I Heart SCV
Did We Win?
November, 2015 - Issue #133
Winning can be such a letdown. I'm not talking about those clear-cut triumphs you see on TV dramas - mysteries solved, tournaments won, lives saved. Rather, I'm talking about winning with a "but" or winning with a little asterisk and a footnote after it. All too often, settling, compromise and unforeseen complications rob victory of its sweetness. Santa Clarita has supposedly scored some major victories lately, but somehow, winning just doesn't feel like it should.
"Our city, which celebrates even the most trivial of accomplishments, was inexplicably silent about the biggest political COUP OF THE DECADE. So if we did win, it sure doesn't seem like it yet."

Calm before the Appeal
Over the past decade and a half, Santa Clarita has spent millions of dollars on education, negotiations and lobbying to prevent Cemex from mining sand and gravel in our valley. Then suddenly, the fight was over. The Bureau of Land Management terminated Cemex's mining contracts because of the company's inactivity. Congressman Steve Knight had pushed for action to be taken and it seemed that the BLM listened. Local news outlets heralded the defeat of the mega-mine. "Ding Dong Cemex is Dead," sang SCV News. "Cemex Mine Shut Down...Once and For All," proclaimed KHTS. The City tweeted, "The #CEMEX mine in #SantaClarita has been stopped!" Victory seemed unequivocal. Alas, the celebration was likely premature.

For starters, Cemex has the option of appealing the decision. More troublingly, think about the reason that the contract was cancelled. The BLM punished Cemex for inactivity, not to protect Santa Clarita's environment and quality of life. They wanted more mining, not less. Most tellingly of all, at the city council meetings after this apparent win, no one said a word about Cemex. Our city, which celebrates even the most trivial of accomplishments, was inexplicably silent about the biggest political coup of the decade. So if we did win, it sure doesn't seem like it yet.

The Sound of Soccer, Part Two
Last month, I described the tensions between some residents of Villa Metro and the Santa Clarita Soccer Center. Locals complained that soccer players shouted, cussed and made life miserable. Initially, most Claritans were sympathetic toward the residents and it looked like their pleas for help had secured them a win. The soccer field owner quickly installed light shielding to prevent glare from entering homes. Lights were put on timers to ensure automatic shut-off at the required time each evening. The developer offered to build a sound-blocking wall for the new community at the not-insignificant cost of $160,000.

Some Villa Metroans didn't take their win particularly well. At an HOA meeting, a few yelled about the soccer players yelling and many grumbled about the design of the sound wall. Investigations by city staff, meanwhile, revealed that the soccer field operates perfectly legally. It turns out that just because you buy a home next to a soccer center, that doesn't mean that you get to shut it down. Complainers suddenly seemed more oblivious than victimized. As for the new sound wall, if it looks anything like the monstrous one already surrounding Villa Metro along Soledad, winning this concession won't feel (or look) very good at all.

The Invented Crisis
ESDs (electronic smoking devices) have been painted as Santa Clarita's newest public health menace. These e-cigs or vaporizers allow people to inhale water vapor, nicotine and flavorings instead of the more insidious cocktail of chemicals inhaled when smoking a standard cigarette. While a number of health officials have described ESDs as a less-harmful alternative to smoking, the city council recently approved an ordinance to classify them as being essentially the same as cigarettes. The ordinance, which bans them wherever cigarettes are banned, came about in response to six written complaints about people vaping on buses or in public areas. That's right, sometimes six notes and some verbal complaints are all it takes to get a new law.

During a presentation on the dangers of e-cigarettes and their ilk, we learned that they might lead to cancer, more serious drug problems among youth and even wildfires. There wasn't much quantitative science behind these assertions, but the conclusion was clear: ESDs are, roughly speaking, the end of the world. It was a win against an enemy that didn't really seem to be there, which may be why the win feels hollow. But for those of us who heart SCV, who are we to deny her a win, no matter how small?
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor.
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