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2004 - A Good Year for Santa Clarita
January, 2005 - Issue #4
So much has happened in the Santa Clarita Valley over the last few years, and 2004 has been no exception. We've seen the good, the bad, and the beautiful - with emphasis on the beautiful - and the valley continues to flourish.

With its vast blue skies, panoramic foothills, tree-lined streets, lush green parks, and award-winning schools, families flocked in by the SUVs-full once again. New housing opportunities arose by the score, affording something for everyone who loves the smell of new carpet: town homes, condos, apartments, single detached, paired homes, courtyard homes, and mansions were all snatched up at record prices. Depending on what side of the "for sale" sign you were on, you were either delighted or dismayed at the cost of local real estate. But what goes up must come down, and it did.

Our valley's neighborhoods aren't the only things that grew this year. Valencia Town Center underwent additional refurbishing, adding new stores and services; Valencia Crossroads provided us with more restaurants to add to our blossoming array of dining options; Whole Foods finally arrived; more schools were erected; churches for every need and niche continued to plant themselves throughout the community; the streets and freeway were widened; and because there can never be too many coffee shops or bakeries, we now have even more of those than we did last year. So if you discover that you forgot your extra shot of espresso as you drive away from your nearest Starbuck's, you can redeem yourself at another one on the next block.

My personal favorite is the addition of the Epic Center, COC's new performing art center, which opened with its debut performance in October. The new Center is beautiful, has not a bad seat in the house, and among many others it has and will be hosting the likes of Melissa Manchester, Paul Anka, the Vienna Choir Boys, and Santa Clarita's own: the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, the Santa Clarita Ballet Company and the Santa Clarita Symphony. Along with the city's many other art offerings - free evening concerts, art galleries, and live theater productions, to name a few - the Epic Center leaves one less reason to leave the valley for entertainment.

With the good, however, comes the bad. I love living here, so I grin and bear the insane traffic that seemed to double in 2004. In the midst of the grocery store strikes in the early months, resident either crossed the picket line ("I just need some diapers!") or traveled to the other end of the valley for necessities. Driving to the gas station provided a perfect opportunity to play a guessing game as to what ridiculous price fuel was going to be. Crime was up this year, ending with a rash of recent burglaries. The fire season peaked in July with the Placerita/Foothill fire, which devastated the Placerita Canyon Nature Park, my kids' favorite place to hike. And last but most definitely not least, there was never an end to the ants!

These are things I easily accept, however, when every day I see the qualities that brought me to the SCV in the first place. The negatives are easy to forget when I'm looking up at our clear, beautiful night skies to a blue moon, a meteor shower, an awe-inspiring firework display, or a lunar eclipse - all of which I had the pleasure of viewing in 2004.

As I once again take out my Christmas decorations, I look back on a good year and look forward to what 2005 brings. Happy Holidays, Santa Clarita. We'll see you next year.
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