City of Santa Clarita officials delivered the 2020 State of the City event Thursday in true COVID-19-era format: virtually, while shining a light on local essential workers who have toiled tirelessly since the onset of the pandemic.
“If at last year’s State of the City we would have told you that in the next 12 months, at some point in 2020, the most important moment in your life would be finding a stocked toilet paper aisle, or that the most common phrase of the year would be, ‘Dude, you’re still muted,’ or the hardest part of the global pandemic would be teaching elementary school math, you’d have never believed it,” said City Manager Ken Striplin during the broadcast.
Last year, hundreds of residents and business leaders gathered in Valencia to hear the City Council deliver the State of the City and hours later, the Tick Fire ravaged through the Canyon Country community, burning more than 4,600 acres and destroying about a dozen structures.
That was the start of an eventful 12 months, filled with both tragedy and triumph for the city and its residents. Mayor Cameron Smyth highlighted some of those moments: the Saugus High School shooting, the monthslong coronavirus pandemic and its everchanging developments, the George Floyd protests and how the community, from students to neighbors and businesses, have come together to support each other.
“This last year has challenged all of us in unimaginable ways but through community collaborations or kindness and resilience, Santa Clarita has once again shown that by working together we can overcome any obstacle,” said Smyth.
From these incidents, he said, the city offered resources and partnered with organizations to aid those affected by the wildfire, launched the Hearts for Heroes campaign to support essential workers, and recently brought back the Human Relations Roundtable to help eliminate all forms of racism and promote inclusion.
City Council members also shared updates on the latest projects and efforts around the city:
Businesses and the arts
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Miranda highlighted the city’s eat local program, which has helped Santa Clarita restaurants and commercial centers expand outdoor seating on private sidewalks and parking spaces to allow for continued services amdi coronavirus restrictions.
He also shared updates on new art sculptures and parks, such as the Canyon Country Park’s inclusive playground for children of all abilities and 7.4-acre Plum Canyon Park on Skyline Ranch Road, marking the addition of the city’s 35th park.
On public safety, Councilman Bob Kellar announced a decline in collision rates citywide. In the first half of the year, crashes dropped nearly 30% when compared to 2019 and total collisions are down early 29%. In looking at data from last year, DUI collisions dropped 10.5%, pedestrian and cyclist-related crashes dropped 47% and fatalities fell 60%, he said.
Kellar, who will retire this year, said he was pleased to serve the residents of the city and serve as mayor four times.
“I have tremendous faith that our leaders will continue to ensure Santa Clarita remains one of the safest cities in the nation for years to come,” he said.
Amid the pandemic, Santa Clarita received an estimated $18.3 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration as part of the CARES Act, Councilwoman Marsha McLean shared. A portion will be used to offset bus fares as Transit operators stopped collecting fares in an effort to help maintain physical distance among riders and staff, according to city officials.
Preserving Santa Clarita’s history
Work has also been done to preserve the city’s history over the past 12 months, as well as expand recreational areas, according to Councilwoman Laurene Weste.
Among the projects worked on include the restoration of Heritage Junction in Old Town Newhall and the Pioneer Oil Refinery, which was built and operated in the 1870s by early Santa Clarita Valley residents.
The city has also added nearly 2 miles of new trails with trail bridges in the Golden Valley Ranch open space and the SCV trail users volunteer group has constructed more than 2 miles of new trails in the East Walker Ranch, Golden Valley Ranch and Haskell Canyon open spaces.