Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happenings: 65 Minutes of Nothingness

Sometimes I wonder, Councilmember Weste.

All of City Hall’s important business is saved for just before the holidays or when people are away on summer vacations[1]. This mid-October meeting, then, was predictably tedious—just a consent calendar and the usual chorus of come-to-this and donate-to-that and hooray-for-us.

Mayor Pro-tem Laurie Ender delivered the invocation. She said that breast cancer is a bummer, the refrain we hear most everywhere this time of year.

Recognition went to the Rubber Ducky Regatta fundraising event held annually at Castaic Lake for Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers. A large yellow ducky came up to accept the proclamation for Rubber Ducky Regatta Day. Well, I thought it was a duck until it strode off stage and pulled off its head, revealing it had been an imposter—a man wearing a duck costume!-all along. This disappointing revelation soured my enjoyment of the rest of the meeting.

Next, LA County Sheriff Captain Paul Becker spoke about his anti-gang task-force. He said that gangs have been “migrating” from major cities to suburbs, drawn by Santa Clarita’s proximity to Los Angeles and the promise of customers with plenty of disposable income for drugs. He also talked about using localized crime prevention zones to maximize efficient deployment of law enforcement resources. And he stressed that Santa Clarita has never been statistically safer, judging by aggregate crime statistics.

The City Council harbors the collective illusion (or delusion; take your pick) that more than a handful of Claritans are watching them conducting the City’s business. As such, they indulge in a round-robin series of updates and reports that—whether dull or innocuous or important or admirable—aren’t really heard by too many people. But they like going through the motions. As such, Councilmember Laurene Weste spoke about the Homes for Heroes kick-off event next month to help meet veterans’ housing needs. Councilmember Kellar reiterated that the rubber ducky regatta was a worthwhile event. Mayor Pro-tem Ender encouraged people to attend Daniel Pearl World Music Day, a tribute to the journalist who was kidnapped and murdered by Al-Qaeda. Councilmember Frank Ferry applauded the marriage of Dennis Luppens, long-time bachelor and Santa Clarita Special Districts Administrator, to Carrie Barnes. The ceremony took place in the very chambers in which the council was presently assembled. Aww. Finally, the Mayor wants you to take a survey about community services on the City of Santa Clarita’s website, and she mentioned that you can learn a new language using software available for free at the libraries. Swell updates, all.

The Consent Calendar was approved without much in the way of discussion, save some recognition of City employees for completion of the most recent phase of the I-5/Magic Mountain Parkway road improvements. Laurene Weste also expressed appreciation that the City will try to acquire open space in Agua Dulce by applying for a grant from the State. It would cover up to $250,000 of an unmentioned purchase price. The parcel is over 1100 acres of potential mining property—ask the nearest real estate agent to do the numbers (one's never far off in the SCV).

Among other items approved were revisions to personnel rules to govern City employees. These rules are mostly what you’d expect: helpful reminders to employees that no, it’s not OK to threaten co-workers with a gun and you can be disciplined for being drunk at work, accepting bribes, or sleeping on the job (that last one is Rule XI, Section 2S). Why even bother showing up for work? However, the revisions approved pertained to representation by Service Employees International Union, the rightly maligned and dreaded acronym that is SEIU. Finally, Newhall Hardware has been officially freed of the shackles of potential designation as a historic site with the second reading and passage of an ordinance modifying the current Historic Preservation Ordinance. Basically, it is no longer of official historic value--yay. The City shouldn’t have been able to have it both ways, at once destroying the shop when it altered Old Town Newhall's traffic flow, then refusing to let the owners sell their place to let it become something else. Many other buildings are still in a kind of historic preservation limbo.

There was some confusion as a woman wanted to be sure that she got to speak while the council members were trying to unanimously approving the consent calendar. After assurances that she could speak in just a moment, all items were passed with the recommended actions.

Public Participation followed. An elderly man expressed concern over Lee Baca and prisoner abuse. He was distressed at how much condemnation is coming out from the media before all the facts are known, yet also made it clear that prisoner abuse is a very real problem that must be adequately addressed, yet also emphasized that Baca should have his day in court, and also felt that taxpayers shouldn’t be put in a position to be liable for violent abuses perpetrated by law enforcement. Everyone found something to agree with. Alan Ferdman had a more focused message, challenging the City Council to stay committed to fighting unfair chloride regulations. Recall that millions of dollars are being spent to start planning for a chloride treatment plant that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Mayor McLean would tell Ferdman that they are only doing what must be done to avoid potentially enormous(er) fines from authorities.

Finally, Rudy Losorelli pleaded with the City to help him reach some kind of solution to his problem with a profoundly inconsiderate neighbor. You likely remember the name and the story. Losorelli and his family live literally feet away from a fenced tennis court with very bright lights. The court is only one part of what they describe as a “commercial sports complex” in the middle of the otherwise quiet Happy Valley neighborhood. He and his wife spoke about safety concerns as 100 mph tennis balls might come flying into their yard or through their windows at any moment. Mrs. Losorelli said that a number of City personnel have been out to try and mediate the problems, but “We’re losing faith,” she despaired.

“Folks, I gotta tell you something: [dramatic pause] You couldn’t give this house away,” lamented Bob Kellar, folksily. He said the City needs to work harder and faster on the problem, and wants an agenda item to look over code to insure that no other homeowner is forced into a situation like the one facing the Losorelli family. “This…stinks!” said Ender of the situation, after talking about how the man who uses the courts doesn’t even live on-site.

The meeting ended at 7:05.


scmama said...

City Council does not meet in mid-July through end of August so your first sentence is inaccurate.

A Santa Claritan said...

I fear it's you who are inaccurate, scmama. You'll recall that the meetings just before and immediately after the summer recess tend to be ones when big moves are made (e.g., library, new assessments...). And people are often vacationing in mid-July and late-August, FYI.

I'm guessing you work for the City. Thanks for reading.

scmama said...

I dont work for the city and frankly its a cop out statement just because I dont agree. I didnt object to anything else in the post except for the first sentence.

A Santa Claritan said...

Fine, scmama, if people only take their summer vacations in the weeks between July 13th and August 23rd and you don't consider the library takeover something major in Santa Clarita politics, then you're right--important stuff doesn't happen when people are on vacation.

scmama said...

I do enjoy your blog. So I'm not just here trying to blast you. I'm just saying I don't think that the council agendas are formulated in that they only put important things near the recess. There are many important items year round. True, the library happened to fall near the recess. Now, if you said that the agendas have been light because they want to avoid controversy before the next election, I would definitely buy that!

Jane said...

While I understand the problem of the tennis courts - I would have been outraged had it been built next to me, I don't understand why other home based businesses don't come under this same attention.

The Compa vineyard in Happy Valley has hundreds of people onsite for events. Other businesses take over all the on-street parking with their fleets of vehicles, why is this okay?

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