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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014
Darryl Manzer

Darryl Manzer

“I meant to tell them that the fence they built wasn’t going to hold those cows but just didn’t get to doing that. I did post a whole bunch on Facebook after the cows got out and said just how stupid those folks were for spending all that money for something that was wrong.” – Anonymous

As most of you know, I am a vocal and forceful supporter of Newhall. I love what has happened downtown, and the plans for Lyons Avenue, too. There have been so many good things happening, it pains me to see folks who claim to visit “Old Town” or downtown Newhall complaining about the costs of redevelopment and how little return the city is getting.

Don’t mention the new roundabout to those folks. “Unnecessary and a waste of money,” they say, along with, “Slows the traffic going on Railroad Avenue.”

I also read things like this: “It was San Fernando Road for over 100 years and then they changed the name.”  Actually, it was a bit longer than that, or maybe not as long. You see, from the early 1800s, the road from Mission San Fernando was called San Fernando Road. Los Angeles County started calling it “Railroad Avenue” in the early 1900s, and in 1950 the county moved the street name – “San Fernando Road” – to Spruce Street. And that name stuck until the city of Santa Clarita renamed the downtown section “Main Street.” (To quote a line from “Blazing Saddles” … How ordinary.)

Need a score card for the name changes. Oh, the official California state name remained San Fernando Road. Confused yet?

What I’m saying is that if you’re going to gripe, please get the facts straight. What I read was a slightly veiled racist remark about how the only things downtown are places to send money south to Mexico. The writer did like Newhall Refinery, though.

Moreover, if you’re going to gripe, get in the fight when the City Council or the Planning Commission is considering this stuff.

If you feel strongly about it, get some folks to sign a petition with you and present it to those elected officials. You can’t gripe and complain about what they do after they have done it, if you said nothing during the process.

The new roundabout does not affect traffic flow heading north from Newhall Avenue to Railroad Avenue. It is the same old slight-right curve, but now without lights except for the railroad crossing. Going left to stay on Newhall Avenue it looks the same – except that where you had an additional light to turn left, you get into the roundabout and you can go down Main Street or turn down Newhall Avenue. No lights in a roundabout.

Is it good? Bad? Time will tell, but it is a return to what was there in the 1920s and ‘30s. So much for the “European fad” remark I read. So what is the problem?

You can get copies of the various agendas for the council and most of the commissions on line. It is on the city of Santa Clarita’s website (santa-clarita.com). You can get involved before anything is done.

Maybe you like to sit back and complain after the work is done. I hope not. The gentleman making the remarks had a lot of good points, but I’ll bet they were never heard by the City Council. Too bad. That squeaky wheel won’t get any lubrication because it isn’t needed any more. The wagon has done left town.

I really think most people in the SCV love our little valley. They like the hills that separate us from the rest of Southern California. We are unique in many respects. We got that way because folks worked to create the city of Santa Clarita. They worked to get funding for improvements to downtown and Canyon Country and places all over the SCV. The county of Los Angeles also works to help us as much as possible, considering that our one supervisor often is out-voted by the other four supervisors.

The other thing to remember is that we live in a representative form of government. We are in a republic that elects people to make decisions for us. If we don’t give them input and information when they are debating the issues, what they decide might not be to our liking. We all don’t get to vote on every item. While that would be a true democracy, it would also be impossible.  Thus our republic was born.

It really gets to me when folks blame “the government” for what is wrong. You’ve got to read the documents that created our government. I love the one that starts out, “We the People…”

This republic isn’t an easy way to have a government. You have to work at it. All of us have to work at it. We have to let out representatives know what we want, and we can’t do that after the fact. We have to do it now.

All political actions start at the local level. We elect folks to our City Council and they get elected at times to the state level, and at least one made it to Congress. No matter what you think of those folks, what they do and where they started is local. No matter where you go, it remains local. A few people getting active and working for the good of all … we hope.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure any cows got out when one writes about the changes in Newhall. In fact I think the fence is working just fine. No gripes here, but then again, I’ve not got stuck going in circles on the roundabout.

Is Main Street our Arts Center yet? Well, not quite, but it is working in that direction. We already have the hitching rails for our horses when and if we ever have to herd some cattle that got outside the fence.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Tuesdays and Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

 

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