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Summer Lingers
September, 2023 - Issue #223
If we set aside all the business about apparent UFO disclosure in Congress, the rancor of American politics and artificial intelligence poised to change everything, there's really not a whole lot going on in the world. Such is summer. Santa Claritans are busy doing nothing. Even the city council nixes some meetings. It's a good time for us to catch up on the goings-on in the outskirts of the Santa Clarita Valley, those out-of-the-way spots that are a little bit city and a little bit country. Where neighborhoods meet wilderness, it can be hard to tell who's pushing whom.
"This has worked fine for decades because the CANYONS
ARE REMOTE - closer to the mountains than to the urban heart of the valley. But now developers are at the door."

Bear Country
Summer 2023 has been rough one for bears on the outskirts of the SCV. One was killed on the 14 freeway around Canyon Country and another on the 5 freeway west of Castaic Lake, both in the same week. A third was killed near Gorman, which isn't that far from Santa Clarita (At least that's what the Gormanites say). It's sad news, but the silver lining is confirmation that the hills and mountains around Santa Clarita are, indeed, bear country. Grizzlies may be long gone, but black bears are still roaming.
There is now a push to protect even more local wilderness to support wildlife. HR 693, introduced by US Congresswoman Judy Chu, would add 109,167 acres to the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, including a special area near Castaic. There is also a push to have President Biden use the Antiquities Act to enact the change more unilaterally. At a July meeting, LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger got unanimous support for her motion in support of the efforts to expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. I can't presume to speak for the bears, but I imagine they, too, would prefer more hills to more roads.

Quiet Canyons
There are big homes and ranches deep in Placerita and Sand Canyons. The people who live in them have a reputation for being private, exclusive and unwelcoming to outsiders - and that's on a good day. This has worked fine for decades because the canyons are remote - closer to the mountains than to the urban heart of the valley. But now developers are at the door. The biggest project is Shadowbox Studios' plans for dozens of acres of soundstages and other facilities north of Railroad Avenue. The area amounts to a gateway to Placerita Canyon. The project took another big step forward this July when the Planning Commission recommended project approval.
In nearby Sand Canyon, there's a renewed push to build a luxury golf resort. The prior proposal was dismissed by the City's Planning Commission "with prejudice" because it raised so many red flags about fire safety, traffic and the environment. Billionaire Steve Kim, the man behind the project, submitted new plans with a smaller hotel and ballroom and more natural amenities. Many nearby residents are still opposed, so if Sand Canyon Country Club wants to secure its resort and/or spa, an uphill battle seems likely.

100 Ways to Burn
Santa Clarita will always be a tinderbox in summer, but we can help minimize the fire damage by igniting fewer of them. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be a very popular option this year. The Fourth of July was the unofficial kick-off to the 2023 fire season, with five separate brush fires reported between the hours of 9pm to midnight. Fireworks and fire...if only we could figure out the connection. Luckily, they were rapidly extinguished.
Since then, there have been at least a couple of fires in Castaic, a fire in the Santa Clara River, a fire in Sand Canyon and a fire in Newhall. Fires are often worse on our borders, where there's more brush to burn. So far, the Victor Fire to our south and the Agua Fire to our east grew big enough to be named. Finally, add a sprinkling of roadside fires, including one fiery climax to a high-speed chase.
Thankfully, literally hundreds of brave firefighters have been responding. They know how many people heart the SCV, from the outskirts to the city, and are doing their best to defend it. Let's try to make their jobs easier.
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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