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Santa Clarita vs. Mother Nature
October, 2021 - Issue #204
Setting a Halloween horror flick in Santa Clarita would mean plenty of plot options. There are quiet, unsuspecting suburbs. Canyons brim with strange echoes and the ghosts of unlucky miners. And every retail worker knows the terror of a particularly-vicious local monster: the public. But this year, I think the most compelling narrative thread would have to be Claritans versus Mother Nature. Claritans push the limits of the natural world too far - and nature pushes wildly back. Which side will win in the long-run remains to be seen.

"One of the affected residents decided to barbecue outside instead - and the rest is history. For those who struggle with the concept of 'IRONY,' that's textbook."
Wildlife at Home
The Santa Clarita Community Facebook group produces a certain type of post very reliably. Someone shares a blurry photo of a spider/snake/insect in their pantry/backyard/closet and they seek the group's advice about how likely the small animal is to bring ruin and slaughter to their family. It's fascinating how many people are outraged that critters are simply trying to find a place to live. Apparently, wildlife doesn't instinctively know that the backyard shed isn't for them but for storing the seasonal decor Mommy buys to fight the emptiness haunting her soul.
In nearby Porter Ranch this summer, the comically-large version of our theme played out. A black bear visited a Ralph's supermarket (But bears don't belong there!), wandering through some aisles before sauntering out. As is usually the case, nature got the boot. The bear was later tranquilized near a Walmart and driven to the mountains. The story may not be over, though. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates California's bear numbers have roughly tripled since the 1980s. With additional black bear sightings in Canyon Country, perhaps we're seeing evidence of the boom. And frankly, they may be better neighbors than certain people.

Fire & Bones
In the contest between humans and nature, fire remains one of those forces that can still humble us. It's always just a spark away in arid Santa Clarita. This fire season has been no exception, with blazes at home as well as smoke pouring in from fires further afield. But it's the Tick Fire from 2019 that has been making headlines. This August, the LA County Fire Department confirmed that the fire had been ignited via a barbecue. During intense Santa Ana winds, Southern California Edison shut off electricity to some homes in hopes of avoiding ignition from its lines. One of the affected residents decided to barbecue outside instead - and the rest is history. For those who struggle with the concept of "irony," that's textbook.
The Tick Fire led to thousands of burned acres, thousands of evacuations and dozens of damaged and destroyed buildings. Perhaps even more shockingly, the fire revealed murderous secrets hidden in the hills. Human remains were discovered in the fire's aftermath and they were connected to the MS-13 gang in a recent indictment. The alleged murder is part of a much bigger, far-reaching case involving over 20 defendants and 11 murders across the LA area.

Winning 60 Out of 61 Battles?
Steve Kim, a businessman, philanthropist and owner of the Sand Canyon Country Club, wrote a book entitled, "Winning 60 Out of 60 Battles: American Dream." I haven't seen it in bookstores, but you can download a convenient PDF copy (Read it at sandcanyonresort.com/media/e-book/.). In the text, Kim describes his life in Korea and America. He recalls billion-dollar tech deals, comparisons to Bill Gates and living a "life of splendor." The last two chapters of his book focus on the Sand Canyon Country Club - formerly Robinson Ranch - and Kim's dream of a large resort there. But given recent decisions from the Planning Commission and City Council, he may decide to concede.
Geography and nature have not always been kind. The area is fire-prone, has fairly-limited road access and a lot of water and earthmoving would be required, even though Kim has emphasized the lower-impact of the resort, thanks to "green" building plans. Crucially, 300 acres are supposed to remain as natural open space in perpetuity, a condition dating back to 1996. All five Santa Clarita council members voted to deny the project, even the most growth- and development-friendly ones.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor.
Suggestions and catty comments intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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