I Heart SCV
Holiday Budgets
December, 2023 - Issue #226
If you're reading this, home for the holidays most likely means staying in Santa Clarita. And with 8 percent mortgage rates for the foreseeable future, it's probably going to remain home for a very long time. Everything is expensive. Inflation has slowed substantially, but prices for everything from a festive peppermint mocha to a festive holiday divorce are up. Perhaps that's why so many headlines relating to all things money have been popping up. Everyone is watching their spending as we welcome the most wonderful, most expensive, time of the year.
"Really, if you just STOP AND LOOK AROUND, you'll see people sharing warmth and light with the SCV that they heart, and the festive feelings are free."

The Price of Politics
Prior to voting in elections, some vote with their wallets, sending contributions to candidates for president, city council and all the offices in between. For US Congressional representatives, fundraising has to be non-stop since elections come every two years. In our local race, Republican Congressman Mike Garcia, the incumbent, raised a little over $763,000 in the most recent quarter, and George Whitesides, a Democratic challenger, raised $709,000 in the same period. Both campaigns reported well over $1.5 million in cash on hand, so it seems like a close race is in store if money really does decide elections.
In the race for California's State Assembly, also a two-year term, Democratic Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, the incumbent, had already raised over $600,000 by October. In the 2022 race, both she and Suzette Valladares - now running for State Senate - raised around $2.5 million for their campaigns. The 2024 Assembly race has been fairly quiet to date, though, so whether fundraising mirrors inflation remains to be seen. The best political bargain is probably city council. Several candidates for 2024's first district-based election have raised tens of thousands of dollars.

Bus Stop
With strikes at an Amazon warehouse, the couple of Hollywood union strikes and the bus strike, Santa Clarita has looked a little like Paris, with labor concerns spilling onto the streets everywhere. The bus strike in particular created a big challenge starting in October. While some people made their I-don't-need-the-bus jokes ("Isn't that what Uber's for?"), the Santa Clarita Transit website reports providing over 3 million rides per year to everyone from students to commuters to elderly residents using Dial-A-Ride. Though some emergency public transportation services have remained available throughout, the strike's impact was significant enough for the city to make a disaster declaration.
The strike began after weeks of back-and-forth between the union and MV Transportation, with which the city contracts for transportation services. NBC reported starting pay from MV Transportation was $19.75, with less than $1 in total raises after four years. Buses help plenty of people save money, but drivers are trying to make a living, too. As of this writing, the weeks-long dispute still hasn't been resolved. Driving a bus in Santa Clarita is not the most glamorous job, but it's certainly an important one.

Holidays at Home
With all the holidays falling between Halloween and New Year's Day, choosing a favorite could be difficult. For those of us in Santa Clarita, it's not. That's because every December 15, in the midst of the hustle and bustle, the whole valley comes together to embrace Santa Clarita's Anniversary of Cityhood. Traditionally, Claritans acknowledge the occasion by acting exactly like they would on any other day. Privately, though, they're all wishing a happy birthday to the greatest little moderately-sized city in northern LA County - or at least one of the top 10.
Cityhood celebrations won't break the bank, and enjoying the other holidays needn't, either. A great tradition is simply driving through the neighborhoods that go all-out with their Christmas lights and holiday displays. Walking is even better. You can enjoy the chill in the air, prime views and less road rage. There's Holiday in the Park at Six Flags, which feels free if you have a season pass. The Main Street tree lighting is always beautiful and enjoyable. Really, if you just stop and look around, you'll see people sharing warmth and light with the SCV that they heart, and the festive feelings are free.
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
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