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Home on the Way
November, 2017 - Issue #158
Family members visiting for Thanksgiving usually have a to-do list, especially if it's their first time. Magic Mountain is open the whole week, so that's one easy stop, but all the rest require you to spend the holiday on a southbound freeway: Disneyland, trendy restaurants, the Hollywood sign, Venice Beach, big museums, Rodeo Drive, the Santa Monica Pier. No matter the destination, sitting in a car will be the main activity, which is actually about right for an authentic Southern California experience. But after all the running around, it's nice to have this dull, quiet place to return to. Santa Clarita is home to many - and people are looking to make it welcome even more.
"But a recent agreement involving some prominent environmental groups might just pave the way for thousands of new homes and roughly 60,000 ADDITIONAL RESIDENTS in the SCV."

Whose Home is It?
Newhall Ranch has been not-being-built for decades, one of the most active not-developing developments in California. But a recent agreement involving some prominent environmental groups might just pave the way for thousands of new homes and roughly 60,000 additional residents in the SCV. The Center for Biological Diversity, California Native Plant Society, Wishtoyo Foundation, and others have agreed to stand down in opposition of development by FivePoint Holdings in exchange for $25 million worth of extra conservation efforts and funding. A Native American cultural center will also be funded.

The agreement means an enormous obstacle to development is out of the way, but not all environmental groups are standing down. Lynne Plambeck, the public face of SCOPE, remains opposed to the project, as is the group Friends of the Santa Clara River. In an editorial for The Signal, Plambeck wrote about concerns over water quality, loss of open space, endangered species and other issues. This made a legally-binding "requirement for silence" too high a price to pay for the developer's concessions. It seems that everyone agrees Newhall Ranch is home, but a home for people or home to something more wild and rugged?

Homeless No More
A recent vote by the Santa Clarita City Council means that a year-round homeless shelter is closer to being a reality. All of the council members agreed that a property on Drayton Street should be given to Bridge to Home along with the necessary permit to operate. This would allow the nonprofit group to run a homeless shelter all year long, not just during the cold winter months as has been the norm in the past. Some residents who own property near the proposed year-round shelter were opposed due to a perceived lack of infrastructure in the area, but most parties were supportive.

This shift in how Santa Clarita addresses the problem of homelessness is probably less change of heart and more change of financial outlook. Measure H funds will be going to year-round shelters, so expanding operations are required to access that cash. Additionally, pressure on City Hall to do something is growing. Conflicts involving the homeless are all over the headlines, and the river wash is full of people, creating health and safety issues. So for reasons cynical or not, more resources to help the homeless are on the way.

Don't Stray Far from Home
Santa Clarita's planners and developers have come up with an excellent solution to the problem of the mud-colored library in Newhall. They're building an even more hulking parking structure right next to it; instant distraction. The parking structure, growing each and every day, is the latest project to make Old Town Newhall feel more like a community center, the heart of the home that is the SCV. It will accommodate the people expected to visit Old Town for the new Laemmle Theatre, which may in turn promote some kind of "night life" based around art and fine wining and dining.

Recently, LA Weekly noticed the efforts and published a story entitled, "Santa Clarita Is Battling to Become Southern California's Wine Country." "Battling" seemed to be the operative word. In any case, the attention is a reminder that, on rare occasions, people drive purposefully from LA to the SCV for fun. There are things to do here and places to enjoy. So before you take your out-of-town Thanksgiving guests on another LA excursion, think about why it is that you heart the SCV, and then let them in on the secret.
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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