Unlocking the Doors to an Amicable SCV

By Darryl Manzer
"Way Back When"
The Signal
Sunday, August 20, 2006

t is time the fighting stopped. Yes, in the Middle East, Somalia and Nigeria — and yes, in the Santa Clarita Valley.
    Santa Clarita Valley? You bet. Right in my beloved valley — the war with words between the folks west of Interstate 5 and the city of Santa Clarita. It is time for all to stop the rhetoric and declare a truce. There must be some common ground that both sides agree upon, and then start from that point.
    The first point of common ground I know about is the fight against Cemex. The president of the West Ranch Town Council has stated that Cemex needs to be stopped. So has the city of Santa Clarita. That is a pretty big starting point, right?
    The folks west of I-5 want some say in local government. The city of Santa Clarita was founded on the premise of providing local government to the entire SCV. No arguments there, either? Good.
    How about parks and recreation? Santa Clarita passed rules that say folks outside the city will have to pay more for use of parks in the city, starting this fall. It's fair to the residents of the city but a pretty big thorn to those the city would like to annex. That point needs working out — but remember, the city has a pretty big stake in the Santa Clarita Woodlands (Towsley Canyon) west of I-5.
    Come to think of it, why would the folks west of I-5 want to trade the Los Angeles County "gang of five" supervisors for a different "gang of five" City Council? I think I've got some solutions to offer, and I hope y'all are listening today.
    Step 1: The Santa Clarita City Council must think about expansion. No, not by annexing more territory into the city, but by expanding the number of seats on City Council.
    My fair city of Suffolk, Va., population 75,000, has seven council members, with the mayor elected by the council. Next door in Chesapeake, Va., population 300,000, the council consists of eight members and a directly elected mayor. Y'all don't want to look and act like the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, do you?
    Step 2: Now remember, a truce has been declared — so please hear me out on this step. Maybe we can believe some sanity can be restored to the SCV.
    If the city of Santa Clarita was founded way back when on the belief in local people governing locally, why can't the folks outside the city still have a voice, and why can't the voice of the city be heard at Town Council meetings?
    So here it goes: Each Town Council in the SCV shall elect or appoint an ex-officio (non-voting) member to the Santa Clarita Council, and a member of Santa Clarita City Council (or city staff), shall be elected in the same capacity to each Town Council. What the heck — if the county can use the town councils as advisory boards, why can't the city? (Remember, the county does not fund the town councils.)
    I'm looking for dialog here, not rhetoric. Better communications between the city of Santa Clarita and the various town councils might just ensure that the truce remains in effect. We aren't talking personalities; we're talking about the very principles that caused the formation of Santa Clarita. One Valley, One Voice. Inclusive, not exclusive. Every voice in the SCV heard equally. We shouldn't forget those principles. Ever.
    Step 3: Take time to listen to each other. I was taught early in my Navy career the adage, "If you come to me with a problem without a least part of the solution, then you are part of the problem." The SCV is our valley, being held in bondage by a county government that listens only when it is time for re-election. By declaring a truce among all, you take back control of the SCV in local hands, with local voices. Isn't that what y'all wanted anyway?
    In closing this week, let me state again why I write from Virginia to and about the SCV:
    I shall always consider the Santa Clarita Valley my home. Though born in Fullerton because my mother had to get out of Gorman due to heavy snow, I have lived in Gorman, Castaic, Saugus, Newhall and Pico Canyon (Mentryville). My parents, grandparents, an aunt and an uncle are buried at Eternal Valley.
    My sister and brother-in-law, three nieces and their husbands live in the SCV, along with their five children. There are four bricks at the Veterans Historical Plaza that have the name of my father, myself, my eldest son and my brother-in-law engraved on them.
    Yes, I have a vested and deeply heartfelt interest in the valley — all of it. I shall continue writing as long as The Mighty Signal lets me write for the paper.
    I hold y'all responsible for taking care of my home while I'm away, however long that may be.
    There was a time, way back when most folks in the SCV didn't know if the locks they had on their doors worked because the locks were never used. I'm not locking the doors to my vision of the SCV. I hope all of you can unlock your visionary doors, too.

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 dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].