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Universal Suffer-age
June, 2015 - Issue #128
"The rally made the 11pm news, but one wonders if any decision-makers TOOK NOTICE."
Laws are pretty good at regulating our behavior, but sometimes shame does an even better job. Take the brown-is-the-new-green trend we're seeing with lawns. It's still perfectly legal to water your grass, just not enough for it to look good. You'll start getting glares from the neighbors when yours is pristine green and theirs is full of brown patches. They're the same kind of glares you receive when you don't pitch in enough to cover your share of a restaurant bill or when you cut in line for the freeway onramp. It's a law of human nature, at least in Santa Clarita: If we suffer, everybody else should, too.

Drain Bridgeport Lake?
Some naysayers would have you believe that Bridgeport Lake is an outrageous waste of water benefitting relatively few. And of course they're correct. We harvest no fish from its waters, no one swims in it, it's not managed as wildlife habitat and it's not open for public boating. The only purpose it seems to serve is the entertainment of children who feed Cheerios to the motley crew of pond ducks.

Bridgeport Lake isn't huge, and tapping its waters certainly won't end the drought. Yet it seems not in keeping with the spirit of universal water suffering. Why should I take a shorter shower when that silly, out-of-place lake evaporates untold gallons of water every day? That's the logic of "drought shaming," a term the L.A. Times coined last year and which is still very pervasive. Of course, Bridgeport is far from alone in its use of vanity water - think of that giant cascading fountain that marks the entrance to Stevenson Ranch. We can point our fingers at any number of apparent water wasters. And as we personally feel the effects of drought more strongly, our hunger for seeing others share in the misery only grows.

Clearing the Air
Unlike water, our supply of clean air is getting refreshed all the time (Thanks, plants!). But the Santa Clarita City Council wants it to be even better. The members recently considered a measure to address an air pollutant that may be more annoyance than dire health threat. Indeed, the council weighed banning the use of e-cigarettes in parks and other public spaces, the same way that conventional cigarettes are already banned. E-cigarettes release water vapor, so you might be wondering what the objection is. City staff pointed to a recent medical study which found that formaldehyde can be produced by some of the devices when operated at very high voltages.

There was so much public input and debate on the topic that the council didn't actually come to a final decision. Those against the strict e-cigarette ban argued that it would stigmatize a much-safer alternative to cigarettes. Those in favor of the blanket ban felt any risk was too great, saying that vaping should be treated just like smoking. It's a game of who will be annoyed and who will be accommodated. But given how poorly the existing smoking ban is enforced, this decision likely doesn't matter.

Loud about Noise
The promise or threat (depending on your perspective) of high-speed rail is growing realer in California. So too are its potential consequences for Claritans. The general plan is to have the railway arc through the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley, and there are a few different ways this could be accomplished. Last month, Mayor Marsha McLean held a big public meeting with representatives from San Fernando, Acton, Agua Dulce and other communities to discuss these alternatives. More accurately, it was a meeting to denounce them: All communities involved said the rail should go underground if it's to be built at all. A boisterous audience of over 1,000 residents backed them up.

The reasons given for fighting an above-ground line were many. The trains would be noisy, divide communities and destroy many properties. Other communities would suffer, too, but it was pointed out that they were slated to get stations, unlike the SCV. Officials reasoned that if we suffer equally, we ought to be rewarded equally. The rally made the 11pm news, but one wonders if any decision-makers took notice. Unfortunately, those outside the valley may not heart SCV as much as us insiders.

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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