Lost ballots, missed opportunities, among horror stories at Bouquet Creek meeting

FILE PHOTO: Bouquet Canyon Road. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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More than 70 angry Bouquet Creek residents met Sunday to discuss how they’re going to respond to county officials shutting down their only access road for half a year, sharing horror stories about the inconvenience and circulating two petitions.

Horror stories about ballots not being delivered due to stopped mail service on Bouquet Canyon Road have been resolved, according to county officials.

“The Registrar Recorder’s office has agreed to establish a new voter precinct at 39118 Calle Bonita – off of Spunky Canyon Road – where residents can drop off their vote-by-mail ballots and vote provisionally,” Kerjon Lee, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works.

An impromptu meeting was called Sunday afternoon for residents to meet that night at the Big Oaks Lodge on Bouquet Canyon Road.

“We heard about the meeting today through conversations with local stakeholders,” Lee said. “Public Works did not attend the meeting, nor did we receive an invitation.

“The County has been working diligently to address issues affecting residents,” Lee told The Signal Monday.

Before attendees left Sunday’s meeting they were given the chance of signing two petitions calling for the road to be re-opened, said attendee Ed Frankovich.  One of the petitions has already collected 1,400 in a seven day period.

“As for the online petition, we were made aware of it today through social media,” Lee said.

One of the stories shared with attendees by a man who said his wife – who cleans houses – was so fearful of losing her job she walks at least six miles along Bouquet Canyon Road with her vacuum cleaner to the south gate, where she catches a bus, Frankovich said.

“An elderly man talked about having to get to the hospital and couldn’t,” he said. “There were more stories.

“One mother got up and told how her son was dropped from his mechanic Shop class because he was late,” Frankovich said, citing no school bus service and the onus on residents to drive more than 30 miles through Green Valley.

Dave Caldwell, spokesman for the William S. Hart Union High School District told The Signal Monday that he expects to speak to Saugus High School officials Tuesday about the claim.

Students living in the area have no choice but to make the 30-mile detour under their own way power if they want to arrive at school, sending new drivers along the twisting Spunky Canyon Road – dotted with many turns and steep cliffs – over the winter months until April.

Residents – despite concerns about mail-in ballots – have been without mail service since the road was first closed Oct. 27 in anticipating of an approaching rainstorm.

“Public Works (officials with the Los Angeles County)  have told us they want to put in a (neighborhood) mailbox in Green Valley,” Frankovich said.

County officials have been working with US Postal Service officials to establish mail delivery.

“The US Postal Service is installing temporary, centralized delivery boxes to facilitate closer delivery to residents affected by the closure,” Lee said.

Santa Clarita Postmaster Gabriel Magdaleno told The Signal Monday: “We’re still working out the details.”

On Oct, 27, Public Works officials closed gates on Bouquet Canyon Road in anticipation of a rain they feared would flood the creek and make the road unsafe.  The weekend closure became a six-month closure.

They announced closure of the road until April over fears that flooding would make the road unsafe. A buildup of silt around the road since 2007 has rendered the road prone to flooding.

“The road, which was closed Thursday, Oct. 27, due to predicted rain, will remain closed to all traffic at least through winter storm season, which officially ends on April 15,” Public Works spokesman Steve Frasher announced in a news release issued Oct. 31.

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