Mayor Laurene Weste
The City of Santa Clarita celebrated a landmark milestone in 2017— our 30 years of cityhood. We took time to reflect on the wonderful amenities, programs and all around high quality of life that our residents enjoy every day. Some of these include 34 parks, 85 miles of off street trails, more than 9,000 acres of preserved open space, three Metrolink stations, three libraries, two community centers, anti-drug programs for youth, hundreds of sports and recreation programs, the aquatic center, and skate park, just to name a few. While we accomplished so many great things in our first 30 years, I am excited for the future of this great City.
Since incorporation, our City leaders have kept an eye to the future while embracing our rich history through the use of our general plan. The purpose of this general plan is to provide the City with a comprehensive, long-range policy guideline for future development. A new general plan was adopted in 2011 and is more commonly known as One Valley One Vision. This plan is a joint effort between the County of Los Angeles, the City of Santa Clarita and valley residents and businesses. The intent was to create a single vision within the City’s and county’s jurisdictions for future growth.
With this long term planning in place, our City is focused on being innovative and forward thinking when it comes to advancing technology and how it can be utilized to benefit our community. The term commonly used to describe this is “smart city.” A smart city is defined as a local government that uses information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve the overall quality of services.
Santa Clarita has been, and continues to be, a trailblazing smart city. Our City has twice been recognized by the Center for Digital Government as one of the Top 10 Digital Cities in the country. We were among the first cities to provide online recreation program registration, online permitting services and an online job application system. In addition, Santa Clarita residents were among the first to be able to follow their City on social media. Our Twitter feed dates back to 2008.
Santa Clarita continues to have the largest single deployment of weather-based smart irrigation controllers in the world, with savings of more than two billion gallons of water since 2010…and counting. Smart irrigation controllers work by utilizing real-time weather data and site specific landscape conditions to limit water usage to only what is needed. Santa Clarita currently maintains more than 750 of these within our 59 financially independent landscape maintenance districts. We are expanding our use of this technology as we plan on installing these controllers at all 34 City parks in the near future.
Although traffic continues to be a top priority for residents, it is also something that we are addressing through the use of technology. Since 2006, our City has been utilizing advancing phases of the intelligent transportation systems. This technology allows City traffic engineers to manage traffic patterns and adjust signal timing to ensure the best possible traffic flow. This system results in improved traffic circulation, which in turn decreases idling and overall travel time, thus reducing carbon emissions.
The next step of the intelligent transportation system is the use of adaptive controllers. These controllers are currently being tested on a stretch of Whites Canyon Road. Adaptive controllers monitor traffic and automatically adjust traffic signal timing to accommodate real-time traffic flow. By the year 2020, the plan is to have 120 adaptive controllers on City streets.
We are also in the process of building our City fleet of alternative fuel vehicles. Currently the majority of the new fleet is Compressed Natural Gas and hybrid, which has significantly reduced maintenance, fuel costs and emissions. Last year we also installed two electric vehicle charging stations at City Hall and purchased two electric vehicles. Continuing our commitment to planning for the future, we recently conducted a survey to see if you would utilize additional charging stations and where they should be located. A list of current locations can be found on GreenSantaClarita.com.
At the McBean Transit Center and on paseos citywide, we utilize a light control system that provides remote access, outage detection, scheduling assistance and the ability to control the lights remotely. In addition, this month we will take over the streetlight system from Southern California Edison and begin the task of retrofitting the existing high pressure sodium lights with LED fixtures. The LED fixtures will reduce operational costs by 47 percent and annual greenhouse emissions by 61 percent.
Back in 2010, we began installing solar-powered Bigbelly smart waste and recycling stations. Santa Clarita now boasts a total of 114 stations at our parks, libraries, Metrolink stations and other busy spots. These Bigbelly stations use solar panels to power the interior compactor, which allows the 35 gallon station to securely hold 150 gallons of material, which reduces the number of collections (and therefore fuel consumption) by 75 percent. Earlier this year, Bigbelly recognized our City of Santa Clarita for achieving 66 percent diversion in the Bigbelly waste stream, the highest diversion rate of any city currently utilizing the technology.
Our City is also on a mission to solve the high cost/low bandwidth constraints, which affect businesses throughout the valley. We maintain a fiber optic network for City services and are looking for opportunities to use this network to create opportunities to form a public/private partnership that would entice new internet service providers to enter the Santa Clarita marketplace and compete for business customers. Currently, our dark fiber is available for lease to the private sector and our long-term plans include leveraging our fiber network to expand the availability of competitive data service providers capable of providing faster and more affordable offerings to the business community.
Visitors to any of our Santa Clarita Public Library branches can log on to an all-fiber, ultra-fast network. Our libraries currently offer guests a 50 megabit network which allows them to access live-streaming story times, and we have plans to upgrade to a one gigabyte network.
As the years pass and technology changes, we will continue to assess and innovate to ensure that our City of Santa Clarita remains on the cutting edge to maintain the high quality of life we all enjoy.
Mayor Laurene Weste is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].