Community Involvement As It Should Be

By Darryl Manzer
"Way Back When"
The Signal
Sunday, July 30, 2006

ongratulations to the residents of the Stonecrest community for their successful annexation into the city of Santa Clarita.
    The issues were discussed in the community; many people signed petitions and got involved. Steven Huerta did a wonderful job of getting folks engaged and interested in their local government. That is how it should be done — door-to-door, discussing the issues, letting the people decide. Well done to all. Stonecrest residents should be proud of their involvement and actions, no matter what side of the issue any individual homeowner was on. It was local community action that did the job.
    I've been publicly accused of "pathological hatred" of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and the West Ranch Town Council by the president of said Town Council. I've been the subject of many articles in various "blog" sites in the Santa Clarita Valley, some for and some against what I write. I wasn't going to answer to the charges of "pathological hatred" — but just can't resist.
    To wit:
    If various e-mails to me from some members of the West Ranch Town Council are any indication, they don't seem to think I hate them. Yes, I disagree with them on many issues concerning Los Angeles County supervisors and the annexation of West Ranch into Santa Clarita — but y'all have a right to your opinions. Through those few e-mails, we agreed to disagree.
    As for my opinion of Los Angeles County's fifth district supervisor, I don't have feelings of hatred — but I do vehemently disagree with his anti-SCV actions of the past few years.
    I would bet that Mr. Antonovich and I could sit down and have a good conversation about the issues without either of us raising our voices or calling each other names. He is a very capable politician and does have more than 2 million folks to look after.
    I wouldn't want his job. I don't like how he performs the job, but it isn't one I would aspire to in any way.
    A family friend wrote an e-mail to tell me he isn't happy with being part of Santa Clarita. Building permits are more expensive and much more difficult to get.
    I understand, Don. I don't know the reason — but I did write a column about city and county inspectors and how there aren't enough of the county types to inspect all that is going to be built in the next few years.
    Maybe permits cost more to support the required number of inspectors. Drop a line via e-mail to the city and ask them to explain. I've always had better luck with a phone call; Santa Clarita is good about answering questions like that.
    I do know that permit fees in Santa Clarita are only one-half of what they are in Suffolk, Va., if that makes you feel any better.
    Way back when, not many folks in the SCV concerned themselves with getting a permit from the county. Enforcement of zoning laws was lax, and if you ever saw a building inspector, it was because he was lost on his way to Palmdale or Lancaster.
    The county has improved things quite a bit since then; so has the city of Santa Clarita.
    Make no mistake: I wasn't a great supporter of forming a city in the Santa Clarita Valley. I would have much rather seen a whole new county. (That was tried twice.) But I am a supporter of having local folks control local issues, and not five members of a county board located in downtown Los Angeles.
    I even support the Town Council concept. The Castaic Area Town Council is doing a great job, especially when it comes to the planned expansion at the prison. (We used to call it the "Honor Farm.")
    Also, the Castaic Area Town Council has an excellent Web site that shows maps of the council districts; gives phone numbers and links to county and Santa Clarita offices; posts news about events and issues; and gives a way to e-mail each and every Town Council member.
    Well done, Castaic. Fair, open, honest and involving many folks — just what it should do.
    The Santa Clarita Valley is my home town. I still have many family members who live in the SCV, from Acton to Newhall. I own property in Los Angeles County near Palmdale and pay taxes on it every year. I've a right and a duty to write about the county, and also the SCV. I appreciate the fact that it is turning into a "two-way street" through letters to the editor and even the blog sites. If any of my words get more people active in local government, my mission is on track.
    And by the way, I don't really think that only 54 people voted in the West Ranch Town Council election because most folks liked the way things are going. I still think they just don't care about the Town Council of West Ranch.
    That is Apathy with a capital "A" — and just when is that Town Council going "door-to-door" ask their constituents about annexation?
    That really isn't a fair question, since it appears they have only 54 constituents. The other 99-percent-plus of the community didn't vote.

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley and eventually relocated to Boulder City, Nev. He can be reached at His older commentaries are archived at; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].