The city of Santa Clarita celebrated its progress over the past year on capital improvement projects, program growth and its efforts throughout the year to bring people together during its annual State of the City event Thursday at the Canyon Country Community Center.
After two years of pandemic, this year’s event started with city officials touting their success in bringing more than 150,000 people together throughout the year at events like Light Up Main Street, the Fourth of July Parade, the Senses block parties in Old Town Newhall and the Cowboy Festival.
The city’s “Event Extravaganza” theme recognized the recent growth of its outreach, and also shared about its newest facilities, like the Vista Canyon Multi-Modal Center in Canyon Country, and some of what’s to come, like the addition of William S. Hart Park, a new community center in Valencia and planned upgrades to existing places, like the city’s Central Park buildout.
The city’s program also talked about the addition of its first indoor pool planned for its new center on McBean Parkway, which will essentially be a renovation of the former YMCA building, and the new roller rink slated to be built next to its activities center.
Santa Clarita Mayor Jason Gibbs said he considered the occasion more than a reminder of the great things the city offers residents. It was an opportunity to thank everyone in the community for making Santa Clarita what it is, he said, not just the council or its staff.
And there were plenty of mentions of the city’s new transit center that opened earlier this month and the city’s Concerts in the Parks series, which were two of the things Gibbs said he was most excited for the next year.
He was ready to “bring on the summertime already” after the program.
“Honestly, the most exciting and personal is David March Park being built out,” he said, referring to plans the city approved in December for the 13.2-acre lot on Via Joyce Drive.
The park was created by L.A. County in 2004 but added to the city in 2016. The $1.2 million phase II of the city’s master plan for the park calls for the development of an additional 5 acres of the park, as well as shade canopies, a lighted basketball court, lighted walkways and expanded parking, among other improvements.
“So my first home that I bought with my wife and kids, David March was the first park we ever went to and it’s still their favorite park out of all 37 in the city,” he said.
In a prerecorded video played at the event, Gibbs also talked about what he and his council members considered as wins the city has garnered over the last year, including the fight to have a public hearing against Cemex, and the fight against a state committee’s plan to move all high-risk male offenders to a renovated Camp Scudder in Saugus. L.A. County and the city announced an apparent compromise earlier this year that will bring a smaller population of female offenders to the camp.
While Gov. Gavin Newsom didn’t sign legislation by Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo and Sen. Scott Wilk that would have forced the State Water Board to notice the mining company’s application to use the Santa Clara River in its attempt to develop the largest mine in North America in Soledad Canyon, Newsom cited the fact that the State Water Board ultimately already had decided to publicly notice the permit hearing for Cemex in his veto notice.
The State Water Board has yet to announce when the 40-day period would begin for the notice of the permit application.
It was clear Gibbs and his colleagues on the City Council also had fun putting together performative-informative videos about the city’s events, with a chance for council members to let their hair down with their constituents, in some cases, quite literally.
Gibbs dressed in disguise as Doc Brown for a “Back to the Future” movie night event the city put on, asking residents who the mayor was and trivia facts about the show. Councilman Cameron Smyth performed a similar man-on-the-street shtick dressed as Axl Rose, replete with a wig of long, flowing red locks, during the Guns N’ Roses cover band show at the city’s Concerts series.
Following a famous line in the Guns N’ Roses song “Welcome to the Jungle,” when Rose asks listeners where they are and the refrain is, “You’re in the jungle, baby,” Smyth makes a comically protracted effort to prompt a similar response from city residents. No one took the bait, to Smyth’s seeming chagrin during the video.
He asked another person playing along who their favorite mayor was. The person said “(Councilwoman) Laurene Weste” to a seemingly downtrodden Smyth.
“We do that every year,” said Councilman Bill Miranda, “and it’s an opportunity to kind of jab one another a little bit, just for fun in the spirit of humor.”