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Kids in Control
May, 2009 - Issue #55
You have probably heard of China's "little emperors," a term that rose to prominence in the 1990s. It describes the spoiled, willful generation of kids resulting from one-child policies.

One might think that things would be different in Santa Clarita. Most of the stick-figure family decals marring SUV rear windows show two or three kids - and a labradoodle - among whom attention must be divided. The team sports so pivotal to raising children in proper Claritan style teach cooperation and how to work as a group. Plus, even coddled kids must learn how to make it in the real world growing up on the mean, hard-knocks streets of Northbridge and Westridge. But even with these factors in our favor, woe is he who underestimates the power of the 12-and-under crowd in Santa Clarita. Recent news suggests that it's kids who are running the show.

40,000 Skate-able Square Feet
Skaters come in all ages, but it's the younger set that really pushed for the City of Santa Clarita to build them a new skate park. And what a skate park they've received. The City recently opened the crisp new $1.5 million facility in Canyon Country. It's nearly an acre in size and features a half-pipe tunnel, bowls, stairs, rails and "skate-able" palm tree planters.

The road to this very successful opening wasn't the smoothest, though. You may recall that the City needed to close the older, smaller skate park while it built the new one, leaving youth parkless for months. This did not sit well with skaters or their parents, who came to City Hall en masse to deliver pleas for keeping a skate park open at all times. There were even threats to skate in shopping centers and at schools if no facility was open, so the City agreed to spend up to $150,000 on a temporary facility. In the end, the City found a way to avoid spending this money, but just making the agreement shows how powerful the wishes of our youth are. Given this power and the fact that some 3,000 people showed up on the skate park's opening day, I predict that it's only a matter of time before we start hearing that one skate park just isn't enough.

Dudewatch
Mayor Frank Ferry presided over the skate park's opening. It is probably a sign of the times that our reigning mayor also happens to be one of the most kid-friendly in our City's two-decade history. Apart from having helped make some children of his own and working in education, he is still delivering the youth-targeted Mayor Dude program that launched earlier this year.

The MayorDude.com website is awash in eclectic photos of Ferry with various, debatably hip props and reminders to chat with or e-mail Mayor Dude and subscribe to his Twitter updates. Proclaimeth Mayor Dude: "We at City Hall are very interested in hearing from our local youth. We want you to think about how you can weigh in on City matters." I thought the United States kept young people disenfranchised for a reason, one's ability to vote responsibly remaining suspect until one has mastered pre-algebra and shoe-tying. But Ferry wants to hear from them, eager for ideas as big and creative as his own hoped-for Big League Dreams Stadium. With City Council elections coming soon, we shall find out whether the way to a parent's vote is truly through listening to their children.

Youthful Fame
Apart from their vice-like grip on City Hall, SCV's kids hold sway in the entertainment industry. Indeed, much of Santa Clarita's star power is on the younger side. If you've watched this season of ABC's Lost, you should note that young Ben Linus has been played by 13-year-old Claritan Sterling Beaumon. Unfortunately, his role required him to be shot squarely in the chest by a man who he helped escape from custody. Valencia High School has also produced a number of young actors, most recently Taylor Lautner who co-starred in the wildly successful Twilight. DVD sales are contributing to the film's already-impressive box office take of over a third of a billion dollars. Like the movies and music of Valencia High School's other big star, Ashley Tisdale, Twilight holds much appeal for the eager-to-spend tweenage masses.

Despite listening and catering to their wishes, the kids who grow up loving SCV for all the sports and parks turn into teens and young adults who despise it for a lack of stuff to do. But fear not. Once they grow up and start having kids of their own, it's just a matter of time before they'll start hearting what Santa Clarita has to offer all over again.

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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