Lila Littlejohn: The next 30 years in Santa Clarita

By Lila Littlejohn

Last update: Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Certain recent events at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration remind those who have been in the Santa Clarita Valley long enough just how alienating things were before residents rose up and – in a series of hurry-up-and-wait anecdotes – formed the city of Santa Clarita 30 years ago this Dec. 15.

Specifically, those recent county Hall of Administration events were the Board of Supervisors’ approval of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill expansion on June 27, followed by the county’s approval July 18 of two Newhall Ranch phases on the West Side.

In both cases, we at The Signal heard complaints from readers about long waits to lodge public complaints that were given minimal time and even less attention by supervisors with – according to complaining residents – mostly cavalier attitudes and minds apparently already made up on the matter.

Such was the nature of all “local” government 30 years ago, when everything was decided in downtown Los Angeles and little of it was to local residents’ liking.

Now Santa Clarita is ramping up a 30-year celebration marking its victory in setting itself aside from L.A. County’s development-driven philosophy, starting with its first city ordinance – preserving native oak trees.

You think development’s bad now? You should have seen it then.

The nascent city set out its own agenda to increase the number and amenities of parks, to serve SCV children and families, and to promote safety and law-and-order.

Much has changed since then. Santa Clarita has expanded to become the third largest in Los Angeles County, mostly through annexation. New divisions have erupted among residents; several disasters have been survived by most of us; urban problems have presented themselves.

As we look ahead during the close of the city’s first three decades, we invite the current crop of Santa Clarita Valley residents to share their visions for the city’s next 30 years. Where would you like to see Santa Clarita 10, 20 or 30 years from now in terms of community, transportation, governance, jobs, technology, education, or any other areas of concern or interest for you?

Send us a letter to the editor or column to letters@signalscv.com. Include your name, address and phone number. We publish only name and home town.

Together, let’s plan an even better second 30 years for Santa Clarita.

Lila Littlejohn
Signal Opinion Editor

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Lila Littlejohn: The next 30 years in Santa Clarita

The City of Santa Clarita's 30 year anniversary logo on the grass in Valencia Glen Park on Saturday, Sept. 16. Christian Monterrosa/ The Signal

Certain recent events at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration remind those who have been in the Santa Clarita Valley long enough just how alienating things were before residents rose up and – in a series of hurry-up-and-wait anecdotes – formed the city of Santa Clarita 30 years ago this Dec. 15.

Specifically, those recent county Hall of Administration events were the Board of Supervisors’ approval of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill expansion on June 27, followed by the county’s approval July 18 of two Newhall Ranch phases on the West Side.

In both cases, we at The Signal heard complaints from readers about long waits to lodge public complaints that were given minimal time and even less attention by supervisors with – according to complaining residents – mostly cavalier attitudes and minds apparently already made up on the matter.

Such was the nature of all “local” government 30 years ago, when everything was decided in downtown Los Angeles and little of it was to local residents’ liking.

Now Santa Clarita is ramping up a 30-year celebration marking its victory in setting itself aside from L.A. County’s development-driven philosophy, starting with its first city ordinance – preserving native oak trees.

You think development’s bad now? You should have seen it then.

The nascent city set out its own agenda to increase the number and amenities of parks, to serve SCV children and families, and to promote safety and law-and-order.

Much has changed since then. Santa Clarita has expanded to become the third largest in Los Angeles County, mostly through annexation. New divisions have erupted among residents; several disasters have been survived by most of us; urban problems have presented themselves.

As we look ahead during the close of the city’s first three decades, we invite the current crop of Santa Clarita Valley residents to share their visions for the city’s next 30 years. Where would you like to see Santa Clarita 10, 20 or 30 years from now in terms of community, transportation, governance, jobs, technology, education, or any other areas of concern or interest for you?

Send us a letter to the editor or column to letters@signalscv.com. Include your name, address and phone number. We publish only name and home town.

Together, let’s plan an even better second 30 years for Santa Clarita.

Lila Littlejohn
Signal Opinion Editor

About the author

Lila Littlejohn

Lila Littlejohn

  • lindsay johnson

    Been here 27 years. What about the Next 30? We want an Awesome Town quality of life! We don’t want to spend our lives parked on the fwy!!

    Love Santa Clarita Valley! What we don’t love is the Massive Newhall Development project (aka the Largest housing project in LA County) and its dream goal to build- 22,000 new homes off Hwy 126 w/ no where for the inhabitants’ vehicles to go other than I-5. Traffic is atrocious now!! And road conditions are third world at best! Cal Trans plugs along a zero speed repairing major potholes & bumps left by massive trucks that speed through our valley constantly night and day. CHP collects funds at our weigh station, but the money isn’t being spent to improve the condition of our roads and freeways!

    Wake up people!! AweSome Town can’t handle 22,000 new homes, which equals possibly 66,000-100,000 more vehicles. There’s no other convenient way out of the area. The 126, & 101 need to be massively expanded and still don’t offer a good solution to a frightening future of gridlock on our freeways! Stop the MADNESS. The next 30 years may become a nightmare, if this massive project isn’t stopped or atleast modified to a sustainable size for our Great Santa Clarita Valley!!

    • lois eisenberg

      Points well taken ***

    • Ron Bischof

      Your post assumes the no local economic development will occur and all current and new residents of SCV will commute out of the valley for employment. It also ignores the corporate trend of telepresence supported by broadband in home offices.

      Do you have any supporting evidence for this projection?

      • Jim de Bree

        Ron–clearly some percentage of the Newhall Ranch residents will not work in the SCV and will use the I-5 to get to work. So I believe that there is merit to the concern about traffic. However, your point is well taken and is one that I have made several times. SCV is developing economically because it is business friendly, but it is becoming an expensive place to live because of a housing shortage. Furthermore, many businesses, including growth businesses, such as professional services firms, encourage telecommuting because that means they don’t need to provide as much workspace.

        • Ron Bischof

          I agree it will have an impact on I-5 traffic south, Jim. Unlike the certainty of this poster, my intent was to provoke thought about other dynamic factors.

          In my opinion, simplistic anti-development hand waving isn’t useful. Each project has costs and benefits that should be prudently weighed on their own merits.

          The I-5 bottleneck is geographical and I don’t see that changing. However, there are significant opportunities for local economic development that will no doubt increase employment in SCV. Working and consuming goods and services where you reside is a virtuous circle.

          Having escaped Los Angeles in 2011, it appears to me the city has done fairly well in controlled growth that benefits current and future residents. That and consistent fiscal responsibility are the primary reasons I relocated my family here.

    • Jim de Bree

      Your comment assumes that each house will have three to five vehicles. I suspect that is a bit of an overstatement-particularly given the density of the development.

      I fail to see how expanding the 126, and particularly the 101, help the Santa Clarita traffic situation. Those routes are not alternative routes for the I-5 thought the Newhall Pass.

      When you say road conditions are “third world at best,” this is hyperbole. I have been to many third world countries and traffic is much worse than what we experience locally. Traffic in other parts of LA and many major cities in the US and Europe is much worse than what we face on the I-5.

      The damage to I-5 resulting from trucks will NOT be appreciably increased by the Newhall Ranch project. This comment is a red herring. Substantially all of the trucks come from northern California or the Central Valley. The inability to fix our highways promptly is because the State of California has diverted funding from highway construction. It has nothing to do with Newhall Ranch.

      Five Points and their Wall Street Investors have hundreds of millions (perhaps more) invested in the Newhall Ranch project. The economic reality is that they are not going to let that project disappear. If, in the unlikely circumstance, the project is cancelled, they will sell of the property piecemeal and other developers will develop the property in a manner that is less desirable. Newhall Land & Farming has been working on this project for decades. The project has already been downsized and it is considered by objective independent parties to be a best case compromise for all stakeholders.

    • Phil Ellis

      Just envision how the Santa Clarita Valley was before you moved in. I remember when I was called a newcomer 33 years ago by the old-timers who complained about the impact that Newhall Land’s Valencia project was then having on the Valley.

  • Bill Reynolds

    As a 37 year resident, in my opinion what’s really hurting SCV is high density housing and as a result we suffer a tremendous burden on our traffic infrastructure, water and electrical resources, education system, etc. Take some time and cruise around this valley and you will see exactly what I’m talking about.

    • Jim de Bree

      Bill–land costs dictate housing density. As land becomes more expensive, housing density has to increase in order to keep homes affordable. The same thing has happened elsewhere. Look at the SFV, Hollywood, Downtown LA, Orange County and San Diego County as examples.

      Also, I am not sure that you can say that high density housing has adversely affected our local education systems because school enrollment has remained flat over the years. It will affect us in the context of the construction of new schools that we will all pay for through our property taxes. But much of that infrastructure has already been built and without the new residential construction the property tax rates will have to increase to fund the cost of servicing the debt incurred to finance that infrastructure.

      • Bill Reynolds

        A great many moved here from SFV, LA, etc. to get away from hi density areas; I think it’s undeniable that hi density also brings more crime. The bottom line, we have traffic problems and water shortages… I favor less hi density housing.

        • Jim de Bree

          In the 1950’s people moved to the suburbs, most notably the SFV, to avoid high density housing. Our generation moved to the SCV to avoid high density housing. As communities evolve, population density increases because land prices increase.

          Land costs and building code improvements make it more expensive to construct a housing unit. That means housing units will be smaller and more units will be built per acre of buildable land.

          There is a tremendous demand for housing in the SCV. My daughter told me she expects her rent to increase from $2,000 a month to at least $2,700 when her lease expires next February. The only way the demand for housing can be met is to build more dense housing units. If people cannot afford single family residences, more multi-family housing will be built.

          I too would like to live in a less densely populated area. Thirty years from now, I am confident that the SCV area will have a population exceeding 500,000.

          • Ron Bischof

            No matter how much we emotionally wish it to be otherwise, this is the natural progression as population increases. Economic factors drive behavior.

            Anyone who has taken a commercial or private flight in an aircraft will note the abundance of vacant land in the Western USA.

      • Phil Ellis

        Actually, school enrollment is declining

        • Jim de Bree

          Last time I looked at school enrollment at local districts, the decline was very slight. A fraction of a percent. That is why I said that enrollment is flat. However, the Newhall School District must be worried about declining enrollment because they are trying to attract families from the SFV to attend local schools up here.

          When the Castaic high School is built, it will only have about a third of the number of students that it is designed to accommodate. They are counting on Newhall Ranch to fill that school.

  • Jim de Bree

    One interesting point is that the three biggest issues, Newhall Ranch, the Chiquita Canyon Landfill and the combination of the water districts all fall outside of the City’s control. So while many good things have happened because the City incorporated, the City is not in full control of its destiny. Furthermore, when an issue like the landfill comes to pass, the landfill operator contributed to the City council elections encouraging the Council to not take a stand on these issues.