Saturday, July 29, 2006

Modern Dating or the Caveman Approach?

Below is a "vintage" column by Dave Bossert from 2004. We will, from time to time, be posting previously published articles and commentaries whenever they still feel relevant. Hope you enjoy!


Recently, Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich sent out letters opposing the proposed annexation of the Valencia Commerce Center and the Lyons Canyon property, also known as the Warner Ranch property. Both properties are located west of I-5 in the unincorporated parts of the Santa Clarita Valley. The West Ranch Town Council, The Castaic Town Council, Newhall Land, and property owners Sterling Gateway, Inc also oppose this attempted land grab.
The City of Santa Clarita is attempting to commandeer these properties from the residents in order to get a toehold on the Westside of the freeway. This is another example in which the City of Santa Clarita is doing everything it can to expand without having to speak with the community leadership of either the Westside or Castaic. Time and time again, the City has tried to circumvent opening up a productive and sustained dialogue with the communities of the unincorporated areas.
The City refuses to deal in good faith with the elected leadership in the unincorporated areas west of I-5 and has been disrespectful to the residents right to self-determination. This tactic will not work, does not work and has ultimately had a detrimental effect on the City and the future of the Santa Clarita Valley.
I would like to use the simple analogy of modern day dating to illustrate what the City should be doing in order to expand. Let’s say your single (the City) and are out at a social function. Across the room you spot someone who is attractive (any revenue generating unincorporated area). Your eyes meet. You walk over, introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. Hopefully you have some things in common. If all goes well you exchange phone numbers and agree to get together again. You wait a few days and then you call to say what a great time you had and arrange to go out on a formal date. Over dinner you both have another great conversation and realize that you have a lot in common. This of course leads to further dating and the building of a relationship. Over time, sometimes years, you both build a strong relationship that includes sharing, trust, integrity, and love. Finally, you both decide that to get married (annex into the City) and live happily ever after.
Instead, the City of Santa Clarita has decided to take the Caveman approach to dating. Spot someone you like (Valencia Commerce Center and the Warner Ranch property), walk over to them, bonk them on the head with a club and drag them off by their hair. That behavior may have worked a few thousand years ago but it does not work now.
Several years ago, The West Ranch Town Council attempted to build a relationship with the City. The City met with the West Ranch Town Council and at that first meeting we discussed many issues. When the City realized that any annexation would require many meetings, discussions, and negotiations (not unlike a normal relationship), they decided not to have any further discussions. The City clearly did not want to work at building a relationship, but would rather take some bad advice and attempt to take a more disingenuous, deceitful path.
A case in point, the Warner Ranch property which is located south of Lyons Avenue, north of Calgrove and west of I-5. The property, which was owned by Warner Bros. Studio, is currently in contract with D.R Horton the homebuilder.
The City apparently is willing to okay a project that proposes to put 416 single-family homes, 216 multi-family units, 203 senior housing units, three parks and up to 116,000 square feet of commercial space on 160 buildable acres of that property. The proposed project will impact 600 oak trees with more than half being removed. The project will also require the grading of nearly six million cubic yards of soil with the elimination of several prominent ridgelines, impacting the scenic view of the area.
The density and environmental impact that this project will have is more than the City would allow within it’s own borders, yet they are happy with approving it provided the owners agree to annex the land into the City of Santa Clarita. Of course, the City did not and has not spoken to any of the West Ranch Town Council members, the community leadership, regarding plans for this property and the impact it will have on the communities in the unincorporated areas.
As we have all witnessed, The City of Santa Clarita has chosen the caveman approach to dealing with it’s neighbors and once again it is being met with opposition that will ultimately end in another defeat for the City Council. The City’s behavior has only strengthened the West Ranch and Castaic Town Councils resolve, who are now communicating more frequently and are joining forces in forming a vision for their respective communities.
There are clearly three options for the unincorporated areas of the Santa Clarita Valley: 1) stay unincorporated in Los Angeles County; 2) Annex into the City of Santa Clarita; or 3) Form a new Cities. All three of these are viable options for our communities and all have been explored to some degree. Unfortunately, the City of Santa Clarita has done just about everything it can do to prevent option number 2, annexing into the City, from happening anytime soon, if ever! If new cities are formed in the valley it will be a direct result of the actions of the current Santa Clarita City Council.
The City of Santa Clarita has made a mess of what could have been a very amicable and productive relationship with the unincorporated areas north and west of the City. The former Mayor Bob Keller once made the delusional suggestion that the residents of the Westside throw a party for the city to say thanks for all the city has done. Generally speaking, as a rule, if someone treats me poorly I usually don’t throw a party to say thanks!
Fortunately, the City of Santa Clarita has a new Mayor, Ms. Weste, as part of the rotation through the City Council. Maybe she can bring about some change in how the City is choosing to deal with expansion and growth in the valley. Rather than asking for a party maybe this Mayor can take a more rational approach and actually start trying to build a relationship with the unincorporated area Town Councils.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Abandoned Good Guys Becoming a Nuisance

The now defunct Good Guys store at Pico Canyon and The Old Road is apparently becoming a problem for the community. Nationwide Security staff who were assessing the problems with the closed Good Guys store have noted graffiti on the parking lot walls, which recently has been painted over [presumably by the County of LA staff some possibly abandoned cars in the parking lot that have been broken into. Several car windows have been broken and trash was accumulating. The area appears to be in need of a chain link fence to abate the area as an attractive nuisance. It is obviously a "gathering place" said one resident. The Los Angeles County staff has been very effective in "keeping the lid" on this problem, however this "attractive nuisance" needs to be abated quickly. Residents are asking for this problem to be handled in a timely fashion although the property owners appear to be ignoring the problem to date.

Cruz on Term Limits, Campaign Reform and Lobbist

Term limits, campaign reform and lobbyist reform have been hot topics in Sacramento and Los Angeles of late.

Recently, the Los Angeles City Council approved a ballot initiative, which combines lobbyist reform with extending the term limits from eight years to 12 years for themselves, but excludes the Mayor, City Controller and City Attorney. Seven out of the 15 members will be termed out in the next LA City council election.

An article in the Los Angeles Times over the weekend, blamed term limits for the cause of staff members leaving legislators and working for lobbyists. If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn! I know people who work for Los Angeles City council members and state representatives. One of them worked for a Los Angeles City Councilwoman, her successor and now works for a State Senator. In other words, he has not had a problem finding employment. Prior to writing this commentary, I asked him if he had any concerns about job security. He stated that he did not but just the opposite. He has met a lot of people, made a lot of contacts, which have led to job offers. Why do staff people leave? Just like the rest of us, better opportunity, more money, potential for growth or wanted to do something different. Term limits are not causing the loss of staff for our elected officials.

What I find ironic, is that most legislatures say that government needs to run like a business: more efficient, resourceful, responsive and so on. Yet, they say that it takes them four years to learn how to do their job. Imagine that you serve on a board of directors and that you are interviewing potential candidates to run the company. Imagine every job candidate state, " I would like the job, but it would take four years to learn what I am doing and you will not see results from my performance until then." How many of you would consider hiring that person?
The purpose of term limits was for the elected official to hit the ground running and attempt to do everything he/she stated that they would do, because they would no longer be able to serve as long as they wanted to.

Some argue that the job is difficult, technical and so on. No one made our elected officials run for office. In addition, at the state level our legislators have staff, field office(s) and other resources at their disposal. What they need to do is focus on their job at hand.

The purpose of term limits, was supposed to get rid of the career politicians, to a certain extent we have succeeded and on other parts we have failed. The sad part, is that it appears our elected officials care more about fund raising, then anything else, they are worried about the next election or what other seat they will run for, instead of representing their constituents.

We need lobbyist reform and campaign finance reform. What are the solutions? I don't have all the answers, but one suggestion I have is to ban all fund raising while the state legislature is in session or in other words, fund raising will only be allowed when the legislative body is in recess. One of my friends who works in Sacramento, informed me that basically every night of the week there is a fund raising event for either an elected official, political party or some cause.

Hopefully this time, our elected officials are serious about lobbyist reform and campaign finance reform. I would encourage all of you to contact your representatives and inform them of any ideas you have. It is time to get back to governing and making California a better place for our children!

Michael Cruz

West Ranch Town Council Agenda

The Wets Ranch Town Council will have its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday August 2nd, 2006 at 6:30 PM at the Southern Oaks community center. The Agenda includes regular update from various committees and county representatives. Here is the agenda as of today, July 27th:

A. Call To Order/Roll Call

B. Approval of July Minutes

C. Treasurer Report and Banking Update

D. County Updates

1. Doug Newell Parks and Rec
2. Sheriff's Liaison
3. CHP Liaison
4. Bob Haueter LA County

E. Newhall School District- Marc Winger to discuss New Elementary
School/ Southern Oaks gate issues


F. Committee Reports

1. Election (Should have this kept on the Radar)
2. Security/Public Safety
3. Governmental Relations
a. Homeless Shelter Task Force
b. Westridge HOA and TPC issues Update
4. Westridge and Southern Oaks Liaisons
5. Sunset Point Liaison- Chuck to update on traffic issue

G. Old Business

H. Public Comment

I. Adjournment

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stevenson Ranch Trash Collection Goes Back to Monday

A local "newspaper" editorial recently claimed, falsely, that the West Ranch Town council didn't even have the power to control when residents "put their trash out". As the press release below shows the Town Council does have influence, which in some circles is power!

After consulting with the Master Board of Directors of Stevenson Ranch, the West Ranch Town Council and listening to the feedback we've received from the Stevenson Ranch community at large, Waste Management is pleased to announce that we will switch your service day back to Mondays from Fridays. This will take effect on Monday, July 31st, 2006. Your final Friday service will be on July 28th, 2006, so in effect, you will be serviced on that Friday and the following Monday. From then on, your permanent day of service will be Mondays.

As a corporate citizen and member of the Stevenson Ranch community, we were proud to help sponsor the July 4th fireworks show and hope everyone who attended had a wonderful time, we feel privileged to have been able to help sponsor the fireworks for eight years running and will continue.

Beginning the week of July 31st

YOUR NEW GARBAGE, RECYCLING AND YARD DEBRIS COLLECTION DAY IS :

MONDAY (7/31/06)

Your final Friday service will be on Friday July 28th.


PLEASE HAVE ALL GARBAGE, RECYCLING and YARD DEBRIS AT
THE CURB BY 6:00 am OR THE NIGHT BEFORE.

We appreciate your feedback and we are proud to be part of Stevenson Ranch. If you have questions, please call Waste Management / Blue Barrel at 1-661-259-2398.

Thank you.
Your friends at Waste Management of Santa Clarita (Blue Barrel Disposal)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Local Company Responds With Energy For 10,000 Homes

Landfill Gas-To-Energy Generators Transform Methane Gas Into Green Power
Sun Valley, CA, July 20, 2006 - With summer temperatures soaring throughout California and leading to stress on the state’s power suppliers, Waste Management in Sun Valley is offering a better way to help keep local residents cool. Waste Management’s Bradley Landfill and Recycling Center, in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, is currently generating enough clean energy to power 10,000 Los Angeles homes.

The green power, which is produced by capturing landfill methane gas, a natural by-product of decomposing garbage, is produced at Waste Management’s site, and fed directly to the local power grid. Methane gas is captured in a series of wells throughout the landfill, which is then fed into a natural gas turbine where it is converted into electricity.

“Waste Management is the only Los Angeles waste company that currently captures natural gas to turn it into energy,” said Doug Corcoran, Director of Special Operations for the company. “This process helps us close the loop, taking what would otherwise be waste and putting it to good use - it’s a complete circle and a great use of an abundantly available resource.”

Typically, landfills simply “flare” off excess methane gas generated by landfill decomposition. This process, however, only wastes the potential energy produced by landfills. Waste Management was the first to capture this gas and use it to create energy.

Waste Management’s 100 renewable energy projects produce enough electricity to power more than 800,000 homes and save the equivalent of 8.2 million barrels of oil per year. Nationally, WM currently supplies enough landfill gas to create more than 250 megawatts of green energy - enough to power 225,000 homes, replacing over 2 million barrels of oil per year.

News Flash: California May Face Rolling Blackouts Today.

California has declared a power emergency. Power outages are possible throughout the State and PG & E requests customers refrain from non-essential use of energy. Outages have already affected some cities around the state.
Quick Powering-Down Tips:

1) Turn off unneeded lights, computers and appliances
2) Set thermostat to 78-F or higher when you're home
3) Set thermostat to 85-F or off when you're away
4) Use major appliances and equipment after 7 p.m.

OUTAGES: Outages have affected customers in the cities of San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Dublin, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Antioch, Brentwood, Clayton and Concord, officials said.

SCVTalk Gets it all Wrong

Over at SCVTalk.com is a seriously flawed rebuttal to a piece that was posted last week on The West Ranch Beacon titled “Another Different Look at Annexation- What’s in it for Us?”.

To start with the author, Chris at SCVTalk.com, claims that I wrote the piece, which I did not. The article was written by Ron Mechsner a member of the West Ranch Town Council who was expressing his own personal views.

Chris went on to lay out a typical liberal argument that everyone should be treated the same. It is that same old, “if you get something we have to get too”, attitude. Reading his piece I thought that he may be an employee of the City of Santa Clarita!

Just because the West Ranch area has a large commercial base that the city wants doesn’t give us the right to negotiate an annexation?! Well the reality is that it does give us that right because the city can not annex the commercial centers without taking the adjoining neighborhoods as well. That gives our community a bargaining chip in any annexation discussion. The tax revenue that the commercial centers on The Old Road have generated fior the County has been beneficial to our community.

He claims “one thing I have learned is that government is most definitely not a business, and in no way is it run like one.” Well maybe local, state and federal government should be run more like a business, albeit a non-profit business, that way they can actually stop running deficits. It would cut down on chronic waste and work more efficiently. Running government more like a business that is accountable to its “shareholders” (taxpayers) would actually serve those taxpayers much better.

The one thing that anyone following the annexation debate has to realize is that you must do a comparative analysis of services. The West Ranch Town Council has been doing that in fits and starts with the City. We have learned that there are services that the County supplies that the City does not and there are services that the City supplies that the County does not. It worth noting that there are differences in the fees changed as well with the City charging additional fees that the County does not charge and there are fees that the County has that City does not charge.

It is not just about local representation as Chris has argued. It is about being responsible community leaders who are looking at all the issues involved in any of the options of self determination of our community. Looking at each service, fee, and program is part of the process and asking for parity in those fees, services and programs is part of that analysis and right of the community.

That analysis of annexation will continue regardless of the ridicule that is hurled by the local papers and blog sites. It is not only the right of the community but it is the intelligent thing to do. Blindly jumping into the arms of the City will not happen unless the community wants to do that and that has not been the indicated path from members of the West Ranch community.

On the first Wednesday of the month, the West Ranch Town Council has its monthly meeting. The residents who attend this meeting have not indicated any passionate plea to change the current status of the community. The constant call for annexation seems to be coming form those either in the City or acting on behalf of the City including the local “newspaper”. If annexation were a hot topic then I would think that those residents that want it should be letting their voice be heard at that monthly community meeting.

The Town Councils are advisory groups to the County that have no judicial power. What the Town Councils do have is influence. That’s right influence is as good as having actual power. Anyone who has attended the monthly West Ranch Town Council meeting will know that that influence has been flexed to get some very important issues dealt with over the past years. Sadly though, those successes have not been reported on in the local “newspaper” very much, if at all, because that would give the Town Council credibility. That is something that many on the City side don’t want to see happen.

Chris has every right to oppose an annexation of the West Ranch community if he wants but that will not prevent our community from making its own choices. It’s funny, one resident has recently said “let’s just annex now”, yet they are not willing to step up and do anything about it. The West Ranch Town Council has made the attempt to work with the City to investigate annexation. Unfortunately, the City does not seem to want a two way dialogue.


Dave Bossert
Commentary

Friday, July 21, 2006

Dealerships Eye “Magic” Auto Center

Magic Mountain has become the "bell of the ball" lately with much interest being expressed by the City of Santa Clarita and others. Several options have been circulated including a sale, dismantling and sale of the land or a restructuring to cut costs. The City is also interested in annexing the Park which is highly unlikely since it is not contiguous to the City boundaries.

Fitting into all these options is the possibility of, according to various County officials and others, Magic Mountain becoming a new auto dealer mega center. Apparently some Auto Dealerships are eyeing the property because of its proximity to Interstate 5 and the size of the potential land parcels.

An auto dealership complex could make sense in any of the scenarios being reported. If the park is sold the new owners would possible sell some of the undeveloped park land in order to monetize their investment more quickly. Should the park remain part of Six Flags, management could potentially still sell off some of the undeveloped land for dept relief. Of course, there are many possibilities for the land if the park were shuttered and dismantled.

The park closing is an unlikely scenario though because Magic Mountain is one of the crown jewels in the Six Flags system. No doubt that this story will take its twists and turns in the coming months.

Virginia on my mind

During the run up to the recent City Council election I was mortified to find out that the City had elected to have polling stations located in the most outrageous places. Most, not even close to the districts there were to serve. My own location was located by Home Depot in Canyon County where as I live in Circle J. area which is literally miles away.

My biggest location issue was the Mercedes Benz dealership of Valencia. Yes, if you didn't know it, that was a polling location. What in the world were the city officials thinking? Imagine having to go to a car dealership to vote? I have asked for and still not received polling data per location so I cant attest to the voter turn out there, but lets assume it was pretty low. My e-mails to the City clerk after the election asking "why" the polling locations favored people staying at home instead of voting have gone un-answered.

I knew there was a slight problem when my mail carrier came a knock'n at my door the day after the election. He was perplexed. He had gone to his usual polling locale and the folks told him that the city never contacted them for this election at all and that they had no idea where their polling location was. Then came the June primaries and low and behold, there they are with the garage open and people voting.

I am not real happy with the way the City chose its polling locations, but they did their best. Next time I am sure they will do better. Was it rigged? No way, they just made a few dumb decisions. Would better, closer to the district polling locations have increased or helped increase voter turn out? Yes, I do believe that. Say 5% more to be safe. Which would have had NO impact on the results.

Is it the City, County or States responsibility to make people vote? Nope. It is there responsibility to make it possible for them to vote in a fair and prudent manner.

I bring all this up because I am shocked still at the voter turn out for the West Ranch town Council. 54 people voted! 54 people voted. The local papers Op Ed writers blame location for weak turn out. Recently an Out of State writer for the Mighty Signal claimed it was a signal to the Town Council that they just didn't care about them and want them to go away.

Ok, I am not normally like this, because I like my local papers and read them everyday, but lets get serious. This is total Bull! To say that people didn't vote to send a signal to the town council that they didn't care about them is just freaking nutty! You have to be a political neophyte to even think that way. What a down-right silly comment. Why didn't he say the same thing when 14% voted in the last city council election? Instead it was all about people liking it the way it was and the status quo because everything is alright. Wow! Here is your alright folks, Where the hell is frank Ferry? Marsha? Bob Keller and Cameron? The only person doing anything is Mayor Weste, whom I now have a lot of respect for and admire.

Lets look at the other "problem" people have with the West Ranch election. Location. 4th of July fireworks in the park and vote. seems pretty simple and easy to me. People in this country have been screaming for YEARS that we need to hold elections on weekends or holidays because more people would vote. Well, there goes that myth. What if they had it at all the club houses in West Ranch? well, ok we increase it by 5%.....I think I made my point.

The problem is not location or people sending a signal that they hate the town councils or city councils, the problem is voter apathy. People don't care. Yes 100 million of us cared to vote for a President in the last election but what about the rest of the eligible voters in this county? Didn't they know where the location was? Didn't they know that there was an election coming up? Didn't they know who the candidates where? The answer is simple, they didn't give a rip. Period. I know people like this. We all know people like this. They just don't seem to care. Cant vote, got cook dinner or whatever. 87,000 eligible voters in SCV and only 14,000 vote for 3 open City Council seats. What a joke. That means that there are 73,000 people here in this City whom have NO say in the political debate at all as far as I am concerned. You don't vote, your opinion means nothing. Just like if you lived in Virginia. You don't vote here but you have the audacity to tell US how to vote. How sad. People in Virginia are probably thrilled that their local political writer is not espousing his version of political discourse locally and instead way over there in La La land. Politico's in Virginia would eat him for lunch.

They had better voter turn out in Iraq and there they risked their lives to vote. Please don't blame the candidates for low voter turn out, if you do you lose all credibility with people who have IQ's over your 50. Just go back to cartoon network and your cheese wiz smoothy and leave the rest of us alone. You scare us.

I ran in the election this year in SCV. I came in last. I am proud that I tried to make a difference and bring fresh ideas to the debate. I put my name and reputation on the line and was fully vetted by the city and county. People came after me and I was proud to take them on and debate the facts. Facts are what matters. You cannot debate someone who has the facts wrong to begin with. Virginia is wrong and owes an real apology to the people of West Ranch and the Town Council.

Jack Murphy

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Marines Land in Lebanon, Evacuation Begins

U.S. Marines have landed in Lebanon to help with the evacuation of U.S. Citizens to Cyprus. The State Department has started to contact American citizens who have registered with the Embassy to begin the evacuation process from Lebanon. If you or a loved one have not been contacted by the embassy, please contact the Arab American Institute at (202) 429-9210 or rabouchedid@aaiusa.org and we will assist you in reaching the proper officials at the State Department.

Details of the State Department's evacuation plan, including special arrangements for those in the South, and the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions are available below.

The most updated information can be found at the State Department's website at www.travel.state.gov

The Arab American Institute (AAI) has received hundreds of e-mails from American citizens trapped in Lebanon as well as their family and friends. As the State Department continues to finalize plans for their evacuation, the State Department's emergency task force on Lebanon has provided AAI with answers to some of the frequently asked questions regarding the government's evacuation plan.

Q. What is the best way for American citizens in Lebanon to register with the US Embassy?
A. The U.S. Embassy encourages Americans who have not yet registered to phone the Department of State at 202-501-4444 from overseas, or at 1-888-407-4747 if calling from the U.S. and Canada. Registration can be completed by family or friends for their American relatives in Lebanon.

Q. What details are available for the evacuation?
A. The U.S. Department of State continues to work with the U.S. Department of Defense on a plan to help American citizens safely depart Lebanon. Americans who wish to depart Lebanon should prepare important travel documents such as a valid U.S. passport, birth certificates, and other civil documents such as marriage certificates, and medical records. Once U.S.-sponsored travel arrangements are in place, travelers will each be allowed only one small suitcase. The State Department will give priority to U.S. citizens but will consider departure assistance to Legal Permanent Residents accompanying a U.S. citizen immediate family member. We understand that neither Lebanese nor Americans need a visa to enter Cyprus. Pets will not be allowed to travel.

Q: There are thousands of Americans trapped in southern Lebanon, which has been heavily bombed, and is significantly more dangerous than the rest of the country. What advice does the State Department have for Americans in south Lebanon?
A: Embassy Beirut and personnel including consular and US AID officers have identified to places in Southern Lebanon were Americans may gather. The Embassy is also planning on providing transportation to run buses from these gathering points to the port of Beirut. This plan will be tested on Wednesday and the State Department hopes to continue them as long as necessary to evacuate all American citizens who wish to leave. The State Department urges Americans to use their best judgment when making travel decisions.

Q: Will green card holders be included in the evacuation?
A: Unfortunately, green card holders will only be eligible for evacuation in certain situations. If a green card holder is part of a family unit, that green card holder will be evacuated with their US citizen relatives, so as not to separate the family. In the case of a US citizen who is a minor, one non-citizen (green card holder or otherwise) may evacuate with that minor. After the evacuation of American citizens, there may be opportunities for those with green cards to evacuate.

Q: What is the status of green card holders if they are unaccompanied minors?
A: Permanent residents who are unaccompanied minors should contact the embassy and they may be included in the evacuation plan.

Q: What happens if a child is an American citizen and his/her parents are not?
A: US citizens who are minors can be accompanied by one adult chaperone. If the adult chaperone is not a green card holder, he/she will be considered a "visitor." The guardian must have a valid passport and a U.S. visa if traveling to the U.S.

Q: What is the process for payment of the evacuation flight out of Lebanon?
A: Persons evacuating Lebanon will be charged by the US government the standard commercial rate for a flight from Lebanon to the United States. The exact amount has yet to be specified. Upon evacuation, individuals will sign a promissory note. No financial transactions will take place at the time of evacuation.

Q: What should an American citizen do if they do not have proper identification?
A: Before going to the designated evacuation point, individuals without identification may have to go to the US Embassy to verify their status as US citizens. The Embassy can verify citizenship using a database which includes the passport photos of US citizens.

Q: Can Americans find refuge at the US Embassy?
A: The US Embassy does not have the capacity to provide shelter for American citizens.

Q: What is the treatment of individuals who are dual Lebanese and American citizens?
A: Dual citizens are provided all of the rights of American citizens.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Another different look at Annexation – What’s in it for us?

Once again, it appears the subject of annexation has risen to the level of a hot issue – particularly with the City of Santa Clarita.

The latest is the recent report that the City is investigating the annexation of the land that Six Flags Magic Mountain has – and to offer a package of incentives to Six Flags to attempt to prevent their inclusion of the park in any capital asset sale intended to reduce the corporate debt.

One has to wonder exactly what kind of incentives can be offered that would sufficiently entice Six Flags to not only not sell the Park, but still achieve their goals of debt reduction. It’s clear that the City is concerned about the economic impact on the Valley if the Park is sold and closes, so they seek to share with Six Flags proceeds from the value that the Park brings the City in such a way that both parties can achieve their goals – a win-win.

If only the City would work with the rest of the West Side with a similar level of consideration to achieve a win-win scenario.

In the past 18 months, annexation discussions have included all / parts of both the Castaic (Valencia Commerce Center / Hasley Hills) and the West Ranch (Six Flags, Westridge, Lyons Canyon) communities. We hear a lot of why these annexations would be good for the City and the One Vision One Valley goal. But what is missing from these discussions is the other side of the win-win equation – What’s in it for the West Side?

In business, whether the transaction is a merger or an acquisition – the discussions all work towards a win-win. Both parties negotiate to a deal / compromise that satisfy each of their goals. If one side doesn’t believe it is getting a fair deal – the discussions reach an impasse and may end.

There have been past attempts at information exchange towards annexation. These get lost in the minutia of comparing County / City services that ultimately are likely to be equivalent or represent minor cost differences. During the latest of these efforts the City just stopped scheduling next step meetings. We hear that any community should be grateful to join the City. We see continued interest in large parts of the West Side – in particular the business and commercial components that generate the revenues the City needs to grow and improve. But the most important part of these past discussions is what has been missing – How does the West Side benefit?

Will the West Side gain a larger voice and a stronger ability to determine their future direction than we have today? Will there be more parks, more recreation facilities, paseos, Mello-Roos relief / compensation, a stronger focus on traffic improvement and safety, better growth management and planning, and other tangible efforts the City could take to use the value brought in by the West Side to benefit both the West Side and the City and not simply deliver what the West Side already has today.

We need to change the tack and tone of the discussions regarding annexation – and start to look at how this option can create a win-win for both the West Side and the City if annexation is to be a viable option for the West Side. Our advantage is that we have self-determination and with it control of our future. We can select the best option that provides us the best return for the value of our community and change only if it is to our benefit.

Ron Mechsner

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Scoop: Letter Critical of The Signal

Below is a letter to the Signal that was forwarded to us by the author Chuck O'Connell of Stevenson Ranch/Sunset Point responding to the misguided column by Darrly Manzer in last Sunday's Signal. Chuck mentioned that he did not receive any acknowledgement for his letter from the editorial staff at the Signal and didn't think it would be printed. We at The West Ranch Beacon are happy to accommodate Mr. O'Connell or anyone else who feels their voice is being censored or ignored.


We're very puzzled as to why Darryl Manzer, who lives in Virginia {?}, is permitted to take up so much space in The Signal. Here, we have someone who apparently can't let go or recognize the fact that he doesn't live here any longer. Yet The Signal insists in providing space for this nay sayer. Kind of like your Tehachapi columnist nay sayer who doesn't live here either, but fuels the negativity section of The Signal. Does The Signal relish nay sayers, or just those who like to trash the west side of I-5? That seems to be SOP [standard operating procedure] for many of Santa Clarita's elected officials, who seem to receive assistance from The Signal. [Like Shop Santa Clarita and the heck with businesses on the west side!!!!] That really engenders a sense of community in the SCV!

Did it ever occur to Manzer, or others [that's The Signal], that just maybe most west side residents like the way things are run on the west side, and really appreciate the efforts of Mike Antonovich and the County staffs who provide services here. It seems like it's the City folk who are forever pushing for various forms of annexation, sometimes very sneakily!!! [Like the Lyon Canyon sub rosa effort by the City, which was pushing for upwards of 1000 units...BTW, the West Ranch Town Council and the County said no way. And the development is settling in at approximately 180 units!!! Hmmmm!]. The west side is not pushing for annexation. It's the other way around. Perhaps the City doesn't get the message. And WHY DO YOU GIVE SPACE TO AN EAST COAST RESIDENT TO DISPARAGE THOSE OF US WHO LIVE WEST OF THE I-5 ????

Chuck O'Connell
Stevenson Ranch/Sunset Pointe

City Trying to "Cherry Pick", Again!

Thanks to Ron Mechsner for forwarding a link to the Daily News article regarding the City of Santa Clarita attempting to annex Magic Mountain. Click the headline above to read the full story.

Once again, the City is trying to “cherry pick” a tax generator in the unincorporated area. This will prove to be another waste of time and money on the part of the City trying to grow its tax base.

Magic Mountain is a significant tax generator to the County and could play a significant role in the future self determination of the unincorporated areas surrounding the City of Santa Clarita. The City should count on a potent challenge to this attempt at usurping the West Ranch communities.

We don’t believe that LAFCO will allow this annexation to go through once it is challenged by the local Town Councils. Magic Mountain is a vital part of the West Ranch communities and could play a significant role in the possible future formation of a new city in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Just like the Valencia Commerce Center and the Lyons Canyon annexation attempts, look for this to be another failure on the part of the City of Santa Clarita managers. City residents should be outraged by the continued waste of their tax dollars on these pie-in-the-sky schemes to circumvent their neighbors in the unincorporated areas.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Exclusive: West Ranch Family Trapped in Beirut

The West Ranch Beacon has learned that a prominent family of five from the Stevenson Ranch neighborhood of West Ranch is trapped inside of the Lebanese capitol of Beirut. Through exclusive email correspondence with the family we are learning of their harrowing experiences during the Israeli attack on the Hezbollah stronghold in and around Lebanon. They have described bombs going off near where they are staying and the frequent loss of electricity.

The family has already contacted the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and has been added to a list of Americans that are trying to get out of the City. Currently the Beirut Airport has been heavily damaged and is inoperable. The family is hoping to be airlifted by helicopter to nearby Cyprus in order to get a flight to London and then back home to Los Angeles.

More as this story develops.

Some Things are too Toxic to Trash!

Dispose of Hazardous Waste and E-Waste the Right Way. Free Household Hazardous Waste Roundup in Santa Clarita.

Los Angeles County residents will have the opportunity to safely dispose of household hazardous waste and e-waste free of charge at a Countywide Household Hazardous Waste and E-Waste Roundup. A free Roundup will take place in Santa Clarita at the College of the Canyons, South Parking Lot, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road on Saturday, November 4, 2006 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Many common household products pose a hazard to the environment if disposed of improperly. Materials such as used motor oil, paint, turpentine, acid or lye-based cleaners, household and car batteries, pesticides and garden herbicides can damage the environment if tossed in the trash or poured down a sink or storm drain.

Household E-Waste is consumer electronic equipment near the end of its useful life such as computer monitors and televisions which cannot be disposed of in trash cans. Unfortunately, electronic waste is a growing problem although many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled, including items such as VCRs, stereos, fax machines, copiers, computer keyboards and cellular telephones.

Collect those unwanted household hazardous waste and e-waste items and bring them to a free Roundup. We’ll recycle what we can and properly dispose of the rest. It’s easy to participate. Leave the products in their original container, place them in a cardboard box and drive to the Roundup site. The entire process only takes a few minutes and you never have to leave your car. No explosive or radioactive materials, tires or waste from business will be accepted. Please do not mix products together.

The Free Countywide Household Hazardous Waste and E-Waste Roundup is brought to you by the County of Los Angeles and presented by the Department of Public Works and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, in cooperation with the city of Santa Clarita and the neighboring cities of Lancaster and Palmdale.

For more information on household hazardous waste or upcoming Roundups, call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works at 1 (888) CLEAN LA, the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County at 1 (800) 238-0172 or visit our web site at www.lacsd.org.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Los Angeles County Fire Department: "FIRST RED FLAG WARNING OF FIRE SEASON ISSUED TODAY"

The Los Angeles County Fire Department has received notification from the
National Weather Service that predicted weather conditions constitute a "Red
Flag Warning". High temperatures and very low humidity’s can be expected for
the mountains and valleys of Los Angeles County effective immediately through
Saturday morning. The predicted weather combined with the extremely dry fuel,
amount to a high fire danger in Los Angeles County.

Consequently, citizens in brush areas should take appropriate precautions.
These precautions include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) Report any sign of smoke immediately to your local fire department by dialing 911 (If you dial 911 from your cellular phone, you MUST know your location)

2) Use extreme caution when operating spark or flame producing machinery
in hazardous grass or brush areas.

3) Have an evacuation plan in place and identify two exit routes from your neighborhood. If you are asked to evacuate by fire or police officials, do so immediately.

4) Report any suspicious persons or vehicles to law enforcement.

You may obtain wildfire safety tips at the following website, www.lacofd.org.
Red Flag Warning Duration: Effective immediately through July 15, 2006 0800hrs.
Questions? (323) 881-2413

All Roads Seem to Lead Back to the Annexation Question

Reflecting further on the recent West Ranch Town Council election, I can’t help but think that no matter what goes on it some how keeps getting dragged back to annexation. The misguided editorial in the Signal started out taken inaccurate potshots at the election and then morphed into why the west side doesn’t have a vote on annexation. We did, by the way, ask on the ballot if that was a priority for the community but the Signal didn't report that!

The attempt on the part of the West Ranch Town Council at wanting to work with the City of Santa Clarita on the dual park fees skidded into annexation. That was when Frank Ferry screamed, red face and all, at me for coming to the City Council meeting to discuss it. He spent about 30 seconds on the park fees and then ripped into a five minute or so dissertation on why the West Ranch residents are idiots for not annexing.

Typically, it seems that anything regarding the unincorporated areas in the Santa Clarita Valley always morphs into the question of annexation. Yet there has not been any actual progress in trying to get an annexation underway. Why?

I think that a lot has to do with what we witnessed at the July 4th Council election; voter apathy. The community appears to be content with how things a going. There are, as James Zimmerman of the West Ranch Town Council pointed out, no hot button issues that are creating concern with the residents. It does not appear that even annexation is on the mind of the community.

The handful of residents that are for annexation did not even appear to take the time to cast a ballot. Did Diane Savanian vote? She was calling for the community to “just annex already”, yet she has not shown up to any community meetings to voice here opinion or to participate in the process.

Years ago a group, the West Side Annexation Committee, was formed with the sole purpose of collecting signatures to get an annexation off the ground. They collected a few hundred signatures and then folded up and blew away. That seemed to say that the community did not care about annexation at that time.

It is clear from a conversation with our election volunteers that the community appears still not to care. During the election on July 4th the volunteers were asking residents entering the park to vote and many just replied that they “were not interested”. This is not just the state of affairs locally but nationally as well!

Northbound I-5 in Santa Clarita Overnight Lane Closures for Pavement Repairs, 7/16 – 7/20

Santa Clarita -- The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will close the following lanes of the northbound Golden State Freeway (I-5) as follows in order to perform pavement repairs.

OVERNIGHT – SUNDAY, JULY 16 THROUGH THURSDAY, JULY 20:

•10 p.m. to 6 a.m. – Up to three lanes of northbound I-5 from Valencia
Boulevard to State Route 126

Closures are weather permitting and subject to change. Signs and
detours will be posted to assist motorists. Caltrans reminds motorists
that traffic fines are doubled in freeway work zones, and to please SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Take me out to the ball-park please!

Ok, so here is the scenario. Its Friday night, 7:15pm, your sitting with your wife and 3 kids on the lawn in left field at The New Ball park in Santa Clarita named "Landscape Solution Park" ( I cant think of a better name for our new stadium) watching the home team Santa Clarita Miners of the independent Frontier league beat the snot out of their rivals from Orange County.

After the game, you get in the car, which is parked at Santa Clarita Valley Public links, which is a daytime use public golf course and then head down Via Princessa to your home. Now, how cool would that be! with in about 10 minutes or so you are home and you never touched a freeway.

How do we accomplish this? Well its both easy and not so easy. First the easy part. The Whiticker-Bermite clean up area is roughly 900 acres. If the city is smart and the developers are smart they negotiate and build a golf course, outdoor pavilion type theatre and of course a new Minor league Baseball park.

Now the hard part. Attract or create a baseball team. First, you must have a stadium built or being built and then you need to have a buyer to bring the team here. The city of Santa Clarita spent $250 Million on the cross valley connector, I think we can figure out a way to spend 1/25 that to build a nice little stadium. Then we convince, oh say Don and Cheri Fleming to buy a team or create a team for the Frontier League and BOOM, we are watching Baseball locally. The financial capital required for a team is substantial and would need not only someone with a nice bank account but with the potential to bank roll the team for the initial 2 -3 start up period.

All of this is surrounded by trails and parks and beautiful trees and views. You see, we have an opportunity to have something built in our community that is something special. Something for everyone to enjoy. As opposed to 1500 new homes and 5000 new cars adding to the pollution and congestion.

I think we need to start the discussion on what needs to be done at the SITE! As the weeks go on we will build a better base for discussion and create alternatives to build upon. Click on the headline above for an article to get ya thinking as well.

Jack Murphy Stadium....Hummmm

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

SCVTalk.com Readers Weigh in on Editorial and Our Response

Contrary to a comment at SCVTalk.com, I do not read the Signal daily. I canceled my subscription to it quite sometime ago. However, I do have a good friend that clips out pieces that he feels are of interest or are outrageous enough that it deserves some kind of response. (Click on the headline to link to SCVTalk.com to see the comments)

I also want readers to know that I do not have a hatred for the City of Santa Clarita. It just so happens that I have a number of friends that work for the City of Santa Clarita. I also think that they have done a number of things quite well like the parks and recreation programs. Rick Gould who runs the City Parks Department is a very good person and has done an excellent job building up the parks and its programs.

You also might find it interesting that last Saturday night at Buck McKeon's annual fundraiser I went out of my way to say hello to City Councilman Bob Kellar. I mentioned to him that we should try and open up the lines of communication and see if we could work together better. I would have said the same to Mayor Weste but she left the event before I could speak to her. Who knows, maybe she bolted because she saw me coming!

As for the comments that I have made unreasonable demands in connection to annexation, that is ridiculous. I believe that everything should be put on the table in a negotiation and that is what an annexation should be; a negotiation. We should be able to talk about the Mello-Roos but that doesn't mean that we can do anything about it. But it does need to be a discussion point just like roads, parks, fees, etc. It would be a disservice to the community if we didn't talk about all of those issues. I find it irresponsible that some members of the West Ranch communities think that we should blindly annex into the City without any discussions.

It is equally offensive when a City Councilman like Frank Ferry yells at someone who is asking to work with the City to resolve an issue. That's what happened when I spoke at a City Council meeting regarding the recently passed dual park fee structure. I proposed a discussion that ultimately would have resulted in a dual fee, but one that would have been reached in cooperation with the local town councils.

Bottom line, there are a lot of people in this valley that have drawn very wrong conclusions about who I am. Saying that there is a zero chance for annexation is just plan wrong. I have always said that an annexation has to be a negotiation and once a deal is reached it should be put to the community to vote on. It is and always will be up to the entire community to decide what they want in regards to self determination. Frankly, I have said it over and over again that it doesn't matter to me as long as we are treated fairly.

It just seems like a lot of folks don't know how to deal with someone like me who is only interested in the community being treated fairly. It's funny because I don't have a business in the valley. I'm not running for political office or out glad handing people for personnel gain. I don't attend very many of the popular functions in the valley to the point that a person commented to a friend that they didn't think I actually existed. That I was some kind of made up personality writing this blog!

I think that anyone that knows me will know that I am a reasonable person and that I am always looking for a win/win in any situation. I fully believe that if you roll up your sleeves on anything a deal can be had. I don't like it when people try to circumvent the individuals that they should be speaking with in order to get their own way. What I really don't like is being treated with disrespect.

There you have it, some more clues to chew on!

Dave Bossert
Commentator

Reporters Walk Out in Santa Barbara!

Saw a great report on the Santa Barbara News Press last night on KNBC News and at the Venture County Star web site. Apparently some of the editors and reporters expressed their dissatisfaction with the direction of the newspaper. They also felt that the lines between news coverage and opinion were being blurred too much. Sound familiar? Click on the headline to link to the Ventura County Star for the full story.

Michael Cruz has a Column on the Beacon?

Yes, believe your eyes, there is a Democrat writing a monthly column for the West Ranch Beacon. It shows you that this is NOT a right wing conservative blog as some have claimed it is. I am a Republican and always have been a moderate one. So I would like to think that this is more of a moderate blog that we’ll all be able to engage in civil dialogue on various topics.

I know your thinking how do I engage in civil dialogue when you don’t even have an email address posted. Not to worry, we have hired a tech guru to help us out with upgrading the blog and we will be adding many more features including an email address to allow our readers to send in comments to be posted.

This blog is starting to take on a life of its own and we are excited that so many people are interested not only in reading it daily but are coming out of the woodwork to write monthly and weekly columns. There are a few more writers waiting in the wings and we’ll be adding them in the coming weeks.

It is clear from the response to this blog and others like SCVtalk.com and bluesantaclarita.blogspot.com that there is a void being filled in our valley. I appreciate the fact that a number of these sites have links to this blog and we will be reciprocating in our next upgrade. It is our desire to allow this blog to grow and be shaped with the input of its contributors and readers.

And yes, I will continue to write entertaining and factual opinion pieces on topics that are relevant to the West Ranch Area and the Santa Clarita Valley. What you won’t find here is anyone trying to spoon feed you the party line. We are going to do our best to deal in facts and allow both sides of the story to be told.

In fact, I’ll offer up an invitation to Mayor Weste of the City of Santa Clarita to submit a piece on annexation and why the City doesn’t feel it needs to negotiate with the Town Councils. If she does submit a piece I will posted it in its entirety!

What’s a Meat Puppet?

Several of our readers ask what a “meat puppet” was as they had not heard the term before. Easy, a meat puppet is a thoughtless mass of flesh and bone usually controlled by another and is either real or created. It is a slang term that is used from time to time in the visual effects/entertainment business to describe characters. It can also be used to describe production personnel or individuals that are complete idiots.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Opinion: Now, How about a Real Newspaper?

A friend of mine, and one of the few readers of the Signal in the West Ranch area, handed me an editorial piece titled “Now, How About a Real West Side Vote?” that appeared in that so-called “newspaper” yesterday. What was so disturbing about the editorial was that it lacked the actual facts of the events it was commenting on. It was not only ill informed of the actual facts regarding the recent West Ranch Town Council Election it also skidded off the topic of the election vote into the subject of annexation.

Let’s face it, most people who have lived in the Santa Clarita Valley for any length of time and are involved in the local politics can attest to the fact that the local “newspaper” frequently gets it wrong. Many of their articles are incomplete and missing facts which spotlight seemingly incompetence. Yesterday’s opinion piece, apparently written by Richard Budman, Tim Whyte and Leon Worden, further showcases this penchant for incompetence.

There is no doubt that last weeks town council election had a low turn out with roughly 1% of registered voters casting a ballot. This election was one of the most publicized with information being disseminated through various outlets. Notification was sent out in the homeowner newsletters in Stevenson Ranch and Southern Oaks, articles appeared in the local “newspaper” and residents were repeatedly made aware of the election throughout the evening at the July 4th Show.

The editorial goes on to claim that “most voters were out of town”. That goes against the fact that there were over 5000 people in attendance at the July 4th event where the polling station was set up. Some estimates were that the crowd had swelled to 6000-7000 by the time the fireworks went off. If the “newspaper” actually covered the West Ranch area it would know that many residents plan their July 4th weekend around the best fireworks show in the Valley and stay in town.

Did they have a reporter at the fireworks show to cover the election? Did The Mighty Signal attend the West Ranch Town Council meetings to hear the election discussions? Did the Signal try to root out all the facts? Has the Signal done any investigation into why there has been such low voter turn out at local elections? Of course not!

The editorial piece went on to claim that the “poor guy in Westridge who tried to challenge the incumbents was effectively shut out”. This is pure bunk! One of the incumbents, Brian Toqe, is a resident of Westridge and represents Westridge on the West Ranch Town Council. Here are some more facts, the “poor guy” being referred to is named Gary Morgan. He is the President of the Westridge Town Council.

Gary Morgan has freely admitted to Council members that he was running at the urging of “several people in the City”. The West Ranch Town Council sent a letter to Gary at the Westridge Homeowners Association requesting information about the election to be included in their next community newsletter. Further, the Council asked that a polling station be allowed to be set up in Westridge the Saturday before July 4th for residents to vote. There was no response from Gary or the Westridge H.O.A. to both of these requests. Why did they not respond?

Those are actual facts that were not reported by the local “newspaper”. Instead the editorial piece goes on to deride the concept of rural town councils. Unwilling to acknowledge the meaningful impact that these advisory groups have had on the communities they serve. It also highlights their continued pathological hatred for the County and Supervisor Antonovich.

Unfortunately, the primates running the fish wrap are trying to create division by blatantly lying to its small readership. Dubbing the residents of Westridge as “foreigners” and trying to drive a wedge between the various neighborhoods that make up the West Ranch area. It's no wonder their "newspaper" is being used to line the bottom of bird cages around town.

The West Ranch Town Council is made up of a diverse group that represents the entire west side communities of Sunset Point, Southern Oaks, Stevenson Ranch, and Westridge. The council changed its name years ago to be inclusive of the new communities that were being built and has participation from residents that live in all of those communities. The West Ranch Town Council has made significant contributions to the community over the years.

The Council has held its election at the July 4th Show several times in the past because this is one of the highest attended annual events by residents. The West Ranch Town Council has investigated hiring an election company to run a community election which would include absentee ballots, multiple polling stations and dedicated election material mailings. The costs were in the $8000- $10,000 and was deemed cost prohibitive to a volunteer group that often reaches into to its own wallets to pay expenses.

If the Signal is actually serious about helping us out we’ll be happy to speak to you about underwriting the costs of this type of election. Our next election is tentatively set for July of 2008. That gives us plenty of time to revisit the process and we’ll be happy to have the Signal or anyone else spend $10,000, no strings attached, to finance the next election. Maybe the "newspapers" apparent masters on Creekside will pony up a few dollars?

Their offer to help cover a future election is comical since they have an ever shrinking readership compared to the continued growth in the valley. I don’t expect the Signal to follow through on their offer to help.

The three meat puppets that are running that ink stained wad of pulp seem to be doing their level best to distort the facts. They have proved once again with their trite editorial and County bashing rhetoric that they are nothing more than a tool of the City of Santa Clarita. A worthless one at that!

Dave Bossert
Commentator

A New Blue Spot on the Beacon

New to The West Ranch Beacon this month is Michael Cruz who will be writing a monthly political commentary. As a reminder, Michael's opinions are his and do not necessarily reflect those of the West Ranch Beacon or its other contributors.



My name is Michael Cruz. I will be writing a monthly op-ed piece for the Beacon. I will be writing from a moderate perspective. I am a moderate Democrat. You might ask your self what that means? I am not an ideologue. I look at each issue individually. I believe Assemblyman Keith Richman said it best. To paraphrase him: I agree with the Democrats on some issues and Republicans on other issues. I just happen to tilt more Republican. The same can be said for me, except I tilt more Democrat.

2006 is an election year. I am not going to talk about state politics. Because, just like the 2004 election, seats will not change party affiliation and the Democrats will contain control of the state senate and assembly.

During the last several weeks, I have read various op-ed pieces, letters to the editor and blogs as to why the democrats are not doing anything at the federal level. The Democrats are in the minority and have no power in the Congress, they have introduced legislation on a variety of issues and the bills just die. My question is what would you have the democrats do? Stand in their shoes for just a minute; every idea you offer is rejected. After a certain point in time, you are going to stop offering your ideas. This is similar to the Republicans in Sacramento, except when the budget needs to be passed, because it requires a 2/3 in the state legislature and only a simple majority at the federal level.

The Democrats need to focus on the mid-term elections. Once again, I keep hearing that the in 1994 the Republicans offered A contract with America, this leads to where is the democrats plan? First of all, contract with America was not published until six weeks before the 1994 elections, so I don’t see why the Democrats should produce their plan any earlier? Nonetheless, the Democrats need to select several issues and offer a plan of action. It is easy to criticize, especially given this congress’ track record, but after a certain point in time, you need to offer an alternative plan and talk about how you will lead our nation.

The Republican party will run on a platform of national security and the war on terror. The Democrats need to remind the public, that they were the party to first suggest a department of Homeland Security, not the republicans. The Democrat party needs to insure that under their leadership they will protect the United States. In addition, they need to offer a plan for our country. During the last 5 years our debt ceiling has been raised from 5 trillion to 9 trillion dollars. Foreign countries, like China, hold most of our debt for example. The Democrats have the chance to become the party of fiscal responsibility; they need to lead the fight for every American child to have access to medical care. Global warming is a real danger! When God gave us the earth, he also made us its caretaker and we have a responsibility to protect it for our children. Eight out of the last nine years, congress has given itself a raise, it is time to raise the federal minimum wage, which has not been increased since the 1990s.

Since the 1950s the Republican party has undergone several changes, in other words it has changed with the times. The Democrats have not and we need to do so. It was the Democrats who marched with religious leaders during the 1960s for racial equality and equal rights. Since then, Democrats have seemed to step away from their former friends. The Democrats need to re-connect and the best plan I have seen for this is in Jim Wallis’ book “God’s Politics: Why the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn’t get it.”

If you would like to discuss any of my commentaries or other subjects, please feel free to email me at mmca2@lycos.com.

I look forward to hearing from you and engaging in a civil discussion.

Michael Cruz

Friday, July 07, 2006

Alert: Northbound I-5 Freeway Lane Closures This Coming Week

If you are planning any travel overnight from SUNDAY, JULY 9 THROUGH THURSDAY, JULY 13, 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. up to three lanes of northbound I-5 from Valencia Boulevard to State Route 126 will be closed.

Closures are weather permitting and subject to change. Signs and detours will be posted to assist motorists. Caltrans reminds motorists that traffic fines are doubled in freeway work zones, and to please SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE.

The election of 07' in SCV

"My view from the bleacher seats in SCV" by Jack Murphy is a weekly column on local politics. Since Jack's computer blew up on him this week, we are re-printing a column that he wrote several months ago in it's entirety. As a reminder, Jack's opinions are his and do not necessarily reflect those of the West Ranch Beacon or its other contributors.


Summertime is not the political hot season usually. Especially this particular summer. We had our City Council elections early this year and then came the June primaries and next on the hit parade is the big November elections. Lets face it, most folks are just plain electioned out. Well, at least the 14% of us who voted are. That leaves quite a few who really have nothing to be pooped out about. 86% who have a lot of catching up to do. So, lets get ya all in the game early and prepare you for November and sure as shoot'n the BIG Special election come early next year here in SCV to replace Cameron.

The whole process for a special election and or caretaker for an open seat is quite confusing. Our own City code is vague to say the least on the issue and California State code 12001 states that for a special local election, the governing body of the local agency shall issue a proclamation for a resolution calling the election. The code 1201 subsection B basically states that its up to the City to decide based on city code. Which I cant seem to find. So, I called our City attorney, Carl Newton and posed the question to him.

According to Mr. Newton, the man who knows the facts, In the event of a Vacancy, the City Council shall appoint, with-in 30 days, a successor with a simple majority vote. In this case since there will only be 4 Council Members, 3 votes are all that is needed to approve of the "caretaker". The Caretaker will then serve out the ENTIRE un-expired term of the Council Member he is replacing. If the Council fails to appoint a Caretaker with-in 30 days then they must call a Special election. The election must be at the next available election date, however no later then 114 days from the expiration of the initial 30 days. Any alternative provision requires the Council adopting ordinances and they are unlikely to do such. One limitation does apply. If the council has made 2 prior appointments they can not appoint a 3rd and must hold a special election. This should not impact us at this time.


So here is your scenario. Cameron Smyth wins the seat for the 38th assembly and that in turn opens up his City Council seat for a appointment or special election early in 2007. Who is going to fill that vacancy? There will not be a special long care-taker assigned to that seat to full fill the entire term Cameron has left unless the city council wants everyone in this Valley steaming mad at them and a general revolt among the masses. Frank Ferry will want Ed Colley which will be supported by no one on the council, Bob Keller will want Mark Hershey where Marsha and Mayor Weste are probably still mad that Bob supported Mark and not them in the last election. Sounds like a stale mate. Remember, whomever they would chose would finish Cameron's term out completely. This is a big appointment and will have immediate impact on our Valley. So, we get a special election because we have a smart City Council that wants to be re-elected and be liked at all the parties they attend. Should Cameron have stepped down before the last election so we could have filled his seat at that time along with the others who were up? Who knows, but it would have saved the City a lot of money and future grief. Normal City elections tend to cost around $150,000. But, that's a matter for another day.

So with that all figured out, lets move on to the voting process. Do you know your party affiliation? If not, then do you watch Fox News, CNN or MSNBC? FOX news means you are probably a Republican or at least learn towards the Republican ideals and beliefs. If you chose CNN than you are probably a Democrat and opt for the plan and programs of the majority with-in that party. If however you watch MSNBC then it is most likely that your cable system doesn't offer CNN or FOX or that you are just a plain dork. Because lets face it, no one watches MSNBC, especially to get political information. If you are a libertarian then you get your news from the Daily show with Jon Steward or the Cartoon Network. If you watch Animal planet and enjoy Huell Howser then you are a Greeny. Got it now?

Ok, so now you know your affiliation. Forget about what you actually believe in, because these days that all changes hour by hour and minute by minute. When Hillary Clinton becomes President and is forced to attack Cuba because it is harboring Terrorists or illegally selling cigars to Rhode Island and violating some crazy embargo then the Republicans will be up in arms and the Democrats will be defending the decision to go to war. Those unpatriotic Republicans! What comes around goes around. Just pick your party and your news program and go with the flow.

So, with all that National stuff pushed aside, lets strap on the feed bags for a crash course in the names with-in local SCV politics and organizations. Lets name names and see where it all lands. Hey, its June, why not beat the rush and pick your candidate now? Better yet, why not start the debate NOW about who are the best candidates and see what they have to say for themselves early. If we do this right we could make this the best election ever in SCV history with the biggest voter turn out as well. If the Council is thinking about a long term caretaker, then we are about 6 months ahead of them to weed out the potential candidates and make our concerns known. Lets all think positive mental thoughts. Crossed legs, arms folded, head back and fore-finger and thumb touching. Oh, and if your doing this you watch Lifetime TV and are probably a member of the Free Soil party.

Who is going to run? Lets see. Here are some names that are floating around out there. On the GOP side of the ticket we could see names such as Mark Hershey, Dwight McDonald, Bill Kennedy, Maybe Joe Messina, Ken Dean, Ed Colley, Joanne Smtih-Curtis and maybe a few more as yet to be named. On the Democrat side there will be Michael Cruz and possibly Lynn Plambeck and just maybe our chemist pet friendly water board member Maria Guitziet. How about Carol Lutness or Matt Waggoner? Others on the long list could include Ian Swift and Mike Grenetz.

There are some big names in this list. One in particulars husband company keeps all my cars in tip top shape so I would have a hard choice to make. Most all would be effective leaders in our wonderful community. Each one of these folks would bring something different to the job as well as very unique attitudes. Some of these folks would stir the pot greatly and create more debate amongst the Council Members themselves, where as others would cause grief or debate among those attending Council meetings. Be assured that the complexity and mannerisms of the City Council will change no matter who wins or is appointed.

Our decision as voters is to find the best fit and make our opinions heard loud and clear. Ask yourself this "is it so bad that the City Council debates itself more then it debates the 3 minute speakers at council meetings"? Recently members of the City Council have stated that it has never been so good on the council. They say that they do not always concur on each issue but that they get along very well. Maybe it is perfect and our job as voters is to find the right person who will come in there and not mess with it. Maybe we need to find someone who will just come in, add their stamp of approval to whatever the others decide and move on as a caretaker most likely would. A lemming sans the cliff. Or do we find the person who will come in and challenge the status quo and start to ask the simple question, Why? Or do we pick someone who always opposes every decision whether it is in the best interest of the City and citizens or not.

So there you have it. A sneak peak into the next election or non-election if you will. Now for the hard part. As voters we need to dismantle these candidates and other potential candidates and see how they fit in. The next few years is going to be a turning point for our city much the same way the late 80's were for us. We will see more annexations and some will be big. There will be many nasty drag out fights between our City Council and other Town Councils and even the county of LA and its Supervisors. We need a Council that is up to the challenge and wont let us get run over in meetings and in the press. We need leaders who are vivacious and have the energy it will take to lead us down the road to greatness as a City. Maybe that new leader can be appointed but I say the voters know best. Let us decide.

Rioux Park to get Tennis Courts

The Dr. Richard Rioux Memorial Park will be getting its first major amenity added since the park opened in 1997. Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich was able to get $700,000 allocated in the County budget to build tennis courts at the park.

Over the years the community has been surveyed to find out what the amenities they would want added to the park facilities in Stevenson Ranch. Consistently the community has asked for tennis courts. More details to come soon.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Drunk Driver Crashes into Jail

A drunk driver apparently drove through the north gate of the Pitches Detention Center (PDC), through the property and out the south gate, breaking the barrier arm. The Santa Clarita Sheriff's Station responded and located the suspect after he crashed his car near Valencia High School. The suspect ran from the collision but was located and subsequently contained.

An immediate count was completed at all three jails in the PDC and all inmates were accounted for. The other party in the collision had minor injuries only.

The suspect, Ruben Camberos, Male 26 years old, was arrested for driving a stolen vehicle, vandalism to the jail, and drunk driving.

Increase in Illegal Fireworks Valley Wide

This Fourth of July saw a large increase in the use of illegal fireworks across the Santa Clarita Valley. Lieutenant Brenda Cambra of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported that the use of illegal fireworks has proliferated this year because of the easy availability.

The Lieutenant stated that there were 157 calls to the Sheriff’s station between 8:00 PM and 2:00 AM on the evening of July 4th related to fireworks. The Sheriff Deputies were able to respond to all of these calls within an hour of receiving the reports. Of those calls, the Sheriff Deputies were able to confiscate illegal fireworks at 20 locations.

Depending on the quantity and size of the illegal fireworks determines whether it is a misdemeanor or felony offence. The Sheriff’s Department will look at possible arrests next July if the situation warrants stepped up enforcement. The real danger involves the potential for injury and/or the ignition of a wild fire.

Full Results of Lackluster Election; West Ranch Council Elects New Officers

The full results of the West Ranch Town Council election were announced by Paul Ash at last night’s council meeting. Ash, who presided over his last council meeting as President, commented on the fact that the turnout was extremely low with roughly 1% of residents voting.

There were a total of only 54 votes cast in this West Ranch Town Council election. Brian Toqe received the most votes with 44, followed by Paul Ash with 43, Ron Mechsner with 41 and Gary Morgan receiving the least number of votes at 20. Ash attributed the lackluster turn out to the communities satisfaction with the current councils performance.

The community was asked to prioritize six topics, Annexation into the City of Santa Clarita, Incorporation of a new City, more/improved parks, future development, Public Safety and improve traffic conditions, in order of importance to the voter. Public Safety was the number one concern on the minds of voters with improving traffic conditions as a close second. Improving Parks was third followed by future development in the area. In fourth place on votes minds was forming a new city and dead last was any interest in annexing into the City of Santa Clarita. The annexation question has remained consistent in being low on the communities priority in the last 5 surveys conducted over the past decade.

Gary Morgan, who showed up late to what apparently was his second West Ranch Town Council meeting, complained that the election was not publicized enough. Paul Ash pointed out that this was in fact the most publicized council election ever. Ash sighted the fact that there were at least three articles in the local paper including a front page story in The Signal the day of the election.

There were also multiple articles in The West Ranch Beacon, this blog site, and both the Stevenson Ranch and Southern Oaks Homeowner Association’s placed articles in their respective newsletters. Paul also mentioned that several similar requests were made to the Westridge Homeowners Association which went unanswered. Gary Morgan currently serves as President of the Westridge Associations board.

The council agreed to revisit the location of the voting polls and the process for the next council election in 2008. Although the annual July 4th show has worked well for the last several council elections the location may need to change or have alternative voting locations in the next election cycle.

At the conclusion of the initial election discussion the council voted in some new officers. Paul Ash had stated that he no longer wanted to hold an officer position and would prefer to be a member at large. James Zimmerman was re-elected as Treasury and Brian Toqe will continue as Secretary. Ron Mechsner and Dave Bossert were both nominated for the position of President. It was agreed that the council would do a secret ballot vote with the winner being named President and the runner up being named Vice President.

The council members cast their votes. Don Whaley, a community volunteer, counted the ballots and announced the results. Dave Bossert will be the new President and Ron Mechsner the new Vice President of the West Ranch Town Council.

Council members briefly discussed a possible annual officer election to allow other members the opportunity to hold an officer position. The council thanked Don and Kaye Whaley for their tireless efforts in volunteering and handling the council election.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

West Ranch Town Council Meeting Agenda

The West Ranch Town Council meets tonight, Wednesday July 5, 2006, at 6:30 PM at the Southern Oaks community center. The following is the agenda for the meeting:

A. Call To Order/Roll Call

B. Approval of June Minutes

C. Treasurers Report and Banking Update

D. Announcement of Election Results

E. Election of 2006 Officers

F. County Updates

1. Doug Newell Parks and Rec
2. Sheriff’s Liaison
3. CHP Liaison
4. Bob Haueter LA County

G. NLF/Lennar Update

H. Committee Reports

1. Election
2. Security/Public Safety
3. Governmental Relations
a. Homeless Shelter Task Force
b. Westridge HOA and TPC issues Update
4. Westridge and Southern Oaks Liaisons
5. Sunset Point Liaison

I. Old Business

J. Public Comment

I. Adjournment

Breaking News: Council Incumbents Re-Elected

The West Ranch Beacon has just learned the results of the West Ranch Town Council Election. All three of the incumbents, Ron Mechsner, Paul Ash and Brian Toqe, have been re-elected for another two year term. Gary Morgan received less than half the votes that the incumbents received in what can only be described as an extremely low voter turn out.

The results will be reviewed and discussed this evening at the regular West Ranch Town Council meeting. The meeting will begin at 6:30 PM at the Southern Oaks Community center which is off of Pico Canyon Road in Southern Oaks. There will be an election of officers at tonight's meeting along with regular committee reports and other normal business.

Update: Low Voter Turnout at Council Election

The West Ranch Town Council election was held yesterday at the Stevenson Ranch July 4th show. There were four candidates running for three seats and local residents seemed uninterested based on the low voter turnout.

The polls opened at 4:30 and several Candidates, with their spouses, came up to the park early to cast their ballots. The spectators were reminded repeatedly by periodic announcements throughout the evening about the Council election and urged to vote. Many residents appeared to be satisfied with the status quo.

The ballot also included the question the following question; what, in your opinion, are the top issues facing the West Ranch community? The voters were asked to rank in order of importance, Annexation into the City of Santa Clarita, Incorporation of a New City, More/Improved Parks, Future Development, Improved Traffic Control and Public Safety. There was also a space for voters to write in any other concerns that they may have regarding the West Ranch communities.

Candidate Gary Morgan was apparently upset that he was not interviewed for The Signal’s Tuesday article that profiled the West Ranch Town Council election. To The Signal’s credit they did make several attempts to contact him and were unsuccessful. A reporter was able to speak with the other three candidates. Mr. Morgan made a feeble, last minute attempt to post 8 ½” X 11” flyers on trees leading up to the park where the election was taking place. There were bios available on all the candidates at the election booth for residents to review prior to voting.

Check back later today for the breaking results of the election.

Record Crowds Attend Stevenson Ranch July 4th Show

A record crowd estimated at over 5000 attended the annual Stevenson Ranch July 4th Fireworks Spectacular at the Dr. Richard Rioux Memorial Park in Stevenson Ranch. The show which is presented by the Stevenson Ranch Civic Committee in association with Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation was a crowd pleaser once again for the 8th straight year.

The festivities began at 7:30 with several announcements regarding safety precautions in the park. Once that business was out of the way, local Cub Scout Pack 499 and Boy Scout Troop 499 presented the flags by their color guard. The Cub Scouts lead the spectators in the Pledge of Allegiance. While the crowd was still standing the Royal Oaks Singers took the stage to sing a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.

Cameron Smyth was introduced as a Councilman and former Mayor of the City of Santa Clarita who is running for the State Assembly seat for the 38th District. He used this opportunity to remind West Ranch residents about all the Men and Women of the Armed Forces who are serving our country in various places around the world. He was a class act all the way!

At approximately 8:57 PM the song “American Pie” by Don Mclean was played, as is tradition, which marks the count down to the commencement of the pyrotechnics display. The fireworks went off at 9:05 PM and lasted roughly 25 minutes with nearly 600 3” to 5” aerial shells being set up over the park. An additional 1100 low level ground displays entertained the crowd as well.

There was a technical failure that occurred towards the end of the pyrotechnics show when a fuse for the finally failed. According to the lead Pyrotechnics Specialist, halfway through the finally a fuse failed which prompted a back up fuse to be lit. That fuse also failed which resulted in a several minute delay in the completion of the show.

As the spectators left the park many debated whether this was a better fireworks show than the one held last year. One thing for sure, they all agreed it is the “Best Fireworks Show in the Santa Clarita Valley!”

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ready, Set, .......................

We just got back from the Dr. Richard Rioux Park and all systems are go for the July 4th Fireworks Show. The crack crew of volunteers has gotten everything in place for tomorrows festivities. All of our vendors have come through once again for the 8th straight year. Andy Gump, AV equipment Rentals, AV party rentals, our Pyrotechnics crew and the great folks at L.A. County Parks and Recreation have all been terrific in helping us get what will be another great fireworks spectacular of the ground again this year.

The Stevenson Ranch show is funded entirely through donations from the community and local businesses. With the help of our community volunteers the Stevenson Ranch Civic Committee is able to get the most "bang" for it's buck! (Couldn't resist.) Working closely with the Fire Department, the Stevenson Ranch Civic Committee in association with Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation will be able to have what has become know as "The Best Fireworks Show in the Valley".

The number one priority in the planning of the Stevenson Ranch show is safety. Without question safety issues are addressed early and it shows. Because the crowds have been getting larger each year the county Fire Inspectors have asked for fencing to be added to this years show to help with crowd control. Upon enter the park, spectators will notice orange web fencing denoting the viewing areas. The crowd is at all times outside the designated "drop zone".

Fire Station 124 will be on hand as a precaution as they are every year although they will be on call in the event of an emergency elsewhere. The community will also feel safe knowing that there will be 4 California Highway Patrol cars, 2 Los Angeles County Sheriffs Deputies and additional private security all dedicated to the Stevenson Ranch show.
Remember, the park opens at 4:30 PM on Tuesday. So arrive early and planning on having a great experience with your friends and loved ones.

July 4th Fireworks Celebration in Full Force

Tomorrow, July 4th, the Stevenson Ranch Civic Committee will present the 8th Annual Fireworks Spectacular at the Dr. Richard Rioux Memorial Park in Stevenson Ranch. This year’s show is set to be the biggest and best show to date with over 600 aerial displays and more than a 1000 ground effects being set off by our professional pyrotechnics crew.
Once again, for the 8th straight year, the event is free to the public. The show is generously funded through donations from local organizations and businesses including: Newhall Land/Lennar, The Stevenson Ranch Community Association, Waste Management, Advantage Disposal, Tim Reed/ Realty Executives, The Stevenson Ranch Community Church, and The West Ranch Beacon.
Guest speakers will include Cameron Smyth, candidate for the 38th State Assembly district as well as others.

The West Ranch Beacon will be giving away thousands of dollars in FREE Satellite TV systems at the Stevenson Ranch Fireworks Show this year. That's right, FREE gift certificates that are worth up to $1000 will be given away (while supplies last) to anyone and everyone attending this years Stevenson Ranch Fireworks Spectacular. You don't have to live in the West Ranch area to receive this FREE gift certificate, you don't even have to live in California to receive one of these absolutely FREE gift certificate. All you have to do is show up to watch the Fireworks Show and you can get a FREE gift certificates worth up to $1000.
Each certificate is good for a satellite dish, up to four receivers with remotes, and installation all for FREE. What is great about this offer is that the certificates are completely transferable so if you want to give to a relative, friend or loved one anywhere in the 50 U.S. States FREE satellite TV you can!
Look for the booth at the Stevenson Ranch Fireworks show as you enter the park and get your FREE gift certificate courtesy of The West Ranch Beacon and Dish Direct!

Check out the Santa Clarita Guide, which is the only online, photo-rich resource to the Santa Clarita Valley, including city, county, and state, federal and private organizations. While they include complimentary links to organizations such as The West Ranch Beacon, they do appreciate their advertisers--without whom they could not provide these services.
Here is the link to their site or you can click on the headline above: http://www.santaclaritaguide.com/IndependenceDayCelebrationsSCV.html

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Week in review: Martians, Rivers, and an Olive Branch

This past week was a very busy one on many levels. I have been actively prepping for the Stevenson Ranch July 4th Fireworks Spectacular, there were a flurry of postings on this blog, we added another columnist (Patrick Abbot), and I posted a piece of satire that caused a bit of an uproar.

In the scheme of things, the West Ranch Beacon is relatively new and so we seem be going through the paces of growing. With that growth there is and will continue to be a stumble here and there; its just part of the process. When I posted the piece about the yet to be named “river” which I claimed was a tributary to the Mighty Santa Clara, I, nor the Beacon, were not as clear as we could have been that it was satire.

Because of that it set some wheels in motion that, although very funny, created some issues for a few good people. I posted a follow up piece that used a number of fun adjectives, like prime mate, knuckle dragger, and simpleton, to describe some of the individuals at the local advertising circular, the one I have been lovingly referring to as the “fish wrap”.

To the good people at the fish wrap, namely the hard working young journalists and staff, I sincerely apologize to you if you felt that I was referring to you with those fun adjectives. I was not! Those great descriptive words are only being used to describe the management of your advertising circular.

Yes, the monkeys (another fun word!) that are running your fish wrap are the only ones that I am referring to with those wonderfully expressive adjectives. It truly helps to describe the management because they are apparently a bunch of arrogant, egotistical hacks that lack any kind of worldly experience or respect for others. So, please know that my descriptive terms are directed at your management “boneheads” (love that word, it always makes me smile).

I would say, loud and clear, that from time to time that others pass off a few articles to me, which are well written and balanced. Those articles are an example of what your “paper” should be doing all the time, which isn’t normally the case.

As for all the young aspiring journalists at the fish wrap, here is some advice. Don’t stick around that “paper” to long because you need to move onto a real newspaper. A newspaper where you’ll be able to hone your skills under the tutelage of actual seasoned journalists and build a career. Get yourselves into a proper environment, one that will offer you growth and respect.

One last thought, there is a major sea change just starting to accur with the newspapers business and there will be a rash of consolidations and closures in the coming years. In this digital age, more and more people are getting their information on line and you should all be looking for opportunities there as well. Who knows, maybe the West Ranch Beacon will be a stomping ground for new journalistic talent like you someday.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

What’s the truth about the Santa Clarita Real Estate Market?

New to the West Ranch Beacon this month is Patrick Abbott of Realty Executives Westridge. Patrick will be doing a monthly column on the real estate market here in the Santa Clarita Valley with an emphasis on the West Ranch area. Remember our columnists are expressing their own opinions which may not necessarily be the views of the West Ranch Beacon.


When it comes to analyzing the current real estate market there are LOTS of opinions, beliefs, theories and anecdotes. In fact, there has even been new terminology created to explain the future of real estate values in terms like “soft landings” and “balanced markets”. Let’s look at some actual facts to determine the true status of the current market and the likely changes that will shape future values.

The raw facts are as follows:

There are 140 homes for sale in Stevenson Ranch/Southern Oaks/Sunset Pointe and an additional 28 homes in escrow. The last 2 months there were 21 monthly sales.

In Westridge there are currently 79 active listings as well as 7 homes in escrow. The last 2 months there have been 5.5 homes selling per month.

Currently 16.66% of the homes in Stevenson Ranch/Southern Oaks/Sunset Pointe that are on the market are in escrow. The Westridge area has 8.13% of its current inventory in escrow.

What do these numbers tell us? There is a whole lot of inventory of available homes. To compare our current market with the last couple of years is important. Spring 2004 there were 330 listings for sale in the entire Santa Clarita Valley. Spring 2005 there were 515 homes for sale in the entire valley. Currently there are almost 2300 listings. It is hard not to put an exclamation point on that last sentence. In fact, there are over 450 VACANT listings in the Santa Clarita Valley currently for sale!! (IÂ’ll use 2 since I skipped the last one).

This abundance of homes has hit the higher dollar homes harder than the less expensive homes. Currently there are 43 homes listed for sale in excess of $1,000,000 in Westridge. Only 3 homes in this price range are in escrow. This is a meager 6.5% homes in escrow versus homes for sale ratio. In fact, only 3 homes in excess of a million dollars have closed escrow the last two months.

So what is the truth? As I begin to answer this question I am reminded of the Jack Nicholson scene in A Few Good Men when he adamantly states, “You can’t handle the truth!” My feeling is there is a strong possibility the values in our beloved area will significantly drop. Back in 1988 the real estate “experts” were declaring that the market values wouldn’t drop because the economy was simply too diverse in California. Well, those folks were right – the values didn’t drop – they plummeted from 30 to 38%! It was simply because the fundamentals for buyers did not make sense anymore. Today’s experts are declaring the market is in for a “soft landing”. I don’t buy it. Quite simply, the fundamentals have gone askew for Buyers. In next months article I will explain what the term “fundamentals” means and how it affects your values.

There it is. All the bad news you could ever want in just a few paragraphs, right? Not at all!!! First of all, is there any better place to live with great schools, sports programs, caring neighbors, lots of parks and open spaces and an incredibly safe community? In addition to living in the great city of Santa Clarita you have the privilege of being in the crème de la crème area of this valley. Secondly, many of you still have LOTS of equity that was generated in a once-in-a- lifetime frenzy over the last several years. Thirdly, for most of you, this negative market will be nothing more than a distant memory as the real estate cycle will certainly go sky high again in the future. Fourthly, unless you HAVE to sell you haven’t lost anything! The crazy appreciation the last 5 years is sort of like having a bunch of Monopoly money – unless you sell your home and convert it to real dollars, your “equity” it is simply writing on a piece of paper. And lastly, do you really want to move to Stillwater, Oklahoma to have a more stable real estate market?

If you have any real estate questions or have a suggestion for a future topic specific to real estate and the West Side, please feel free to e-mail me at Pat@scvhomes.com

4 Run for 3 Seats on the West Ranch Town Council

It's official; there will be four individuals running for the three open seats on the West Ranch Town Council. Paul Ash, Brian Toqe, and Ron Mechsner are the three incumbents and Gary Morgan is the new challenger. The deadline for candidate applications was Friday June 30th.

On Friday evening the candidates and members of the West ranch Town Council met at Abby Lane restaurant in Stevenson Ranch to draw straws for the election ballot order. The order of the election ballot will be Gary Morgan, Ron Mechsner, Paul Ash and Brian Toqe.

The election ballot will also be asking residents their opinions on annexation, community amenities, and security. It is the desire of the West Ranch Town Council to get as much feedback as possible on those issues that are important to the community. That feedback will be used as agenda items and goals for the council until the next election cycle.

All registered votes in Sunset Point, Southern Oaks, Stevenson Ranch and Westridge are eligible to vote in this election. Voting will take place between 4:30 PM and 8:45 PM at the Dr. Richard Rioux Memorial Park in Stevenson Ranch on Tuesday July 4th. Residents are asked to please have a picture I.D. available when requesting a ballot to vote in this election.