Leon Worden

S'Claritans like their trash service?

Leon Worden · February 12, 1997

It looks like people are getting used to the idea of living in Santa Clarita.

What I mean is, when we formed this city almost a decade ago, it took some doing to sell people on the name "Santa Clarita." Lots of folks figured that plastering one manufactured name on the whole territory could lead to homogenization and throw our four individual communities into an identity crisis.

According to the most recent city poll, 91 percent of all city dwellers get a warm and fuzzy feeling when they think of the words "Santa Clarita." There were a few holdouts among the old timers who never did take a liking to the name, but overall, the numbers have shot way up over the years.

In fact, when asked if they lived in Newhall, Saugus, Valencia or Canyon Country, one in five respondents said they didn't. Live in any one of the four communities, that is. Now, if you're one of those 19 percent who aren't sure which end is up, you might be interested to know that Sand Canyon is in Canyon Country, Friendly Valley is in Newhall and Circle J is in Saugus. Just for the record.

Northbridge isn't in the city yet, and if it ever comes in, it will still be in Valencia. The People's Republic of Placerita Canyon is an entity unto itself, but somehow I doubt that one-fifth of all Santa Claritans live there.

People are even getting used to the way Santa Clarita looks. Most respondents this year said they thought the city was well laid-out -- something the survey dubiously called "city planning."

Crime proved to be the most important issue. No surprise there. Schools, fire safety and traffic circulation followed. This is a change from the city's first poll, when roads ranked highest.

Roads did rank highest this year in terms of where people think the city should spend our tax dollars. Making Santa Clarita the number-one safest city in America came in number one among the public's goals for the year 2000.

Growth was a 50-50 split. Forty-six percent of respondents said growth had a positive effect on the city's image, while 45 percent said it had a negative effect. The other 9 percent were still trying to decide what community they lived in.

Those who answered in the affirmative said they liked the fact that growth had brought more shopping opportunities and things to do; more business and jobs; and general improvements to roads and schools. People who answered negatively said growth had occurred too rapidly and was not well planned. They complained about overcrowding, traffic congestion and the destruction of the natural environment.

The 45-54 age group was most likely to respond negatively to the growth question, while those who thought growth was good tended to be younger and newer to the area. It seems the battle cry of the no-growthers -- "I'm here, now throw away the key" -- doesn't fly with newcomers.

When asked to rank city services against those provided by other cities, fire and police protection received the highest marks. Among all services provided or regulated by the City of Santa Clarita, respondents liked our parks and trash pickup best. I have a hunch the trash stats would change if you asked the question today, what with The Signal's recent expose on the high price of trash service as compared to other similarly-sized cities.

Then again, it's a surprise to lots of folks that they even live in an incorporated city. Thirty-one percent of those surveyed said they have never come into contact with any city personnel whatsoever.

Even if they don't get out of the house, at least they read their local newspaper -- the primary source of information for most city residents. And guess which newspaper outstripped all others, combined, by almost a two-to-one margin as Santa Clarita's main source of community news?

You're reading it!

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If you missed "The Making of the Downtown Newhall Improvement Program" last week, you can catch the hourlong documentary tonight at 7:30 on Public Access channel 20.

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

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