando Road . Now the exit signs on the Highway 14 will read " Newhall Avenue ," and travelers will know they’re entering Newhall, not San Fernando .

This is not revisionist history. It is to right a wrong that was committed 55 years ago.

[1]Mr. Newhall cites the January 7, 1954 front page of the Signal as background for his writing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Only in SCV: 5 Respondent Poll(!) Results

You don’t have to be a statistician to know that a survey of five middle-aged women isn’t representative of all of Santa Clarita. Still, that’s what I had to work with for my investigation into the recognizability of candidates in Santa Clarita’s City Council race. (NOTE: I excluded 5 surveys from my number-crunching because they were from unlikely or unregistered voters. In case you were curious, none of the excluded could identify a single candidate by name or picture. And to think I call some of them my friends…)

So while a complete failure by conventional polling standards, I’m still posting the results. They show what a small sub-set of Claritans that the reader described as "mostly working moms" know about the race some two-and-a-half months before votes are cast. And that’s an important demographic is Santa Clarita—we have lots of moms and they’re more likely to vote than apathetic 20-somethings. Thanks to the brave reader who sent me these results.

Results:

The most recognizable candidate was definitely Bob Kellar. All five survey-takers could identify his picture, and most knew he was running for City Council. Many of the other candidates simply weren’t recognized. There was one case of mistaken identity wherein the respondent identified a photo of Maria Gutzeit as Lynne Plambeck.

The question looking at recognition of City Council candidate names yielded slightly different results. Three recognized that Bob Kellar and Diane Trautman are running, and two knew that Laurie Ender, Maria Gutzeit, and Bob Spierer are running. Lynne Plambeck and Susan Harrison were incorrectly identified as candidates for City Council once each. Finally, one person wrote
“Who cares?” and didn’t identify any candidates on the list.


There was some consensus on the most important issues for the candidates to address. Traffic and growth were cited by three and two respondents, respectively, as major concerns. Gang activity/tagging, “turning into San Fernando Valley”, light synchronization, and housing were also mentioned.

Interpretation:
Bob Kellar has the greatest recognizability among five 25-50 y.o. female voters from one workplace in Santa Clarita. These same voters want traffic problems fixed and aren’t really all that sure who is running for City Council.

Despite a stunning lack of success in my first polling attempt, I remain undiscouraged and will be probing the minds of more Claritans as we approach elections.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happenings: Traffic Woes Heard, Coots Find Friends

Quick Reminders:
1. If you heard about the more than 400 abused animals recently found in Lancaster, consider making a donation to Gentle Barn, a local group that’s looking after hundreds of dogs and other abused creatures. Their site can be found
here.
2. Don’t forget to send me results from the Candidate Recognizability Survey, which you can find
here. Send it in today.

. . . . . . . . . .

“Will you vote for me then, Frank?”
“We’ll see in two years.”

-Councilmember TimBen Boydston and Mayor Pro Tem Frank Ferry, after Ferry extends a verbal olive branch to Boydston.

Everyone was pleased to see Councilmember Laurene Weste back in action at tonight’s City Council meeting--recall that she was in a car accident on her way to a meeting earlier this month. As a welcome back, she was treated to four hours of traffic woes, annexation frustration, and pleas to be green.

Per Unwritten Rule #12 in the City Council Code of Conduct (“There shall be at least one weird event at every Council Meeting”—oh damn, I wrote that which was unwritten), we had three youngish people encourage the Council to pass a resolution in support of Lyndon LaRouche’s “The Homeowner and Bank Protection Act of 2007.” Lyndon LaRouche, for those fortunate enough to have not heard of him, writes many things that few read and is always running to be the President of the United States[1]. Inexplicably, LaRouche manages to win cult-like devotion from a small fraction of college students year after year. As an undergraduate at UCLA, I knew of a LaRouche disciple who actually dropped out of school to help on one of his many campaigns. In any case, the three LaRouche-heads at tonight’s meeting made for a bizarre tangent. They wanted Santa Clarita to pass a resolution that supports legislation to protect homeowners from foreclosure. Someone should have told these kids that the City of Santa Clarita makes resolutions about grocery bags, not irrelevant old men.

Far more impactful was a discussion of traffic in communities near Sierra Highway. Fully eleven residents on or near Canvas Street commented during Public Participation. Many of them haven't been able to get out of their driveways since Canvas Street was connected to Sierra Highway. Cars have been vandalized and stolen, and residents have observed an increase in crime. Motorists commonly travel through the neighborhood at speeds that are double the posted 25 mph speed limit. It takes a lot to get one person sufficiently worked up to endure a City Council meeting. To get eleven residents from the same area to show up on the same night means things must be unbearable.







The traffic nightmare arose when Canvas Street was connected to Sierra Highway as part of a recent development of homes.

In response to the neighborhood’s collective frustration, City Manager Ken Pulskamp said “we certainly have empathy for the issues that they’re dealing with.” This empathy has been made evident in the two sets of four-way stops (three, counting the one approved tonight) and additional speed limit signs that the City has lavished on the area. “I want you to know we have done a lot of work here”, noted Pulskamp. Unfortunately, none of the residents agree. Councilmembers McLean and Weste were very sympathetic to the plight of these Claritans, and they made it clear that some serious changes need to be enacted.

In other vehicular news, you will soon be driving on Newhall Avenue where you once drove on San Fernando Road. The name change was approved. That’s 1 for the Newhalls, 0 for Saint Ferdinand and spruce trees.

As for other matters on the Consent Calendar, things got a bit heated over the reusable bag resolution (I called it!). Councilmember McLean and Mayor Kellar got a little snappy and short with one another—McLean and Weste devoted too much attention to the resolution for the mayor’s taste. In any case, the resolution that essentially says “we like reusable bags” passed. McLean and Weste teamed up to go green again when Teresa Savaikie mentioned the killing of American Coots and poisoning programs along the Santa Clara River. The coots should be happy to know they have allies on the City Council[2].

Finally, residents of Hasley Hills were generally eager to move forward on annexation into the City of Santa Clarita. Both they and the City Council were frustrated that LA County is holding them up on the process—the County won’t have certain key reports ready until February 2009. Until then, Santa Clarita shall remain Santa Clarita, a land where coots can swim (sometimes), cul de sacs can be corrupted, and even LaRouche fanatics can comment at City Council meetings. .
NOTE (2/01): A LaRouche-watcher just alerted me to the fact that I had called him Leroy when, in fact, his first name is Lyndon. The mistake has been corrected on paper, though not in my head, where I still regard him as Leroy.

[1]LaRouche, anyone?
[2]Incidentally, coot control has been intense and ugly in Los Angeles County's past. This is an excerpt from a 1986 report I found while researching the subject. (You can click on it to make it easier to read, but it basically says that 3,000 coots were shot and put in a landfill over the course of just 15 manhours at the direction of the County Agriculture Department of Los Angeles).


Monday, January 21, 2008

Only in SCV: Resolutions on Bags, L.S. Newhall on Name Changes

“Non-binding, unpublicized resolutions are one of the most effective means of governing.”
p. 42 in my book Effective Governing: What Santa Clarita Can Teach the World


The most important issue for tomorrow’s City Council meeting is doubtless Item No. 4 on the Consent Calendar. According to the agenda: “This resolution identifies the City's past, present, and future efforts to promote the use of reusable bags and limit our dependence on plastic shopping bags.” When Santa Clarita’s endorsement of reusable bags is made official, all I can say is expect things to stay the same—and fast!

The issue of street name change is also weighing heavily on the minds of many a Claritan. If City Planners get their way, San Fernando Road will be re-named Newhall Avenue from 5th Street to the 14. Some have consulted business owners along the stretch of road, valley historians, and City staff to see what they think of the plan. For me, however, there are only two opinions that really count: those of the Newhalls and that of San Fernando (anglicized to “Saint Ferdinand”). St. Ferdinand III of Castille, patron of engineers, was unavailable for comment since his earthly life ceased on May 30, 1252[1]. I was, however, able to get a comment from Ms. Lindsey Newhall (yes, that Newhall) who resides in, variously, Beijing and Santa Clarita. While she was unable to speak for the whole Newhall clan, we take what we can get at IHeartSCV.

L.S. Newhall with sign.

Question 1: How do you feel about having San Fernando Road renamed to Newhall Avenue?

I think overall it’s a good idea. That way the exit will be called “Newhall Avenue” and travelers will be more clear that they are coming into Newhall. Besides, San Fernando already has its own valley and I’m a major advocate of anything that gives my name more exposure.


Question 2: How do you feel about the descendants of San Fernando who might be opposed to seeing their forefather’s memory eradicated?

I agree that Saint Ferdinand was a good and upright man, and I do love engineers, but I think his descendants should be satisfied with having their own valley.

[interview ends]

There you have it--Lindsey Newhall thinks renaming San Fernando Road to Newhall Avenue is a good idea. May the fight over the street name be less bloody than San Fernando's 1248 battle for Seville!

NOTE(1/22/08): I have received a reminder from Tony Newhall via Lindsey Newhall that part of San Fernando Road was originally Spruce Street (named by Henry Mayo Newhall, no less) until the powers-that-were saw fit to change the name. Thus, I should have consulted spruces as well. Unfortunately, we have no native spruce trees in the area; the only conifer to which I had access was the Community Holiday Tree at HMNM Hospital. The typically jovial tree has gone nihilistic as it begins to accept the fact that it will probably be cut down for the hospital expansion project. It said "What do I care if they change it back to Spruce Street? Trees don't last forever. They don't matter. Nothing does. [muffled sobs]"

[1]Learn more about Saint Ferdinand here

Monday, January 14, 2008

Only in SCV: How Recognizable are CC Candidates?

The upcoming City Council race isn’t weighing too heavily on the minds of very many Claritans (see figure above). As I suggested in January’s inside SCV[1], part of this apathy is based on the fact that the City Council can do only so much to affect our lives: "There will never be an 'Item 18: Public Hearing on the Death Penalty' on a City Council agenda." Still, it's a good place to start dabbling in politics. Furthermore, councilmembers are in charge of some substantial funds and resources. Wielded effectively, these resources can be used to fight multi-national corporations like CEMEX, preserve open space, and even build new bus stops(!).

The question remains, however, of just how much thought the average Claritan gives to the 2008 City Council race. While you could stop most anyone on the street and reasonably expect them to know the names of at least five candidates for President, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a Claritan who could tell you the names of all five of the City Council candidates. Sure, campaigning hasn't really begun in earnest (except by Laurie Ender, who started campaigning about 35 years ago), but the vote is less than 90 days away. If candidates are serious about winning, they need to make themselves known to the average Claritan very soon.

To get an idea of how recognizable the various candidates are at present, we need a survey. Thus, I made a survey. It tests how well people know the names and faces of those running for Council (with a few other faces and names thrown in for good measure). I'd like a goodly number of people to take this thing, and for that, I need your help.

It’s simple, really.

1. Print up one or more copies of the survey, saved as a a .pdf file at the link below.

2. Ask any Santa Claritan registered to vote to answer the questions.

3. Repeat as many times as possible. You shouldn’t be averse to standing in front of the mall and asking strangers to do it; many people love doing this kind of thing.

4. Email me the results at iheartscv AT gmail.com, except of course you make the “AT” an “@.” It can be in the form of:

Person 1: 45yo Female. (1)1.Susan Sarandon,2. Didn’t Know, 3.George Bush, etc… (2)Checked boxes A,C,D (3)Mayor Tony the Tiger, important issues are CEMEX and dog parks

5. Your deadline for this assignment is January 20, 2008.





And yes, I really do mean deadline. This is an assignment. But it's one you should be pleased to conduct. After all, it’s an investment in both your future and my own: I’ll have something to write about and you’ll have something to read given enough surveys. And through reading and writing we can both forget--at least for a moment--about the daily struggle to endure life in SCV.

Together, in short, we'll get a better idea of how well the average Claritan knows his/her potential future leaders and what that means. Incidentally, below are links to all of the candidates' campaign pages (listed in alphabetical order--I won't play favorites quite yet):

Laurie Ender

Maria Gutzeit

Bob Kellar

.

[1]Article here

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happenings: Mayor Kellar Wants Blood: Yours...

...to be donated with the help of a medical professional, that is! At Tuesday's City Council meeting, he reminded Claritans that January is National Blood Donor Month. Apart from the potential to save lives, your donation comes with the following benefits:

1. Lose a pound! 1 pint of blood, the amount you donate, is equal to 1/8 of a gallon. Given that blood is mostly water, a gallon of which weighs 8 pounds, you'll lose a pound after your donation! Of course, you supposedly regain the lost fluids within 24-hours, but for at least a little while you'll be able to say you've lost some weight.

2. Potentially see Roger Seaver! I don't know how often the CEO of Henry Mayo is out of his office, but I'm sure you've got at least some chance of seeing him should you choose to donate at HMNMH. If you're a fan of his hospital expansion plan, you can give him a hug. If you're not such a fan, perhaps you could give a rude gesture instead.

3. Help out your fellow Claritans! I know altruism isn't much in fashion these days, but accidents happen all the time and it's nice to know that you've given medical professionals the blood they may need to treat a sick or injured patient.

For more information, go to to AABB's website:
http://www.aabb.org/Content/Donate_Blood/Donate_Blood_Public_Education_Initiatives/National_Blood_Donor_Month/

To set up donations, call:
Red Cross Donation Line:
800.448.3543
Henry Mayo:
661.253.8888

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happenings: Feinstein's Ideas Enthusiastically Rejected, Other C.C. Notes

At this first City Council meeting of 2008, CEMEX mining has again moved to the forefront of Clarita’s collective consciousness[1]. It’s the headache that keeps on aching; we’ve been talking about CEMEX since the last millennium (i.e., 1999)! Tonight, however, we got a special treat. It was a discussion of two brilliant suggestions to resolve the conflict between CEMEX and the City of Santa Clarita provided by none other than United States Senator Dianne Feinstein.


As it stands, the City wants to prohibit mining in excess of historical mining levels. That is, only 300,000 tons of material can be removed each year. Senator Dianne Feinstein, devoted environmentalist, asked the City to consider increasing this level by a factor of five. After all, CEMEX has a God-given right to turn a profit on the land, and CEMEX claimed it would need to extract 1,500,000 tons of sand and gravel each year for its project to be “economically viable.” That translates into 757 smoggy, sand-dropping, road-clogging truck trips a day for decades to come.

An even better idea was the option of saddling taxpayers with a $170 million bond to buy out CEMEX’s lease. It would have to be approved by voters, but it’s an option. The thing is, the Bureau of Land Management would still own the sand and gravel mineral rights on the land in question and could actually sell them again. I’ll say that one more time: taxpayers could buy out CEMEX and the BLM could then re-sell the mining rights to someone else. Inexplicably, this perfect little solution was dismissed by the Council!

Councilmember TimBen Boydston responded appropriately. In a composed, mini-tirade he remarked: “I was under the impression that she [Feinstein] was trying to help us. […] Is someone on her staff smoking particulates from mining? […] This is not help in any way.” Speakers like Andrew Fried and Pauline Harte agreed that CEMEX must be continue to be fought. Thus, Santa Clarita remains opposed to the mining.

Boydston also made some interesting remarks about another favored issue, the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital expansion project. By Paul Brotzman’s estimate, it won’t be discussed again until May because of hold-ups with the hospital’s revised Environmental Impact Report. Boydston noted that Roger Seaver et al. had been pushing hard for a timely resolution to the expansion but that “Now, suddenly, it doesn’t seem to be quite so important.” He knows what’s up. As SCVTalker J-to-the-Wilson and other Claritan commentators have wryly noted, waiting for a new, presumably Boydston-less Council after the April elections might make it easier for HMNMH to get its plans approved. This new tack means SCV’s 2007 buzzword of “collusion” must now be replaced with buzzphrase “strategic, quasi-slimy, manipulative delays". That’s not quite as catchy, is it?

In an unusual show of restraint, Cam Noltemeyer spoke only about half a dozen times this evening. Her resounding theme was that more building—in the form of a new Civic Center, HMNMH’s expansion, the Westfield mall expansion, the 21,000 units in Newhall Ranch—would exacerbate already existing problems. Apparently, forcing too much stuff into too little space can actually decrease quality of life and increase traffic congestion. Obviously, we must temper Cam’s views with what we have to gain from all the new building— 60,000 new neighbors and a Cheesecake Factory.

Apart from CEMEX and development, the Council discussed and approved Mayor Kellar’s pet initiative, a $40K investment in a year-long series of informative safety months. This was quite timely, as Old Orchard resident Edith Coranzo had expressed concern over increased gang activity earlier in the evening. In Kellar’s own words, “important information on issues of importance” will be disseminated to the public.

The evening closed with a discussion of a chance to build a new Civic Center to improve the current, out-dated courthouse and Sheriff's department. Ken Pulskamp could scarcely contain his giddy enthusiasm for the prospect of uniting State, County, and City into one grand, centralized center. In infomercial-like fashion, he noted this was a limited-time opportunity. After the Council and public offered comments, a bold, daring plan of action was approved:
“RECOMMENDED ACTION: Discuss and allow the City Manager to continue discussions with Los Angeles County Supervisor Antonovich's Office.”

Indeed, discussions shall be allowed! Rejoice at will.

*NOTE: Laurene Weste wasn’t at the meeting tonight because she was in a traffic accident on the way to the meeting. We hope she’s alright and wish her the best.

[1]A good place to get background on this issue is this interview that covers one chapter of the ever-evolving CEMEX affair. Complex issues of land ownership, mineral rights, leasing, air quality, etc… are discussed in relation to Stonecrest—remember that?
[2]Senator Feinstein’s website. Be sure to click on “Breakfast with Dianne”. Sounds like a bad sitcom, no?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Only in SCV: Resolutions for Santa Clarita

Happy Two-Days-Into-The-New-Year, everyone! After all the partying and relaxing over the holiday season, I think it’s about time that I start getting productive again. Towards this end, I’ve done Santa Clarita the courtesy of writing it some New Year’s Resolutions.

Resolution 1: REALISTIC GOAL
Let Santa Clarita resolve to host the 2016 Olympics.


Santa Clarita is widely known as one of the Great Cities of the world. To keep this status, we need to do something impressive, important, and big—nay, enormous. I think the most feasible option is hosting the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the greatest realization of sport and sportsmanship on earth.

Someone at City Hall needs to get on this fast, however. We only have until January 14th to place our bid as host city for the 2016 games[1]! According to Wikipedia, the following cities have already filed official bids: Chicago, Prague, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Baku, Doha, and Madrid. We already have Baku beat because no one has ever heard of it. This means our only real competition comes from Chicago, Prague, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Doha and Madrid. The list seems a bit intimidating, sure, but don’t forget all the great things we have going for us.

1. Security. We’re consistently in the top ten safest cities in America. If you want your Olympians to get killed, Olympics Committee, maybe you should go to Chicago. They had 448 murders in 2004 and 2005. That’s called a trend, and it means that precisely 448 people will be killed every year in Chicago, even in 2016. Where I grew up (a little place called Santa Clarita), we don’t call 448 homicides every year “safe”. If you want your Olympic Games to be secure, you want them in Santa Clarita.

2. Experience. Yeah, we’ve got a little bit of experience with sports—and by “a little bit” I’m being very, very sarcastic in an understating kind of way. Each year, Parks & Recreation coaches thousands of kids in everything from basketball to gymnastics. We sponsor an annual marathon. We even host those crazy Amgen bicyclists! Basically, we’re experienced at hosting lots of sporting events, and that’s exactly what an Olympic Host City has to do.

3. Facilities. Happily, most summer sports require only fields, and we have plenty of them (Central Park, the high schools, some of the larger backyards in the wealthy part of Saugus). We boast fine aquatic facilities as well. Bridgeport Lake could certainly accommodate some of the shorter rowing events, and Castaic can pick up the slack.

4. Culture, History and Charm. The Olympics can’t happen just anywhere. The Host City should be beautiful with a history and culture vibrant enough to allow for a dozen or so of NBC’s “A Closer Look At [insert city name here]” clips. This is where Santa Clarita can really shine. The Walk of Western Stars, the historic Oak of the Golden Dream, and the three beautiful murals installed in the recently revitalized Old Town Newhall are sure to dazzle the media and visitors.

5. Hotels and Dining. Finally, athletes, heads-of-state, officials, and spectators need to be comfortable while they’re here. With the Hyatt for power players and Motel 6 for the everyman, I don’t think anyone will have trouble finding a place to sleep in SCV. As for dining, we are essentially a microcosm of global cuisine. Those wishing to sample authentic American fare can eat at McDonald’s, Coco’s, or Saugus Cafe. Those craving a taste of home will also be in luck. China’s athletes might dine at Panda Express (did somebody say orange chicken?). The Promenade’s Olive Garden is certain to appeal to visitors from Italy. Even the finicky French can enjoy a croissant from the Ralph’s bakery—they’re very good.

Before I started writing this list, I admit that I was a little nervous about our chances against some of the other cities vying for the 2016 Olympics. But now that all we have to offer is laid out, I am more confident than ever that our resolution to host the Olympic Games is attainable. All we need is some hard work, a bit of luck, and a City Council that’s willing to think big. Mayor Kellar: can you help us make this resolution a reality?

Resolution 2: KICK A BAD HABIT(S)

2a. Let Santa Clarita resolve to not allow the construction of anymore houses with non-functional shutters (You know, the ones glued outside windows like they’re open; they’re stupid. Leave the shutters off or put on ones that work).

2b. Let Santa Clarita resolve to not cut ribbons every time something opens. Cutting a ribbon and/or having a grand opening for every road realignment (e.g., downtown Newhall) and fence building (e.g., Central Park Dog Park) is too much of a good thing. The reward of cutting a ribbon needs to be reserved for grander accomplishments, like completion of the cross valley connector. Santa Clarita is like the kid who buys herself a candy bar every time she passes a spelling test; both get fat on self-administered praise.

2c. Let Santa Clarita resolve to stop having fires. I think this one is self-explanatory.

[1]More information is available here
[2]Learn about Chicago homicides on
page 5