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December, 2014 - Issue #122
Every year, The Signal comes out with its guide to the SCV's biggest and brightest holiday light displays. North of Newhall Ranch Road, there are spots where whole streets shine in spectacular excess. Christmas lights stretch rooftop to rooftop and themed decorations adorn all the lawns. One neighbor dresses as Santa, another DJs Christmas music, still others pass out candy canes to bundled up kids. I've never lived in one of these communities, and for this, I am truly grateful.

I much prefer neighborly competition to cooperation. Fight it out with the house next door or directly across the street for lighting supremacy, that's what Christmas is all about. But whether you're trapped in a community that demands adherence to one unified thematic holiday vision or you're battling it out one on one, this time of year reminds us that neighbors matter, especially the ones right next door.

Habitat for Heroes

Late in October, the City Council considered impact fee deferrals for Habitat for Humanity's "Habitat for Heroes" project in the SCV. They're building over 80 homes with very specific criteria for ownership. Homes may be purchased only by veterans or the immediate family members of a veteran or fallen soldier, and their income cannot exceed $46,000 to $84,000 per year, depending on family size. A long list of sponsors has helped make the project possible and affordable, and there's a great deal of community support.

The interesting thing about a community like this will be the depth of shared experience. Everyone living in this development will have served in or had a close family member who served in the armed forces. Future neighbors may have been working alongside each other to help build the community, and they're likely to have far more in common than average neighbors. Once everything's complete and the first residents have moved in, will this neighborhood be closer-knit than the SCV at large? Maybe their first go at holiday lights will tell the tale.

San Gabriel Mountains

"It will be up to the MILLIONS OF PEOPLE who live under an hour from this wilderness to make their voices heard as well."
Like every visit, President Obama's recent trip to LA meant traffic headaches for commuters. Unlike every visit, however, this trip made a lasting impact. The declaration of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument preserved over 500 square miles of Southern Californian wilderness. The monument stretches east from Robinson Ranch Golf Course, encompassing many peaks, canyons and forests. City officials were quick to point out that it's also directly south of the site proposed for Cemex mining.

This has renewed hopes that the mega-mining project will be avoided. As the neighbor of a National Monument - basically an executively-created National Park - there might be more visibility and opposition to plans for mining hundreds of tons of sand and gravel. But don't hold your breath. Washington-based anti-mining efforts have yet to succeed, and an official from Cemex told KHTS that they still hope to operate "as a responsible corporate neighbor." It will be up to the millions of people who live under an hour from this wilderness to make their voices heard as well.

The Senior Center

The County of Los Angeles approved $2.5 million for a new SCV Senior Center and they will likely throw in another half-million early in 2015. At a debate sponsored by The Signal, Councilmember Bob Kellar all but promised that the City of Santa Clarita would match this $3-million figure. It's enough to finally get the ball rolling on building a new senior center and officials have been evaluating sites that can accommodate a facility of over 30,000 square feet. It's looking like it will end up somewhere in Valencia, but nothing's set in stone.

The Senior Center can't do it alone, however. The elderly population of Santa Clarita is growing, so wouldn't it be nice of us to look just outside our doors to see if there's a senior we could help out? Maybe if your own house is ablaze with lights this time of year, consider throwing a strand of them along the roof of a neighbor a few years past being able to put up decorations themselves. Let's make the SCV we heart shine brighter for everybody.
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