The paseos of Valencia are among the most popular features appreciated by residents and visitors who enjoy strolling around Santa Clarita. And on Thursday, a city of Santa Clarita committee will consider memorializing the man behind the concept.
The Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission is scheduled to receive a presentation on the installation of a bronze plaque at Valencia Heritage Park to memorialize Fereydoon Ghaffari’s contributions to the community.
“His concept was to have different communities connected with paseos,” said Jerrid McKenna, assistant to the city manager. “This system was not only in Valencia, but is now in other communities throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.”
As a lead planner for the Newhall Land and Farming Co. in the 1960s, Ghaffari helped create nearly 94 miles of trailways built in and around Santa Clarita, according to the agenda report.
“He and his team had gone through different designs, and he would work late into the night to design a model with pockets of communities with paseo access to and from parks, schools and other centers,” McKenna said.
The vision was to create a system of pedestrian and bicycle pathways where residents could get around town without the use of vehicles by connecting multiple neighborhoods with each other. Through an aerial perspective of this model, paseos create an intricate but clever loop for easy access points, including in neighborhoods with cul-de-sacs.
“Without his contributions, there wouldn’t be a jumpstart in that model,” McKenna said.
Today, paseos vary in shape and size, with some extending over major city streets and with features like benches to relax on and access to dog bag dispensers for the avid pet walker.
Ghaffari, known by the city as “the man who gave us our paseos,” died in 2017. He was 88. In addition to his conceptual design of Valencia, he was also recognized for the planning of other U.S. cities, multiple venues for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and Hacienda Miraflores in Malaga, Spain.
Funding for the memorial plaque would come from the Ghaffari family, Gruen Associates and FivePoint, according to McKenna.