Wednesday, May 31, 2006

West Ranch Town Council Elections

The West Ranch Town Council will be holding elections for three open positions on July 4, 2006. The current Town Council took office in July of 2004. Of the seven members, four will remain in office for two more years. Newly elected members will be elected for a term of four years, with the membership cycling in staggered two year election cycles.

The West Ranch Town Council is accepting candidates for election on July 4, 2006. Residents of the communities of Stevenson Ranch, Westridge and Sunset Point who are residents as of July 4, 2006 and are 18 years or older are eligible to run. The candidates must complete an application form and submit an application fee of $300.00 by June 15, 2006. Applications are available at Town Council meetings held on the first Wednesday of the month at the Southern Oaks Community Room, in the Southern Oaks neighborhood of Stevenson Ranch at 6:30 p.m. or by contacting Paul Ash at Applications may also be obtained at Supervisor Antonovich’s Santa Clarita office located in City Hall at 23920 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 265 City of Santa Clarita, CA 91355. Application deadline is June 30, 2006, applications must be received by June 30, 2006 along with a check made payable to the West Ranch Town Council in the amount of $300.00. Applications returned by email to will not be deemed complete until a check has been received. Applications and fees may be dropped off at the Supervisor’s Office.

The West Ranch Town Council is an advisory board that provides input and passes along information both to and from the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors. The creation of the Town Council concept was an idea of our county supervisor Michael Antonovich. His concept was that through these Councils, elected by their communities, and acting as conduits of information, he could keep a closer feel for the pulse of the community in the unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County which otherwise had little in the way of an organized voice.

The Town Councils are self funding and receive no financial support from the County. The members of the Town Council are volunteers who are donating their time and energy to their communities. In addition to providing information back and forth between the community and the county, the West Ranch Town council maintains a close relationship with the Castaic Area Town Council and the City of Santa Clarita. The Board of Supervisors also requires that developers applying to develop property within the domain of particular Town Councils report to, and obtain the approval of the Town Councils before proceeding on with their plans at the County level.

The West Ranch Town Council’s area of influence extends to the North to the Santa Clara River and abuts with the area overseen by the Castaic Area Town Council, to the West of the 5 freeway and to the South to the Michael Antonovich Regional Park in Towsley Canyon. The West Ranch Town Council’s area includes the present communities of Stevenson Ranch, Sunset Point, Southern Oaks and Westridge.

Applications and fees may be dropped off at the Supervisor’s Office or mailed to West Ranch Town Council 25876 The Old Road #213 Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Stevenson Ranch Tagged; Again!

Several sidewalks and curbs were recently hit by taggers at Stevenson Ranch Parkway and Stafford Canyon. As the photos indicate, spray paint was used to scroll some illegible words across about thirty feet of sidewalk. On the curb opposite the sidewalk vandalism was an another message directed towards police.
Was this the work of local kids bored on a Holiday weekend or was it a message from some gangsters passing through? Either way it is a blight on our community. If the vandals are ever caught they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law so others will know the consequences. Too often, if the vandals are children of local residents, parents just open the checkbook and take care of the matter by throwing money at it. That is a disservice to the child and the community.
This unsightly vandalism hurts the entire neighborhood and needs to be cleaned up quickly. Hopefully, this graffiti will be cleaned up quickly by the County Department of Public Works.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sex Offenders Easily Found on State Internet Site

Checking out your neighborhood is just a couple of mouse clicks away. The State of California, Department of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General maintain the Megan's Law web site. It gives residents an easy way to keep updated on registered sex offenders in the area.
If you click on the headline above it will take you to view of the greater Los Angeles area on the Megan's Law site. If you see any blue dots, which represents a registered sex offender, up in the Santa Clarita area just click and drag open a box on those dots and it will zoom you into that area. If you then click on one of the blue dots it will open another window with additional information on that person.

Upcoming Trail Ride at Castaic Lake Recreation Area

Sunday, June 11, 2006: Mayor Antonovich’s next trail ride will be held at the Castaic Lake Recreation Area at 32132 Castaic Lake Drive. Check in and pancake breakfast will be held at 7:00 am with the trail ride beginning at 9:00 am. The trail ride will begin at the 7 Acres staging area and continue through the scenic trails of Castaic Lake. A traditional barbecue will follow, with live country western music and dancing. Children must be 7 years or older, able to reach the stirrups, and must be accompanied by an adult. For more information or to make reservations, please call (626) 575-5526. Reservation deadline is June 6.

San Francisquito Canyon Road Reopens

Damaged Roads to Be Reopened Los Angeles County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich announced the completion of road work on San Francisquito Canyon Road, an important link between the Antelope Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley that had been closed after being heavily damaged by severe storms in January 2005. The road is now fully open without restrictions or delays. Aliso Canyon Bridge, a vital access route through Angeles National Forest, has also been opened. Mayor Antonovich worked closely with the community and the Department of Public Works on construction of the new cement bridge to replace the wooden bridge destroyed in the Crown Fire.

Los Angeles International Film Festival, Mini Tribute to CalArts

The Los Angeles International Film Festival will present CalArts in Moving Pictures: A Mini Tribute on Wednesday, June 28th, 7:00 PM at the Italian Cultural Institute, 1023 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles.
During the past three and half decades of the Film School, Calarts Alumni have made significant contributions to virtually every aspect of cinematic art.
The Los Angeles International Film Festival program pays tribute to CalArts by presenting a brief overview of work selected from the Museum of Modern Art's 39-program retrospective that is currently on view in New York City. Included are works representing many genres that span nearly thirty years of student filmmaking.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Stonecrest, Cemex and Annexation

Last night, at the request of residents, the County hosted a fact finding meeting for the homeowners living Stonecrest. The usual suspects were in attendance including several members of the Santa Clarita City Council and a cadre of city workers invited as a courtesy by the County.
There were two main issues at hand; annexation and the Cemex Mine. The most heated issue, which dominated the evening, was the Cemex Mine. Many of the residents had misinformation on the project including one woman who thought that the mine was operating 24/7. This was incorrect as the County Attorney present pointed out that, according to documents, the mine was "limited" to operating between 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM Monday through Saturday. There is no mining permitted on Sunday.
Another resident commented that the City was trying to bully the Stonecrest community into annexation. That is no surprise since that has been the modus operandi of the City for many years.
City Councilman Bob Keller did point out that the City would not be able to stop the mine from operating but was "hoping" that the City could try and slow down the mine production. This was a key piece of information as it highlighted the fact that there is no intention stopping the mine operation only to try and reign it in to "historical levels".
It was clear that there was less interest in the comparison of services between the County and the City, but rather more interest in looking for a solution to the Cemex Mine. Some residents viewed the annexation question as a panacea for relief from the mining operation. The residents that want annexation may not realize that a move into the City will add another layer of litigation to equation. That might further prolong the legal process and in the meantime continue to effect home values in the Stonecrest community.
The County did its best to keep the meeting productive but there were moments where several people were talking at the same time and over each other which made it difficult.
There were a few moments in which the City went on the defensive. One resident of Stonecrest questioned the City regarding the Lyons Canyon/Warner Ranch development that DRHorton had submitted to the City. I actually stood up and let the resident know that the West Ranch Town Council had successfully fought off the City on this project with the support of the County. One City worker denied that the City would have "ever" approved that project. Fortunately, we will never know how the City and DRHorton would have shaped that nearly 1000 home development. The new plan submitted to the County and the West Ranch Town Council now calls for a 183 unit community with half the homes being designated for 55 plus senior housing.
Another interesting point is that the City of Santa Clarita apparently does not have any mining ordinances or mining regulations of any sort on the books. That would make it difficult to actually try and come up with a solution that would be palatable to the Cemex group and the community. With that kind of uncertainty the only real winners in this situation will be the Lawyers, Cemex and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Stonecrest Annexation Meeting tonight

The Stonecrest community in Canyon Country will be holding another fact finding meeting tonight regarding annexation of the community into the City of Santa Clarita . The County of Los Angeles will have representatives on hand to discuss existing services being provided by the County to the community. This follows a meeting held last month in which the City of Santa Clarita had representatives on hand to discuss what services the city would be able to supply if the community were to annex.
The meeting will begin 7:00 PM at Sulphur Springs Elementary School,
16628 Lost Canyon Road, in Canyon Country.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Real Estate Signs Speak Volumes

I was absolutely amazed with the number of real estate signs up in the West Ranch Communities this weekend. Apparently, there are over 120 homes for sale in the Stevenson Ranch area according to several real estate web sites including the ones on our banner advertising.
There are four homes for sale on my street alone! It appears that the market is slowing quickly as inventory has been building for many months. The real question is, if the FED keeps raising rates will there be a rush for the exits? The Federal Reserve may be looking to get the FED Funds rate to 5.50%. What will that do to the folks with ARM's, especially those that have over extended themselves? I'm not sure if we'll see a re-play of the early 1990's but the days of double digit annually gains may be over for awhile.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

CalArts Graduation; Friday Nights are Alright!

I think one of the most fun and unique days of the year here the Santa Clarita Valley is the CalArts Commencement. Every year it different and every year it is equally entertaining and visually different. There are several components that are constant like it is almost always on a Friday night and the graduates, trustees and honored guests are always lead by the African Dance and Music ensemble out into the graduation court yard. It is truly a unique, fun, and inspirational experience to watch or be a part of and it all takes place in our little valley once every May.
By the way, many residents of the area may not know this but CalArts is a World Class Art Institution. In fact, the museum of Modern Art in New York is doing a film retrospective on CalArts graduates next month. Included in the New york show are John Lasseter, Tim Burton, Sophia Coppola, and many other Alumni from CalArts.
Also, another fact about CalArts is that it infuses the local economy with $30 million dollars annually!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Alert:Route 14 To Close At Escondido Canyon

SANTA CLARITA – The California Department of Transportation will close the Antelope Valley Freeway (Route 14) in both directions at Escondido Canyon Road on Sunday, May 21, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Detours will be posted.
The closure is in relation to a slope stabilization project above Route 14 between Soledad Canyon Road and Escondido Canyon Road. The $12.6 million project involves cutting back the slope and installing retention systems using cable net or wire mesh.
Estimated to complete in spring 2008, the project will increase hillside stability, protect the roadway and improve safety.

Update: The Best Fireworks Show in the Valley

Planning is in full swing for what has been dubbed by many as "The Best Fireworks Show in the Valley". The 8th Annual Stevenson Ranch Fireworks spectacular will be taking place on Tuesday July 4th at the Dr. Richard Rioux Memorial Park in Stevenson Ranch. The gates to the park will open at 6:00 PM. This years show will be bigger and better than any of the previous shows if you can even image that!
One again the show is being Presented by the Stevenson Ranch Civic Committee in association with Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation and sponsored by Lennar/Newhall Land, The Stevenson Ranch Community Association, Waste Management/Blue barrel, The Stevenson Ranch Community Church, and some soon to be announced surprise sponsors.
Volunteers are always needed and if you are interested please drop by the Rioux Park office and give your name and phone number to the Park Supervisor.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Where do I Stand on the West Ranch?

Since we have built a terrific following for this blog it seemed appropriate to refresh our readership on some of the West Ranch Beacons views. So here is a recap on the ever present annexation question. Please keep in mind that these are fact based opinions. There are a number of people in the local politico who have been engaged in name calling; lackey, tool, etc.; who have attempted to confuse and mislead members of our community on this issue.

I get asked often where I stand on annexation. Usually it’s when I run into someone at the market or somewhere around town. My standard answer is that it really doesn't matter to me whether we annex, form a new city or stay in the county as long as our community gets a fair and honest deal. Now I not wavered from this stand!
Part of any major issue, such as the status of one's community, is investigating the pros and cons associated with the various options. That investigation requires asking questions and rooting out all the information regarding each option. In the course of that investigation faze, while asking questions, if one starts to get resistance in obtaining information or getting forthright answers that would be a red flag.
The reason why there has not been any movement on the annexation front is that there have been many red flags popping up in the course of the investigation. In fact, many of those red flags are because of the behavior of the Santa Clarita City Council and City management. Some of those flags have also been because of the County as well.
The City of Santa Clarita City Council can't understand why the West Ranch community doesn't want to just jump right into the arms of the City, no questions asked. I think part of the problem is Councilman Frank Ferry. By profession he is a Teacher and is use to dealing with students who if they misbehave receive a punishment. So, if a student cuts class they receive a detention. Frank doesn't appear to be the type that would deal with such situations in any out-of-the-box, different or creative way. There in lies the rub, no one at the City is able to deal with a possible annexation of West Ranch in any different way than they have handled the other 27 annexations.
As I have said over and over, the future of the Santa Clarita valley is completely in the hands of the City of Santa Clarita. How they decide to handle themselves is entirely their choice. They have clearly stumbled over the years with the tactics that have been employed including the recent two tier park fee structure that the City Council implemented. They could have ultimately gotten the same result had they worked with the outlying Town Councils in a cooperative fashion. Sadly, this was yet another blown opportunity to build a good working relationship.
In the recent City Council election I had hoped that some new blood would have invigorated the management of the City but unfortunately the status quo has prevailed. Until the city starts to approach the West Ranch communities from a place of respect and honesty nothing will change and the status quo will continue in the unincorporated communities as well.

Monday, May 15, 2006

More Annexation spin from the City

Recently, Laurene Weste wrote a commentary in the local advertising circular entitled “Residents Get More, Pay Less Inside City” which contained the same old arguments from the city about Annexation. She points out that 27 annexations have been completed into the City of Santa Clarita because the City “offers local government representation, more and better municipal services, and lower taxes.”
Once again the City is not telling the whole story! Based on a series of meetings between the West Ranch Town Council and the City of Santa Clarita the differences are not that great. If one does a comparison, an honest comparison, of the services between the County and the City you’ll find that the County has better services in some areas and the City has better services in other areas.
For instance, let’s look at Sheriff Services in the City and the unincorporated County areas. First, the City of Santa Clarita has 15 Deputies per shift for the city which has a population of approximately 177,000. That would be roughly one Sheriff Deputy for every 11,800 residents.
The flip side is that the unincorporated areas surrounding the city have a population of approximately 49,375. The non-city areas have 15 Sheriff’s Deputies (yes, 15!) not the 2 you "heard" were patrolling the unincorporated areas. There are 9 Deputies working in radio cars serving West Ranch, Castaic, and unincorporated Canyon Country, 4 are assigned to Pyramid Lake and Gorman, 1 in Community Relations, and 1 is assigned as a School Resource Deputy.
But wait there’s more, we have an Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) patrol which consists of 2 Sergeants and 6 deputies and as of April 24th 3 COPS Deputies. As a side note, the West Ranch Town Council and the Stevenson Ranch Civic Association lobbied for, and the Sheriff received, state grant money to fund the OHV patrol.
Now, let’s divide 49,375 by 6 assigned Deputies (we won’t include the OHV patrol, the COPS Deputies and only part of the regular Deputies for the most populated West Ranch/Castaic areas) to the unincorporated areas and you get roughly one Sheriff Deputy per 8230 residents.
Laurene failed to mention that crime has been trending down in the unincorporated West Ranch areas and trending up in the City of Santa Clarita. Also, her assertion that “the city has faster police response times for emergency, priority and routine calls” is false since the City’s own Chief of Police has stated publicly that the Sheriffs’ response times are the same valley wide.
She also failed to mention that the 27 annexations completed so far by the City were communities with no meaningful commercial tax base. The majority of those annexations have cost the city more in services then has been taken in tax dollars. This is what sets the West Ranch communities apart from the ones the City has already annexed; we have a massive commercial tax base. This is what the City wants to get their hands on but they apparently don’t want to have meaningful negotiations for.
The City management and its leadership still don’t get the fact that they have to be honest with communities they are interested in annexing. Why does the City want Stonecrest? So they can get the Cemex mine and its tax revenue. There is no intention of stopping the mining activity it will continue at “historical levels”. Why doesn’t the City talk about the fact that they can annex some privately owned land to get to the Cemex Mine in stead of the Stonecrest community? Simple, that private land is owned by some local constituents who have mining rights as well. You won’t hear about that in the local advertising circular!
If you live in the unincorporated areas and want to hear more facts about annexation and the current tactics the City is using you should attend your local monthly Town Council meeting. There is a reason why the City of Santa Clarita wants some of the unincorporated areas; Sales Tax Revenue! That’s fine, but if they want to annex the West Ranch communities they will need to come to the table and have a meaningful negotiation, something they have not been willing to do yet. Any negotiation and agreement must be put in writing and must be fair and honorable to our communities. Of course residents have the option of giving their community away for nothing if they chose that path too. That is something that Laurene and the rest of the City government would love to see happen.

Stevenson Ranch HOA May meeting

The Stevenson Ranch Community Association will hold its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday May 17th at the IHOP on Pico Canyon in Stevenson Ranch. The meeting begins at 6:00 PM and will include regular updates from various committees including an up date on the upcoming July 4th Fireworks show.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Quick Recap of the May 3rd West Ranch Town Council Meeting

On May 3rd, the West Ranch Town Council held their monthly meeting at the Southern Oaks Community Center. Attendance was good – with a number of new faces present.

The meeting featured several topic areas – in addition to the regular reports to the Council from committees. One of the main discussions centered on an issue presented to the Council by the President and Treasurer of the Westridge HOA about the effort being made to take the TPC Golf Course fully private.

When the Westridge development was approved, there were requirements that needed to be fulfilled prior to the Golf Course becoming a private course. According to Newhall Land, these requirements have been fulfilled. However, the Westridge HOA pays a significant dollar amount for joint property maintenance, and believes that as long as the HOA is responsible for joint maintenance, that the course remains a public one. The West Ranch Town Council President will be setting up a meeting with all of the parties involved to get additional information and determine a recommendation.

In terms of updates, new information was provided on the LA County Homeless Shelter Task Force which is working to determine a permanent location to the seasonal Homeless Shelter for the Santa Clarita Valley. The task force is in the early phases of their review.

Crime statistics in the West Ranch area were slightly higher in April than March, but still remain significantly lower than elsewhere in the valley. Vehicle burglaries remain the most common issue – and residents are reminded to remove valuables from their vehicles. Graffiti also was an issue in several locations, and the County has contracted with firm to remove the graffiti once reported – speeding up the cleanup process. The last security issue regards reckless skateboarding on the city streets, and the Town Council will be working with the Stevenson Ranch HOA and LA County to develop rules to limit the risk / increase the safety of all.

Finally, on the election for Town Council Members, the election will be held on the 4th of July with voting at Richard Rioux Park. 3 of the 7 seats will be up for election, and these seats have a 2 year term of office. Applications are due June 1st.

Thanks to Ron Mechsner for the update.

Terrific Volunteers at the Pico PTA

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of representing the West Ranch Town Council at the Pico Canyon Elementary School PTA. It was impressive to hear all the great work that this group of volunteers are doing to support and improve the school. By the way, Pico Canyon has recently been awarded a California Blue Ribbon School destination. Apparently one of the quickest new schools to receive such a designation!
I was able to give a presentation on the state of the West Ranch communities including an update on Sheriff services and the fact that crime is trending down in the West Ranch Communities. Also discussed, the correct information on the fact that response times by the Sheriff to our area are the same as the rest of the Santa Clarita Valley.
There was an update on JK Park which is next to Pico Canyon Elementary School. Recently, there had been a rumor circulating that the County was going to give JK Park to the Newhall School District. This is absolutely not true. The County Supervisor's office has stated that there are no plans to give the park up now or at anytime in the future. However, there are plans to add restrooms to the park as an amenity. This is a subject that has been discussed at the last couple of West Ranch Town Council meetings. The PTA meeting attendees were encouraged to attend the next West Ranch Town Council meeting to express their thoughts and concerns about the new restrooms.
Also, there was concern regarding the failed attempts to get a crossing guard at Poe Parkway and Stevenson Ranch Parkway during morning and afternoon times for safety. Apparently, several studies have been done and have concluded that there is insufficient need at this time. The West Ranch Town Council will look in to this issue.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

West Ranch Town Council to Update PTA

A representative from the West Ranch Town Council will be updating the PTA at Pico Canyon Elementary on Wednesday May, 10 at 9:00 AM at the Pico Canyon Elementary School. The discussion will involve an update on the state of the our community including the JK park adjacent to the school and followed by Q&A.

Monday, May 08, 2006

More Toilet paper please? The view from the "East"

The other day as the family and I were heading back from our shopping expedition in the Expedition over at Toys R Us off Pico and the Old Road we got to see perhaps one of the funniest things we have ever witnessed in the 12 years we have lived here.

Heading back to our side of the I-5 from Pico to Lyons we passed by that great gift to mankind, the 99 cent store. Now, we do not consider ourselves slaves to Hallmark Holidays, but we do recognize them and have a good time celebrating them for the benefit of our kids. They enjoy giving gifts, especially to their Mom and Dad.

Well for those of you who didn't know this. The 99 cent Store is the official " Mothers Day Headquarters" and they have a banner to prove it. I was not aware they had been approved as such by some special committee. Its been 24 hours since we saw this and I still cant stop laughing. You have Toys R Us, SteinMart and other great shops and we have the 99 cent store. But, are any of your stores the official Mothers Day Headquarters? I think not. We got you all there! We east siders totally rule you now!

Well, it looks like you will all be heading over to our side this week to get those Mothers Day gifts at the 99 cent Store. I'm not sure how busy they are going to be, but since they are the "official Headquarters" I can only assume they are going to be packed to the rafters.

For us however, we will be over at Steinmart and maybe Old Navy. Since you will all have to go to the 99 cent store I guess my favorite stores on your side should be totally empty. Please be sure to get an few extra rolls of paper towels for that special someone in your life!

Jack Murphy
West Ranch Adjacent.

"The Arts" in the Eye of the Beholder

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and that is certainly the case with the new monument sign recently installed at The Arts community in Stevenson Ranch. What first came to mind when it was finished was that this was a design train wreck, an esthetic disaster, clearly designed by a committee devoid of any artistic talent. It has quickly become the butt of wisecracks and jokes.
The Arts sign has no design or aesthetic continuity in relation to any of the other monument signs within the Stevenson Ranch community. It raises the question, was this actual design submitted to the HOA for approval? If so, why would the Architectural Committee approve such a visually horrendous sign? This illustrates one thing, that the Stevenson Ranch HOA has lost its ability to enforce the CC&R's by apparently approving this monument sign.
I won't bother going into design 101 to describe what is wrong with this monstrosity, but will say this monument sign cheapens the community. The residents of The Arts community should be upset with this clear assault on their property values. The sign looks like it should be at the entrance to a trailer park!

Manzer, Signal Apparently Backed into Corner

I appreciate the letter that Supervisor Antonovich sent to the Signal regarding the threatening statement by one of their columnists. It is clear to most that the author, as well as the "paper", were surely irresponsible and seemed to lack any common sense in publishing that trite piece.
Most people thought that the threat couldn't be serious but realized in today's day and age it is not possible to make jokes about violence towards others anymore. Just a few weeks ago a airline passenger was arrested because he was "joking" about a bomb on a plane.
Sadly, it appears based on the latest volley, that Mr. Manzer and the "paper" can't take responsibility for their own actions. The latest column by Manzer was further backpedaling in which he lays blame to "..a lapse in my (his) judgment not to write at a level far below that of the average citizen".
It is those types of unproductive comments that high light the ridiculous, unprofessionalism of that local advertising circular and the apparent lack of intellectual prowess of some of it's contributors.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

West Ranch Town Council April Meeting Minutes

West Ranch Town Council
Minutes for the Meeting Dated: April 5, 2006

A. Call to Order / Roll Call:
a. Meeting called to order at 6:35 pm
b. Present: Dave Bossert, Betty Griffin, Randal Winter, James Zimmerman, Ron Mechsner
c. Absent: Paul Ash, Brian Toqe
B. Approval of March Minutes
a. Approved by a vote of 5 - 0
C. Treasurers Report
a. James Zimmerman presented the Treasurer’s Report. The current balance in the account is $989.75. There were no revenues or expenditures during March 2006.
D. Presentations to the Council
a. Jasch Janowitz representing DR Horton on Lyons Canyon
i. Thanked the West Ranch Town Council for the verbal support given on the revised development plan that involves 183 total units – 93 single family homes and 93 senior housing units. Agreements have been formalized between the Developer and LA County Fire as well as Newhall School District.
ii. Asked if the West Ranch Town Council would provide a Letter of Support that DR Horton could take to LA County.
1. Mr. Janowitz was advised that a letter would be provided within 5 business days of the meeting.
iii. Mr. Janowitz was asked about the next steps / estimate on the timeline for the next steps.
1. A draft EIR should be made available to the Public in April.
2. They hope that the project can get through County in a June 2006 timeframe.
iv. Dave Bossert thanked DR Horton for their contribution towards the Pico Canyon Elementary School perimeter fence – with that contribution putting the effort at the desired goal.
E. County Business
a. Parks and Recreation Department
i. Dave Bossert advised that the Stevenson Ranch HOA Civic Committee is still looking for volunteers to assist on the 4th of July Fireworks show at Richard Rioux Park.
ii. Spring Programs:
1. Easter Egg Hunt / Easter Sunday Service by Stevenson Ranch Community Church
2. Senior Health Fair and Concert in the Park on April 29th from 10 am to 2 pm
a. About 20 booths
3. Spring Break Youth Camp April 3 – 14, 2006
a. Spots still available 2nd week of camp
4. Spring Flag Football underway
5. Co-ed T-ball League Registration April 22
iii. Skateboard Park is currently closed – program is being redesigned and built out to include membership / safety waivers.
b. Supervisor Antonovich’s Office – Bob Hauter
i. Advised that the Supervisor opposes the recent action by the Town Council for the City of Santa Clarita to establish a 2 tier pricing structure for Santa Clarita Parks and Recreation program – one tier for residents of Santa Clarita and one tier for non-residents.
1. The LA County Parks and Recreation Department is to work with the City to ensure that the fee structure is implemented and completed properly – with all of the considerations for the requirements that a number of parks are ineligible for the 2 tier structure due to either their existence prior to Santa Clarita incorporation or the park / programs receiving Prop A funds. Bob will advise the WR Council of the specific parks / programs that are ineligible.
ii. New Traffic Signal to be installed / operational on The Old Road in front of the Old Navy entrance by December 2006.
iii. County cited the builder of new homes adjacent to Southern Oaks development for unauthorized soil removal.
iv. After county review, the issue with slope slippage impacting Southern Oaks is a HOA issue.
v. The Grant to the Sheriff’s Department for Off Road Enforcement that the West Ranch Town Council supported has funded some additional services and delivered real value.
vi. Semis parking along Pico Canyon Road by the Ralph’s Shopping Center are illegally parked – violating a County ordinance. They will be ticketed by patrols, and if violations are seen, contact the CHP.
F. Committee Reports
a. Community Liaisons:
i. Randall Winter – Southern Oaks: Nothing to report – however an issue raised in Public Safety / Security.
ii. Brian Toque – Westridge: Brian and Paul are attending the Westridge HOA meeting at this time. No report.
iii. Chuck O’Connell – Sunset Pointe / Enclave: The new traffic signal is operational. Also mentioned that the new construction of the Hampton Inn is proceeding and that they are being good neighbors. Dave Bossert mentioned that the builder made some minor changes to their design to incorporate concerns raised by the Council in terms of signage.
iv. Stevenson Ranch HOA: Covered in LA County Sheriff Report
b. Bylaws Committee:
i. With Paul’s attendance at the Westridge HOA meeting, the report on the Election process was tabled until the May meeting. The election is tentatively planned for the July 4th with remote voting possible at Southern Oaks and Westridge Community Centers.
c. Public Safety & Security:
i. LA County Sheriff – Sgt. Wallace
1. March was another good month – only 1 burglary. (A normal month sees 8 to 12.) 3 Felony vandalisms also took place.
2. Activity is seen as down significantly in West Ranch area – however it is up elsewhere in SC Valley.
3. Issue rose regarding break-in at Southern Oaks Community Center – observed by Southern Oaks HOA Board Member. There was no response from Sheriff Dept or CHP when call was placed. Was suggested that call go to 911 if a crime is in progress. Additional suggestions made to install motion sensor lights / surveillance camera (real or fake) and to post ‘No Trespassing Signs’. Also discussed was an escalation point (to Watch Supervisor / Commander) if not satisfied with responsiveness.
4. Re SR HOA – No negative change in security seen with stopping the 2nd Security patrol car. The activity in SR is down significantly from rest of the Valley.
5. Patrols are regularly checking in at the Pico Canyon Park (Old Glory) to check on the parking area and address any issues.
d. Parks – Covered in County Report.
e. Government Relations
i. Recap of Dave Bossert’s attendance of the Santa Clarita Town Council meeting where the dual Park fee program was voted on and approved. One topic at root – Annexation of the West side by Santa Clarita. Appears that annexation issue will be more contentious in the next year.
G. Old Business
a. No old business to address.
H. Meeting Adjourned 7:25 pm.

Alert: 14 Freeway Closure on May 8th, 9th, and 10th

SANTA CLARITA – The California Department of Transportation will close two of three lanes on the Antelope Valley Freeway (Route 14) in both directions intermittently from Soledad Canyon Road and Escondido Canyon Road between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. nightly on Monday, May 8, Tuesday, May 9 and Wednesday, May 10.
Traffic control will be in place.

Monday, May 01, 2006

West Ranch Town Council May Meeting Agenda

The West Ranch Town Council will hold its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday May 3rd, 6:30 PM at the Southern Oaks Community Center.

May 3, 2006

A. Call To Order/Roll Call
B. Approval of April Minutes
C. Treasurers Report and Banking Update
D. County Updates
1. Doug Newell Parks and Rec
2. Bob Haueter LA County
E. Committee Reports
1. Election Standards and Timeline, Budget and Seats
2. Security/Public Safety
a. Skateboard Issues
b. Graffiti and Trash Issues
3. Governmental Relations
a. Homeless Shelter Task Force
b. Westridge HOA and TPC issues
4. Parks
a. Restroom for Jake K. Park
5. Westridge and Southern Oaks Liaisons
6. Sunset Pointe Liaison
F. Old Business
G. Public Comment
I. Adjournment

Exclusive: Paul Ash's Unedited Response to Council Threats

Dear (Signal)Editors and Mr. Manzer,
It has now been a few days since the Sunday column of Mr. Manzer and his call to arms against the Town Councils. My first draft of this letter has been reread and deleted, and now, in a calmer manner I approach this response.
When I first read Mr. Manzer’s column I was sitting at the West Ranch Coco’s enjoying a Sunday breakfast with my wife and daughter. I have always enjoyed Mr. Manzer’s recollections of the old Santa Clarita Valley and started the column with interest. Only a few sentences in I set my coffee down and thought, “Great, another attack piece”, but I have gotten used to those. At the last two paragraphs though, a chill went down my spine. I took those statements as a direct threat against me and mine… “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.”
I take my position as a community volunteer seriously and I try to do my best. I may not always make decisions or recommendations that everyone agrees with, but I believe that all those who know me and have worked with me on the Council, at the City, at the Boys and Girls Club, the Homeowners Association, the Civic Committee and even the 5 and 6 year old flag football team I coach, would agree that I try my best to do what is best. So as I sat looking at my wife and watching my daughter color I felt threatened. I also felt the safety of the Town Council members that have entrusted me as their president threatened.
I do not know Mr. Manzer. I have never spoken to Mr. Manzer. I had only read his columns over the years. What I did know about him was gleaned from those columns. I knew that he loved the old Santa Clarita Valley and has decried its development. I knew that he had been in the military in the past. I knew from the column that he was familiar with firearms. I knew from the column that he was unhappy with me. Given these facts on Monday morning, I requested, for my peace of mind as a husband, father, neighbor and president of the Town Council, that Supervisor Antonovich, look into these threats. I also notified Mr. Manzer of this intent by email. To date he has given no response to me. Over the next several days I was reassured by several emails that were passed along to me and by the Sheriff’s department that it was reasonably safe to assume that Mr. Manzer meant his comments in jest and as rhetoric and hyperbole. However, this does not take away the seriousness of the comments and the fact that many people took them as an overt threat rather than folksy irony.
I am a fervent supporter of our Constitutional rights and the importance of not infringing upon those rights. However, the first amendment does have limits; one may not yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, one may not incite violent riot or rebellion, one may not threaten (with the apparent ability to carry it out) violence. These are all things that the Manzer column appeared to do. Mr. Manzer has the absolute right to tell the Town Council his opinion and to criticize those he does not agree with; however he does not have the right to attempt to bully or threaten with violence to change those positions. I now believe that Mr. Manzer did not mean to actually threaten violence and that his comments were an ill-advised attempt to use folksy and rough talk to make a point about self rule but that does not change my opinion about the poor judgment in their use.
Several points Mr. Manzer made or alluded to in this column and columns past were regarding the ability of power to corrupt logic and good judgment. He indicates that the Town Councils’ addiction to power is what has them striving to remain in the county rather than moving forward with annexation. The Town Councils have no power. They are the creation of Supervisor Antonovich and are tasked with spreading information from the county level to the community, gathering community consensus and passing it back to the Supervisor so that he can make informed decisions about local issues. Town Council members are elected by their community at public elections. The Town Councils are completely unfunded and must raise their own funds even for elections and meeting places. In fact, more than once, Town Council members have been asked to dip into their own pockets to fund meeting rooms or fliers. This does not sound like power to me.
What we do have though is some influence with the Supervisors office. Mr. Manzer criticized our thinking that we could make a difference in the development of the Santa Clarita Valley. Well, Supervisor Antonovich has given us a voice in the development of our community. He now requires that developers brief us on new developments in our areas and requires that the developers get our blessing before moving to the next phase of approval. In fact just recently we were approached by a developer planning to develop the Lyons Canyon project (just north of Sunset Pointe and south of Calgrove west of the 5). The initial development scheme called for nearly 1000 new homes, hundreds of oak removals, ridge line destruction and thousands of car trips per day added to our streets. This developer intended to proceed with the development despite all protests because they were going to annex the property into the city and felt they could get a sweetheart deal in return for giving the city a foothold west of the 5 that it has for years so desperately coveted. Through the work of the West Ranch Town Council, supported by Supervisor Antonovich and his staff, that development is now less than 200 units, most in a senior living facility, with next to no impact to the ridgelines and few oak removals. Mr. Manzer, this was in the very back yard that you loved and rode as a young man, and the Town Council that you maligned helped to preserve a large part of it that would have been gone if not for our volunteers in the unincorporated portions of the valley.
The West Ranch Town Council assisted in securing the site and building the desperately needed and state of the art Pico Canyon Elementary. The West Ranch Town Council secured the park space now known as Jake Kuredjian Park and the open space park in Southern Oaks. In addition, the West Ranch Town Council insisted upon, and assisted in the development of the evacuation plan which was later successfully implemented during the firestorms of 2003 and has served as a model nationwide. The West Ranch Town Council has also assisted the County in implementing a new streamlined plan for the more economical and prompt placement of traffic controls in newly developed areas in all of Los Angeles County. This procedure got us the lights on the Old Road near the commercial center in record time, remedying numerous dangerous conditions months and even year earlier than under the old system. We do not have power, but through the hard work and determination of a few dedicated volunteers we do get things done to make our community a safer and better place to live.
Darryl, you also ask why we have not annexed. Better to ask the city. We have been involved for years with the City in conversations about annexations. These meeting were begun with a meeting with Frank Ferry, at our invitation several years ago. Unfortunately the attitude of the city, at that time, and even today, was take it or leave it. When we sat down with the city and county and compared apples to apples, the services the city provided were essentially identical to the services provided by the county. At this point the main talking points from the city became the benefits of local rule rather than downtown LA rule, police presence and the parks and recreation issue. Frankly, to me local rule seems a non issue. Supervisor Antonovich has an office directly across the hall from the City offices and is very responsive to our requests. So the benefits to city hood come down to better parks and recreations services and police presence. The City has superb parks and a terrific recreation department. In the past though these services were available to the residents of the entire valley so there was little benefit to annexing. Recent events have changed this for the time being, but to me it is really just Mr. Ferry continuing with his strategy of finding whatever stick is available to him to beat us with. There have been several articles recently about response time, maligning the county for poor response time in the county areas. This does not take into account that those responses include calls to far outlying areas up to the county line and out past Lake Elizabeth. I have requested, and am willing to bet, that response time in the Westside communities and Castaic is on par with the City. The number of officers available discounts the presence of the CHP who patrol our streets, County Police, who patrol our parks, a new three man COPS (Community Oriented Policing) team that will soon be deployed, the deputy stationed at the West Ranch High School and our off-road Sheriff’s team. The City can claim a quicker response time…for now, but look at the crime rates for the Westside. Crime rates in the areas of Westridge and Stevenson Ranch have declined since the first of the year while the city’s rates have climbed.
So, the long and short of it is that if services don't change, tax differences are negligible, and the County treats us well and works with us to improve our community, why should the community annex? We have tried time and again to work with the City to show the residents of the Westside a tangible benefit to annexing. The city has refused. Instead the city has tried a different strategy; divide and conquer. The city has tried to cherry pick areas west of the freeway in Castaic and the West Ranch area to gain a foothold. They have used the same ham-fisted strategy in Stonecrest, in which concerned residents are now fighting back. To date LAFCO has indicated that these efforts will not buy anything but what it has really done is embitter a number of the residents and force them and us to look at other potential resolutions including incorporation.
The city gives no recognition to the fact that the annexation of the Westside, Castaic and even Stonecrest will eventually bring the fortunes of the commerce elements that come with them into the city fold. It might not be for a while but it will happen, and those are BIG tax dollars.
The West Ranch Town Council has taken no position on whether annexation is the right path. That is up to the citizens to decide. My personal feeing, separate from my Town Council position (as I told Signal Columnist/reporter Diana Sevanian mere weeks ago), is that annexation, under the right circumstances, would benefit the entire valley. However, annexation under the terms the city wants would amount to an unconditional surrender and put our residents at risk of being underserved and underrepresented. How can we, as elected representatives, and as a community, stand by and let that happen?
If the city came to us with alternatives, or in a good faith negotiation, it is likely that a compromise benefiting everyone could be reached. But the city refuses to do that. Their answer to all of our substantive requests is that they don't want to set precedent for later annexations. That is shortsighted thinking. The annexation of the Westside or Castaic or even Stonecrest, would be the biggest event in SCV history, short of the city hood movement in the 80's. Such an annexation would change the face of the valley. Each of these potential annexations brings not only residential components but commercial components and tax dollars as well. These annexations are unlike any in Santa Clarita history and deserve to be treated as such.
We, the Town Councils, City Council, residents of incorporated and unincorporated areas alike need to be thinking outside of the box on this issue. If the City would come to us with legitimate talking points and discussions about how the Westside would REALLY be benefited I would be right there with them... but I will not be a party to giving our community away, a community that you Darryl grew up in and have loved for decades, and that our residents have helped to build these last dozen years. We should especially not give it up for nothing more than vague promises to trust the council and everything will be okay.
The Westside has for years been maligned by the city and the Signal as well. Your column last week is just the latest in this attack. Remember John Boston's characterization of us as "Spam Town", how about all of the comments that we are elitists who look down our noses at the rest of the valley, the city's recent comments that we are just users of tax dollars, not contributors... it goes on and on. Why doesn’t the Signal laud our community’s work if it thinks it is such a grand idea for a one city valley? Why not mention the Stevenson Ranch fireworks show every year? Why not cover Stevenson Ranch’s Tree Lighting? Why not talk about the huge amount of charitable work that emanates from the Westside to our local charities? I simply do not understand the big stick mentality when we all really want the same thing… a safe and prosperous place for our children to grow into responsible adults. Isn’t that why most of us moved here in the first place?
One of my Council’s biggest fears is that if we annex our residents will then be marginalized and left with no voice, no voice to the county and no voice on the City Council. One solution to this would be to regionalize the representation on the City Council. Again the answers are that it would be too difficult. Maybe its time for the city charter to be looked at again. That would also help east side residents’ feelings of marginalization as well. What about those Mello-Roos fees we've all been paying and will be paying for years to come? Why not retire a portion of that in recognition of the infrastructure it has supported? Can't do that, it might set a precedent. How about connecting the Paseos to the Westside? Too expensive. New parks? No room. Are these the only answers? No, but they are at least the start of a conversation rather than the end of an ultimatum. The City has an answer for everything, unfortunately that answer was created in the old paradigm. The new paradigm of a united valley under one city name deserves to be discussed, the old rules tossed out.
Taking us back to where we started on this memory ride of yours Darryl, the Santa Clarita Valley is a different place than where you and your compadres grew up toting .22’s and shooting at stumps and squirrels. Some of those changes may have been good, some bad, depending on your point of view. What has changed for the good is that the time for brandishing those firearms, literally or figuratively has passed for us as a valley and a country. Let’s look forward together, as One Valley With a Vision, rather than a gaggle of bickering bureaucrats. But this requires the Santa Clarita City Council to step outside of their comfort zone and make some bold moves. The ball is in your court Santa Clarita, Darryl and the Signal.

Paul V. Ash, President
West Ranch Town Council

Setting the Record Straight and Moving On

Even though I am thousands of miles away outside the country on business I am still able respond to the back peddling by Darryl Manzer. Thanks to the loyal readers of the West Ranch Beacon that continuously give us feed back and tips.
Let’s start with the notion that the West Ranch Town Council members are loco for contacting the Sheriff. I believe anytime someone you don’t know makes a threat of violence it has to be taken seriously. Clearly, Darryl Manzer is back peddling out of his initial threat and trying to throw the spot light back on the West Ranch Town Council by calling us loco for taken a precaution to his threat. I take these types of threats very seriously because I’ve experienced my home being vandalized in the past because I volunteer in the community. I called the Sheriff Deputy for that, made a report and turned over the evidence. If that happens again or there is another threat I’ll do the same thing.
As for the Sheriff visiting the Signal, that happened according to local authorities so I am standing by that account. I was informed directly that a Sheriff Deputy was dispatched to the Signal office to retrieve the column that contained the threat. So what I gather from the statement, “No, a deputy had not gone to The Signal.”, in Darryl’s recent column is an attempt to down play the actual events.
As for your comment regarding veterans, you’re completely off base. Your interpretation of my previous comments is wrong and another attempt to through spotlight away from your irresponsible column last week. Also, you may want to take you name off of the pictures of the “anonymous” sailor firing the machine gun if in fact that is not you. Just as an FYI, my brother is in the military and has served in both Gulf Wars and in Afghanistan. He continues to serve our country and I am damn proud of him.
Unfortunately, Darryl you’re shoveling it from the back of the herd. Do yourself a favor and continue to write about the past because you are out of touch with the present Santa Clarita Valley.