Photos: City of Santa Clarita
While Santa Clarita might be the third-largest city in Los Angeles County, Newhall Elementary’s auditorium had a small-town feel Wednesday, as Mayor Bob Kellar hosted his first town hall-style meeting.
The gathering, attended by about 60 local residents and nearly as many city staffers, was an opportunity for residents to meet city officials, hear about city plans and services and discuss their concerns.
Talking about plans for the Newhall area, Kellar mentioned a new roof for the community center, a Ribbondale Open Space plan and feedback on the city’s plan for the Lyons Avenue corridor.
He also discussed the city’s partnership with law enforcement and touted the job they’ve been doing, amid recent questions he said he’s received about a city police department.
“I tell you we’ve got the best deal in town, and that’s coming from a 25-year veteran of the LAPD, who knows a good law enforcement agency,” Kellar said. “We’ve got the resources of the entire department at our disposal.”
The cost of the Sheriff’s Station contract may go up in light of the fact that a recent audit showed the Sheriff’s Department overestimated the cost of service to unincorporated areas by $52 million, according to county figures. [Deputy Josh Dubin addresses a group of resident at a town hall meeting Feb. 6]
The same audit showed there was a one-minute discrepancy in the countywide response time between how long sheriff’s patrol units respond to unincorporated areas compared to contract cities. Cities with a Sheriff’s Department contract, such as Santa Clarita, saw a 17-percent faster response.
City Manager Ken Striplin also talked about capital improvement projects and the budget process that city officials just began. The city is planning to spend about $65 million of its $225 million budget on improving things around the city.
Sheriff’s Station Capt. Paul Becker also discussed his three-pronged approach to an oft-cited, and national problem — drug abuse.
Education, intervention and enforcement were the keys, he said, adding that the department was working with the schools and the city on things like DFYiT, a peer-led partnership aimed at teaching students about an alternative to drugs and alcohol, he said.
Smelly water in Newhall was another complaint voiced by a pair of residents at the meeting.
Larry Bennett, of Newhall, said his tap and toilet water smelled strongly of “pool water,” similar to water that had been treated with too much chlorine.
The 15-year resident was told it was a result of chlorate, a cleaning agent, which is detectable only by “overly sensitive” noses, he said.
“I don’t think it’s something that the citizens of Newhall should have to live with,” Bennett said. “And I think it has to do with how much we’re going to accept.”
There are four town hall meetings planned for 2013, each to be held in a different elementary school multipurpose room, located within neighborhoods in Newhall, Canyon Country, Valencia and Saugus, according to the city’s website.
Each program will begin with a 10-15 minute overview of upcoming programs and projects in the city and specifically in the individual communities where the town hall meeting is being held.
Following a brief presentation by Kellar is a time to meet with city staff to discuss a wide variety of issues, projects and programs in an informal setting with attendees.
2013 TOWN HALL MEETING PROGRAM SCHEDULE
Tuesday, March 5 at 7p. m.
Fair Oaks Ranch Elementary School MPR
26933 N. Silverbell Lane
Tuesday, April 30 at 7 p.m.
Rosedell Elementary School MPR
27853 Urbandale Avenue
Wednesday, May 8 at 7 p.m.
Valencia Valley Elementary School MPR
23601 Carrizo Drive
For additional information call the city’s public information officer, Gail Ortiz, at 661-255-4314.