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Tim Myers: So many SCV tropes, so little time

Posted: July 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Definition of TROPE: a common or overused theme or device: cliché (the usual horror movie tropes)

— Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

With the move from the Santa Clarita Valley to (somewhere) in South Orange County longer and bumpier than originally thought — put it this way: a good reason exists to move only once every 17 years! — I possess more time to reflect on our time in the SCV and one of my favorite topics, SCV tropes.

Now from the reference above, a "trope" is something that once possessed some vague relation to reality. However, its constant use, overuse and exaggeration finally render it cartoonish and nearly laughable. In fact, it eventually does not even stand up to factual examination.

In no particular order, I will share some common tropes of the Santa Clarita Valley that over the years obtained nearly theological truth among residents.

The San Fernando Valley constitutes a post-apocalyptic wasteland that any right-thinking person should flee in terror.

A very significant portion of SCV residents come from two places: the San Fernando Valley and out of state. Those (like us) from out of state got all our information about the San Fernando Valley from former residents and took them at their word.

This trope centers around a sub-theorem of disaster: At one time (prior to their exodus) the Valley constituted some type of utopia brought into decline primarily by the introduction of immigrant communities.

Based on the age of folks involved, this happened some time in the 1970s and 1980s.

Now my actual experience shows a more nuanced view: The western San Fernando Valley (think Calabasas, etc.) and areas south of Ventura Boulevard did and still do constitute some of the most desirable real estate in the world.

In our oldest son’s home in North Hollywood, high-density housing certainly exists (he occupies it), but he also can find just blocks away on Magnolia a Laemmle Theater (none in the SCV) and dozens of non-chain bistro-style restaurants with a diverse and interesting menu (also in short supply here).

The county of Los Angeles mismanages everything under its governance, and the city of Santa Clarita government can do no wrong.

This constitutes one of the foundational myths of the Santa Clarita Valley. The formation of the city (and previous efforts to form a separate county) started and concluded as acts to counter the county’s power to locate rampant development, trash dumps and other noxious items on the pastoral residents of the SCV and ignore their basic needs.

Now, like the trope relating to the San Fernando Valley, closer examination reveals a more nuanced reality.

Former City Councilman Carl Boyer filled an entire book with the depredations of the county on the Santa Clarita Valley in the 1960s and 1970s, but that spawned both Proposition 13 and various unsuccessful county succession movements from San Gabriel to Long Beach, so nothing unique there.

And on the issue of development, rightly or wrongly, since cityhood the city government tamely observes development occurring in the county areas without intervening, either by attempting to exercise a "sphere of influence" or using the power of its not-inconsiderable checkbook to fund opposition litigation, with the notable exception of Cemex.

And on the issue of the county ignoring the Santa Clarita Valley, of late the county government built rather nice amenities for the community of Castaic, including a very nice aquatic/community center.

On the issue of governance, city government over the years certainly botched its share of items, including pouring money into Newhall redevelopment, a distortion of free markets that would seem an anathema to the putative Republicans who run the city.


And let us not forget the latest: A supermajority of the current City Council (and city staff) sitting slack-jawed and blank-eyed while a locomotive of large rate increases to residents to clean the water of chloride that may (or may not) negatively impact downstream farmers bears down on the community.

So many tropes. So little time.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. "Myers Musings" appears Saturdays in The Signal.


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