Leon Worden

Best little whorehouse in Newhall

Leon Worden · January 22, 1997

When I was at Hart High School 20 years ago, many of us kids knew exactly where the local whorehouse was. For you history buffs, it was right down the street from the school, near the corner of Lyons and Newhall Avenue. I'd tell you where it moved to, but I don't feel like getting sued this week.

Prostitution is an old profession. Ladies of the evening worked Old Newhall 100 years ago, and they will be here tomorrow. So will drugs. Drug use is on an upswing, not a downturn. Few things really irk me, but one of them is people who think Santa Clarita is Fantasyland and all the world's troubles stop just outside city limits.

Last week I made a passing reference to crime in Canyon Country. Boy, did I hear about it! And to think, I didn't even mention the male prostitution ring they busted in Canyon Country over the holidays.

If The Signal truly "picked on" Canyon Country, it would report every little crime there. It doesn't. Many crimes all over this city never make the newspaper.

When some jerk smashed my wife's car window on Christmas Eve (we live in Saugus) and swiped her briefcase with her students' homework in it, did it get a write-up? Of course not. It's too routine. And that's too bad.

I was filming on San Fernando Road a couple of weekends ago. There were a half-dozen gang bangers yelling and flashing hand signals in front of the old pet shop, which is now a liquor store, unfortunately.

Some weeks before that, I was walking down the same street and saw a rather provocative young lady standing up against a building. No, I didn't come right out and ask her. But believe me, if I had waltzed up to her and pulled a $20 from my pocket, she would have known exactly what to do.

Some call it crime. Some call it blight. Whatever you call it, it's spreading. People in West Newhall tell me gang bangers have moved into some houses there, just down from the elementary school.

I know this is not what you want to hear. I know there are many wonderful volunteers, like the Madres Unidas (United Mothers) and Mad About Rising Crime, who are doing great things to steer our youth in the right direction. Their hard work is saving many children from a life of gangs and drugs. I applaud them and wish their ranks would swell.

I know we have top-notch law enforcement in this city. Our Sheriffs do their jobs professionally and effectively.

I know Santa Clarita is the fourth-safest big city in the country. But everything is relative. Crime is out there, and it can be dangerous not to be aware of it. Don't go through life with your head in the sand. Ignorance and complacency can kill you. Or your kids.

Talk to the teachers and counselors in the Hart district about alcohol and drugs. Valencia High School is not immune by any stretch. I grew up in Valencia. I could have gotten any substance I wanted as a youngster. And that was when Valencia was a new town.

What to do about it? Do what the United Mothers do. Get involved with your kids. Volunteer at their school. Learn the signs of adolescent drug abuse. Call City Hall and ask about parenting classes. Call the Sheriff's Crime Prevention Unit and ask about security measures for your home or office. Get to know your neighbors. Join Neighborhood Watch. Clean up graffiti with the Pride Committee or the teen-agers from the Community Center. Help with the revitalization of Old Town Newhall so we can save the historic heart of our city before it is too late.

When Newhall Ranch and the nearby Commerce Center are built out, 67 percent of all local jobs will be in Valencia and Newhall Ranch -- even though only 38 percent of the people will live there. Our local captains of industry must strengthen their alliances with our community volunteer groups to make sure the right kinds of jobs are being provided for people living in every corner of this valley. Crime and economics are inextricably linked.

Santa Clarita is my home. I know many people who really do care and work hard to make a difference. But I also know there are a lot of people in this city who would do well to come down from whatever planet they're on before the problem strolls through their front door and whacks them on the head.

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Leon Worden is a Santa Clarita resident. His commentary appears on Wednesdays.


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