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What are these reports supposed to show?

Posted: June 17, 2009 7:50 p.m.
Updated: June 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Tonight marks the second of two community meetings that will disseminate the findings of the community-commissioned and county-funded Initial Feasibility Analysis for incorporation of communities in the northwest Santa Clarita Valley.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at the Castaic Middle School, 28900 Hillcrest Parkway in Castaic.

Before the town hall meetings take place, there are those who have been running with their own pet theories and hypotheticals around the reports and the meetings.

The only thing that seems cogent around these efforts is the lack of factual information.

Despite more than a decade of efforts, either city-sponsored or indirectly sponsored, to annex selected neighborhoods on the west side of the Santa Clarita Valley, no one has ever really taken the big-picture viewpoint of identifying the revenues generated, the costs associated with the present services on the westside, or identifying the delta between costs and services provided by Los Angeles County and the city of Santa Clarita as they impact the westside communities.

Also never asked was what would be best for the residents of these communities.

We’ve heard the city spin the costs and advantages of assimilation, and we’ve heard the county counter and present its numbers.

But we’ve not had an independent, unbiased third party really partner with the community to provide some objective and unadulterated facts.

The West Ranch Town Council presented those concerns to Supervisor Michael Antonovich, and he graciously provided a grant of $25,000 for our council to commission a report to identify the facts pertinent to westside residents.

This was done so a self-determination decision could be made on the basis of facts, as opposed to hearsay and emotion.

On that news, the city of Santa Clarita wanted to match these funds to make “a bigger and better report,” but an Initial Feasibility Analysis under the Cortese-Knox-Hertzeberg Local Governance Act is a report with clearly defined parameters.

After some discussion, the city’s contribution was to fund a unique report that would provide information to the city on the impact of annexing the westside to the city as well as providing a comparison between the options available to the residents of the unincorporated westside communities.

The West Ranch Town Council invited the Castaic Area Town Council and representatives from the city of Santa Clarita and the county to partner in this process as a way to keep the lines of communication open.

And so our joint committee selected the consultants for the two reports, and they have spent the last 18 months collecting data and performing their analysis.

The culmination was the two initial meetings held last Monday and again tonight, and hosted by the West Ranch and Castaic Area town councils to introduce the information to the residents of those respective communities.

So what will be introduced?

For these meetings, conducted by an independent professional facilitator, the Initial Feasibility Analysis report is being released and presented by the consultant responsible for creating it.

It is an informational meeting only. There will be no debate of the options available; it is purely an educational gathering.

The city-funded Options Comparison Report will not be presented, as it has not been completed by the consultant handling that report and is still subject to review and comments by the town councils, the city and the county.

We hope that the consultant will have completed this report in time for the needed review, comments and for presentation to the communities of the westside by fall 2009.

Unfortunately, there is already speculation and hypothesis around the options and which one is the ideal selection for the community — made primarily by those outside our community.

As with any significant decision, there are pros and cons surrounding each of the three options.

The real focus for the residents of the westside’s unincorporated communities is to ignore these ridiculous speculations, attend the meetings, assess the information for themselves, and go to the polls in November to express their own opinions and desires as to their preference for their future governance.

No one should tell a resident how to vote, nor should this become a political campaign.

If an entity or individual tries to make this into a political campaign to promote a specific viewpoint or outcome, it will only taint the vote.

That may result in a strong counter-vote, which could promote an outcome that works against the viewpoints of those external entities, or it could just invalidate the outcome.

In essence, let’s just let the process take its course and allow those living in the communities in question decide their own futures free of meddling or influence from outside forces. Self-determination is a fundamental right for all and should be respected.

We hope that if you live in the Los Angeles County unincorporated communities on the west side of the Santa Clarita Valley, you will attend one or both of these meetings.

The knowledge garnered from these meetings will allow residents to make a thoughtful and intelligent decision at the ballot box in November.

This commentary was originally published Monday on Ron Mechsner is president and Dave Bossert is vice president of the West Ranch Town Council. Both are community volunteers and serve on various councils, boards and committees. Their opinions are their own and not necessarily those of The Signal or any organizations.



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