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The Holiday Letter
December, 2009 - Issue #62
Holiday update letters are de rigueur for the suburban family. How else are far-flung friends and family members to know about Madison's stunning performance at the art fair and Braden's acceptance to law school? If the City of Santa Clarita was to draft such a letter, things would be a little different; something like this:

Dear Loved Ones,

This year, road improvements turned out to be un-improvements; sorry Decoro Drive and Canvas Street. We weathered the worst of the recession with a 21-point local economic recovery plan that was mostly symbolic but still nice. In God We Trust was added to the City Seal. Mayor Frank Ferry assumed the persona of "Mayor Dude," gaining instant credibility with kids thanks to an askance baseball cap and Twitter account. Big new buildings are or will be built at Westfield Town Center, The Master's College and Old Town Newhall. Two famous Claritan dogs passed on: Scooter of Valencia Acura fame, and Gidget of "Yo Quiero Taco Bell" commercials. There were festivals for cowboys, the cleaning of rivers, fine art and film. And it's now legal to bicycle on sidewalks.

Sincerely Yours,
SCV


Yep, that was 2009, with details about the end of the year necessarily omitted. As for what is traditionally the last part of the letter - what's coming next? - more space is needed.

Boydston, Gauny vs. Incumbents
In October, the looming City Council elections became a game of musical chairs with five players and only three seats. (Unfortunately, the music won't stop until April.)

TimBen Boydston and David Gauny have come forward to challenge incumbents Frank Ferry, Marsha McLean and Laurene Weste. Boydston is the well-known director of the Canyon Theatre Guild who was appointed as a fill-in member of the City Council during which time he asked a lot of questions. Gauny is known for being the face of Smart Growth SCV which, among other things, fought vigorously for less enormous growth of medical office buildings and more growth of actual hospital space on the Henry Mayo campus. In recent years, both men have been recognized as among the most influential members of the community by The Signal. However, CPA and Signal columnist Tim Myers says that having both men run has essentially undone both of their chances. That is, they'll likely split votes and the incumbents will win. I doubt the incumbents are so confident in the outcome, though, so a good race is in store.

Growing Naturally
Growth is always part of the story in Santa Clarita, but not just in terms of buildings. The amount of land designated as open space is increasing, too. This autumn, a state bill allowed Elsmere Canyon to become part of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's "Rim of the Valley Corridor." This fate is a far cry from the landfill that the beautiful canyon was slated to become in our City's early years, and it stands as a real achievement for the many Claritans who worked to protect Elsmere. Weeks before this announcement was made, Councilmember Laurene Weste and others celebrated the acquisition of East Walker Ranch, 140 acres of oak woodland, chaparral and grassland in Placerita Canyon. It's open to hikers and well worth exploring. Last (and least) in open space acquisition was the purchase of a small, 10-acre property also in Placerita Canyon.

Acquiring and dedicating more wide open spaces will become more urgent - and more contentious - in coming years. That's because there is a "P.S." at the end of SCV's holiday letter: "We're expecting a bigger family - 500,000 residents!" Incidentally, if you have a few hundred acres of open space lying around, the City will gladly accept it.

Sister, Sister
Development and elections will definitely round out the forward-looking portion of Santa Clarita's holiday update letter. Now, it's just a matter of to whom the letter should be sent.

I can think of no better recipients than the cities of Tena, Ecuador and Sariaya, Phillipines. After all, holiday letters are sent to family, and in 2002 these cities became our official "Sister Cities" - which means we're officially related. If we could somehow join them for the holidays, we'd discover places that were rather like our own home town. Both cities predominately celebrate Christmas and do so by embracing faith, family and food. Unique traditions include the display of life-size nativity scenes in Sariaya's week-long Belen Festival and drinking hot chocolate in the sauna-like climate of equatorial Tena.

Frankly, either option sounds better than the cruel cocktail of office parties, forced generic holiday well-wishings, traffic, unwelcome visitors and over-eating that we'll have to down this December. But perhaps, in a miracle possible only this time of year, when we see the annual tree lighting or spot a friendly face in the teeming crowds, we'll remember why it is we heart SCV.

This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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