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1891 - President Benjamin Harrison stops at Saugus Depot, dines at Tolfree's Saugus Eating House [story]

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Wednesday, Sep 24, 2014
A big chunk of Lyon Canyon west of I-5, once slated for a housing development, is the city of Santa Clarita's latest open space acquisition.

darrylmanzer_blacktieI sure wish folks would wait until I get in the room before they start using my name at a City Council meeting. Sorry I was late. I’ll try to be on time next time. Don’t hold your breath while waiting for me.

Isn’t it great that the Santa Clarita City Council voted unanimously to buy the 114 acres next to Towsley Canyon in Lyon Canyon? Another little piece of the west side that can’t be developed. They also bought some land in Canyon Country. All part of the permanent “open space” the city keeps buying.

Hundreds of oak trees were saved Tuesday night, and lots of little critters, too. It was a win-win effort that we will all enjoy for generations to come. Well done, city of Santa Clarita.

Funny, I didn’t hear any of the usual folks complain about the purchase of the property. They didn’t have a word to say about this real estate deal, even though it was conducted in the exact same manner that the billboard removal deal was made. Staff worked long and hard as directed by the council, and since it was a real estate deal, it had to be done in the “back rooms” of City Hall. Just like the other deal.

So where is the outrage and unrighteous indignation? “Oh, no. The council is making deals in the back room again. Let’s get a petition and stop it. We could have negotiated a better deal.” Where were those folks this time?

Oh, right. There aren’t any council members running for reelection this time, so normal city operations and the legally specified procedures can be used without anyone jumping up on Facebook and demanding that deals be done in a more open way.

This was a perfect example of why such proceedings are conducted behind closed doors until they are ready to go to the council as a ready-to-approve (or not) deal. What if other investors had word about the pending deal and wanted to buy that Lyon Canyon property for something else? The price could have skyrocketed. (Note to self: Skyrocket might be a word younger folks don’t know.)

Disingenuous gadflies, as I see it. They don’t like one deal because “they” could have done it better, but on an equally important deal, “they” say nothing.

Just like the billboard deal, not a single member of City Council did any negotiating, and the entire council had to wait until the deal was ready for presentation for an up or down vote.

There weren’t any legions of angry people standing in the council chambers waiting to speak and cheer and jeer. No, it was a quiet time, and there were a few people who spoke in support of the land purchase.

The other funny thing about this land deal is, there won’t be any income from it. The billboard deal will make money for the city. So I guess that is why folks opposed to the latter deal keep trying to convince me it is bad and will last too long and – oh, well. Another endless list of nothing.

Anyone who says the billboard fight wasn’t an election ploy has got to be kidding or seriously impaired. The same type of negotiations by city staff over two different pieces of property on opposite sides of the SCV, and nothing. Maybe someone should wake them up. Not even Councilman TimBen Boydston had anything to say about those deals. He voted for them.

I’m a little concerned about TimBen. He is taking a lot less time to get explanations from city staff that used to take up hours of a council meeting. I hope he is OK.

Little by little, the people of West Ranch can see the evil city of Santa Clarita gaining a little toehold on the west side. They must be quaking in fear. The vibes are most, well, un-vibrant. Let’s keep this “hush-hush and strictly on the QT.” We, of the city, are moving your way.

Yes, more and more west side land is being bought. We’d want the city to annex Stevenson Ranch, but the main reason Stevenson Ranchers would want to do that has been removed. Thanks to Jerry and the Legislators (that great musical group on the Cacophony label), those who join Santa Clarita won’t be able to get plastic bags at Walmart. We had a chance to get the west side in our city. I’m afraid it has slipped away.

We’ll keep trying. We can always try to buy the land around that side of the freeway to create a huge chain of parks all around the west side. That should really scare them when they realize that no matter what direction they drive in or out of the west side, they’ll still have to see a sign stating, “Welcome to a Santa Clarita Park.”

I like that thought. One Valley, One City. Pretty good vision, if you ask me.


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. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].


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  1. TimBen Boydston says:

    Dear Mr. Manzer, Thank you for your concern about me. I am in good health and sound mind. I voted yes on the Lyon Canyon property because it was a good deal which benefits the people of Santa Clarita.
    I voted No on the billboard deal because it is a BAD DEAL for Santa Clarita. It benefits the Lobbyists, Metro, and All Vision, at the expense of our citizens.
    Unlike the property deal, which belongs in closed session, the billboard deal should have been done in open session with input from the public, and with all of the billboard companies allowed to bid against each other, so that the citizens can get the best deal. Instead, by using the reason that this was a real estate deal (because it involves leases-the City already owns these properties) the deal was kept secret from the billboard companies until it was structured and ready to be voted upon by the Council. This is a BAD DEAL, VOTE NO on Measure S.

  2. Alan Ferdman says:


    There was nothing controversial or negative said about you at last night’s city council meeting. I simply mentioned the status of the CCAC’s attempts to put a billboard debate together.

    But, comparing the open space process or the activity to locate property for a Canyon Country Community center with the Measure S Billboard deal is a very far stretch. Both of those processes are well know and have been openly discussed.

    I prefer to look at each issue separately and judge it’s value on the issue’s individual merits. It is equally important to recognize and speak out when something good happens.

  3. Mary Logian Mary Logian says:

    When I clicked the link to read your article further, I found it quite amazing how much you resemble Sanford Lyon – even the attire! (his photo happens to appear next to yours on the website today). Great article “Sanford”!

  4. PJ says:

    It’s so very simple to challenge the specious arguments you’ve stated, Mr. Manzer. The difference between the real estate transactions the Council approved last night and the billboard deal is that the billboard vote involved negative impact on our previously acquired open space, substantively changing the original intent of preservation to commercial advertising. Last night’s vote was acquiring open space to protect and maintain it’s natural state. and preserve it for the people’s to use. The lattes one that usually garners favor r action i If the city was buying the land to put billboard there people would be screaming, petitioning and picketing.
    Further, your glaring bias is revealed in your phrasing, “such deals don’t go to the council until they’re ready-to-approve, with the “or not” added as an obligatory afterthought. Hyphenating “ready-to- approve” reveals your real intent, which is to say, ready-for-the-rubber stamp. A neutral statement of what’s supposed to happen in city government, would be, “such deals are put forward when they’re ready for the council to render a decision.

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