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Watchful Neighbors
September, 2018 - Issue #168
The worst part of summer isn't the heat. It's the local news reporting on the heat. Temperatures climb above normal and, without fail, reporters are dispatched to local pools, parks, and "cooling centers" to report on the painfully obvious. Perhaps it's Santa Clarita's lack of storms, snow or other real weather that inspires such an enthusiasm to report that summer is indeed hot. Whatever the reason, these reports have a pattern of closing with a chastening reminder to keep an eye on any neighbors who might be particularly sensitive to the heat. Even this is unnecessary; Claritans are already watching all the time.

"The discussions have turned less than civil because, when it comes to pets, EMOTIONS often take over."
Dog Watch
Recently, in the Trader Joe's parking lot, I was walking to the store behind a woman who paused at an SUV to lift her sunglasses and peer through the side window. A few cars down, the ritual repeated. She was either a very obvious thief or an unofficial inspector of vehicles, making sure no children or pets were left to roast while their parents bought pretzel snacks. It happens. This year, deputies have broken windows of parked cars to help out panting pooches spotted by watchful shoppers. In at least one instance, the owner was arrested.

Another sort of "dog watch" has been going on in Saugus. On Nextdoor - the app perfect for nosy neighbors - many have entered the fray over dog licensing enforcement by Animal Care and Control this summer. Comments are an interesting mix. Some practically warn neighbors to hide their pets from the authorities and others warn those neighbors to just pay the modest licensing fee. The discussions have turned less than civil because, when it comes to pets, emotions often take over. If everyone just bought dog tags and left their pups at home on shopping trips, people could worry about something else.

Solar Eyesore
Canyon View Mobile Home Estates might want to change its name. This isn't because "mobile home estates" could be seen as a contradiction in terms. Rather, it's because the main view since last year has been more solar panels than canyon. The panels are a mish-mash of different sizes installed at different angles and orientations, spreading their way across a steep hillside. The installation may help by providing affordable renewable energy, but it's also profoundly ugly. That's what dozens of residents of the neighborhood seem to think. Even commuters took notice, as the giant installation can be seen driving along Soledad Canyon Road.

After months of investigating the matter, the city finally sent the property owners a notice of violation this July. According to a press release, more permits were needed and conditions of approval for the property required half of the land to be maintained as open space, not a solar energy farm. It's unclear whether the panels are coming down immediately or if the parties involved will try to reach some kind of compromise. Canyon Country residents will want to keep their eyes on this one, and given the size of the panels, it will be hard not to.

Glimpse of a Safer Tomorrow?
There's a limit to how watchful neighbors can be, and that's where the SCV Sheriff steps in. This summer, officials broke ground on a new station that will be almost twice as large as the current one. In addition to much-needed space, there will be a helipad, jail and new equipment. The project is being undertaken with support from both county and city because we still contract with the LA County Sheriff's Department to protect the SCV. Since the new station is expected to be ready by about 2020 at a cost of about $50 million, it doesn't seem likely that Santa Clarita will be looking to establish its own police department any time soon.

The current station is located in Valencia, but the new one will be several miles east on Golden Valley Road. With new developments in Newhall Ranch, likely development of what was the Whittaker-Bermite site and sprawl along its edges, pinning down the current and future center of Santa Clarita is a tricky proposition. Still, officials say the new location will be more central and better serve populous areas like Canyon Country. Whatever neighborhood you heart, having a better facility should benefit the whole SCV.
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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