Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Good Weather, Good Growth.
Published in The Signal, 2-13-2005.

Darryl Manzer, 2004     "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

— Yogi Berra

    Here in Virginia, the temperature is 32 degrees with a high of 40 expected. Freezing rain, sleet and snow are in the forecast. They tell me I live in the "Old South," but I have my doubts.
    Don't get me wrong. I love my adopted state. I've come to enjoy all four seasons here. Our winters are usually warmer than other parts of the East coast. The springtime is magnificent. It seems that in fall, the colors last almost forever.
    Summers are hot, hazy and humid. It took a few years to adapt to the humidity of summer here. Virginia ladies don't perspire; they "glow." The glow comes from the perspiration flowing freely down the face and off the nose. Virginia men just plain sweat until they can wring out their shirts and pants as if their clothes were just removed from the washer.
    I've noticed that each winter, almost every time I call Southern California, the person on the other end of the phone has to tell me the current temperature — "78 again today" — or give a yell, "Everybody out of the pool!" There must be a law in California requiring residents to do that.

Winter in Virginia
The current view out Darryl's window.
    This law must have been sponsored by a real-estate developer lobby. This type of advertising has worked for years, and we pay for it in the East by our phone bills and no small measure of envy. It costs the developers nothing. In fact, historically, the weather of Southern California has been a major — if not the major — advertisement for living there. Why not? It sells houses by the thousands.
    Is the "Sunny California weather" advertising still working? Maybe not — and not because of the recent, seemingly endless rains. Compared to those in Virginia, it was a very warm rain.
    Just what caused The Newhall Land and Farming Co. to reduce the number of homes they plan to build in Riverpark from an allowable 3,000 to just 1,123? Not enough buyers or renters? Too many other malls? Could it be they really wanted to do something right? Maybe, just maybe, they read the history of the San Fernando Valley and decided they didn't want the same thing, one valley to the north.
    I can only guess, but if the project had been outside the city of Santa Clarita, in the unincorporated Los Angeles County area, those same folks may have requested to build more homes than originally on some "master plan."
    It is noteworthy that a developer decided to reduce the total number of homes being built. Where are you going to put all those folks who want to escape the winters here in the East? A nearly two-thirds reduction in the number of home sites allowed in the city's General Plan. Unbelievable!
    Even more noteworthy is the fact developers and the city of Santa Clarita are working together to meet major transportation needs and goals. I know it doesn't seem like it when you're stuck on Soledad Canyon Road trying to get to state Route 14 or Interstate 5. The cross-valley connector should resolve many of those traffic problems. Don't give up hope! You could be here in Southeastern Virginia.
    Why should I be concerned about a road in Santa Clarita? Simple. The folks of the SCV taught me to be a community-minded person. Just about every place I've lived, I've been involved as a citizen. In Washington state I served on the board of a Kitsap County Commission. In Vallejo, Calif., I was involved in Jaycees, and for a total of eight years in Chesapeake, Va., I served on the Drainage-Stormwater Management Commission. It is just one little step beyond voting. Of course, many of us don't even bother to do that simple act of citizenship. I feel I don't have the right to complain about what is happening with any part of government unless I express myself by voting and serving in some capacity.
    Such service can be frustrating, irksome, thankless, and usually anonymous. In Chesapeake, I would get calls at home about clogged drainage ditches and flooded streets. I would go out and look at the problem only to discover the folks hadn't yet called Public Works to come and fix it. But that was OK. I got to make friends I'd never met until that moment. That is the reward of serving your fellow citizens.
    The seed of being involved in governmental affairs was planted in me when my mother was elected to the school board in Castaic. It took a while to germinate and grow. I had great teachers at Hart High who helped with growing that seed into a mature plant. (Thanks, Mr. Sims.) It has been fun, rewarding and educational.
    Here in Virginia, there is a proposed "parkway" that would do the same for traffic between Virginia Beach and Chesapeake as the cross-valley connector in Santa Clarita. It has been proposed for about 15 years. A few people complained that if it were built, more houses would follow with more congested schools and infrastructure. Well, it hasn't been built and may never be built. But the new homes and additional traffic came, anyway.
    The builders of the new homes paid school impact fees of about $13,000 per house. The schools are being built, the homes are being built — and they still have two-lane streets where four to six lanes are needed.
    In the SCV, developers pay fees of about $15,000 per new home and a proportional share on property developed for other purposes (malls, industry and the like). All of those funds are for construction of the transportation infrastructure.
    Smart move, Santa Clarita. Smart move, too, you citizens of the city of Santa Clarita. I think I hear the sounds of citizen involvement all the way back here in Virginia. It makes me proud to be an SCV native.
    Now, to work on the natives here.
    As I look out the window I see the snow has started to fall. I'm cold just looking at it. Coming from the SCV, I know snow belongs on top of the mountains and not in my yard. So, next time I call this winter, please tell me it is 78 degrees and everyone has to get out of the pool. It warms me up when I hear it.

    Darryl Manzer lived in the Santa Clarita Valley oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s as a teenager. He now lives in Virginia.

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