35th annual State of the City held in Canyon Country

Mayor Laurene Weste address the audience during the City of Santa Clarita State of the City event celebrating 35 years held at the Canyon Country Community Center in Canyon Country on Thursday, 102722. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The city of Santa Clarita hosted its 35th annual State of the City, which was attended by almost all of the most prominent dignitaries in the valley on Thursday.  

In attendance were all five City Council members: Mayor Laurene Weste, Mayor Pro Tem Jason Gibbs, Cameron Smyth, Marsha McLean and Bill Miranda.  

Also in attendance were SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Justin Diez, state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, state Assemblywoman Suzette Martinez Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, and other prominent dignitaries.  

Original City of Santa Clarita City County member Dennis Koontz, left, meets with Mayor Pro Tem Jason Gibbs after the City of Santa Clarita State of the City event celebrating 35 years held at the Canyon Country Community Center in Canyon Country on Thursday, 102722. Dan Watson/The Signal

Following Garcia’s lead of the pledge of allegiance, Weste was the first speaker. Each City Council member had a prepared video with themselves narrating, similar to years past. 

As part of the theme of the event, Weste, congratulated those who helped preserve the vast records of local events and history on scvhistory.com and took steps to transfer its contents into the city’s library database.  

“I am so proud to have been able to advocate to save SCV history and I am thrilled that the 100,000 archival items will be turned over to the city of Santa Clarita for future generations to enjoy through our library system,” said Weste. “That means crucial stories and information will never be lost. Santa Clarita residents will always be able to read about local residents who lived through such monumental events as the St. Francis Dam disaster, the earliest gold discovery in California, the launch of the first commercial oil production… and the beginning of our film industry with silent movie star William S. Hart.” 

Mayor Pro Tem Jason Gibbs speaks during the City of Santa Clarita State of the City event celebrating 35 years held at the Canyon Country Community Center in Canyon Country on Thursday, 102722. Dan Watson/The Signal

Weste then played her video that highlighted some of the accomplishments the city has made since its inception, a large section of which was devoted the amount of open space that had been dedicated, parks that were created, and trails that were paved – which Weste said amounted to 13,000 acres, 29 parks, and 100 miles of off-street trails.  

“One of my personal passions has been the creation and success of our Open Space Preservation district. Since voters overwhelmingly approved the district in 2007, we have added 13,000 acres of open space to the greenbelt surrounding our city. This year alone, we added more than 450 acres… This natural land is preserved for the benefit of our requirement, wildlife health and the enjoyment of generations to come.” 

In the video, Weste also stated this was all possible due to the city’s conservative budgeting strategy, which allowed several action items from its 2025 strategic plan to come to fruition. Weste also noted her strong opposition to the reopening of Camp Scott as a housing location for violent youth offenders.  

Prosecutor Jonathan Hatami, center, chats with California Highway Patrol Captain Ed Krusey, left, and Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Captain Justin Diez after the City of Santa Clarita State of the City event celebrating 35 years held at the Canyon Country Community Center in Canyon Country on Thursday, 102722. Dan Watson/The Signal

The next speaker was Gibbs, who used his time and video to highlight economic development, public safety, and to salute military members and veterans.  

“Over the past three and a half decades, the city of Santa Clarita has developed a strong reputation as a place where families come to set down roots and their dreams become a reality,” said Gibbs.  “My family is another example of this reputation and action and a demonstration of the possibilities that Santa Clarita provides to all of our residents. Our community is built on the bedrock foundation laid by dedicated public servants, including first responders, your City Council and city staff.” 

Gibbs then highlighted that Santa Clarita was the first city to have a vote of no confidence against current Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, which drew a round of applause from the audience.  

City councilwoman Marsha McLean speaks during the City of Santa Clarita State of the City event celebrating 35 years held at the Canyon Country Community Center in Canyon Country on Thursday, 102722. Dan Watson/The Signal

“We did not take this action lightly. But we all agreed that Gascón’s directives and ideologies would set the stage for increased crime and decreased justice for victims,” said Gibbs. “Eighteen months later, crime county-wide is at historic levels, with murders from gun violence alone hitting a 15-year high.” 

Gibbs said that, unfortunately, the city was not immune to the rise in crime, saying that burglary and grand theft auto had increased by more than 30% through the first five months of this year – compared to the same time frame as last year — and that aggravated assault is up more than 40% compared to last year. 

However, Gibbs said crime was lower in other metrics and thanked local law enforcement for those drops.  

City councilmember Cameron Smyth speaks during the City of Santa Clarita State of the City event celebrating 35 years held at the Canyon Country Community Center in Canyon Country on Thursday, 102722. Dan Watson/The Signal

“In comparing our part one crimes this year to five years ago, I’m proud to highlight that these crimes have been reduced by more than 15%. I’d like to take this moment to recognize the men and women who serve at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station for all of their hard work, as well as Capt. Justin Diez for his tremendous leadership during these challenging few years. Oftentimes, public safety is a thankless career, but not here in Santa Clarita – where supporting our law enforcement is of the utmost priority.” 

Gibbs also took the time to thank L.A. County Fire Department firefighters and paramedics for their work during events such as the Route Fire. Gibbs also put a spotlight on the economic development of Old Town Newhall.  

McLean took her time to highlight how much the city has grown in terms of its business, transit and public works sectors.  

“Now as we reflect on 35 years of cityhood, we also look back on the past year of successes and steps forward for our city. Our business community has been realized and continues to grow. Transit operations are advancing, library programming is flourishing, and road maintenance continues to be a priority. I am so proud of what our city has accomplished and I am so proud to have been a part of it through all those years and I know that our city will continue to thrive as we progress into the new year.” 

During McLean’s video presentation, she continued to highlight the city’s expansion of its public transit system – saying that when the city was founded, it only had 13 buses and eight fixed local routes. Now it has a fleet of 108 buses on more than 50 routes, many of which are now transitioning into being hydrogen fueled.    

“As the city continues its transition to a zero-emission bus fleet, the current focus is on developing needed infrastructure. Designs are in the works for a new hydrogen fueling station at the city’s transit maintenance facility, which will be accessible to the public in the future,” said McLean. “This year, your City Council approved funding for the purchase of two hydrogen fuel cell electric buses. These buses use hydrogen to generate electricity and have a range of 300 miles, making them ideal for the type of service we operate in Santa Clarita.” 

McLean also noted the progress made in terms of its Metrolink access, by expanding the number of stations within the SCV from one to three, with a fourth on the way – which will connect the SCV to Metrolink’s Antelope Valley line, part of a project that would drastically reduce the transit time from Santa Clarita to Union Station in downtown L.A in half.  

McLean also highlighted the progress made in public works, such as filling potholes, and new programs offered by the city’s libraries such as administering passports.  

Miranda’s time was focused on the arts and culture of the city, saying it had a vibrant history in these departments.  

“Though the city itself celebrates 35 years, the history of the Santa Clarita Valley goes hundreds of years. And this is a very historic valley in the state of California and throughout the country and we’re very proud to be part of it,” said Miranda. “Our story has been told through the art and culture of our diverse community and it continues to be written each day as we grow with and learn from one another. We are a very diverse city right now. We have become extremely diverse over the last 10 years and I have to tell you what Santa Clarita has done to accept diversity and inclusion, and to work together to do things, is absolutely amazing.” 

Miranda highlighted the many public arts projects that have recently been put into place, which included statues, murals, paintings and the new poems being immortalized on the city’s sidewalks – saying that 10 new poems dedicated brought the total number up to 40.  

Miranda also commended the Celebrate series and its devotion to celebrating the diversity of cultures that exist within the SCV, and noted the many films and TV shows that have been filmed in the area, which contributed to approximately $43 million in economic impact.  

“As we reflect on 35 years of cityhood, we celebrate the invaluable contributions of each and every one of our residents. Here’s to the next 35 years of art, entertainment and endless opportunities here in Santa Clarita,” said Miranda.  

Smyth was the final council member to speak at the event and took his time to highlight the city’s efforts in recreation programs, community service offerings and most notably its homeless services.  

“We take great pride in the quality of life our residents enjoy, and continue to strive to enhance services and amenities for the community to enjoy for generations to come,” said Smyth.  

Smyth made an effort to point out the many civic sports and health-promoting complexes the city has developed including its skate park, aquatic center, recreational center, and sports fields.  

“Since our city was formed back in 1987, our residents and city leaders have made it a priority to preserve open space, create parks and provide other amenities for recreation and activity,” said Smyth. “From swimming at one of our eight pools to playing a game of pickleball or taking it to the end zone and flag football, the city has created a robust range of recreational opportunities.” 

Smyth also highlighted the city’s efforts to combat homelessness and stated that the city’s partnership with Bridge to Home has been able to provide $4 million toward the creation of permanent housing that will offer up to 60 beds. Smyth also showcased several other projects that would provide both permanent and temporary housing.  

“This facility will provide affordable housing units for low-income and homeless families with children along with an emergency overnight unit,” said Smyth. “Looking from where we were 35 years ago to now I could not be prouder to live, work and represent such a wonderful city and I look forward to all the future holds for Santa Clarita.” 

The speeches and videos were followed by a light-hearted video in which council members joked around and poked fun at one another. 

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