Thursday, August 31, 2006

West Ranch Town Council September Agenda

The following is the agenda for the Wednesday, September 6th, 2006 West Ranch Town Council meeting. The regular council meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month at the Southern Oaks Community center. Any reprint of this information should be done with written permission of the West Ranch Beacon.

5:45- Council discussion regarding:
1) Possible Meeting day change
2) Potential candidates for vacant positions

6:30- General Meeting
A. Call To Order/Roll Call

B. Approval of August Minutes

C. Treasurers 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- Good Guys Update, La Quinta Update

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

b) Council/County Thank you to Paul Ash for his Service

c) Discuss Castaic Vision Committee position

d) Discuss potential appointment to vacant council seat

e) Proposal for possible guest speakers- October- Carl Boyer, November Attorney Scott
Campell on the Brown Act, December Larry Mankin/Chris Fall SCV Chamber of
Commerce.

f) Proposal to organize a Town Hall meeting with Castaic TC, Aqua Dulce TC, and
Supervisor Antonovich. Date, time, location TBD

F. Committee Reports

1. Election 2008
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

G. Old Business

H. Public Comment

I. Adjournment

News Flash: La Quinta Hotel Causing Nuisane

Several complaints have been made from Sunset Pointe residents about the lighting at the new La Quinta Hotel on The Old Road. There have also been other issues raised that have warranted conversations about the possible delay in issuing the Certificate of Occupancy on the property.

An inspection conducted last week disclosed that the lights for the hotel are creating a nuisance to the adjacent residential property owners. The County enforcement staff has initiate enforcement action on this site to seek voluntary compliance with the property owners.

I-5 South Of Grapevine –Labor Day Weekend Traffic Advisory

North Los Angeles County south of the “Grapevine” -- The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) advises motorists traveling over the Labor Day weekend to be aware of a lane closure remaining in effect on the northbound Golden State Freeway (I-5) north of Castaic at Templin Highway, as follows.

Due to a previous mudslide and ongoing repairs, only three lanes (out of four) will be open on northbound I-5 at Templin Highway. Heavy holiday traffic and possible delays are expected over the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

While this is an ongoing closure, all planned construction, maintenance and encroachment permit activities that could create delay for motorists are to be suspended over the upcoming Labor Day weekend. This would include the following period:

Beginning Friday, September 1 from 6 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. -- and Sunday, September 3 at 11:59 p.m. through Tuesday, September 5 at 6 a.m.

Motorists are advised to plan ahead and leave early or take alternate routes if possible.

The toll-free, 24-hour Caltrans road information number for planned lane closures is 800-427-7623.

Motorists are reminded to please SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Update: Good Guys Owners Starting to Cooperate

Since our last report that the County Building and Safety Department had opened up a case on the now closed Good Guys store at The Old Road and Pico Canyon there has been a lot of action. The abandoned car with broken windows was towed from the property on Tuesday morning and other steps are being taken to secure the property.

The owners are now in regular contact with the County and want to cooperate with the various County Departments to clear up any violations and to protect their investment. The County and property owners are now looking at possibly installing a fence to close off the parking lot and to address the now dead landscaping.

Apparently, there are some large banners covering the old Good Guys sign indicating that the property may be used temporally as a Halloween Costume Store. This is currently being looked into by community leaders.

A special thank you goes out to the entire County "crew" including Tim Grover's Building and Safety group and Mark Caddick's Road Department crews who got the graffiti painted out and kept that under control. Also, a thank you must go to Chuck O’Connell, Sunset Point Liaison to the West Ranch Town Council, for all of his efforts in monitoring the situation and working with the County on this matter.

Congratulations to Jack and Lia Murphy!

Our weekly columnist Jack Murphy and his wife Lia welcomed their 3rd child to the world Miss Bennett J. Murphy was born on Monday, August 28th, at 1:30 am. She weighed in at 7 lbs, 1 ounce, sporting a beautiful head of curly black hair. The entire family is doing well and we wish them hearty congratulations!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Breaking News: Ash Resigns From West Ranch Town Council

Paul Ash, the former West Ranch Town Council President, has submitted his letter of resignation to the members of the council. Apparently, Paul has been thinking about resigning for the past two years.

In a note to Council members he said, "My various commitments, professional, family and charitable have been pulling me in too many directions the last two years. I will remain active in the community in both the political and charitable arenas, but I want to spend more time with my family and with my charities. I leave the council after ten years, knowing that it is in good hands. You are all very able and committed and will always have my respect for the hard work you put in."

Ash had started with the town council, then known as the Stevenson Ranch Town Council, when Dr. Richard Rioux was President. Paul leaves after serving the community for more than 10 years. He had tirelessly volunteered numerous hours over the years on a variety of fronts for the betterment of the West Ranch Communities.

Many of those in the community expressed sadness in the news of Paul's resignation. Those that volunteer certainly can appreciate his decision since many feel that serving the community has become a thankless job!

Paul has been asked to attend the Wednesday September 6th council meeting so that the West Ranch Town Council and the community can give him a proper public thank you.

Monday, August 28, 2006

It's a commitment to Social Responsibility!

Waste Management's new report details company's commitment to social responsibility.
Saving 41 million trees and producing enough green energy to power nearly one million homes. That's part of the real business of Waste Management. The company collects and disposes of garbage from across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, but making a difference to the environment and the communities it serves are the company's commitment.

To highlight its many environmental projects and community partnerships, Waste Management has published a social responsibility report, "It Starts with Commitment," to share its progress towards its environmental stewardship goals.

"We ask ourselves, where does our responsibility as a company end and our responsibility as members of the community and custodians of the earth begin," said David Steiner, Waste Management CEO. "Ultimately, we should do everything we can to benefit our own neighborhoods, families, cities and quality of life. We are stewards of the earth's resources. This report lets stakeholders know about our efforts - both internally and externally - to Think Green!"

For example, Waste Management's renewable energy projects generate enough green energy to power more than 800,000 homes and save the equivalent of more than eight million barrels of oil annually. Additionally, the company's landfills provide roughly 17,000 acres of protected land for wildlife habitat, and 15 landfills are certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council.

Relying upon their experience, opportunity and resources, Waste Management provides leadership that makes recycling a sustainable solution for all customers: residential, commercial, municipal and industrial. The social responsibility report also details the company's strong recycling statistics over the past few years along with real-world examples of recycling in communities across both the U.S. and Canada.

The report itself is a green success story. The book was printed on 30 percent post-consumer recyclable paper, which was manufactured at a paper mill that is powered by methane gas from a Waste Management landfill. The Cascades Fine Papers Group mill in Saint-Jerome, Quebec, is powered by gas from Waste Management's Sainte-Sophie landfill near Montreal. The methane gas, which is produced naturally as waste decomposes, is recovered and transported through an eight-mile (13 kilometer) pipeline. This circle of environmental stewardship reflects our commitment to preserve the environment and all of its natural resources, from forest and earth to sky and water. Water use, residue management, greenhouse gas reduction, energy and raw material savings are among the factors that are positively impacted by the manufacture of this paper in this manner.

To learn more about Waste Management's green energy practices and to view a PDF of the social responsibility report, visit their Website at: http://www.wm.com/WM/ThinkGreen/wm_srr_2006.pdf

Investors Who Missed The Recent Real Estate Boom Should Look Here

If you are a real estate investor and missed the housing boom, you may get another chance. Overheated in the eastern and western markets are cooling off, but there are new opportunities out there. Some of the cities that sat out the boom of the last few years are now showing stronger appreciation gains. Cities such as Dallas, Houston and Atlanta are showing signs of a strengthening real estate market.

Real Estate in hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area market is showing signs of s a slowdown. Prices are rising slowly, however inventory is up. Another sign of slowdown in this hot market is the time it takes to sell a property. Last year, some homeowners were getting nervous because there were only three multiple offers on a property instead of the usual nine. In one year we have seen quite a change. Now homes that would have sold in one or two weekends are sitting on the market longer. It is not uncommon to see homes sitting on the market thirty to sixty days. This is more like a normal market.

Meanwhile in Texas the demand for housing is increasing. With the new boom in the oil market aiding the job market, workers are coming to Texas from the US and abroad. This is putting upward pressure on the housing market. There are no signs of this slowing down anytime soon. While home prices in Dallas and Texas may not appreciate at the high rates of 20% + seen in some areas in the last few years, the appreciation rates should still be healthy. Real Estate Investors have been aware of this and are investing in these markets that have previously been very slow.

The Atlanta market is benefiting from a healthy job market. Unlike the Texas markets, the Atlanta market is also seeing a rise in inventory. This rise in inventory should restrain the appreciation in Atlanta.

A number of cities in the southwest which have seen high appreciation rates are seeing a strong increase in inventory. Cities such a Phoenix and Las Vegas are also showing a strong job market. Inventories of homes in these cities will need to be watched. If inventories continue to rise sharply, prices will tend to stay flat or fall slightly.

Meanwhile the California market is looking vastly different from a year ago. In Sacramento and San Diego the market is cooling rapidly. In California it now takes an average of six months to sell a home. I was not that long ago that in some California markets, homes were selling in one weekend.
In California the average home now costs over $500000. This is out of reach for many families. The pressure is now on housing prices to come down in some areas. Higher interest rates, slower sales, home prices beyond the reach of the average family all point to falling prices in some areas.

Another scenario is that home prices will remain flat until wages catch up.

As the market changes, more and more homeowners are getting caught in foreclosure. As prices appreciated quickly, homeowners who could not meet their mortgage obligations benefited from an increase in equity. That will not be the case in the coming years. There are a number of sites dedicated to homeowners wanting to sell their homes without a Realtor, investors looking for deals, and agents looking for new business. RealtyTrac is one such site. Here you can find home bargains, sell a home without an agent, and discover your homes value.

Andrew Goldman is president of Metal Rabbit media services, the operator of www.Exchangetradedfundinvesting.com and carealestateinvest.com He has written a number of articles on finance and investment over the last ten years. Article source: Articlecube.com

Saturday, August 26, 2006

5 Quick Steps to Landscaping Your Home Before You Sell

Ultimately in order to obtain the highest selling price what can you look for to increase your selling and asking prices as well as sell your property sooner during peak real estate sales periods. (Spring and summer for both possessions before and after the school year)

With homeowner priorities shifting to their outdoor living spaces, it is more important than ever that your landscaping and backyard areas look their best when it comes time to sell. And with more outdoor living spaces come more elaborate and beautiful landscaping.

Studies have shown that attractive landscaping can increase the value of a home. “ The Contribution of Landscaping to the Price of a Single Family Dwelling , South Carolina” pointed out not only homes with excellent landscaping sell 4 to 5 % higher , but homes with poor landscaping in neighborhoods with excellent landscaping sold for 8 to 10 % less.

The right landscape design can make all the difference to a prospective buyer, especially when it is beautifully and carefully executed. “First impressions are not only important for buyers but for appraisers and real estate agents as well.” home assessment quantifier Shinderpal Jandu says.

So how much time, effort and money should you put into “sprucing “up your landscape if you are selling?

If you put in a small amount of money, time and effort into your backyard, you will sell your home and probably get enough boosts in price to warrant the work. However, if you do extensive landscaping, you can consider it money spent for personal enjoyment not as a payback investment. It will certainly help you to sell your home faster, it may allow you to sell your house without needing a real estate agent but it will not impress buyers enough to increase the asking or selling price significantly.

Some good suggestions to improve your landscape:

1. If you backyard is nothing but weeds, get a weed eater and cut the weeds.

2. Remove unsightly trees – too tall, large or inappropriate. Ensure though that you can dispose of the remains both easily, with little cost and legally.

3. Plant trees that will not grow to large. Fruit trees are always a good choice for a backyard

4. Plant low growing flowers and shrubs on your lot to add color.

5. Make sure that your back yard as well as the front is clean neat and livable.

If there is a fence make sure that it is a reasonable looking. A fresh coat of paint will always help to improve the value of first impressions as well as hide a multitude of sins.

Remember it is not just your house but your home and biggest lifetime investment. When you prepare to sell your house pay attention to the landscaping it adds “curb appeal. Simple proper steps to landscaping can both enhance the selling price of your home and make it easier and quicker to sell.


Amy Goodman

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mike Cruz: More on Lieberman

I am a moderate democrat. I have voted for both republicans and democrats. I look at the candidate and see where he or she stands on the issues that are important to me.

Recently in Connecticut, the democrats selected Ned Lamont as their nominee for the United States Senate. Mr. Lamont defeated three-term incumbent Joe Lieberman. The vote was 52% to 48%. However, not long ago, Mr. Lamont was trailing Senator Lieberman by over 40% in some of the polls. Approximately 50% of the democrat party voted in the primary. Generally speaking, a primary only draws approximately 25% of eligible voters.

Since the primary election, various pundits have talked or written about how either the democrat party has shown a winning strategy or how the party is going to lose. I have read a variety of op-ed pieces, letters to the editor and blogs authored by conservatives, moderates and liberals. Some argued that Lieberman was not in touch with his state, well others stated that it was a referendum on President Bush. Either way Senator Lieberman lost and should step aside. I know that Ned Lamont pledged that if he lost the primary that he would support Joe Lieberman. The democrats of Connecticut have spoken!

On the same day that Lamont defeated Lieberman, a moderate named Hank Johnson defeated liberal Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney for the democrat party nomination in a Georgia house race. Moderate republican Congressman Joe Schwarz lost his bid for his party's nomination to conservative Tim Walberg.

In the past, when a republican incumbent has lost his party's nomination, I have always heard that he or she did not represent the values of their party. I guess the same can be said for Senator Lieberman and Representatives McKinney and Schwarz. None of them reflect their party's values. However, does this mean there are only national party values or can there be regional or even local values for a political party? I believe in the latter and that the aforementioned races reflect that local and regional trumps national party views.

In the different regions of our country, different factors need to be taken into account. Generally speaking, the northeast is more liberal, whether you are a democrat or a republican. In other words, Senator Trent Lott from Mississippi wouldn't stand a chance in being elected in Rhode Island as Senator Lincoln Chaffe would never win a senatorial race in Mississippi. Both are republicans but have different views that are reflective of their own states.

The same goes for Democrats. California Senator Boxer would be to Liberal for Louisiana, although democrat Senator Mary L. Landrie represents Louisiana in the United States senate. Once again, both are democrats, but have different views that are reflected in the states they each represent.

I have heard that the "net roots" were a liberal conspiracy to take over the democrat party. Let's set the record straight! Prior to the net roots supporting Ned Lamont, they were supporting democrat nominee Bob Casey in his race against Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Casey is a conservative democrat. In Virginia, Jim Webb a former republican and Reagan administration official, who is now a democrat is being supported by the net roots in his race against Senator George Allen. If the net roots were only supporting a specific type of candidate, then why would they be working on behalf of all three aforementioned democrats, who are reflective of the entire political spectrum?

In Rhode Island which is a blue state, liberal republican Senator Lincoln Chaffe is in a tough primary race against a conservative opponent. Senator Chaffe voted against going to Iraq and voted against confirming Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. It is well anticipated that if Senator Chaffe is not the republican nomination, then the democrat nominee will win the election and the democrats will take back one more seat in the United States senate.

In the 2004 election, Indiana -a red state- reelected democrat Evan Bayh to another term in the United States senate, while giving all of its electoral votes to President Bush. Indiana sent a democrat to the senate and returned a republican to the white house. n interesting fact is that Bayh received more votes than Bush.

Voters are starting to become less inclined to vote party line. This is evident given the fact that the fastest growing political party is the "declined to states." The voters do not want to be associated with either major political party. Instead, they want to see who the candidates are before deciding who to vote for.

Between now and November, you will have to decide which issues are important to themselves ,whether it is the culture of corruption, cut and run, health care, minimum wage or a host of other issues. More importantly, after you have decided you need to vote for the candidate that best represents your views.

Michael Cruz

Thursday, August 24, 2006

News Flash: Pritzker to Run for HOA Board

Keith Pritzker, the former town council and HOA board member, has informed the Stevenson Ranch Community Association (HOA) of his intention to run for a board seat in the November election. He and another resident, David Harvey, have also apparently served the HOA with a recall petition.

Longtime residents may remember, a number of years ago, that Keith got into a legal tangle with several residents which ultimately ended with him having to make a financial settlement to end the matter. Since then Keith has apparently moved out of Stevenson Ranch but is still a property owner.

Residents are already questioning Pritzkers motivation for running since he has not been actively involved in community politics since losing the lawsuit. Several members of the HOA Board are questioning his eligibility to run and whether he will again waste the HOA's time and money. It will be an interesting run up to the November election.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pat Abbott: How Southern Oaks Homes Jumped UP in Value over $200,000 Overnight!!

Several people responded to last months article and all had the same basic message for me – “Why do you have to be so negative with your gloom and doom views of the real estate market?” I thought about the comments and felt it appropriate to give the readers of the West Ranch Beacon an “insiders” look at the not too distant real estate past in the West Ranch area. Keep in mind – the dates, names and events noted in this article are 100% authentic – this is not a parable or anecdote. This article will explain how the sales and marketing of two Southern Oaks Manor homes redefined the values of an entire tract of homes overnight!

My friends and past clients Cody and Marion had a gorgeous Southern Oaks Manor home with a gorgeous view, upscale décor, beautiful furnishings, nice pool and spa that was about to come onto the market Spring 2004. The sales comparables at the time for similar model homes in the same tract were in the high $900,000’s. At the same time there were new construction homes (Westridge/Tesoro) selling in the high nine hundred thousand range to the low million dollar range that had no exterior landscaping, no pool/spa and no designer paint or custom molding. There was an obvious value gap between the new construction homes and the resale homes at that time. As we analyzed the market and factored in the supply and demand effects that were in place we decided to push the market and listed the home for $1,250,000. Some neighbors laughed. Others neighbors were amazed. At the Open House there were two basic groups of people that viewed the home – Santa Clarita Valley residents who had a knowledge of the Manor Homes (they saw them as new construction, knew the original cost, knew the comps, etc.) and those that were new to the Santa Clarita Valley viewing this area as a potential new location for their family.
The “newbies” were blown away with the model home feel, the view, the completed landscaping and fact the home was move-in ready. We had two families interested in purchasing the home at full value within the first 10 days!! The potential buyers of that time had seen all the new construction homes available with comparable square footage priced at around a million, but all those homes needed lots of time and money to be completed. It was a no-brainer – based on what was available this home offered great value.

You must keep in mind that without a satisfactory appraisal you typically have no deal. Without a couple of closed sales justifying the price the underwriter that works on the lenders behalf will not accept an appraisal 25% higher than similar recent sales. This is where fate stepped in. The buyer for Cody and Marion’s home had exceptional credit and was obtaining non-traditional financing which did not require a typical appraisal.
Several weeks after this home entered escrow we listed the neighbor’s home across the street. It was the same model with a less desirable view, less interior upgrades and a magnificent pool/spa. This home closed escrow on July 30, 2004 at a phenomenal $1,230,000 price. This home would not have been able to appraise at value unless we had the closing from several weeks earlier. In a matter of a few weeks we saw the values in the neighborhood change by a quarter of a million dollars!!! This phenomenon was simple – there was a huge gap in the new home versus resale homes that had not been closed. These two sales paved the way for the gigantic price increases of Stevenson Ranch, Sunset Pointe and the Enclave. They also validated the prices of new construction at that time in the marketplace.

What does all this have to do with current home values in West Ranch?
EVERYTHING! This will be addressed in the next article as well as how to make your home stand out as a “Top 10 % Home” (being one of the 10 percent of homes that SELLS rather than SITS.

Patrick Abbott
Realty Executives West Ranch
pat@scvhomes.com

Are there no open fields in Lebanon?

It is a tragedy that Israel gave Hezbollah and its sponsors just what they wanted - a major kill of civilians. Most tragic is more than half were children. But, is anyone asking - Why didn't Hezbollah get those people to safety when Hezbollah was using that very area from which to fire rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians?

Israel dropped leaflets on the target area warning civilians to get out, yet, Hezbollah fighters, no doubt read the same leaflets and allowed the civilians to stay in the target area. Perhaps the charge is true - Hezbollah cares more about winning than about their own women and children. Why else would they launch rockets and missiles from schoolyards, mosques, and neighborhoods? Are there no open fields in Lebanon?

The United Nations Security Council may bring a temporary end to the killing on both sides but the fact that Hezbollah is armed, in defiance of United Nations Resolution 1559, proves the United Nations remains an impotent organization. Hezbollah should have been disarmed long ago and the new Democratic government of Lebanon would be at peace with Israel, no civilians would be dead. The blame for this tragedy must be laid fully on Hezbollah, not on Israel, and surely not on the United States.

Terrorists carrying, planting, and exploding bombs, shooting rockets and missiles, have murdered thousands. These are the very same people, and their State sponsors, Iran and Syria, who are calling Israel a terrorist State. Let us not forget that the fighting began after Hezbollah crossed Israel's border and kidnapped Israeli soldiers, holding them as bargaining chips trying to extort prisoner releases.

When one looks behind-the-curtain who do we see hiding backstage?

It is interesting that all this took place just days before the G8 meeting. On the agenda of the meeting was to be a discussion about sanctions against Iran for its nuclear ambitions. Is it possible that Iran created the Middle East crisis to say to the United States and other nations - "you push us, we can push back"?

Intelligence sources agree that Iran and Syria are partners in supporting groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah who have sworn to destroy Israel. They have been supplying money and weapons to these groups and, therefore, have tremendous influence over them. World pressure must also focus on Syria and Iran.

After all the shooting finally stops, this question remains - When will the world, like Israel, have enough and join together to rid us of the terrorist scourge? Let's remember - we are dealing with a minority claiming to represent a majority, at least that's what they spin to the world.

All groups have a right to promote their dogma in a democratic society but none have the right to force that dogma on others at the point of a gun.

Talking, not shooting, should always be the first way forward.

People have the inherent right to choose whom they will follow and whom they will elect to represent them. The world is faced with a minority of radicals trying to do maximum damage to freedom. If they will not put down their weapons and talk, this minority must be crushed.

It will take Democratic nations to take a stand against these criminal actors, outside of the U.N. Security Council, because it's the only way for freedom to take root in the Middle East.

I remain convinced that Israel's battle against radical elements of Hezbollah and Hamas, and, the U.S. War on Terror in Iraq, can be catalysts to finally crush the criminals who have used innocents as a tool to impose radicalism upon the world. Every freedom loving nation should take the cue and make eradicating these killers the number one priority.

One must again ask - Is there any other nationality who has such a terrible history of being victims of hate and eradication as Israel? Who can honestly deny Israel's right to defend herself, her right to destroy her enemies?

Israel was struck first. Innocent Israeli's were killed first.

Hezbollah must be disarmed and forced to work within the Lebanese political system and allow the Lebanese people the freedom to decide the way forward. While Hezbollah has elected members in Lebanon's Parliament, elements of Hezbollah, thus far, have used the point of a gun to force their will.

This can end if the nations of the world make an effort to end it.

Jim DeSantis

Topsy Turvy In SCV

There are some who are wondering what the heck is happening in the Santa Clarita Valley lately. First, Darryl Manzer writes a descent column, in the local fish wrap, that actually had some great ideas and suggestions. Next, Chris Austin posts a piece on SCVTalk.com that picks up on Darryl’s ideas and embellishes on them in an intelligent way. She does this without espousing her usual communist doctrine that everyone and everything must be equal. What’s next, tangerine trees and marmalade skies, alien abductions or possibly Elvis sightings at the Town Center?

Maybe so, but I think that we are heading into autumn with the possibility of a very different atmosphere than has been experienced over the past year or so. It seems as though there is going to be more productive dialogue about the future of our valley and less death threats! This may go against the grain of the City politico whose tongues are already wagging about this week’s local columns and postings.

The fact is that many of us have much more in common than not. We are all interested in a better valley; we all care about our community. Whether that means the unincorporated areas annex into the City of Santa Clarita, a new city gets formed or the valley stays the way it is. What is important is that there is a thorough dialogue that is inclusive and respectful of the communities that will be most affected.

That discussion should have started a few years ago and would have been near a decisions point by now. Although, the local goon squad running the fish wrap would have you believe that it started 18 years ago. Unfortunately the West Ranch area was nothing more than cattle grazing on rolling hills way back then. Now there seems to be enough of a population that the community can have an active role in determining at least the future status of the west side.

One way that the city could actually start to gain some traction in regards to annexation would be to reflect on where they are now and how they got there. As I mentioned in yesterdays column, the city may want to look at bringing in a consultant that can evaluate whether or not some structural changes need to be undertaken as the city continues to grow. It is quite valid to ask such questions especially given the growth of the valley over the past 20 years.

It is obvious, based on local writings, that we have found some common ground. Now the questions is, can we get a ground swell going that will help be a catalyst for change valley wide. Is it possible for a group of residents to get the local political machine to change the way they do business? Is it possible for the City to shift the tactics currently being employed to grow itself?

In this topsy turvy world any thing is possible. Who knows maybe Darryl Manzer or Chris Austin will write a guest commentary for the West Ranch Beacon. That would truly turn heads here in the Santa Clarita Valley.......and rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies!

Dave Bossert

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Doors always been Unlocked!

My friend that clips bits for me from the local fish wrap couldn’t wait to get the latest column from Darryl Manzer to me Sunday afternoon. He said that it wasn’t another attack and but felt I needed to see it sooner rather than later. I read it immediately and thought; “okay, who wrote this and what have they done with the real Darryl Manzer!”

Finally there was a column that was decent and acknowledged the other side. It was a column that was advocating a dialogue, something that I and many others have wanted all along, and didn’t attack any of us for the sake of selling papers. It was a column that actually had some constructive suggestion and some downright good points about how the city could jump start talks with the unincorporated areas.

Darryl asked a great question, why would those of us living in the West Ranch area want to trade five County Supervisors for five City Council members? He went on to suggest that the City of Santa Clarita may want to consider expanding the number of City council members. This, by the way, was a talking point that some of us in the unincorporated areas have brought up in the past. It is worth discussing because all organizations need to look at where they have been and where they are going. How an organization started out is not always how it can stay as it grows and the environment changes around it. The City of Santa Clarita may need to change how it operates if it wants to continue to grow.

One only needs to look at other cities, as Darryl pointed out in his column, like Suffolk, Va. which has seven council members or Chesapeake, Va. which has eight council members and a directly elected Mayor. You could also look at New York City which has 51 council members from 51 different council districts throughout the five boroughs that make up the city. Looking around the country many of these cities have changed the city charters, some multiple times, as the needs have arisen.

Darryl goes on to suggest that the City of Santa Clarita council members start to be more inclusive and respectful of the outlying town councils. Again, this has been a basic request that many of us have had for some time. Having a civil relationship with you neighbors is a good thing for the entire valley. Unfortunately, the City has not felt a need to have a good relationship with its neighbors to date. Remember, Councilman Frank Ferry bellowed that if the West Ranch area “didn’t annex, we’ll (the City) bury you!” Many of us are still waiting for Frank to shovel the dirt; he’s certainly been shoveling the bull crap up to this point though!

The column continues with the point that both sides should listen to one another. This is just a very basic part of a decent relationship. Again, I have advocated having discussions and that the city should be patient with those discussions. Everything needs to be put on the table regardless of what it is. Comparing services and asking questions is just a basic right in any discussion regarding annexation. Sadly though, when I did attend a City Council meeting to speak out against the City's duel park fees Councilman Ferry, red faced, yelled out me for five minutes about annexation!

Generally speaking I thought that Darryl Manzer’s column this week was a good piece that had some excellent suggestions at moving the dialogue forward. No doubt there are going to be folks that think his suggestions are out of line or not possible. There are going to be a lot of excuses why the City can’t expand the council or why it is not possible to invite in representatives from the town councils. They’ll be city council members that will say it would be too hard, too difficult, and too expensive to make changes. There will be people that are incensed with outsiders suggesting changes to their City. All of that highlights why the City Council should probably look at these issues. Maybe it is time for the City to hire an outside consultant to evaluate these issues and make some unbiased recommendations.

Dave Bossert

A quick note to the COC Board from Jack Murphy

Ok COC folks, if you know what is in the best interest of your school you better pick Bucks man Scott Wilk with-out delay. Don't horse around. The choice of Scott is in the best interest of the community and the school, especially with Buck about to be running the education committee in Washington. Ok, MAINLY because of Buck. But who cares. This is our school and our community. We want the best and if this is one way to get it. So be it.

So please, you have a great opportunity here, don't blow it. During the next election you can then bring on the Great Brian Koegle and round out that board with the best of the best.

Dont blow this COC!

Jack Murphy

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Update: Magic Mountain, Part of Package Deal?

The Los Angeles Times reported that Six Flags Corporation announced, after the stock market closed on Friday, that it intended to sell Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor as part single transaction sale. As previously reported, Six Flags the parent company is trying to reduce it's dept load.

Speaking to Bloomberg News Service, CEO Mark Shapiro said that they may decide to keep the parks if they don't receive an adequate offer for the six parks that are proposed for sale. The company said on Friday that it has sent out detailed financial information to potential buyers.

Land around the parks in the West Ranch area sells for $750,000 to $1 million an acre. That puts a value on the Magic Mountain parks of nearly $200 million or more. Local developer have expressed interest in the parcel. Newhall Land/Lennar is already developing a mixed use site of office and retail on property at the corner of The old Road and Magic Mountain Parkway. That proposed project will be presented to the west Ranch Town Council later this year.

The local parks have had a reputation in recent years for security problems and attracting a rougher crowd that has turned off the local family population. If the parks don't sell then Six Flags may look at trying to re-tool the park so that it is a more family friendly environment. It certainly doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the demographic mix of the nearly 350,000 residents of the Santa Clarita Valley!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Jack Murphy: Why we support a liberal Democrat

Over the past week I have heard all the bad there is to hear about Joe Lieberman from pretty much every Democrat I know, sans one. Everyone says Joe is a Republican. I want to bang my head against the wall. A Republican? Joe Lieberman? The liberal Democrat?

Well, apparently since Joe votes liberal on EVERYTHING except the War in Iraq Joe is a Republican. Its the 90/10 rule the Democrats seem to embrace these days. You can vote liberal on every issue, but if you vote for ONE thing that the President thinks is good and wants, well then you are a Republican. So, We have another NEW Republican we need to welcome into the party. Ted Kennedy. He voted in favor of the no child left behind, hell he actually WORKED with the President on the darn thing. That should make him our Chairman or something based on a Joe Lieberman comparison.

Some folks still just dont seem to get it. Why is it that pretty much the ENTIRE Republican party is supporting Joe Lieberman? Is it because of his anti-abortion stance? Uh, no. He is pro-choice. How about his stance on tax cuts? Uh, no. He opposes tax cuts and making them permanent. How about his, oh who cares. Joe is a Liberal plain and simple. He is a great guy however. Because he does what HE thinks and KNOWS is right. The reason everyone in the Republican party supports Joe is because we all know that Joe gets it. We know that Joe understands that what we are doing globally in the war on terrorism and in Iraq is important not just for today but for the future of this country.

So, when was the last time you saw an ENTIRE party come out in support of a opposition candidate? Um, never. Not like this. We dont want Joe for his liberal stance on a lot of issues, we want Joe to win because Joe freaking GETS IT folks! He understands that NOTHING matters if we fail in Iraq and fail in Afghanistan and if Israel fails in defeating the Hezbollos and Hamases. Joe knows that you aint gonna care about universal health care if your already dead. Joe knows that talking about taking an unborn baby's life is moot if the mother is killed by a suicide bomber on a bus on her way to the mall.

You see, we support Joe and we would support ANY OTHER DEMOCRAT that got it. But most don't. You want to win the election in November and then take the White House in a few years? Get a back-bone and wake the heck up. Please. We WANT to support you. We truly do. We would rather debate health care and all that other stuff then this. We CANT believe that there is still people in this country that just dont understand that this is it. This is the most important thing we can do right now in this day and age. And to NOT understand it is basically to be naive to the threat. I would prefer to not be known as the most scared generation. How about the most courageous generation instead!

I am worried about Iraq. I have been for a while. I doesn't change my opinion of the goal however. I support the mission. No matter how concerned I may be I still get IT. If we leave them alone and bring all the troops home I get it that the bad people in this world dont just go back to work and forget about his. They hated us before George Bush came into office and they will hate when he is gone. There was more terrorist attacks on American interests during President Clinton's time in office then there has been in George Bushes time in office. You have to ask yourself why so few now in comparison? Is it because we decided to take the fight to them? Or is because they just dont want to fight us anymore? Well, it cant be that one. All the anti-war folks in this country tells us that MORE people hate us now because of what we are doing. So what exactly is it? Its because we are taking the war to them. Not letting them bring it to us again. Preemption. I would not support a preemptive attack on Canada, but I would support one on Iran, North Korea, Somalia and anywhere else there is brutal oppression and terrorists states.

Now that you have read this, you can go back to work, make dinner for the family or head out to the mall and know that you are safe and secure daily here in the USA. I highly dought that any of you are worried about a terrorist attack on the way to Valencia town center. So, for all of us who do get IT. Your welcome!


Jack Murphy

Housing starts fall 2.5% in July, Building permits lowest since August 2002

The U.S. Housing starts have fallen for the fifth time in the last six months and that does not bode well for the Santa Clarita Valley. The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly announced the following new residential construction statistics for July 2006:

BUILDING PERMITS
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,747,000. This is 6.5 percent (±1.2%) below the revised June rate of 1,869,000 and is 20.8 percent (±1.3%) below the July 2005 estimate of 2,206,000.
Single-family authorizations in July were at a rate of 1,318,000; this is 6.1 percent (±1.3%) below the June figure of 1,404,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 342,000 in July.

HOUSING STARTS
Privately-owned housing starts in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,795,000. This is 2.5 percent (±8.7%)* below the revised June estimate of 1,841,000 and is 13.3 percent (±7.7%) below the July 2005 rate of 2,070,000. Single-family housing starts in July were at a rate of 1,452,000; this is 2.3 percent (±8.9%)* below the June figure of 1,486,000. The July rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 264,000.

HOUSING COMPLETIONS
Privately-owned housing completions in July were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,927,000. This is 5.4 percent (±7.5%)* below the revised June estimate of 2,038,000, but is 2.3 percent (±9.8%)* above the July 2005 rate of 1,883,000. Single-family housing completions in July were at a rate of 1,665,000; this is 4.6 percent (±7.2%)* below the June figure of 1,745,000. The July rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 244,000.

Early, it was reported that builder confidence has sunk to a 15 year low, a level not seen since February of 1991. One only needs to look around the Santa Clarita Valley, on any given Saturday, to see all of the Real estate For Sale signs littering the green belts. David Seiders, chief economist for a home builders' industry group said "Two factors are coloring builders' perceptions of the market right now -- rising sales cancellations and substantial growth in inventories of both new and existing homes, These factors are largely the result of an increasing number of potential buyers adopting a 'wait and see' attitude because of uncertainty about where the housing market is headed”. Also, speculators are fleeing the market, he said.

Update: Good Guys turned Bad

Los Angeles County Department of Building and Safety has opened up a case on the abandoned Good Guys building at Pico Canyon and The Old Road. As we have reported previously, since the electronics store closed earlier this year there have been problems with graffiti, abandoned cars and vandalism.

The building owners are currently in a lease dispute with the now defunct Good Guys and have not been cooperating with County requests to rectify the problems. County DWP has been handling the on going graffiti abatement. Now Building and Safety are getting involved because of the hazards of the apparent abandoned cars on the property. This may all get resolved quickly as rumor has it that the corner property may be the site of a new Office Max store. Let’s hope so!

Jessica's Law Campaign swings through SCV

Thankfully, the leadership of the Santa Clarita Valley Republican Assembly (SCVRA) knows how to run a meeting. They stuck to their agenda and the meeting moved along at a very good clip and got to the guest speakers on schedule. The worst thing about local community meetings is when they drone and drag on for hours on end. A few people I spoke with last night complained about a local meeting the night before that went on for nearly 5 hours. That kind of thing just turns off most residents from attending these meetings. Kudos to the SCVRA for doing it right!

I was very much inspired after attending the SCVRA meeting last night at the IHOP on Pico Canyon in Stevenson Ranch. The guests at this regular monthly meeting were our California State Senator George Runner and Mr. Mark Lunsford speaking about the Jessica’s Law Campaign.

Lunsford's 9-year-old daughter, Jessica, was abducted last year from her Florida home. She was raped and killed. John Couey, who had been living just 150 yards away, confessed that he kept her locked in a closet for three days before burying her alive behind the mobile home where he was staying.

Mark has been doing a cross-country tour to urge states to pass tough anti-sex-crime laws like the new Florida statute named after Jessica. The push is on in Sacramento to sharply increase penalties for sex crimes and had come to Santa Clarita after meeting with Governor Schwarzenegger and Former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliano in Santa Monica. Both the Governor and the former Mayor support Proposition 83, also known as Jessica's Law, which would set a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for sex crimes against children and require registered sex offenders to wear a GPS tracking system for life.

I was reminded of the actor Peter Finch who portrayed Howard Beale, a news anchor, in the 1976 film Network. You may recall that the Finch character, who was fed up, told his viewers to “go to your windows and shout I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE”. That was the sense that I got last night from Mark Lunsford who decided to turn his terrible personal tragedy into a campaign to get a Jessica’s law on the books in every state in our country. Based on seeing him last night, I believe that he will.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

News Flash: Truck Bursts into Flames on I-5

At 5:30 am a big rig driver lost control of his vehicle while heading south bound on the I-5 at Magic Mountain Parkway. The truck struck the center divider and apparently the load on the vehicle burst into flames.

ABC News has reported that the load was wine coolers. It doesn't appear to be explosives related at this time. The southbound lanes were closed at Magic Mountain Parkway. The north bound lanes have been reduced to one lane open.

Boys With Guns in Stevenson Ranch

The Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department reported that on August 16, 2006, at 4:15 p.m., a citizen reported that there was a male adult in Deputy Jake K. Park carrying an unknown type rifle and another male adult holding an unknown type pistol.

Deputies responded and contacted two teenage boys who had air soft guns in the area. Both boys were released to their parents with the appropriate admonishments about the danger of being in public with items that appear to be guns.

The Sheriff Deputies probably should have arrested the parents for allowing these boys to walk around in public caring guns. What were they thinking?! That is the kind of stupidity that can end tragically. Some of these people should not be allowed to raise children.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Chalk One Up for Personal Responsibility!

You may have missed it yesterday because it was a small story. It had nothing to do with the Mid East conflict nor did it involve a celebrity. The news story was about a couple who lived about 500 feet from the Gulf Coast in Mississippi.

Last year when Hurricane Katrina hit a five foot high wall of water washed through their home and did more than $130,000 worth of damage. The couple turned to their insurance company, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., which refused to cover the water damage because there was no flood insurance coverage in the policy.

The couple claimed that their insurance agent did not make clear that they were not covered for water damage and that in fact the “wind” had blown the water into their home. The policy did cover wind damage but they did not have the necessary flood insurance.

The Federal Court in Mississippi basically ruled that the couple could not effectively rewrite their insurance policy after the fact. The Judge went on to say the couple should have asked their insurance agent more questions and should have thoroughly read the policy to fully understand the coverage.

Finally a victory for personal responsibility! I am so tired of seeing stories where people are not taking responsibility for their own actions. Burning yourself with a hot cup of coffee does not give you the right to file a law suit against the vendor. Doing a 150 MPH in a boat, flipping it over and killing yourself should not be rewarded with a windfall from litigation. All of us as individuals need to take personal responsibility for our own action and not blame others for what sometimes amounts to stupidity.

If you live in a flood zone get the appropriate insurance. We in the Santa Clarita Valley live in an earthquake zone and should have the appropriate earthquake insurance coverage. I can tell you that I review my insurance almost on an annual basis especially as home prices have increased and as I have made improvements to my house. It only takes a few minutes to pick up the phone to speak with your agent and to ask a couple of intelligent questions. If and when disaster strikes I know that I am prepared. Are you?

Highway 33 Closed In Both Directions Through Mid- September

Ventura County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announces that a new pavement “slipout” has closed northbound and southbound Highway 33, approximately 36 miles north of Ojai (on the south end, eight miles north of Lockwood Valley Road; on the north end, twelve miles south of State Route 166). A slipout occurs when the material beneath the roadway built on the side of a hill or mountain, slips, making the roadway impassable.

The highway was under repair from a prior “slipout” of July 12, when the new one occurred. Estimated duration of repairs is late August to mid-September. Suggested alternate routes: From Ventura to New Cuyama, Cuyama and Maricopa Use eastbound State Route 126 to northbound I-5 to westbound State Route 166. From Los Angeles to New Cuyama, Cuyama and Maricopa: Use northbound I-5 to westbound State Route 166, Use northbound State Route 101 to eastbound State Route 166

Caltrans thanks the motoring public for their patience and cooperation during this highway repair project.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mike Cruz: Cruzing the Center Line

Regardless of political affiliation, each candidate who seeks his or her party's nomination runs towards their party's "base." Generally, this means if you are a republican you are attempting to appeal to the conservatives, if you are a democrat you are attempting to appeal to the liberals. After a candidate as secured his/her party nomination, they then run to the "center." What is the center? Well that is a place you will find me along with a large number of democrats and republicans. If I was in the leadership of either the republicans or democrats, I would be scared right now. Why? The fastest growing party is the declined to states. In other words, a large group of voters are not happy with either party. I believe, presently in California declined to states make-up 23% of registered voters.

During my many days of door knocking during my run for city council, I had the opportunity to speak with democrats, republicans and declined to states. I can honestly say that no more than twenty people totally told me that they would vote for me because I was a fellow democrat or that they would not because I was not a republican. The overwhelming majority of people listened to me and asked their questions and stated that they vote the person not the party.

I honestly believe that the party that resonates best with the center, will be in the driver's seat come 2008. What if neither party attempts to capture the center? I believe you will see the rise of a third party, which will be comprised of disenfranchised voters from both the republican party and the democrat party.
Just look at Israel earlier this year, when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon resigned from the conservative Lukid party and created a moderate/center party. I would highly recommend to anyone to read Matt Miller's book "2% solution,"
which includes a chapter on a possible third party.

Another example I will give you is right here in California. In governor races, we elect moderates. Governors Dukemejian and Wilson might have been fiscally conservative, which resonates with the center but they were socially liberal or in republican talk libertarian in their views, which appeals to moderates. You will recall that Governor Davis painted his republican opponents Dan Lungren and Bill Simon as to conservative for California. When he attempted to use that argument against Governor Schwarzenegger it failed. After the recall election former State Senator John Burton had this to say about Governor Schwarzenegger, "Pro gay rights, pro environment and pro-choice, sounds like my kinda republican."

If not for the recall election, many people believe, that if Governor Schwarzenegger had to run in a republican primary, he would have lost due to his views on social issues.

At the federal level, Senator Boxer, who is very liberal has always painted her republican opponents as to conservative for the mainstream in California and has always won with that argument. Yet the republicans always run a conservative candidate against her. Senator Feinstein a moderate democrat is the most popular elected official in our state and will be overwhelmingly re-elected this November.


There is that old famous saying: "Go west young man!" I would say to
both parties "Go to the center!"

Michael Cruz

State Senator George Runner to Speak in Stevenson Ranch

Santa Clarita Valley Republican Assembly guest speaker for August is State Senator George Runner. Senator Runner will speak about his work up in Sacramento and in regards to Jessica's Law.

You're invited to attend Thursday, August 17th, 2006 at the IHOP at 24737 Pico Canyon Road in Stevenson Ranch. Check in is at 6:30PM with dinner at 6:45PM, the program begins at 7:25PM and the meeting will adjourn at 8:00PM. Dinner is $11 per person and includes all you can drink.

If you are interested in attending please RSVP to Vanessa at 661-263-1857 or E-mail: vsafo@aol.com

Check out the SCV Republican Assembly website by clicking the headline above or at: http://www.scvgop.org/scv_assembly

Monday, August 14, 2006

A conspiracy theory du jour

Over the weekend, on Saturday to be exact, The Signal Newspaper ran a front page piece on the personal divorce happenings of former City Council candidate and fourth place finisher, Mark Hershey. If you did not read it you may do so on the Signals new expanded web site.

Is this story any of our business? Yeah, kinda. When you run for most offices you open yourself up to the community and world. Your life goes from pretty innocuous to front page pretty fast. And even afterwards you can make news. It just doesn't end when you lose.

A while ago I wrote an essay as to the potential scenario when and if Cameron Smyth departs for higher public service. In that piece I mentioned an internal struggle. One between a few Council members in the event they elect to choose a person to fill the vacancy created by Cameron's departure.

Mark came in forth. Many believe that that is the place you needed to finish to get that coveted seat. Mark himself stated on many occasions that that was his objective. To at least get fourth place and then be appointed. Not a great way to run a campaign, but if ya got money and enough supporters you at least have a shot at that in a tough race.

Mark ran a pretty fair and even campaign. He never went after anyone personally and he was very loyal to his party and the City Council members he was trying to unseat. Almost too nice to be exact. Mark had a lot a great ideas and never was able to express them with out upsetting the apple-cart so to speak. Mark has years of public service that was dismissed out right by many.

Before I ran I had some advice. Yeah, I came in last and still had advice, don't laugh. The person who advised me was someone who is very well versed in SCV and National politics. That person said, announce late, run on issues in the beginning, get the press on your side and then go straight after the biggest fish late and hard. Late so they don't have time or money to then come back at you. I did exactly that. And it was pretty fun and exciting. Everyone should try it once. You get a whole new appreciation for the political system.

Back to Mark. I don't condone the alleged accusations against him in the least bit. They seem pretty serious. They also seem kind of strange and out of character as well. But that is not for me to decide or judge. I know Mark, not really well that is, but what I do know of him is low key and pretty straightforward. He comes across as pretty honest and a family man. But that is one mans opinion and I have been wrong on many occasions. I wont speculate on the allegations.

What we have to ask ourselves is who benefits from the City and its resident voters knowing this dirty laundry? By wiping out the fourth place finisher, the potential appointment to the open seat, who benefits?

I have no answer for this question. Only speculation and that's not enough to point fingers and make unwarranted accusations. But it will be interesting to see WHO exactly gets this appointment and exactly how they get it.

To go after a man like this, to ruin his life, especially if it turns out the accusations are not true is honestly the lowest form of a political hit I have seen. I hope I am wrong, and that the story the Signal ran wasn't "brought" to the Signal by some unscrupulous person and instead was dug up through background and fact checking by the paper. Henry Schultz and Lynn Plamebeck saw nothing that compares to this.

You draw your own conclusions from what you hear, see and read. If what I think happened turns out to be true then we have reached a new low in the political landscape here and it will forever change not only the way people run campaigns but who runs in campaigns. Both will have a pretty rotten effect on the City and those of us who live here.

Jack Murphy

A letter to Chris Austin

Dear Chris Austin,
Since getting back from my vacation I have been reading through some clippings that a friend of mine saved while I was away. One of those is your letter to the editor of the Signal which, when I first read, I was going to just through it away. Instead, I re-read your piece again and decided that it needed a response.

I find it truly appalling and insulting that you continue to write about the West Ranch area without having any deep understanding of the issues. You don’t attend any of our community meetings or even live in our community. From your ill-informed writings it is clear that you do not possess a focused view of the facts.

Bob Levine’s letter, which you have quoted from, was incorrect in its assertion that the town council was formed in an attempt to prevent some of the shopping centers from being built. The town councils in the unincorporated areas were formed as a way for the community to express concerns and bring up issues to our County Supervisor. In essence, the town councils are to eyes and ears for the communities to the County Supervisor and staff.

As for your continued views regarding annexation you need to get yourself some education on the issues. Currently, my community has county services that differ on some levels from what the City offers its residents. In other words, the services our community receives are not “equal” to those of the city. We as community have every right to look at these inequalities and “negotiate” a resolution. That may mean that the city might have to adjust a service citywide to bring it up to level of that of the county. If you were fully informed about the differences between the services supplied by the City and the County you would know they are not “equal”.

It is obvious that you are apparently neither very knowledgeable about constitutional law nor understand the full dynamics of the annexation questions. Your claims of knowing what will or will not happen regarding annexation while I serve as President of the West Ranch Town Council only spotlight that ignorance. Claims of “elitism” are ridiculous and false to anyone who knows me and smacks of jealousy. It is clear that you have some very misinformed views and should be careful that you don’t tread into slanderous territory in the future.

Although I try not to respond to some of the dribble that is passed on to me, I have too from time to time. It is especially necessary when you or the local “paper” try to paint me with the propaganda brush of misinformation.

David Bossert

Friday, August 11, 2006

From Liebermann to the NHL

As a loyal and "real" Conservative Republican it has always bothered me that folks on the left who don't know me label me as a typical hard-core conservative Republican and by those to the right of me as not being enough of a Republican. These days you are either one or the other apparently. You are not allowed to sway from the party line or platform on any issue. I have been written about, yelled at and in some cases banned from events or local news outlets.

When I ran for City Council here in Santa Clarita, for reasons unknown to me, the local Republican party, whom I have given money too over the past few years, refused or chose to ignore my candidacy. Now granted, my chances of winning where less then my chances of landing a spot on American Idol, I none-the-less looked for basic recognition and addressed this with several local members and leaders of my party. To no avail.

Am I upset, yeah, kind of. Does it change who I am and what I believe? Not in the least bit. I am still a "real" Conservative Republican who has views that may not totally mesh with the current local, State and National Party. So be it. Do I think that not having them at least recognize my existence hurt me in anyway in so far as vote totals go? You bet cha!

I go down this road to illustrate a point. When it comes to today's political climate the old adage holds true for Democrat and Republicans. You are either 100% with us or you are against us. No middle ground. Apparently you cant be 90% in line with what your party believes and 10% the other way and still be a good standing member of that party.

Case in point Joe Liebermann. I have said on these very pages that my favorite politician is Joe Liebermann on multiple occasions. That never sat well with some Republican friends of mine. Conversely it never sat real well with some of my Democrat friends as well. Obviously the Republicans I know where quick to point out his failures, but so where my Democrat friends as well. Each side disliked something totally different about him.

See, what they all don't like about Joe is that Joe's opinions are Joe's opinions. Not what the party wants Joe to think and say. As a result, Joe got tossed about and lost his primary bid to run again as a Democrat. He will run as an Independent and according to the polls conducted a few weeks back on how he would do as a independent, he will win in a landslide. Good for you Joe!!

America's mayor, Rudy also gets a lot of flak from his party and some say it will cost him the opportunity to be the Republican candidate for president. Rudy's evil opinion? That a woman should have the right to choose, not the Federal Government, whether she has an abortion or not. I am a Catholic and grapple with this issue all the time. I think its horrible but I would like to see the woman of this country make that decision. Not some yahoo sitting in his kitchen watching cartoons and writing opinion pieces for the Mighty Beacon. Well, maybe not cartoons.

An honest politician stands no chance in today's highly polarized political environment. Do I think George Bush is honest? Sure I do. Do I think he does what HE thinks is the right thing to do all the time? No. In so far as the war on terror and the war in Iraq goes, yes. I think he leads with his heart. On other social issues I think he tries almost too hard to work with the other party and tends to cave in his personal beliefs. Example, prescription drugs. For me, that is just one step closer to socialized medicine. I spent most of my childhood growing up in Detroit as well as Windsor Canada as my folks had a cottage there. My grandparents where French Canadians. I saw what the socialized medical system did to the people of Canada. I saw them coming over the bridge or through the tunnel to the USA to see OUR doctors because they had to wait 6 months to get in to see a specialist. I saw what the tax rate is in Canada. It is so high that you almost cry just buying milk.

You don't believe me? look at Quebec City. Tax rate there is over 50%. When Eric Lindro's, the hockey player was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques they offered him a contract for 25 million ( Or something like that ) and he refused because they would have taken away more then half for tax's. If you like hockey, then you will like this. The Colorado Ave's have Joe Sakic, Peter Forsburg ( he's gone now ) and about 5 other very good players. How did they get them? Because Eric Lindros refused to play in Quebec because of the tax situation there, so they were forced to trade him to Philly for Sakic, Forsburg and those other good players. A couple years later Quebec lost their team to Colorado because they couldn't afford to compete in the NHL anymore because of their soaring tax rate. And what did Colorado do? Won a couple Stanley Cups that's all. Filled up the stadium, generated tons of local revenue and entire area of Denver was revitalized. Its called LoDo. Another example, the Montreal Expos. Remember them? Oh wait, they are the Washington Nationals now arnt they?

My tangent aside, I am sad that Joe lost. I am however hopeful that he will rise again as an independent and be back at work doing what he thinks is right. Not what his party tells him to think is right. And in so far as America's Mayor goes, I look forward to a Hillary Rudy fight starting next year. Wont that be fun as heck!

Jack Murphy

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Protecting Our Community, Stop the Mega Mining

While going through my stack of accumulated mail from the last week or so I found an interesting piece of mail. It was a mailer from the City of Santa Clarita City Council asking for help on stopping the Mega Mining project in Soledad Canyon.

The mailer titled “HELP Protect our Community It’s Not Over Yet!” lays out the facts about the Cemex sand and gravel mining operation and its impact on the quality of life in our Valley. Attached to the mailer are four post cards to mail to our or representatives, McKeon, Boxer, Feinstein in Washington and one for the City information office.

If you have received this mailer, take a moment to fill out those post cards and mail them off as soon as possible. This is a very effective way of getting this issue more noticed to our Senators and showing Congressman Buck McKeon our appreciation for taking a strong lead on this issue.

Kudos to the City of Santa Clarita for making the investment in a terrific mailer, hopefully it will make a difference.

Disappointed, But Not Surprised.

Right before I left for my vacation I sent a letter to the editor of the Signal. In some sense this letter, which is printed below, was my way of extending an olive branch to the Signal. I looked at as my first official act since taking the position of President of the West Ranch Town Council. It was intended to see if we could wipe the slate clean and move on to a more productive dialogue.

Unfortunately, the Signal's opinion editor saw it a different way. He decided to bookend my letter with a sarcastic title and some trite misleading comments. The title they slapped on my letter, "The Evil Signal Only Wants to Promote City hood", was designed to make light of my letter from the outset.


Recent editorials and the on going column by Darryl Manzer are troubling in that the have displayed a pathological hatred for the West Ranch Town Council, Los Angeles County and Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. Much of what has been written is unsubstantiated, one sided and misleading to those that are trying to understand the various issues surrounding the complex questions of annexation and other issues.

It is clear that The Signal's editorial staff has made up its mind and thinks that the West Ranch communities should be annexed into the City of Santa Clarita with no discussion. There does not appear to be any respect for whether the residents of West Ranch want this or not. As one City supporter said to a resident of the Stonecrest community, out in Canyon Country, during their annexation drive; "you're too stupid to understand it". This seems to be the case towards anyone raising valid questions regarding services, fees, and programs.

That also seems to be the attitude towards anyone that dares to question or want to have a discussion about annexing the West Ranch communities into the City of Santa Clarita. Those that have written letters to the Signal critical of the vitriolic rhetoric of columnist Darryl Manzer have been suppressed. Yet any letter, editorial or a column that supports the Signal's opinions are freely printed even when threats of violence are made.

The pattern that has emerged is one that positions the Signal as a newspaper that is only interested in progressing one side of an argument. The constant nasty barbs and attacks on Supervisor Antonvich only further diminish the integrity of your paper. Not covering the many positive contributions that the Supervisor and the County have overseen in the West Ranch communities is in deed an affront to legitimate news reporting.

There are numerous examples of the effectiveness of the Town Councils in the unincorporated areas of the Santa Clarita Valley. Many of these accomplishments have had little to no coverage. Yet, the Signal covers many issues and events that are centered only the City or major advertisers. This is a disservice to the community that should have the opportunity to read about issues and events that are affecting the entire Santa Clarita Valley and not just a small portion of it.

I would urge the columnists and editorial staff to reevaluate the negative and counterproductive stance that you have taken. Start reporting all of the facts surrounding a story and not just the ones that support your opinion.

Sincerely,
-Dave Bossert
President, West Ranch Town Council


The Editor's note at the end of my letter in the Signal was an excuse laden paragraph designed to diminish the content of what I had written. The Signal went on to say that they have a six week backlog of letters to the editor. I find that to be appalling because it does not afford a proper response time for the readers.

The Opinion Editor went on to validate the fact that the Signal has supported the incorporation of the City of Santa Clarita and a "one valley, one city" concept. Basically, if you have a different point of view they will be biased to you and will do whatever possible to discredit you. They seem to think that because there have been discussions in their "paper" over the past 18 years that somehow that is enough and we don't need anymore talking. It is only within the last five or six years that the community has substantially. Eighteen years ago 95% of the West Ranch area was nothing but rolling hills with cattle grazing. I know because I moved to Santa Clarita 26 years ago!

As I pointed out in my letter, "no respect for whether the residents of West Ranch want annexation", the Signal claims to have called on the West Ranch Town Council to put it to a vote. What the Signal seems to miss is that there have been at least 6 community votes over the past ten years. Most were not covered by the Signal which does minimal coverage of the West Ranch area.

In many of the previous votes that have occurred, the overwhelming majority of voters gave thumbs down on annexation. In a number of cases more than 12% of voters weighed in on the issue of annexation and over 70% of those voters did not want annexation. The Signal did not cover any of those votes because the numbers didn't correlate with their views.

The Signal claims to be waiting for another vote yet they hardly cover the West Ranch and when they do it is after the fact. In recent months, the Signal has been reading this blog site daily looking for stories that they could run because they don't have any reporters showing up at our community meetings. I know this because I have frequently received phone calls from Signal reporters wanting to craft a story from one of the West Ranch Beacon postings.

That said it will be worth looking into the whole election process valley wide. The Signal has been quick to criticize the West Ranch Town Council election yet they were never there to actually cover it with a reporter present from beginning to end like they covered the City election.

My attempt to reach out to the Signal was slapped away so it will be a while before I write to them again. Instead, I will be focusing on aggressively expanding this blog site because it is having an impact on a quickly expanding readership and on our community.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Santa Clarita Guide Offers Restaurant Breakdown for SCV

With all of the restaurants popping up in the Santa Clarita Valley, how do you find them? Did you know that we have a Hawaiian BBQ restaurant in town? And that there are Persian, Lebanese, Armenian, Korean, and Argentinean restaurants here--as well as Indian? There is a great new restaurant called Abbey Lane in Stevenson Ranch that has terrific salads and awesome sweet patato fries.

The Santa Clarita Guide's restaurant section has broken them down into 34 categories, including ice cream and coffee shops. (There are a dozen different types of ice cream shops here in addition to the smoothie shops!)

So venture out from your regular stops; you may find a new favorite. Clink on the headline above to check out the Santa Clarita Guide for restuarrants and so much more on the happenings in the Santa Clarita Valley.

City Banners Removed From West Side

The City of Santa Clarita recently had installed several light pole banners on Pico Canyon by the now closed Good Guys Store. The City had not asked for permission from the community nor got the required L.A. County permits to install these banners.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Works requested that the City remove the banners immediately. The City complied with this order and has removed the banners that were in question.

The City of Santa Clarita was also instructed to contact the West Ranch Town Council in the future as a first step in getting a permit to install any future banners or signage in the unincorporated Los Angeles County West Ranch area.

Daily News Spot Lights Local Blogs

In the event that you missed it, the Daily News ran an article by reporter Judy O'Rourke on some of the local blogs including the West Ranch Beacon. You can click on the headline above to link to the full article.

Judy did a terrific job on profiling the blogesphere in the Santa Clarita Valley. I had done a lengthy interview with Judy just before leaving town for the past week and a half. Fortunately, my local clipping service had a small stack of articles, letters and editorials to catch up on when I returned.

When you have a local paper writing an article profiling some of the local blogs you've got to know that it's becoming a mainstream thing. I really appreciated the fact that the Daily News was confident enough, not threatened, to list some of the blog addresses.

It was also nice to see a picture of Chris Austin who writes over at SCVTalk.com. I actually thought Chris was a guy until Judy informed me that Chris was a woman. Oh well!

I don't agree with a lot of what she writes about regarding the West Ranch area. She doesn't live in the West Ranch communities and doesn't always have her facts straight. She also seems to want to grab onto one or two issues and spins out on them.

Thank you Judy for a great piece!

I'm Back.......................

Well, I am back from a nice 10 day vacation. Every year, sometime between July 4th and Labor Day, I take a weeks vacation to the great State of Maine. I usually go by myself, 90% of the time, and have been doing that for the better part of the last 15 years.

Yep, my wife and kids let me go off for a week long break from everything. I go to a very sparsely populated coastal community about an hour and half "downeast" from Bangor. It is a beautiful part of the country.

Aside from the natural beauty of the area, I don't have a television, radio, or a computer. The only newspaper I allow myself is the Bangor Daily News, a true community newspaper in every sense (I plan on talking about that more in another piece). I walk to the local general store every morning to get that paper to read it at breakfast. By the way, that little general store has been in continuous operation since 1872 and has everything you need.

This year I took a few extra days to fly down to New York to visit my parents and some family members because I was being honored at my home town High School. On Monday night I was inducted into the Massapequa High School Hall of Fame along with eight other alumni. It was a very nice event that was attended by over 250 residents, alumni and the local politico. The Hall of Fame Committee gave out 10 $1500 scholarships to recent graduates and honored several Faculty and Staff members.

Aside from getting a plaque, I also received a very nice citation from the New York State Assembly which was presented by the Sate Assemblyman Joseph Saladino for my hometown. It was a very nice evening and one of those events that truly brings back a great flood of memories.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

West Ranch Town Council Minutes, July 5, 2006

Call to Order / Roll Call:
a. Meeting called to order at 6:33 pm by Paul Ash.
b. Present: Paul Ash, Dave Bossert, Randal Winter, James Zimmerman, Betty Griffin, Brian Toqe, Ron Mechsner
c. Absent: None
Approval of June Minutes
d. Approved by a vote of 7-0.
Treasurers Report
e. New balance of $2189.75.
Presentations to the Council
i. 2006 Town Council Election Results.
1. All 3 incumbents re-elected.
2. 54 People Voted – Results:
a. Gary Morgan – 20
b. Ron Mechsner – 41
c. Paul Ash – 43
d. Brian Toqe – 44
3. Rankings of Issues in Voter Importance
a. Public Safety
b. Traffic
c. Future Development
d. More Parks
e. Incorporate New City
f. Annexation
4. Motion to Accept and Certify Results passed 7-0.
5. Town Council expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Whalley’s for volunteering their time to monitor / staff election.
6. Discussion commenced regarding the disappointing turnout of the election on July 4th.
a. It was estimated that 5K attended the fireworks show.
b. 3 Articles ran in the Signal.
c. Dave Bossert highlighted the election in his blog.
d. Notification ran in the Stevenson Ranch Homeowners Assoc and Southern Oaks Homeowners Assoc. newsletters.
e. A request was made to run a notification in the Westridge Homeowners Assoc newsletter.
ii. Officer Election
1. James Zimmerman was nominated for Treasurer.
a. James was elected by a vote of 7-0.
2. Brian Toqe was nominated for Secretary.
a. Brian was elected by a vote of 7-0.
3. Both Dave Bossert and Ron Mechsner were nominated for President.
a. Decided on a secret ballot for President, with the other to take position of Vice President.
b. Dave Bossert was elected by a vote of 4-3 to the position of President. Ron Mechsner to be Vice President.
4. Paul Ash moved that the West Ranch Town Council bylaws be amended to support an annual election of Town Council officers. Motion was seconded and passed 7-0.
iii. Glenn Adamick – Newhall Land provided a presentation on the current status of plans impacting the West Ranch area – covering a total build out of 25 to 30 years.
1. River Village
2. West Creek
3. Area across from River Village along Soledad.
4. Town Center Expansion
a. 600K sqft – start leasing end of year.
5. Commerce Center next phase
a. Spring 07 start – 750K sqft.
b. Castaic TC approved.
6. Landmark Village – 1st Newhall Ranch Phase
a. Public hearings Fall 2006
b. Est. construction in 2008
c. 1400 homes, 1M sqft Commercial
7. Mission Village – 2nd Newhall Ranch Phase
a. Public hearings in 2007-8
b. Formal proposal to WRTC Early 2007
c. 5300 homes, 1M sqft Commercial
8. Entrada – Core West Side
a. 3M sqft Commercial (Town Center is 2.5M)
9. Legacy Village – Stevenson Ranch Phase 5
a. 2011-12 Estimated start.
10. Homestead – 3rd Newhall Ranch Phase
a. Just starting, 2+ years from hearings, 2012-13 construction start.
County Business
f. Parks and Recreation Department
i. Doug Newell thanked all of the volunteers and attendees for 4th show.
ii. Doug detailed Park & Rec programs for July / August
1. They are building an interest list for Girls Softball League – 3 divisions for ages 8 to 15.
2. Dog Training 8 week program from July 29 to Sept 16.
iii. Dave Bossert expressed the Council’s Thanks and appreciation for Doug’s support and assistance for the 4th of July show.
g. Supervisor Antonovich’s Office – Bob Hauter
i. Bob was not present.
Committee Reports
h. Community Liaisons:
i. Randall Winters - Southern Oaks:
1. HOA meeting approved gating project.
ii. Brian Toque – Westridge:
1. Waiting on next steps for meetings re TPC privitization.
iii. Chuck O’Connell – Sunset Pointe / Enclave:
1. Issue raised regarding irregular postal delivery to the area – to be addressed with Postmaster.
iv. Stevenson Ranch HOA:
1. County / Park & Rec has funding to add tennis courts to Rioux Park. Funds specifically for that purpose only.
i. Bylaws Committee:
i. See item on Election and approved change in bylaws already documented.
ii. Discussion into spending more time looking at these election results and undertake efforts to increase voter turnout.
j. Public Safety & Security:
i. LA County Sheriff – Sgt. Wallace
1. Between 8pm 7/4 and 2 am 7/5 – 157 fireworks calls responded to by Sheriff Dept in SCV. 20 locations had materials confiscated.
2. More calls dispatched TY than LY.
3. Major increase in individual usage reported in SR – Sheriff Dept stepping up enforcement.
ii. CHP
1. Estimated 4th of July Show crowd larger than 2005 crowd.
a. Traffic was better in some areas / worse in others. 4 officers present to assist.
b. Suggest another look at traffic plan for 2007 event.
k. Parks – Covered in County Report.
l. Government Relations
i. Homeless Shelter Task Force – additional meetings planned. Ron Mechsner to start attending.
Old Business
m. No old business to address.
Public Comments
n. On / Off Ramps at Lyons and 5 are eyesore. Issue of funding.
o. Oak Tree dying at Pico and Constitution – Newhall Land to investigate.
Meeting Adjourned at 7:50 pm.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Comparison Shopping Makes you Smarter!

During this week we will be running some vintage commentaries. By vintage I mean from 2004 and early 2005. These are pieces that were written by Dave Bossert and are still valid today as when they were written.

When I go shopping for anything, big or small, I tend to be a comparison shopper. If I’m in the supermarket it usually entails comparing ingredients or nutritional information from two different brands of the same product. For instance, are the Vons Pop Tarts really the same as the Kellogg’s brand but just less expensive?
Generally the amount of time spent doing comparisons is in direct relation to cost of the particular product. For example, I don’t spend a lot of time comparing milk but I will spend an awful lot of time researching and comparing cars. Part of that research involves asking lots and lots of questions and sometimes questioning the answers to make sure that I understand all the information that is being disseminated. Basically I am educating myself on whatever topic or product that I am interested in learning about.
For the past several years I have been doing just that in regards to annexation or the other options that may be available for the west-side communities. I’ve read government documents, visited our elected officials, question members of LAFCO, and yes, even gleaned an occasional fact out of the local newspapers.
The one thing that I learned when I was a teen is that if you ask the right questions you’ll eventually ferret out the truth. If during the course of asking questions the person your questioning starts to get agitated and doesn’t want to give or validate their answers there is a good chance that they are hiding something. That becomes a red flag and usually makes me quite suspicious.
In my opinion, that’s exactly what is happening right now with the issue of annexation in the Santa Clarita Valley. Members of the community, myself included, are asking questions, sometimes very tough questions, of the City. These are legitimate questions as they involve comparing the unincorporated areas of the valley with those of the City. Question about parks, recreation, taxes, road maintenance, etc. These are questions that need to be asked so that the community can make an intelligent and informed decision at some point in the future as to the governmental status of our neighborhoods on the west-side.
This is why I have been writing these commentaries so that some of those questions can be asked publicly and also to point out when the questions are not being fully answered. It is clear from the response to my last commentary that I am asking hard questions that are making some people squirm because they seem not to want to talk about the whole truth. We should all be suspicious of this type of behavior.
Recently my suspicions were validated in several articles that appeared in the local papers. Both articles pointed out the that the City of Santa Clarita in fact is trying to circumvent the Castaic Town Council on the question of annexation. The proof is in the pudding as they say!
So there we are, we are doing some comparison-shopping and asking lots of tough questions that some in the City don’t want to answer. Instead the City has chosen to try and bypass the elected town councils, or not give a complete answer to questions. Further, they have gotten a former Mayor of Santa Clarita, a “use-to-be”, to try and defend the City and it’s bizarre behavior.
It begs the question, why doesn’t the City want to be forthright with all the information being asked for? Why have they attempted to dodge the Town Councils so many times? Why is the City giving vague and misleading answers?
It’s time that the City starts to show transparency in its quest to annex neighboring communities. Trying to cherry pick the Valencia Commerce Center or other areas is inappropriate and is a divide and conquer tactic that will short change the residents of the Castaic and west side communities.
Most people in this valley can think for themselves and can make intelligent decisions. If they are presented with all the information that is being asked for, they can then make clear well thought out comparisons.
Don’t be “bamboozled” by people who don’t want give you the entire answer to your questions. And certainly don’t be bamboozled by a former City of Santa Clarita Mayor, a use-to-be, that tries to brand any questioning as “anti-city rhetoric” as that person doesn’t have the best interests of the unincorporated communities in mind.
It will pay dividends to be an informed and smart comparison shopper!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Grass isn’t Always Greener on the Other Side

During this week we will be running some vintage commentaries. By vintage I mean from 2004 and early 2005. These are pieces that were written by Dave Bossert and are still valid today as when they were written.

I strongly disagree with an editorial that recently appeared in the Signal entitled "Staying in County as Good as Joining City? When Pigs Fly". That editorial primarily criticizes the recently distributed County brochure "You Have Choices for Local Government". It also presents incomplete, misguided information and regurgitates the same arguments for annexation that City has been disseminating.
Those arguments include the 5% utility tax, police protection, and local government representation. These are incomplete because they never include all the facts and the same is true for the above referenced editorial.

Let's take the 5% Utility tax that the residents in the unincorporated areas pay and the City of Santa Clarita residents don't have to pay. What is never mentioned are the fees and taxes City residents must pay that the County residents are not subject to! The city residents must pay a "Storm Flood/drain" tax of $24. Further, the City has a "Street Lighting" assessment fee of $50; the county only charges $5. There are many other examples where there are differences in fees, taxes and services if one takes the time to look.

The editorial mentions the City has more police protection and is one argument that is false once you look at the facts. First, the City of Santa Clarita is a "contract" city. That means that the City contracts with Los Angeles County for services. In this case the City has a contract with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to supply Sheriff services to the City.

Now, the Signal presents the same argument that City Manager Ken Pulskamp has used that states that the City has 15 police vehicles for a 50 square mile area while the county has four vehicles for a 500 square mile area. What the editorial failed to mention is that by law the nearest sheriff must respond to any emergency regardless of the location, i.e. city or county. That means if you are living in the unincorporated areas you have as much protection as anyone in the city. Also, the Stevenson Ranch Community has an additional part-time Deputy that is funded out of film shoot fees something the Signal would have known if it regularly covered west side community meetings.

The County taxpayers have been picking up the tab for a good portion of the City of Santa Clarita Sheriff's department. Currently the City of Santa Clarita is spending about $12 million dollars annually on law enforcement, which is about 20% of the city budget, according to Mayor Smyth. If one looks at other cities that are not contracting services from the county you would find a much higher percentage of the city budget going to police protection.

Case in point is the City of South Pasadena, which is not a contract city, currently spends approximately 38% of its budget on the city's police department. That's nearly twice the amount of the City of Santa Clarita’s law enforcement budget. What happens when the City of Santa Clarita has to pay the full price for police protection? Does the City raise taxes or fees?

The editorial mentions "explosive growth" and "low-ball growth projections" as possible reasons to annex into the city. The fact is that the City, not the County, is willing to allow developments that are denser and lack essential amenities. A case in point, the Warner Ranch property (Lyons Canyon) 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 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.

It will also have potentially over 1000 school age children with no plan for an additional elementary school. D.R. Horton, at a recent community meeting, has acknowledged that this would have on impact on the schools and amenities of the greater Stevenson Ranch area.

The density and environmental impact that this project will have is more than the County would allow, yet the City is happy with approving it provided the owners agree to annex the land into the City of Santa Clarita. I don’t believe that this local City government is looking out for the best interests of the west side communities with these types of back door dealings.

I’m glad that Supervisor Antonovich is representing our community and has come out against the proposed annexation of this property. When the annexation application for this projected is rejected, and it will be, D.R. Horton will be forced to scale back and redesign this development. They will also have to repair the damage done to relationships with the local community leadership.

These are just a few pieces of information that are left out of the pro-annexation argument and the Signal editorial. The fact is if one were to sit down and do an actual legitimate comparison, apples to apples, you would see that there are fees, taxes, and services on both sides, the City and the County, that are centric to one or the other. The City and pro-annexation supports must realize that presenting all the facts is the only way for residents to have the ability to make an informed decision. The current path of misrepresented and incomplete information by pro-annexation supporters is only leading to mistrust and suspicion.

Finally, The Signal editorial states "It even suggests that forming a second city is a viable option ,now or at a future date, even though state law forbids it until such time as the west side has a big enough industrial base to pay for municipal services. That's decades away". This is false; the fact is that a second city is potentially two or three years away. This was verified by LAFCO during a fact-finding meeting by community leadership. One only needs to look at the commercial corridor along the Old Road to realize the amount of tax revenue being generated is enough to support a small city!

I applaud the County and Supervisor Antonovich for at least putting together a brochure that presents some balanced viewpoints and options. This brochure was long over do since the City has had a number of pamphlets extolling the virtues of annexing into the city. I don't ever recall seeing an editorial criticizing the City's brochure as "masquerading as an information piece" that gives the "illusion" that annexing is a panacea for all the valleys woes!
Be careful what you wish for and get all the facts because the grass is not always greener on the other side.