"So perhaps there's really NO REASON TO PANIC, at least until SoCalGas has to settle the looming lawsuits from Porter Ranch homeowners."
Santa Clarita likes to think that it's better than your average SoCal burb. Our government is among the most responsive, our neighborhoods are among the safest, and even our amusement park has the most roller coasters. But then there are those areas where we're not so much better as we are, well, different.
Aliso Canyon, SCV Style
When Southern California Gas Company bills sky-rocketed in January, Claritans suspected that costs from the disastrous Aliso Canyon gas leak were being passed along to other Southern California ratepayers. Though SoCalGas flatly denied this in an interview with KTLA, our proximity to Porter Ranch has put methane on the minds of many. This is especially true of those who live in South Castaic - think Sloan Canyon Road and Hillcrest Parkway. They're just a stone's throw (or a station's leak) away from the Honor Rancho Station, a natural gas storage field.
Residents have been told that Honor Rancho presents less cause for concern than Aliso Canyon. Many have pointed out that Honor Rancho has only one-third the storage capacity of Aliso Canyon, but that still amounts to about 30 billion cubic feet of natural gas. I'm no expert, but 30,000,000,000 seems like a pretty big number. City Manager Ken Striplin has said that Honor Rancho is closely monitored and has been under additional scrutiny given present circumstances. Mayor Pro Tem Dante Acosta has stated that our gas storage field is "a much different facility," a newer one. So perhaps there's really no reason to panic, at least until SoCalGas has to settle the looming lawsuits from Porter Ranch homeowners.
Shooting Investigations, SCV Style
In some communities, whenever there is a police shooting, law enforcement has to go on the defense and try to appease people mistrustful of officer judgement and use of force. Not so in Santa Clarita. Shootings involving our Sheriff's deputies don't seem to consume most residents. Recently, a man named Miguel Angel Hernandez was shot and killed after being pulled over. According to reports, his vehicle looked like one associated with a recent assault with a deadly weapon incident. He allegedly left his vehicle and began yelling confrontationally at the deputy. After that, the details are murkier. Officials stated that he appeared to be turning and reaching for something that might have been a weapon and was then shot. A knife was reportedly found at the scene, but reports don't indicate whether Hernandez was holding it at the time.
The only details that have been released since the initial news have mostly related to Hernandez. A local deputy said that Hernandez was a member of a gang. There was no footage released and the investigation may go on for some time. Other deputy-involved shootings have taken many months to go through full review, and those cases were more cut-and-dry than this one.
Trespassing, SCV Style
This winter, somebody near the Happy Valley area of Newhall installed very official-looking signs forbidding use of Wildwood Canyon Road, a public street, by anyone but residents. They were particularly unhappy, it seems, with people walking dogs and riding horses down their road. One sign showed a dog crossed out, the person walking the dog crossed out and both figures crossed out yet again for good measure. After a concerned resident took to the Santa Clarita Community Facebook group, the City's communications manager, Gail Morgan, had the situation handled. The illegal signs were promptly removed.
Santa Clarita has long done public property "differently." Whether they place imposter signs to stop visitors or lobby to get busy streets closed off to anyone but residents, Claritans feel rather entitled. To send a message to the Wildwood Canyon residents, why not enjoy a stroll through the neighborhood? Visit the beautiful Wildwood Canyon Open Space (The ever so helpful www.hikesantaclarita.com has maps.). And if you have dogs or horses or other sundry pets and livestock, bring them along - the more, the merrier. Just stick to the public streets. I'm sure that once residents get to know the rest of us Claritans better, they'll be much more willing to share public spaces with everyone.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.