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Testing Limits
September, 2016 - Issue #143
During the Sand Fire, thousands of Claritans were forced to evacuate their homes. Those who didn't crash with family or at an evacuation center were in for quite a surprise when they looked for a hotel on Orbitz. Several people discovered that the travel website was charging outrageous amounts for even one- and two-star hotel rooms, presumably driven by demand from evacuees. La Quinta may have Wi-Fi and clean towels, but $500 for a room is pretty steep. As outraged screenshots were shared across the internet, the prices came down and agencies took notice. Still, it was a good reminder that there's always somebody or some company ready to push the boundaries. Santa Clarita may seem orderly and restrained, but the limits are always being tested here.

"As OUTRAGED SCREENSHOTS were shared across the internet, the prices came down and agencies took notice. Still, it was a good reminder that there's always somebody or some company ready to push the boundaries."
Limits of Suffering?
A law that lets certain terminally-ill people kill themselves recently went into effect in California. The controversy has been considerable, but a murder case from Santa Clarita pushes the conversation to a whole new level - compassionate murder. Lance Anderson was labeled a "mercy killer" by some when, in 2013, he shot his long-ailing wife and sister. His wife suffered from a number of conditions including dementia and his sister was on a feeding tube in a nursing home. His defense didn't rely on contesting the deaths - everyone agreed he pulled the trigger - but on the claim that he was acting selflessly to put an end to their suffering.

The judge hearing the case didn't buy the argument. He found Anderson guilty of the first-degree murder of his wife and the first-degree murder or his sister. Sentencing has not yet taken place, but it's certainly possible that the 63-year-old Anderson could spend the remainder of his life behind bars. Even if his wife and sister had directly asked him to end their lives, it wouldn't have been legal (And they didn't.). He had clearly reached his limit, but we'll never know about the deceased.

Dark Fibers
High-speed internet access is really only useful if you need to buy things, sell things or communicate with other human beings. Yet Santa Clarita, business-friendly as it may be, is sorely lacking in the area of good connectivity. A small step to surpass this crippling limitation was taken when the city council approved plans to let Wilcon, a communications company, lease some of its unused ("dark") optical fibers. These fibers were laid throughout the city to help coordinate traffic signals but less than half are being used. Wilcon will make the leased fibers available to businesses looking to buy better connectivity. The city isn't going to make very much money from the deal, and the lease is modest in scope, utilizing just 2 to 8 percent of the available capacity. So while most everyone is supportive of the decision, voices from the Valley Industrial Association, The Signal and other influential parties say they want even more.
At this point, it's clear that Santa Clarita isn't so much about technological leadership as it is about technological catching up. We're no Silicon Valley, but at least there's interest and momentum for decent technological infrastructure now.

Fireworks
Fireworks are big, bold and unapologetically loud, which is why we Americans love them - most of us, that is. But a growing number of Claritans are complaining about illegal fireworks in light of this year's Fourth of July celebrations. According to law enforcement, over 300 calls came in around Independence Day and resulted in the confiscation of 200 pounds of fireworks, issuance of four citations (At about $1,000 a piece.) for illegal fireworks - but no arrests. That's not enough enforcement for some people.

One Valencia resident was so upset that he actually came to demand action at a city council meeting. He found several sympathetic ears, none more so than Councilmember Marsha McLean's. She floated a suggestion for firework checkpoints. The idea is that people take certain roads to get fireworks unavailable in the city or county and law enforcement could set up checkpoints along these routes to check cars for contraband. Fireworks may test the limits of patience, but McLean's plan would likely surpass the limits to search set by the Fourth Amendment. The debate is a good reminder that we want everyone to heart life in the SCV; if you're going to be loud, at least invite the neighbors (And stay off their lawn!).
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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