Mayor addresses Valley Industry Association, shares updates on city

Visitors and dignitaries gather for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Vista Canyon project, five-story, 613 parking space parking lot in Canyon Country on Tuesday morning, October 27, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Covering a multitude of topics, from open spaces to ongoing city projects to her 2022 policy goals, Mayor Laurene Weste spoke this week with a group of local business and community leaders during a Valley Industry Association virtual meeting.  

In the session held via Zoom, Weste walked those in attendance through the accomplishments of the city over the past year while she served as mayor pro tem, including touching on how the city was able to keep businesses and parks open despite the ongoing pandemic.      

“We kept everything open, our parks, our trails in our open space, and we saw a lot of heavy usage,” said Weste. “We got a lot more usage during the COVID shutdown than we had ever seen before, so people are out there enjoying their community and it gave them an opportunity to be out healthy, active and with their kids.”  

Weste went on to say that she was looking toward adding to and protecting the city’s already established 12,000 acres of open space, as well as potentially adding another branch of the Santa Clarita library.  

“It’ll take a little while, a lot of planning to do with that and design guidelines that we’re working on,” said Weste.  

The mayor also highlighted that she and city staff would continue to oppose the placing of the county’s high-risk youth offenders at Camp Scott on Bouquet Canyon Road. Although the L.A. County Board of Supervisors has not yet made a final decision on where to house the juvenile population, Weste and her fellow council members have continuously stated that the Bouquet Canyon Road location is in an extreme natural disaster area and would use an already narrow road during emergencies.  

In terms of ongoing projects, Weste said the council was “pretty excited” about people utilizing and enjoying the multi-year revitalization effort for Old Newhall, adding that it has become a “great arts and entertainment district.” 

Weste said that the city had either recently completed or was in differing stages of development on various historical preservation projects, such as at Heritage Junction, in building out new business parks, such as at Needham Ranch, and creating new hubs for local transportation, such as the new Metrolink station for Vista Canyon.  

With regard to public safety, Weste said the community has always been a safe community. However, she took the opportunity with VIA to criticize L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón for policies that she believes has allowed crime “to go crazy.” 

Capt. Justin Diez, of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, “is doing an amazing job and Sheriff Alex Villanueva is doing everything he can,” said Weste, later adding: “But as long as policies by Gascón are in place, I think crime will continue to escalate and (cause) deterioration.”  

Among other policies discussed during the meeting was development of new housing, improving upon the city’s existing infrastructure and community programs, and letting non-residents know that the city wants “to be a city where people want to visit.” 

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