The following is an open letter to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors:
Fifty years ago, when I lived in a Saugus neighborhood less than a mile from Camps Scott and Scudder, it was recognized that a population of lower-level youthful offenders were being housed and contained at two fenced and gated camps at the mouth of rural Bouquet Canyon. There were a few scattered homes and ranches in the area, and for the most part the offenders were not felt to be a danger to the nearby suburban homeowners and their families.
As the population of the Santa Clarita Valley has grown in the past five decades, the housing developments have pushed out to take in available land, and one of the areas that has seen considerable expansion has been Bouquet Canyon. The housing tracts have pushed out on Bouquet Canyon Road to Vasquez Canyon Road in the east, and Plum Canyon Road connected to Bouquet Canyon Road and in short order went over the hill to the south to connect with Whites Canyon Road. Along each of these road expansions housing tracts have developed, and expanded, and filled in the former sagebrush-covered hills.
Today, thousands of families live in the area close to Camps Scott and Scudder. Placing youthful offenders of any level is now creating a true level of danger for those who live in the immediate area. In the past there was not much incentive to break out of the camps as there was little opportunity to escape or cause havoc. That is not the situation today as the hundreds of nearby homes offer prime and available targets for break-ins, and with that the potential for violence being committed toward the inhabitants.
As retired Realtors, my wife and I are aware that homeowners must disclose any potential detrimental factors that might influence the value of a property. When we sold a home in the Castaic area, homeowners were required to disclose to prospective buyers that the Pitchess Detention Center was nearby. With the opening of Camps Scott and Scudder, homeowners will fall under this same requirement. Detrimental factors drive down the value of property (and lower property taxes collected), and the actions you are considering will have that result should they come to fruition. We understand that the potential inmates at these camps will be violent youth offenders, not the small-time shoplifter or car thief of the past.
The decision before you is most serious – do you really intend to place dangerous offenders in close proximity to thousands of families? Consider how many families will take serious steps to protect themselves, i.e., with the purchase of weapons, and the consequences that might result. Consider the loss of the right to feel safe in your home and neighborhood, the parent’s fear of letting the children go outside to play, the inability to leave a garage door up or a house door unlocked, and the constant worry of someone breaking into your home.
Please take the time to make a wiser decision and consider the possibility of locating a facility for youthful violent offenders on the grounds of the Pitchess Detention Center, or other similar structure, which is already designed for security and protection of the nearby public.
Roger and Becki Basham