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Reputation in Question
May, 2023 - Issue #220
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock
What you think of Santa Clarita depends on where you live. Outside of Southern California, Santa Clarita's reputation hinges on knowledge of Magic Mountain or Drew Barrymore's short-lived zombie series. If popular SCV-based Insta accounts are to be believed, Santa Clarita's self-determined reputation is a valley subsisting entirely on fast food chicken chains and Starbucks. Fair enough. Lately, though, some of the SCV's reputations may be coming into question.

Sadness in the One of the Safest Cities
Santa Clarita frequently touts its reputation as a safe place to live and raise a family. In February of this year, SmartAsset named Santa Clarita as the fourth safest city in America - an award our community seems to have earned annually from a variety of sources since its founding.
Just one month later, though, three people were killed in Newhall. The first loss of life: Eduardo Becerril, who passed after a fight took place at Dooly's Liquor & Market on 14th and Railroad Avenue. Details have been sparse, but persons of interest were detained in the on-going investigation.
Then there was the shooting at Village Apartment Homes. 16-year-old Cameron Stokes and 25-year-old Brian Chevez were sitting by the pool, according to reports, when they lost their lives. An 18-year-old and a minor were arrested soon after the shooting. Statements from authorities have suggested that the attack could have been gang-related. The loss of life is senseless and devastating, and we can only hope that the investigation will help to prevent any further tragedy.

"John Quigley lived in the tree for over two months in order to protect it. His ONLY LIFELINE was a bucket on a rope. Don't think about that part too much if you're planning on lunch soon."
Lessons to be Learned
Santa Clarita has a reputation for having great schools, but there is plenty of learning left to do. This spring, a couple of high school girls made a video around a London Yellow song. The students, who are white, giggled while driving around, blasting the song and repeatedly singing along with the phrase, "I don't like blank," the "blank" being a racial epithet. The video made its way onto Twitter and was viewed over a million times. The Hart District launched an investigation, disciplined the students and heard from many upset community members at a board meeting. The NAACP organized a news conference to condemn the racist content and its spread on social media.
A mural unveiling was another moment to address racial questions in the Hart District. The mural, an SCV pastoral with poppies, oaks and a bear, was a collaboration involving Hart High students and the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. In a further gesture, Hart used the occasion to begin accepting nominations for a new mascot to replace the Hart High Indian mascot. The change is expected by 2025.

Up in a Tree
Santa Clarita has grown dramatically over the decades, so it's often assumed that developers just get their way here. But there are notable exceptions to that reputation, one of which was celebrated this year. Dozens of Claritans gathered around a giant valley oak in Stevenson Ranch. Old Glory, as it's known, is the centuries-old tree that was spared the bulldozer after concerned citizens rallied to its defense two decades ago. John Quigley lived in the tree for over two months in order to protect it. His only lifeline was a bucket on a rope. Don't think about that part too much if you're planning on lunch soon.
The ultimate compromise was to box up the tree and move it down the road. No one knew if the delicate operation would work. But it did, and the feat earned a Guinness World Record for the largest tree ever successfully transplanted. The record has been lost - to a yet-larger gingko - but it's still nice to see our local oak thriving after the move. It goes to show that the SCV, for all its reputation and predictability, can be a place where we can heart an unexpected surprise.
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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