Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Why Wouldn't They Want Home Rule?
Published in The Signal, 4-23-2006.

Darryl Manzer, 2004     It may have been 1964, but I'm not sure. A group of us boys were riding our horses and doing some shooting out in Placerita Canyon and decided to ride across town to where I lived in Pico Canyon — now called Mentryville.
    We had run low on ammunition for our various rifles and handguns and stopped at Newhall Hardware to replenish our supply. Yep, downtown Newhall on horseback, fully armed. Nothing was said. It wasn't that uncommon of a sight.
    We tied the horses to the bumper of a car in front of the store and went in and bought what we needed. Mounting up, we rode the miles to Mentryville and most likely had lunch. The other boys in the group rode on home after lunch. I had chores to do.
    Imagine what would happen today if a group of teenage boys rode into Newhall on horses with rifles and handguns. How fast would the SWAT team be called? Thirty seconds? Sixty?
    Times have changed in the world and in the SCV. Way back when, we thought of the whole valley as one place with a few small towns in it. Today, Saugus, Newhall, Canyon Country, Valencia and even Castaic are nearly all merged into one town.
    I said, "nearly all merged." You see, some folks want to remain outside of the local Santa Clarita government. They would much rather have downtown Los Angeles dictate to them. Stevenson Ranch and Castaic come to mind most of all.
    Those folks like their "town councils" and such. They think they really have some power over what the county is doing. Rrright! Twenty thousand new homes are going to be built under county approval with little input from the current residents. Roads are already crowded. Schools are overflowing and the county has approved — or will soon approve — all of those new homes.
    But the little "town councils" of Castaic and Stevenson Ranch keep thinking that they have some power. I'll bet they are offered things like getting to name a new mall or park. Maybe they'll even get to name a street or two. Now, that is real power.
    Is there going to be increased law enforcement and fire protection? What about bus service? What about bike paths and hiking trails?
    We have "town councils" here in Virginia. We call them "homeowners associations" or HOAs. They have no political power at all. They do make sure the common areas in a neighborhood are maintained, and some order is kept with respect to fences and yards.
    I don't see them doing that in the SCV. They think they can really have political clout in downtown Los Angeles.
    I've got news for those folks. From what I've seen in the SCV during my lifetime, Los Angeles County cares nothing for the SCV. Sure, they've provided some parks in the hills that are historical areas or are otherwise not suitable for housing to be built. But what have they really done over the years?
    Why don't they provide the same level of law enforcement and fire protection that the city of Santa Clarita provides, using county resources? They don't provide those things because they are not willing to pay the price — and the city of Santa Clarita is paying the price.
    For Los Angeles County, the SCV is nothing but a cash cow where they can collect large amounts of taxes and spend the money in other parts of the county. Period.
    So why aren't those "town councils" moving quickly toward being annexed into Santa Clarita? It just doesn't figure. Do they like having to drive to downtown Los Angeles to attend meetings of the Board of Supervisors? How many of them have attended those meetings, anyway? I think that if they did, they would return and beg Santa Clarita to annex them in a heartbeat. (Well, maybe not Castaic; they don't want to be part of any place).
    Next weekend is the Cowboy Festival in Santa Clarita. Y'all might see some six-guns on hips and rifles strapped to saddles. I know there will be good music and great times to be had by all who attend.
    That day back in 1964, I'm sure we rode the streets of Melody Ranch before we went to Newhall Hardware. Maybe we even saw a crew filming something like "Combat" or such. Funny that only young teenage boys had real weapons.
    When we rode across Highway 99 — now Interstate 5 — and up into Pico Canyon, we didn't feel we had left town. Today, when I cross the same intersection at Lyons Avenue, I know I've left the city and am into an area that isn't controlled by local government. There are all those little boxes on the hillsides that all look the same, flowing over ridges and canyons without regard for the environment or history. All those little boxes are taxed, and the money heads south to downtown Los Angeles. Not much of the money returns to the SCV.
    If you people on town councils of Castaic and the "West End" like sending your taxes south, great. Seems like a very poor investment. Do you want your taxes spent in Pacoima or in the SCV? The choice is yours.
    I, for one, like the idea of local control. Should y'all make the wrong choice, maybe I could gather those guys together again and get some horses to ride to your next "town council" meeting, with the same firearms.
    Wouldn't have to worry about a SWAT team coming for us, since the county wouldn't pay to send them there — what with it being outside of Santa Clarita.

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

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