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Evidence of a Turnaround
July, 2013 - Issue #105
These days, more Santa Claritans are employed, there's a better real estate market and the excuse "in this economy" seems to be losing some of its punch. Most families still aren't rolling in tons of extra cash, but there's enough to see that the basics are covered. You needn't survive on home-brewed lattes or deny yourself annual phone upgrades any longer. Austerity is out. Still, the recession packed a wallop, and we're all searching for reassuring signs that the local and global economies really are getting back on their feet. If you look around the SCV, I think there's reason to be optimistic.

"We're all searching for reassuring signs that the local and global economies really are getting BACK on their feet."
Half-Hearted Theft
The fact that local robbers and thieves aren't really giving it their all is suggestive. When times are lean, you can't afford to be sloppy; criminal incompetence is a sign it's not so dire that you steal to live. Take a recent bank robber. He allegedly held up the Bank of America on Lyons Avenue at the curious hour of 10:30 am on a Saturday. This ensured many witnesses were present and police apprehended him a mere 15 minutes after he executed his not-so-brilliant hold-up.

Then there was the odd case of Stephen Urquidez. His first alleged mistake was stealing passes to Disneyland rather than something more practical - like cash. The second mistake was giving some passes away to be used in a friend's charity fundraiser. Apparently, he was trying to pass himself off as a member of the mousey family, assuming the name "Stephen Disney" to explain his largesse. The final mistake was sticking around long enough for people to discover that the passes were no good. Investigators found their way to Stephen, discerned the phony identity and brought him into custody. If times were still tough, I would think our local criminals would be doing a better job.

Growing Apart
When the economy is down, developers don't clash with environmentalists because there's not much to build. But with an increase in opportunity and demand, clashes have started anew. In May, for example, SCOPE (Santa Clarita's most (in)famous environmental group.) and others were successful in slowing down the upcoming Vista Canyon Ranch development. The project includes hundreds of homes and hundreds of thousands of square feet of office and retail space adjacent to the Santa Clara River. The judge essentially found that study and safeguards for the river were inadequate. This came on top of a successful legal challenge - at least for the time being - of the Newhall Ranch project on the other side of town.

Those who think the SCV is big enough already cheer these efforts to check growth, but developers are frustrated by the lawsuits that come after approval for their projects. Chamber of Commerce President Terri Crain wrote a lengthy column in The Signal claiming that SCOPE and its allies hold up important projects and hold back Santa Clarita with their litigation. In any case, the push for more building and the pushback by environmentalists is a sign there's a stronger market in the SCV.

The Parade
Documenting crime and development certainly gives us a glimpse into our economy, but the truest barometer will be read on July 4 when we gauge our collective economic well-being by how much unnecessary crap people bring with them to the parade. You only buy the family $20 red-and-white-striped personal misting fans if you think you'll still have a job next week. And best of all, we get to see how a broad cross-section of the SCV is doing at the annual Fourth of July Parade. The parade's formal list of rules targets all segments of the population because all segments show up, from rural country types (One rule forbids you from distributing livestock medication to parade watchers.), to overly-protective suburban parents (Children under 10 are not allowed to walk; they must ride through the parade.).

While seeing lots of unnecessary junk at the parade might confirm the economy's rebound, you need bring nothing more than yourself - and probably some water, sunblock and red-white-and-blue clothing. And you really should go. Through good years and bad, the parade is here for us, and like so much of what we heart about SCV, it's free and welcomes all.
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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