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SCV’s future in your hands — literally

Posted: November 8, 2008 8:06 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2008 4:30 a.m.
How would you like a trash dump in your backyard? Or a chemical plant next to your child’s school? Or 10,000 more cars on the road you take to the grocery store?

If your answer is no, you might want to pay attention to something the city and county are doing.

It’s called One Valley, One Vision, or “OVOV” for short. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

We’ve been reporting on it for at least eight years, when the city of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County decided to collaborate on a general plan that would look at the Santa Clarita Valley as a cohesive region.
Then again, maybe your eyes glaze over when you see words like “general plan.” We can’t blame you.

On one hand, it is bureaucratic gobbledygook to the extreme. State law requires cities and counties to craft general plans — huge planning documents that serve as a blueprint to guide future development.

Who should care? All of us! For many SCV residents, this all-important planning document will get down to the details on what some future developer will be allowed to build right across the street from you.

For nearly a decade the city and county have been going at it, and now it is your turn. You are being invited by the county and the city to attend any of the meetings they are holding this month to get your opinion heard on the various “elements” in the current (draft) general plan while they’re still in their formative stages.

This will be followed by many more public meetings early next year in hopes of having the OVOV plan in place in mid-2009.

By way of background, Santa Claritans banded together in 1987 and carved out their own city in the middle of our valley, mostly because they didn’t like the planning, or lack thereof, that the county had done in the 1970s and 1980s.

New housing tracts were popping up all over the place without adequate schools, roads or parks. SCV residents rose up and demanded “local control.”

One of the first things they did was to create their own general plan. Dozens of local residents held meeting after meeting and literally drew lines on a map of the city, showing where homes, roads, parks, businesses and many other things should and shouldn’t go.

The City Council adopted the plan in 1991 and has been working from it ever since.

Meantime, the county was working from its own plan for the SCV area, which it adopted in 1984 and updated in 1990.

Both plans are long outdated. Since 1990-’91, we’ve seen a new regional mall in the city, a new commerce center in the county, and new subdivisions at Fair Oaks Ranch, Tesoro del Valle, Bridgeport and the Valencia Gateway area. Our valley ain’t what it was two decades ago.

An even bigger problem with having two different plans — one for the city, one for the outlying area — is that they didn’t mesh well.

The city’s plan might show a major road that simply ends at the county line because it isn’t on the county map. Or the county map might show a new subdivision on the county side of the line where the city would prefer open space. And so forth.

It’s impossible to count how many times we quoted city officials in the 1990s saying they couldn’t control growth in our valley because the real growth was occurring in the unincorporated county area and they didn’t have a say.

Now the city and county are at the same table. Sounds like a good idea, and it is. Yet in all of Los Angeles County, with 88 independent cities, this is the only such partnership between the county and a city.

But this partnership didn’t come easily. Petty bickering derailed it for several years. The city and county were too busy hurling invectives at each other over the possible annexation of the Valencia Commerce Center, higher fees for county residents in city recreation programs, and a Shop Local campaign that urged city residents to shun merchants in the unincorporated county.

The city and county could scarcely talk to one another back then, much less collaborate on a joint general plan.

Tempers have cooled and today OVOV is back on track. If you didn’t pay attention before, pay attention and participate now if you care about roads or parks or schools or open space or water or noise or trash dumps or job centers or public safety or just about anything else that makes up a community.

OVOV affects every last resident of this valley. You’ve got several opportunities to tell the city and county what you think.

Whatever we decide now about the growth of our valley we’ll be stuck with for 20 or 30 years. Santa Clarita’s future is in your hands.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.


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