I Heart SCV
A Fair Trade
October, 2019 - Issue #181
Halloween is one of the great economics lessons of childhood. After trick-or-treating is through, siblings and friends trade candy in a fiercely-unapologetic open market.

Name brand beats generic, size matters and the government (Parents!) always finds a way to take part of the haul. Halloween teaches us that life is full of economic choices. Even in cushy Santa Clarita, gains require sacrifices. Sometimes it's worth giving up a couple of Butterfingers for a Twix. We all have to master the art of deciding whether it's worth trading one thing for another.
"Is it fair to trade 30 HOURS OF TERROR in a coffin for a
chance at the grand prize of $666 and a season pass?"

Uniformed Deterrent
Of all the things people value, not dying ranks fairly high. That's why policing services eat up such an enormous part of Santa Clarita's annual budget - over $25 million a year. Two somewhat-related expenditures came up at a recent city council meeting. The first was for the new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station set to be built by the end of next year.

Projected construction costs have risen to $61 million, which is $10 million more than originally estimated. LA County is poised to kick in an extra $3 million to help, but the lion's share of funding will still come from Santa Clarita taxpayers.
The second big safety expenditure was about $2 million for private security services. It will allow security to be beefed up at libraries, parks and Metrolink stations. A background document carefully specified that security guards would be unarmed, explaining, "The presence of an appropriately uniformed security guard will serve as a visible deterrent." Who needs a gun when you have a uniform? Money for safety seem like a fair trade, but it's hard to know where to draw the line. For now, we know a new station and new security guards are on the way.

Asleep at the Wheel
Best I can tell, the SCV produces a viral transportation video every four to six months. The latest was footage of a man sound asleep at the wheel of his Tesla while it sped along the 5 past Santa Clarita. The jokes about Southern California drivers were only too easy. To be fair, Tesla does have an autopilot feature, but the driver is supposed to be alert and engaged rather than rely on it completely.

Like the snoozing Tesla driver, many other Claritans seem to think they can multi-task in their cars, not having to trade one activity for another. A lot of us want to do both. In a special crackdown on distracted driving one recent Thursday morning, 74 citations were issued in just four hours. Most were for using a phone while driving. Interestingly, just a few days before that report, authorities had issued another report on a DUI checkpoint. None of about 400 drivers were found to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Have we just traded drunk driving for distracted driving? It's enough to make you want to close your eyes and shut out the world, though hopefully not while driving your Tesla.

Coffin Vacancy
At some point in the not-so-distant past, Halloween went from being a day to a season. SoCal's amusement parks have ordained the transition. Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott's Scary Farm and Halloween Time at Disneyland are all over a month in duration, beginning as early as September. If you enjoy paying a lot of money to be professionally terrified, you were born at exactly the right juncture in human history.

Six Flags is offering a unique kick-off to the season. At the end of summer, the park began soliciting applications to be a "coffin dweller" in the Fright Fest 30-Hour Coffin Challenge. The rules state that coffin dwellers will spend over a day in a coffin where they will be subject to "random, terrifying visits by the Fright Fest freaks." The experience is not without perks, though, including in-coffin dining and a six-minute bathroom break every few hours. Is it fair to trade 30 hours of terror in a coffin for a chance at the grand prize of $666 and a season pass? For most, probably not. But for Claritans who truly heart Halloween in the SCV, it may be a bargain.
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
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