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Larry McClements: Road to bigger problems

Posted: March 7, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 7, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Years ago, city leaders pushed to pass the open space initiative, buying land around our city to prevent development and maintain scenery.

Our city fought for billboard height reduction, including a lengthy fight on Calgrove Boulevard that ended when the city forcibly removed a sign and sent a bill to the sign owner.

I wonder what some on our Santa Clarita City Council were thinking when they voted to erect massive double-sided Las Vegas-style electronic billboards along our freeways, one on open space land we purchased to keep blight in check.

In spite of overwhelming opposition, Mayor Marsha McLean told everyone this is good for our city.

This is one of many examples of how some on our City Council are out of touch with the wants of our citizens.

I recently spoke to two small-business owners who told me about all the city red tape they went through when opening their businesses. One called it the most frustrating build-out in his 30 years in business.

In spite of concerns raised by citizens, our city took over the libraries within city limits. They promised the Newhall branch would be “full of books.”

Three years later, the shelves at the Newhall branch are about half full.

Then there is art. I don’t recall seeing a demand for taxpayer-funded art, but this didn’t stop our city.

It budgeted $3,000 for artsy bike racks at the Canyon Country Community Center and $30,000 for a pile of steel tubes at the Valencia bus transfer station. This is only the beginning.

The crown jewel of this spending spree is the transformation of Old Town Newhall into an “arts district.” More than $100 million federal, state and city tax dollars have been poured into the area.

The street was re-aligned, eminent domain was used by the city and some businesses were forced out. Many remaining businesses failed, with five closings over the past two months.

Our city installed a roundabout at the southern entrance to Main Street. Councilwoman Laurene Weste called this the “culmination of the Downtown Newhall Specific Plan.”

The roundabout was controversial and so was the art piece that was to go in the middle. Councilman TimBen Boydston asked the city to survey residents and see what they wanted.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents wanted something other than art, with most people wanting nothing. With a City Council election nearing, it’s time for change. We need a City Council that listens to citizens, can cut red tape and has a vision for our future.

Most of us moved here to escape big-city problems in Los Angeles. We live in a great city, and more and more I fear we are on a road to big city problems.

Larry McClements is a Valencia resident.



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