Five of the 11 candidates vying for two open seats on the Santa Clarita City Council, met early Wednesday morning to discuss the largest issues facing the Santa Clarita Valley and its residents.
TimBen Boydston, Alan Ferdman, Ken Kellar, Cameron Smyth and Mark White calmly answered questions posed by moderator Hunt Braly during the two-hour candidate forum, sponsored by the Southland Regional Association of Realtors Inc. and the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The most discussed topics at the forum included traffic, roadways and housing.
Traffic solutions included building more roads, increased light synchronization and creating more jobs within the city.
Smyth said that light synchronization is a relatively inexpensive solution that the city can manage. He also believes that building roads and creating jobs in the city to reduce the number of commuters on the highways.
“One way to tackle that [traffic] is to get more jobs in the city,” Smyth said.
White believes there are always going to be traffic jams and bottlenecks during peak hours. He agrees that light synchronization is going to help, but he said he also believes in “smart growth.”
“One way we are going to get new roads is with new developments,” he said. “I’d work with developers to put in bigger, wider roads earlier rather than later.”
Ferdman said the creation of egresses for public transit and extension of left-hand turn lanes will make a difference on Santa Clarita’s roads.
“We put in like city buses and public transit and then we don’t provide egresses for them,” he said of the backup caused by buses stopping in traffic lanes during their pickups and drop-offs.
Current City Council Mayor Kellar noted that traffic is not going away any time soon because of the population of the city.
He believes updates to and extensions of existing roads, like Via Princessa, are the solution.
“We are working on improvements on an ongoing basis with the county to improve the roadways,” he said.
Current Councilmember Boydston said he does not see light synchronization as the traffic solution.
“If you fix traffic in one direction then you are going to have problems in the other direction,” he said.
He agrees that extensions of roads in critical spots, like Via Princessa and Magic Mountain Parkway, are the most immediate solution.
All five candidates voiced their support of Proposition 13, a 1978 amendment to the California Constitution that decreased property taxes and limited the tax rate for real estate.
“We should never touch Prop 13,” Boydston said. “That is the great American dream of owning a house.”
Keller, Smyth, White and Ferdman all spoke of their anger toward representatives in Sacramento changing policies and enacting laws that harm the Santa Clarita Valley.
“If you let Sacramento put their thumbs on it, they’re going to mess it up,” Kellar said.
“If we let Sacramento dictate stuff, we’re all screwed,” White followed.
Smyth stressed the importance of electing candidates in favor of Prop 13 Nov. 8. Ferdman noted the trickledown effect of taxes on the community.
“Every time we do that we make our area a little less attractive and a little less business-friendly,” Ferdman said.
The candidates also noted their frustration with high building fees, which impacts communities throughout California.
Boydston, Kellar, Smyth and White were not in favor of rent control, but noted the issues with rent control for those living in mobile housing. Ferdman said he would like to see a change in the regulations found in the city’s rent adjustment ordinance.
When asked about splitting the city into districts, White was in favor; Boydston, Smyth and Ferdman were neutral, but accepting; and Kellar was against.
“When it comes to breaking this city up and creating districts, all it does is create divisiveness,” Kellar said. “Just look at the city of Los Angeles to see how problematic that becomes for local government.”
All five candidates were against the probable legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of California. They say if it is legalized it will need to be severely regulated.
The candidates had different answers to the biggest issue each one would like to fix in Santa Clarita.
Smyth wants to think bigger and tackle the issues of living in the third largest city in Los Angeles; White wants to do a top-to-bottom review of bureaucracy regulation; Ferdman wants to increase transparency and innovation within the council; Kellar wants to reestablish working relationships with the community, school boards and water board; and Boydston wants to improve traffic by creating and widening roads.