Laurie Ender drew inspiration from Gandhi during the invocation of the August 26 City Council meeting. She began by lamenting the Claritans who won’t be able to attend $150-per-plate charity fundraising dinners/galas because of the tough economy. A decline in donations going to worthy non-profits would be unacceptable, to be sure. But Gandhi has the solution! Ender explained that we just need to take his quotation “Be the change that you want to see in the world” a little more literally. Then, she pulled out piggy banks for all the councilmembers and instructed them to “be the change: save your change.” The pun was meant to get people to gather enough coins to make a nice donation to a deserving local charity. Oh my.
Next we had the Public Safety Topics of the Month presentation where the topic was...gangs!, those groups of violent youths one can avoid by living in Valencia. I found it to be an interesting talk, by far the best in the series. Deputy Dan Finn skipped the woe-are-we preamble and got straight into numbers and facts about the state of gangs in the SCV:
*Newhall 13. 160 members, 100 active. This is our oldest gang (alert the historical society to mobilize for preservation!). Finn explained that it contains some second and even third generation gang members.
*Vale Verde Park 13. 40 members, 15 active. This gang, apparently, experienced a major decline after dozens of members moved.
*Canones 13. I missed the numbers for this group.
*Malditos Mexicanos Surenos 13. 25 members, 15 active. MMS is a Fresno gang that translocated to our peace-loving valley some 6 years ago.
*Brown Familia 13. 65 members, 45 active.
(Perhaps having 200 active gang members explains why we’re not the #1 Safest City.)
Finn closed by discussing programs used to teach families the signs that their child might be involved with a gang and how to prevent said child from joining a gang. Mayor Bob Kellar asked about whether injunctions—a legal tool aimed at preventing gangs from congregating in particular areas, like a park or alley way—could be used as they’ve been used against LA gangs. Finn replied the SCV gangs aren’t really tied to one specific spot, so injunctions were unfortunately not feasible. The councilmembers then took a controversial anti-gang, pro-law enforcement position.
Up next we endured Public Participation. Jim Farley discussed a California Supreme Court ruling in Santa Clara that called the validity of open space assessment districts into question. (Recall that an open space assessment of $25/yr passed earlier this year with the intent of preserving natural areas in and around the valley.) Said Farley, “Our open space district is an illegal tax…it’s been confirmed by the California Supreme Court.” City Manager Ken Pulskamp said the two assessments were based on very different engineer’s reports and that he would clarify the issue with Farley. I’m sure he’ll keep us Claritans posted.
The next block-o-comments concerned Southern California Edison utility towers installed near Decoro and the Belcaro community. As the old saying goes, there’s nothing like a 22-story utility tower to bring out the hyperbole. Indeed, you’d think the electricity-conveying towers were the end of the world. One person presented a picture of the structures, drawing horrified gasps from all who viewed the lattice of steel. Laurie Ender mentioned that her son thought they were ugly/alienesque, and Laurene Weste called them “hideous” and “heart-breaking.” My favorite part, though, was listening to Hunt Braly, the mouth that says what you pay it to, try to sound outraged about their construction. The guy who lobbies for G&L Realty (among others) actually spoke out against SoCal Edison for being secretive and showing no regard for the community. And he did so without an iota of irony.
The bulk of public comments, though, concerned “One Valley, One Vision.” TimBen Boydston said there hasn’t been enough public participation, and he claimed there are major problems with density. Annette Lucas, representing Calgrove Corridor Coalition, brought forward apparent contradictions in the number of acres of parkland per resident, an important part of OVOV and the General Plan. One City document claimed 5 acres/1000 people, and a newer document claimed that both the City and County held to a 3 acres/1000 people standard. It’s still not clear what’s going on with this park matter, but Lucas claimed that sneaking in provisions for “bigger buildings, fewer parks” epitomized the lack of transparency that characterizes OVOV. One speaker summarized her feeling thus: “I am terrified…the residents of Santa Clarita do not approve or condone the direction the City is going in!”
Needless to say, Mayor Kellar and Councilmember McLean got defensive after the tongue-lashing by upset Claritans. (Mayor Pro-Tem Ferry would have gotten angry too, but he wasn’t there). The Mayor reminded Claritans that they need to give the City a chance to help them out as they’ve done in the past with the MRF, Las Lomas, and CEMEX. Councilmember McLean was a bit more on edge. She was thoroughly annoyed with some unnamed persons who speak “untruths” in order to “stir the pot.” She twice appropriated the phrase “matters not in evidence” that you may recall from a recent article by Tim Myers. She closed by declaring that there’s a new paradigm in development, and it calls for more dense building, so get used to it! And in a final verbal flourish, she advised “Don’t let a few negative people ruin your life.” Sure we can guess to whom she's referring, but maybe next time she'll name names.
On the consent calendar, only provisions to protect historical buildings elicited much response. Most speakers were in favor of a phased approach to historic preservation that could affect at least 62 properties. Only Molly Hodson spoke against the plan, noting that her property would likely be designated as historic even though it was really "just old". Stricter standards for what constitutes a historic site will be included in more comprehensive plans to be developed.
The evening closed with a discussion of Benz Road, where cut-through traffic makes life a nightmare for 26 residents. People came up to say that cut-through traffic puts their children in danger and sends their quality of life down the toilet. The solution was to make the traffic cut through on another street, thereby putting other children in danger and sending other people's quality of life down the toilet. It was heart-warming.
Definitive action was taken, though. After 20 speakers largely ripped apart a proposal to try out temporary speed humps, the Council decided to give a traffic diverter (the option favored by Benz road residents) the old college try. It was late in the meeting, so City Clerk Sharon Dawson and Laurene Weste took some time to make sure the wording of the final, approved motion was recorded accurately. Roughly, the plan is to [here I’m half-quoting, half-paraphrasing] “Try the diverter for 3 months, taking out turn restrictions, and evaluate it after 3 months. Staff will then have latitude to use speed humps wherever necessary after the 3 months report is given.” McLean would have preferred to see no speed humps unless absolutely necessary, but she was out-voted. There was some applause, so some people were happy. Others were not. I'm sure we'll hear more from both sides.
Tonight's meeting was a good warm-up for the September 9th meeting when Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and G & L Realty will again take center stage. Get those comment cards ready, kids!
Here is the agenda, brought to you by the City of SC
I think the phrase "tough economy" and variants thereof were uttered at least 453 times this evening.
The Signal gives some background here.
Hunt Braly hired! Details from KHTS here.
 Eighteen years of my life were spent staring at the 4 towers I could see from our yard, 1 of which was only 100 yards away. I got over it. Color me cold and unsympathetic, but I say deal with it, Decoro.
Calgrove Corridor Coalition