Signs in the public right-of-way will be sent to “sign jail” according to the Santa Clarita City Council. The discussion lasted for an hour and included one council member complaining about being publicly embarrassed by a video and Mayor Frank Ferry admitting to Councilman Timben Boydston that he “got screwed.”
City Attorney Joseph Montes was searching for direction from the city council on how to proceed on a sign ordinance that would have cost Boydston $2,800 if he wanted to pick up his campaign signs which the city plucked from the public right-of-way (ROW).
In order to defend his position on the unfairness of the ordinance Boydston had city staff compile a video from a May 2010 city council meeting where then City Attorney Carl Newton and City Manager Ken Pulskamp disagreed on the interpretation of ordinances regarding political campaign signs.
The tape had barely started rolling when Mayor Ferry left his seat to grab a water from the back of house. According to Ferry he asked a staff member how long the video was going to last and was told 25 minutes. When he returned to the chambers he had a sidebar discussion with Boydston and then asked that the video be stopped.
Ferry said he wasn’t interested in the history of how the city has treated political signs if Boydston’s issue was really about collecting signs and assessing fines.
“We have no problem taking the fines back. Getting rid of fines and coming up with a policy we can all agree to,” said Ferry.
Councilwoman Laurene Weste argued that the city could be held liable for any accidents caused by the location of signs in the ROW. Ferry tried to clarify that no one was debating whether or not signs should be in the ROW.
“The rule should still be no right-of-way. Here’s what I think If the sign is taken from the right-of-way it’s in sign jail, you don’t get back until two days after the election or whatever. That will put an end to a lot of it,” said Ferry.
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Weste said the fines should be for all signs not just political campaign signs. Councilwoman Marsha McLean said it wasn’t about the fines, but keeping signs that violated the ordinance from being used over and over again. She related a story specific to Boydston.
McLean: During the last election the city staff would go out, pick up Mr. Boydston’s signs. His supporters would come, pick them out and put them right back out again.
Ferry: Not this election, correct?
McLean: Okay, so the ordinance stopped that.
Ferry: The ordinance didn’t stop it because of fines.
McLean: The point is Mr. Boydston’s signs were bolted to live trees.
Ferry: He didn’t do that.
McLean: Well, you don’t know who did that?
Ferry: The point is, I’m confident he didn’t do that.
Ferry said it was difficult to control how volunteers handle the placement of campaign signs. McLean agreed that if signs are found in the ROW candidates shouldn’t get them back period. She also said the fines were not important; however, she was still focused on Boydston’s approach.
“When you bring a video back and try to embarrass me personally and Laurene Weste personally and the rest of us incumbents, it’s just disrespectful,” said McLean.
Boydston denied showing the videos to embarrass McLean. He seemed to be demonstrating how his signage fine was a pattern of bad treatment by the council dating back to the 2010 election. Boydston said his campaign team tried their “very best” to follow the rules which included only allowing small signs.
“We made little signs because they said we had to make little signs. And then we came here and stood and poured our hearts out at the podium right there to you and
Ferry said, ‘Oh, no we changed all that.’”
Ferry admitted Boydston was mistreated.
“Honestly, he’s right. I remember he got screwed. I’ve said he got screwed. Because the rules in the book were not what we passed at the council in 2008. And when you spent the money on small signs and we all were on the council knew it the 4x8s were fine. I’ve said buddy, you got screwed,” said Ferry.
Back to the sign issue itself, Ferry asked Montes to revisit the ordinance and bring it back so it’s perfect.
“We’re motioning that no signs in the ROW. If signs are in the ROW they’re going to sign jail. The can’t be taken back until after the election, absent an appeal process where there could have been one errant sign that was done wrong, versus if there were fifty signs in sign jail it’s not a one sign appeal issue, is that clear?” said Ferry.
Boydston had one more addition.
“And that there are no more fines,” said Boydston.
Oh yeah, there’s that.
Item #15: Council Committee Appointments
The failed bid by former sitting Mayor Laurie Ender to be reelected meant Ferry had to redistribute committee appointments.
Previously Ender was the delegate to 10 committees: San Fernando Valley Council of Governments (Joint Powers Authorities), Sanitation Districts (Seat on Agency Board), Standard sub-committees Budget, Economic Development, Legislative, Public Safety Committee, and Ad Hoc sub-committees CEMEX, Community Service Grant, Redevelopment and Library.
Boydston will replace Ender as delegate for Economic Development, Legislative Committee, and Public Safety. He will serve as delegate on Water Diversion/Recycling, and High Speed Transportation and alternate for the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments, the North County Transportation Coalition, and CEMEX.
McLean will keep the League of California Cities, Orange Line Development Authority, North County Transportation Coalition, the Downtown Newhall Specific Plan, add Education Trustees and become the alternate for Senior Issues, and the new Film and Tourism Committee.
Ferry and Weste will be the delegates to the Film and Tourism Committee.
Ferry also appointed himself to the Sanitation District, Budget Committee, Education Trustees and alternate to Library, Legislative and Public Safety. He maintains Whitaker-Bermite with Kellar.
Kellar also remains on with Senior Issues, Cemex and Public Safety and adds Budget, Legislative, Community Services Grant. Redevelopment no longer exists for him to remain as delegate.
Weste keeps Sanitation, Water Diversion/Recycling, Downtown Newhall Specific Plan, Senor Issues and adds Cemex, Library and alternate to High Speed Transportation.
Ferry said he tried to be fair and wanted to put council members in spots they would be good at. He also admitted that Boydston wasn’t treated fairly during his first term on the council.
“I apologize. I don’t think when it came to committees — he did not receive the committees he should have received or been on those committees, So I really did my best to make sure that he got eight committees,” said Ferry.
Awards & Recognitions
Councilwoman Laurene Weste was honored for being named by Fifth District Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich as one of his Volunteers of the Year 2012. Antonovich wrote of Weste:
“For 30 years, Laurene dedicated her time to the betterment of the Santa Clarita Valley through service on the non-profit boards. She works on behalf of abused and abandoned animals. Laurene spearheaded action resulting in a state law allowing animal abusers to be prosecuted with felony abuse in severe animal cruelty cases. Besides, she was the driving force in securing funding and renovating the Castaic Animal Shelter. Laurene’s tireless efforts are a constant reminder of the positive effect of service to the community.
Rosalind Wayman, Field Deputy to Antonovich, presented Weste with a proclamation. Weste’s eyes watered and the words caught in her throat.
“I am really kind of moved by such an honor. There’s 10 million people in LA County. And I serve in the most wonderful valley I am very privileged to be able to have the energy and the time and support from so many wonderful people,” said Weste.
Val Verde Park volunteer Corrina Serrano was named one of the Youth Volunteers of the Year 2012 , and Chaplain Wendy Langhans was named one of the Volunteers of the Year 2012 for her work in Probation.