We are moving toward the end of 2020 (thank goodness). What a year it has been.
When I was sworn in as mayor last December, I was committed to leading our community through a period of healing following the devastating Tick Fire and heartbreak of the Saugus High School shooting.
Who would have thought that this year would also bring with it a global pandemic, Health Department restrictions and a renewed call for social justice and equality? It was my honor to serve as mayor during these months of challenges and uncertainty. I am proud that, together, as a community, we supported one another and helped our neighbors navigate through these uncharted obstacles.
Connecting with community
I am thankful to have had the opportunity to connect with the community through regular updates on Facebook. This virtual, live format allowed me the chance to provide up-to-the-minute information on the current health restrictions, what was open in the city and share what crucial resources are available. But the most valuable part of these Facebook live broadcasts was being able to answer questions from residents. It gave me another way to understand what the biggest concerns were from the Santa Clarita community and do what we can as a city to address them.
I am thankful for the progress the Community Task Force to Address Homelessness has made this year. We continue to meet monthly, bringing together the many services and resources from nearly 30 nonprofit organizations and making great strides on the Community Plan to Address Homelessness.
In addition to the work our community is doing, Measure H dollars are flowing to cities across Los Angeles County. Santa Clarita was a recent recipient of $375,000 thanks to the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative and United Way of Greater Los Angeles, $75,000 of which funds a homeless coordinator and $300,000 goes toward property acquisition of interim family housing for Family Promise.
As Bridge to Home is making progress at the Drayton Street shelter site on land donated by the city, Santa Clarita has allowed a temporary relocation of shelter services to the Newhall Community Center. This location provides better hygiene facilities and enough space for clients to maintain the necessary 6 feet of social distancing.
Projects move forward
Even through all the closures and restrictions, work has continued at the sites of two of the landmark projects in the Santa Clarita 2020 Strategic Plan. If you drive by the site of the new Canyon Country Community Center at Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road, you will see that dramatic progress has taken place at the site. The Community Center building itself has really taken shape over the past few months, and we cannot wait to welcome the community to this new hub for enrichments and activity next year.
Meanwhile, the new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station is in the home stretch. The new facility on Golden Valley Road will have enough space to house the deputies, staff and operations. It includes a vehicle maintenance facility, jail, communications tower and a helipad. We look forward to turning the station over to the Sheriff’s Department in 2021.
I am also grateful for the honest and raw conversations I have had with community members regarding racism and discrimination in Santa Clarita. This movement has driven the relaunch and revamp of the Human Relations Roundtable. The mission of the city of Santa Clarita’s Human Relations Roundtable is to encourage, assist and empower our community to eliminate all forms of racism and discrimination and to promote inclusion, understanding and appreciation of human differences.
Most of all, I am thankful to be part of the Santa Clarita community and to have the honor of your support and trust to once again serve my hometown as a member of the City Council. I look forward to what the new year brings and hope for health, comfort, prosperity and positivity for our city of Santa Clarita.
Cameron Smyth is the mayor of Santa Clarita.