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Dead Trees, Reborn Businesses &Birthdays
December, 2011 - Issue #86
Assuming you're old enough, do you remember your 24th birthday? No? Then there's precious little chance that you'll be remembering Santa Clarita's 24th b-day this December 15, either. It's a day that will come and go with a polite note in The Signal and perhaps a mass e-mail if you happen to work at city hall. We'll get to the much more impressive Quadranscentennial in 2012. (I consulted Wikipedia on the suspicion that a word for so auspicious an anniversary should exist: it does.).

But let's not be too hasty in looking ahead. Here is a glimpse around town this holiday season and a look back at the year that was.

"Unfortunately, the powers that be aren't FANS of all kinds of business."


Large, Dead Tree Draws Crowds
In November, the Saugus Speedway lured visitors with the promise of seeing a big tree brought in on the back of a truck. It was the Capitol Christmas Tree which, this year, was a white fir chopped down in Stanislaus National Forest. That's in NorCal, incidentally, if you don't leave the valley much. The Forest Service was charged with identifying 10 or so appropriately grand trees in the forest, and the one traveling through town was deemed the best of the lot (can't you just hear the candidate trees chanting "Not me, not me, not me!?"). Once severed trunk from root, the tree was nestled in a specially-padded truck and fitted with a bladder from which its gaping trunk could suck water. It was arboreal life support, really. And like others on life support, the tree drew plenty of well-wishers as it processed to Washington, DC.

As for our own official tree, there's the deodar cedar at Newhall Memorial Hospital that is decorated and sung at every year. Personally, though, I like to think of our valley's live oaks as the best Christmas trees in town. Santa Clarita is their home - they're quite literally rooted here. They're evergreen, sturdy and ancient. And if you happen to drive through the Peachland Estates this December, you'll see they sparkle as beautifully as any pine tree when cloaked with lights.

A Christmas Present for Automotive Technology
One might think that opening a business in downtown Newhall would be a good thing, what with the disappearance of Newhall Hardware, Cookbooks Plus and other shops. Unfortunately, the powers that be aren't fans of all kinds of business. That's why the City of Santa Clarita bought a block of buildings and evicted the automotive businesses there last year. You might recall me covering this story in your Inside SCV last November. Mike Hagerty, owner of Automotive Technology, had said he was losing his long-time business just before the holidays and was understandably bummed.

But now he has the last laugh. Automotive Technology is back in town, within shouting range of its old location. A vacancy left by a motorcycle repair shop could be legally filled by his auto shop due to what critics have called a "loophole" in policy. The grand vision for Newhall is an arts district of sorts, but I don't see auto repair as detracting from that goal. Even art collectors and theater-goers have to get new sparkplugs every once in a while, and think how pleasant it will be for SCV moms to drop off their car and enjoy Newhallian food and shops while the oil is changed. The city is currently working on policies to keep a similar business from boomeranging back into town after it has been kicked out. Maybe they can wait until after the holidays.

Year in Review
This year had a memorable start: it snowed real, build-a-snowman-on-your-lawn snow. We don't yet know if we'll meet a similarly frosty end to the year, but let's take a moment to remember what happened in the interim.

One Valley One Vision laid the groundwork for a near-doubling of Santa Clarita's population in the coming decades. A city ordinance lets you keep up to 10 cats in your household. Community gardens thrived. The driver in the accident that killed Matilde Garnica pleaded no contest. There was much debate over how to make a historical ordinance to protect our past. CEMEX is getting closer to mining in Santa Clarita. Perchlorate was found in a well - eek! Vista Canyon is being built in Canyon Country. Major components of Newhall Ranch were approved by the county. We got re-districted. Precious metal thieves took catalytic converters and even funeral urns. A Santa Clarita building inspector faced multiple charges of felony bribery and skipped out on court. City Councilman Frank Ferry survived a very serious operation complication. Libraries came under new management by LSSI. And Mayor Marsha McLean presided over it all.

Laurie Ender is McLean's presumed successor as mayor. We hope she'll make Santa Clarita's 25th anniversary a time to heart all that the SCV has been, is and will become.
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