You can learn a lot about a town by its favorite vices. Santa Claritans seem to favor restaurants with long wine lists over honest-to-goodness bars. There are no medical marijuana dispensaries, but plenty of shops sell the accoutrements. No strip clubs beckon, but there are several massage joints that might be offering more than back rubs. We like to keep our indulgences politely out of the public eye, it seems. Still, our lesser moments have a way of not staying hidden for long. Vice is here and here to stay.
A Grand Affair
"I have mixed feelings about downloading THE LIST myself, but idle chatter suggests that there's more than one recognizable name to be found in the data."
Santa Clarita is a family-friendly community, but the Ashley Madison website hack has shown that not every marriage is picture perfect. The website attracted hundreds of Claritans with its slogan that "Life is short. Have an affair." According to research by Sclarita.com's Mike Devlin, some 1,500 individuals with an SCV zip code used their credit cards to open an account. He discovered that there were nearly twice as many accounts per person from Stevenson Ranch and Valencia compared to Newhall and Castaic. I have mixed feelings about downloading the list myself, but idle chatter suggests that there's more than one recognizable name to be found in the data. (I suspect a lot of you are nodding your heads knowingly.).
People in Santa Clarita aren't just looking for affairs; they're also attracting affair-seekers from greater LA County. Authorities recently set up a sex sting using an ad on Craigslist. Three men responded and came to a Stevenson Ranch hotel where they offered cash in exchange for sexual favors. They were then charged with solicitation. Interestingly, all the men were from outside the SCV - Agoura Hills, LA and San Fernando - but drove here to pay for sex. Shop Santa Clarita, right?
Before it's Legalized
For many Santa Clarita teens, interest in marijuana education doesn't extend far beyond learning where they can get some. But dozens of young people and their parents showed up to learn about the drug during a city-sponsored program called "The Immature Teen Brain on Pot." The rhetoric surrounding this particular vice has changed to keep pace with growing public acceptance. Speakers pointed out that yes, some adults use marijuana and seem to be functioning members of society. However, they contended that marijuana can affect developing teenage brains differently than it affects the brains of adults, so it's riskier for young people. Some also suggested links between marijuana use and other types of drug use. In fact, the symposium was part of the larger "Heroin Kills" series, as heroin remains a deadly concern for far too many families in the SCV.
The growing likelihood that recreational marijuana use will be legalized in California complicates the discussion. Santa Clarita has already consulted business and legal minds about how it can keep marijuana from being sold within city limits in the face of a state ballot measure to allow use. Restrictions or none, I suspect many will still find ways to obtain pot.
Cursing may seem like the most innocuous of vices, but not everyone would agree. Among them are some new residents of Villa Metro. Their homes were built a stone's throw from the Santa Clarita Soccer Center, a very active and popular facility. At a recent City Council meeting, several homeowners spoke about the nightmarish conditions they're facing living next door. Soccer games begin early in the morning and stretch on well after dark, filling homes with bright lights and backyards with errant soccer balls. The players are loud and apparently pretty foul-mouthed, so families must listen to lots of dirty language. A bilingual woman said it's worse for her because she can understand the cussing both in English and Spanish.
Who would buy a house so close to such a loud facility? Homeowners say the presence of the soccer center was disclosed to them, but some contend that the warnings didn't adequately convey the extent of the disturbance. The city has agreed to examine whether the center is operating within all rules and ordinances. Until then, may I suggest that soccer players show they heart SCV by watching their foul language? Let's keep that vice hidden, like all the others.
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 email@example.com.