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
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).

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