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Our View: Congrats to Santa Clarita on 25th year

Posted: December 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.

We at The Signal wish to join other local and regional agencies in congratulating the city of Santa Clarita on its first 25 years of successful governance.

The city was founded on a nearly unanimous desire of Santa Clarita Valley residents to govern themselves. They were exasperated at having to drive to downtown Los Angeles to be heard, and more often than not encountering an attitude of “Where’d you say you’re from?” followed by overt disinterest once the answer was provided.

We believe the city, which was incorporated on Dec. 15, 1987, has been largely successful at meeting the expectations of those 1987 voters in the specific areas of orderly growth, financial responsibility and improvement to quality of life.

Rampant, unplanned and just plain bad growth with inadequate infrastructure was probably the top complaint of Santa Clarita Valley residents in the 1980s, when the valley was hatching housing tracts like mushrooms in a dark cave.

Of course, the will to seize control of growth was driven to a large extent by typical suburban NIMBYism — an “I’ve got mine, now don’t build more” attitude. Despite some hiccups when it was first founded, the city’s leaders have mostly steered a difficult course between those demanding no growth and developers used to the county’s rubber-stamp mindset for growth.

For the most part, those city leaders recognized the value of orderly growth — that which preserves quality of life while recognizing that no growth means economic stagnation and the eventual decline of a community. We applaud their difficult task while recognizing that Newhall Land and Farming was a positive example and influence in that regard.

In the area of financial responsibility, while other cities in California are facing serious service cuts and even bankruptcy, Santa Clarita recently reported that it has about $13 million more in its accountsthan budgeted this fiscal year due to higher revenues than anticipated and successful grant applications.

This remarkable financial achievement can be attributed to long-term careful planning and conservative spending. The city contracts services when it can, rather than assuming the financial commitments of hiring employees. Yet it runs a City Hall operation that has been praised for its quality service.

In terms of spending, the city does not take on long-term spending commitments unless there are matching long-term funding commitments — a lesson that would be well-learned by our state and national legislative bodies.

Successful grant writing helps the city fill in many gaps while costing residents virtually nothing.

Being financially responsible, however, has not had a negative impact on quality of life in the city.

Early on, our city founders agreed on common values, and those values continue to head the list of improvements sought on behalf of residents. Adherence to that list has, in turn, taken this area from a backwater bedroom community to one of the most desired Los Angeles suburbs with some of the highest property values in Southern California. And that, in turn, has drawn other residents who share common values with those already living here.

The list is a long one – from public safety to public parks to family-based activities. The city has been in the forefront of advancing those goals, along with its efforts to preserve the area from negative outside influence. Such efforts include battling against a giant open pit mine in Canyon Country to purchasing land around the city to serve as a buffer zone, helping to define this community and providing it with wilderness nearby.

Santa Claritans pride themselves on a clean, well-run orderly city. Many residents here have fled other areas surrounding Los Angeles that are constantly dealing with higher crime rates, blight, poorly planned roads or other shortcomings we generally don’t have to deal with here.

But residents of our community should never become complacent. That could lead to disaster. It’s very easy to slide into negative situations. All it takes is a city council that is not held accountable by residents until it is too late, such as what happened in Bell, a police chief who slides past accountability, a corrupt city official in a position of power such as the Los Angeles County assessor’s office — these could take the shine off 25 years of accomplishments.

We urge local residents to remain involved in city and other local governments so that together, we can maintain a successful community for many years to come.



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