The City has finally found a way to boost attendance at City Council meetings. Every two weeks, they do something to annoy/infuriate a new group of Claritans, and some of those Claritans show up to explain just how annoyed/infuriated they are. It’s working brilliantly.
Take tonight’s meeting, which began with the stage direction “Enter pleading skaters en masse.” More than a dozen devotees of the skateboard spoke before the City Council; they're concerned that their skate park is going to be demolished before construction of a new park is complete. The speakers ranged from mothers to sons, from teens to the middle-aged, and from exceedingly polite to slightly threatening. Despite these differences, they agreed on two key points. First, it would be best for City to keep the old skate park open until the new one is completed. Second, skaters predicted that they would wreak havoc on public pavement and school sidewalks if their skate park was to be taken away.
Ken Pulskamp responded with a good news-bad news sandwich (that’ a chunk of bad news sandwiched between two slices of good news to make it more palatable). The good news? The new skate park is being well-funded and will be nearly four times the size of the present facility. The bad? Issues with drainage and grading preclude construction of the new skate park before the old one is demolished. But, to end on a high note, our fearless City Manager predicted that Santa Clarita would only go four months without a skate park, not a year as had been rumored.
There was some grating back and fourth among the Council on how to look out for the skaters for the four months when they’d have no place to recreate. Councilmember Weste, City Manager Pulskamp, and Mayor Pro Tem Ferry agreed that it was important for the project to press on. The skate park is just one aspect of the sports complex improvements, after all; a gymnasium and lighted fields will also be installed. It's not fair, they argued, for skaters to throw a wrench into the parkworks. Still, everyone was sympathetic to the plight of the skateboarder, and the City is going to work with the community to make sure the transition between skate parks is as smooth and painless as possible--in theory. This may include spending $750K to permit construction without prior demolition of the old park but again, that's a cost few of the "higher-ups" are willing to incur.
The next contingent of Claritans to take center stage were the anti-MRFers (that’s Materials Recycling Facility, or MRF—pronounced “murf”). Burrtec, a company that specializes in refuse, wants to build a massive MRF right off Sierra Highway. The facility would pull recyclable material out of 3,000 tons of waste a day. That’s all fine and good, except for the fact that it would require 872 garbage truck trips each and every day. Residents along Sierra Highway also mentioned being not so keen on potential smells and sanitation issues associated with such a plant. One woman actually said “Dirty MRF” which, I can assure you, was the first time I ever heard the phrase uttered in my entire life.
Ken Pulskamp and Councilmember Marsha McLean both reminded the audience that the Burrtec project is still in its earliest stages. McLean actually mandated (sort of) a Burrtec sponsored bus tour so that concerned Claritans could see how MRFs integrate and operate in other communities. I think marketing such a trip would put even Gail Ortiz to the test “Press Release: City and Burrtec invite residents to enjoy a day of waste management.”
After all of this exhausting dialogue in the Public Participation section, the Council whizzed through the Consent Calendar. Then, it was on to pot.
The City Council evaluated an amendment to SCV’s Unified Development Code that would prohibit any sort of medical marijuana dispensary from operating in Santa Clarita. This issue didn’t prove terribly controversial; the only public speaker was in support of the amendment, as were the members of the City Council. It looks like those who want medical marijuana are going to have to go beyond our valley borders. So much for shopping local.
I did the math: that’s one-million, ninety-five thousand tons of waste processing a year, or 2,190,000,000 pounds. This is generally regarded as “a lot” or, more colloquially, a sh*tload of sh*t.
More math yet: that’s one truck every 99 seconds.