By Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste
“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” – Diana Scharf Hunt
Traveling back in City history to 30 years ago, we incorporated with just 39 square miles. That was 1987 and today in 2017 we have grown to 64 square miles and 225,000 residents. Santa Clarita still enjoys its small town feel, beautiful open spaces and sense of history. We want that for all future generations to come.
To ensure we preserve what’s best and continue to enhance Santa Clarita’s high quality of life, the 2020 Plan was launched.
Back in 2015, our dreams and goals in the 2020 Plan definitely had deadlines.
Santa Clarita 2020 is a five-year strategic plan used by City staff to best prioritize our resources, achieve milestones and remain focused on providing essential City services and projects that are important to our community. The Plan is organized into six themes: Public Safety, Building and Creating Community, Enhancing Economic Vitality, Community Beautification, Sustaining Public Infrastructure and Proactive, Transparent and Responsive Government Services.
I am happy to share some successes we have had in pursuing these plans during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Within the theme of Public Safety, the Drug Free Youth in SCV (DFYinSCV) program, rose to the challenge. This program is a free, school-based, anti-drug club for junior high and senior high school students (and will include elementary students this fall), which emboldens students to stand up against drugs and support one another. In the last year, DFYinSCV saw an increase in membership by 15 percent from the previous year! This club is pivotal in the effort to decrease drug-related problems in our community, and increase happy and healthy lifestyles among our youth. Along with the Building and Creating Community theme, the City acquired 240 more areas of open space in the Newhall Pass. This acquisition contributes to the City’s green belt and protects the land from any future development. Also, within this theme, the Newhall Ranch Road Bridge Widening Project is well underway. This project will widen the bridge from six lanes to eight and provide a new and safe pedestrian walkway and much needed trail connections.
Last year, the West Creek/West Hills area was annexed into the City of Santa Clarita as part of the Enhancing Economic Vitality theme. Additionally, the Redevelopment Block in Old Town Newhall is gleaning benefits from the 2020 Plan. It’s thrilling to drive past the construction site of the Newhall parking structure and see how it changes each day. Upon completion, the top deck of the parking structure will accommodate community events and provide 372 additional parking spots. The benefits this will have for local shopping and events such as Senses, Revved Up, and [email protected], are unfathomable. The parking structure will also serve the community well once Laemmle Theatre and other new businesses and restaurants are in place in Old Town Newhall.
Among Community Beautification projects, the Graffiti Removal Program should not go without mention. In the last year, the Graffiti Task Force conducted five outreach presentations to deter graffiti vandalism and five surveillance operations in graffiti hotspots, and removed 99 percent of graffiti from City areas within 24 hours. This sets us apart from many other communities.
City staff has also been busy working on the Sustaining Public Infrastructure theme. If you’ve recently driven along McBean Parkway near the YMCA, you may have noticed the old wooden pedestrian bridge between Gamble House Court and Arroyo Park Drive has been taken down and replaced with a new steel truss Paseo bridge.
The final theme is Proactive, Transparent and Responsive Government. Issues such as CEMEX and the proposed High-Speed Rail have been held at bay thanks to the hard work of the City Council and staff. These actions are in response to the opinions of residents and in the best interest of the community. Through employee training, a performance measurement program, public engagement plan and the Santa Clarita 2020 plan, the City of Santa Clarita endeavors to further achieve proactivity, transparency and responsiveness.
One of the City’s philosophies is to take a futuristic approach and ensure decisions made today will endure the test of time, building a City that future generations will treasure. These are just a few of the achievements that have come out of the Santa Clarita 2020 plan and we intend to achieve many more. Keep those good ideas and goals coming!
To learn more about the plan, please visit SantaClarita2020.com.
Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].