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I ♥ SCV
I Heart SCV
Past Present and Politics: Clarita Comes of Age
December, 2007 - Issue #38
Winter is a season teeming with reasons to be depressed. Claritans are deprived of snow, gloomy about the passing of the winter holidays, and made anxious when New Year's comes around to remind us that we're growing ever older.

Thankfully, December 15 is a shimmering glint of joy amidst all this dreariness. That's the day the City of Santa Clarita celebrates her 20th birthday. While I'm thrilled about the occasion, it bothers me a little to know that I'm three years older than my proverbial motherland. Does this make me SC's big brother and its son?

Regardless of how we're related, I heart Santa Clarita big time and am delighted that people have been able to endure living in the officially incorporated city for two decades. With this anniversary and New Year's on my mind, I'm given no choice but to reflect.

Greatest Moments
Our valley has experienced such wonders as the discovery of gold in Placerita, the collapse of the St. Francis Dam and massive development. Of course, these things happened before Santa Clarita became the "City of..." Still, the city proper has participated in some amazing things. We weathered the Northridge quake of 1994. Despite rapid growth, there have been environmental victories like oak tree preservation and keeping Elsmere Canyon from becoming Elsmere Landfill. Plus, the City has ushered in a number of traditions now near and dear to the hearts of all Claritans - the Cowboy Poetry Festival, street painting, and the annual marathon to name a few. In short, SCV's history has defined it as a place that excels at surviving earthquakes, celebrating bovine-centric poems, keeping trash out of canyons, and making people pay to run very long distances over its streets. And this all happened before Santa Clarita even turned 20!

Birthday Fosters Statistical Surplus
Unfortunately, cake and presents weren't the only thing SCV got for its birthday. In speeches and newspaper articles alike, statistical facts and figures were lavished with an unseemly lack of restraint. We were told that, in two decades, the population has increased by 38 percent to about 180,000 Claritans. Tens of thousands of kids have participated in the City's recreational activities. Santa Clarita is one of the top 10 safest cities in the nation. Don and Cheri Fleming now own 79 percent of the total population of Shitzus and Lhaso Apsos in the valley. See? Even I've fallen into the stats trap!

The Present State
Statistical distractions and history aside, what's going on presently in the valley can be summarized in one word: politics. (What a way to sour the birthday festivities!) With presidential primaries and caucuses in the national spotlight and City elections in about 100 days, we're in the midst of the perfect political storm. At the eye of the storm are two soon-to-be-open seats on City Council. The C.C. certainly holds some sway - it can serve as a help or hindrance to commercial interests, direct development and shape activity with ordinances. It has even proven to be an effective political springboard, with our first mayor, Buck McKeon, now serving as a U.S. Congressman.

But the thing that never fails to surprise me is how much fuss people make over Republicans and Democrats when these party affiliations matter precious little at the local level. There are plenty of environmental members of the GOP and fiscally conservative Dems flitting about the valley. It's personal preferences and values more than party lines that determine what one does on the Council. The issues most people use to decide on a political party (economy, abortion, immigration, healthcare) aren't ever going to be decided by Mayor McLean and Co. There will never be an "Item 18: Public Hearing on the Death Penalty" on a City Council agenda. Still, the political fray is inevitable and amusing - for a while.

So what's next? Happily, I don't think our best years are behind us. There are still fireworks to be had as the Henry Mayo issue brings out Ferry and Seaver vs. Gauny and SmartGrowthSCV. Westfield is expanding to give people more chances to eat and shop (in case you didn't get enough of either of those over the holidays). Optimism, building and buying have worked out just fine so far; here's to 20 more years of the same.

I.M. Claritan is the author of www.iheartscv.blogspot.com.
E-mail I.M. Claritan at iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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