City amends norms and procedures; activists want more

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Santa Clarita City Council members last week amended their norms and procedures to reflect a denouncement of racism and a provision of equal access to resources for all residents. 

While pleased with the unanimous adoption, local civil rights activists said more needs to be done to make Santa Clarita a more inclusive community. 

On Aug. 25, the council voted to amend the norms and procedures to include the following: 

“Councilmembers should encourage inclusion and diversity and denounce racism in an effort to provide equal access to resources, programs, and services for all persons.” 

The move comes after Mayor Cameron Smyth and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Miranda met with residents advocating for civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement in June, following protests in Santa Clarita and nationwide after George Floyd’s death in Minnesota on Memorial Day. 

They had reiterated to the council members, as well as during council meetings thereafter, that they would like to see the City Council make a public statement denouncing racism. 

Amid the request, council members also received a list of provisions from the Santa Clarita Valley Civil Advocacy Network, an organization “committed to promoting civil rights and justice in the Santa Clarita Valley through education and advocacy,” according to its website, to revise the norms and procedures to promote inclusive dialogue by amending it with the following: 

“Councilmembers should encourage the inclusions of diverse issues and consider all alternative perspectives as to not preclude the voice of any member of the community or the Santa Clarita City Council.”

Christian Olmos, who represents the network, said Tuesday that the activists’ proposal “targeted directly the conduct of council members with each other, mainly because we saw standards in their norms and procedures that were very broad and ambiguous, and we have seen that they often cite some of our messages as offensive.” 

Councilwoman Marsha McLean said during the Aug. 25 council meeting that she was happy to approve the amendment because, “Of course, we denounce racism. We always have denounced racism. Those people that are going to say, ‘Oh, well, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ I know as much about what I’m talking about as anyone else. I do not in any way, shape or form support any kind of discrimination.” 

The amendment is important and necessary to include but “it’s just a sentence,” said Olmos, adding that it’s now about taking actions. 

“As someone said, actions speak louder than words. These are words … and that’s the starting point, and we have to do the actions,” said Miranda, mirroring Olmos’ sentiments at the council meeting.

Olmos said activists would like to see the council take up legislation and policy to prohibit the use of excessive gear and racial profiling among law enforcement, reassess the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department contract and make headway with a human relations forum and a civilian commission. 

At the meeting, City Manager Ken Striplin said the forum has taken up a new structure and an announcement regarding details is expected “very shortly.”

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