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.