I’ve become a gray hair. Granted, a 65 and fit gray hair, still those 65 years have been rolled up into my 65-year-old opinions on everything.
And a primary opinion is that I love, love my community, my city, all the green medians, parkways, paths and parks that frame the essence of Santa Clarita. Our well-managed city is unique in its commitment to beautiful open spaces for all to enjoy. From manicured parks, and nature reserves and sports facilities and even an incredible aquatic park and our very own ice-skating rink – the SCV and immediate surrounding area is a virtual public space miracle wedged between two busy freeways!
Indeed, Mayor Laurene Weste recently penned a Signal column celebrating Vista Canyon Park, the city’s 36th new park. Thirty-six parks – and then all the mountain trail open space! If you live here, kiss the ground for your good fortune to have found our town!
My old 65-year-old self also loves my old 32-year-old neighborhood. One of the last tracts built by Newhall Land, it was built in a time when land was plentiful and yards were typically much larger than today.
We love our large, landscaped yard with its large green lawn – which now certainly we’ll have to modify due to pressing water restrictions. The blessings of copious gardens have become burdens facing reality of water scarcity. While we all had hoped for drought reprieve, it’s now obvious to all we’re parched for the long haul. And while we’re parched for water, fuel and energy costs are right there as primary cost-of-living concerns. And all this impacts new housing…
Which brings us to the new Valencia – that massive development on the west side of Interstate 5. After twists and turns and recessions and legal tussles, Newhall Land’s successor,, FivePoint, has unveiled its vision for the Valencia of the future. While incorporating some of the best innovation of old Valencia, this is not your dad’s Valencia. This is far removed from our collective housing past.
And that’s a very good thing. We live in a whole new time. Nearly everything is different from 40 years back. Back then we had unlimited water. Gas was a buck or so. Global warming meant electric blankets covering your entire bed. And hanging out at Starbucks was a concept not quite yet adopted by our SCV natives. Instead, we had the Thrifty Ice Cream counter off Lyons…
Back then, when Valencia was still tiny, folks knew each other. We had neighborhood parties in the streets and there was a communal closeness that, as we passed 100,000 people and then 200,000 folks and beyond, we sadly lost. Most folks admit we miss that personal connection, all our beautiful parks and spaces notwithstanding. Many would like that close feeling to return.
The new Valencia remarkably reflects all these societal and economic changes. Think Playa Vista near Marina Del Rey. Think the Great Park area of the OC. The new Valencia is tighter, more vertical, more interconnected with even more paths and paseos, and is surely more socially minded than prior developments.
The company highlights new Valencia’s “net carbon zero” footprint. Indeed, every home incorporates solar power. Every home comes with an electric car charging station. New mini-roadways transect the villages for where electric golf carts zip residents back and forth on errands and visits. Homes are built to the highest energy efficiency standards – far different than our more lightly insulated homes from 30, 40 or more years ago. Thousands of acres of donated open space. And then there’s new Valencia’s first park – Confluence Park, with its two giant pools and a recreation area looking like a full-blown Palm Springs resort, all connected by paths and paseos from every direction. This is a different space and look than we’ve seen before.
New Valencia is different because times have changed right before our eyes. Buyers themselves aren’t who we were “back then.” The new crowd is more diverse, more removed from the ubiquitous “married with four kids and two dogs in the yard” crowd that once filled up SCV’s housing. More urbane, more socially connected, with smaller families and even no-kid professional DINKS; our area’s new home buyers see the world differently than buyers of yore.
Today’s buyers want convenience. They want less hassle of yard work and more time for fun. They want to be energy- and water-wise. And this new development is aimed squarely at this hipper, faster-moving crowd, wanting more time indoors online, while still desiring a community knit together through paths, paseos, parks, restaurants and outdoor recreation – conveniently right outside their front door.
FivePoint has held a series of “sneak previews” as the development takes shape. Last week I was one of few fortunate guests invited to the Convergence resort clubhouse for a look. Wow! It’s worth a drive up Magic Mountain Parkway to see, real-time, how modern realities shape our living in physical form. Look closely and you’ll see the primary building is structured to recall Vasquez Rocks… Really!
The times, they are a-changing. And the way we live and the way our new communities look is changing with them. Indeed, tour most all our new SCV area communities and you’ll see new neighborhoods with new features far removed from past developments.
From the groundbreaking New Valencia to the west, to hyper-efficient Vista Canyon with its own beautiful new park to the east, and to innovative surrounding developments north and south, living in the SCV is changing with the times.
Of course it is. One hundred years ago we had more horses than cars. That changed fast and the pace of change has only increased. Duck quick, when you see those first flying cars flying overhead.
Welcome to new living in the Santa Clarita Valley. In the next 30 years we’ll be touting our newest skyscrapers, landing our flying cars on our new rooftop parking garages.
We’re halfway to the Jetsons. Change, or get stuck in the past. In the SCV, we’re building our future, now.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.