Santa Clarita State of the City touches its past as it looks to the future

by Skylar Barti 0

Santa Clarita kicks off its future by looking to its past with the 2017 State of the City address.

The annual address allows the city to show off the things it has done in the last year, as well as the upcoming projects it has moving forward, and to explain what is happening with its 20/20 vision master plan.

This year the city is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary, so the State of the City took that cue to theme itself with a 1980’s theme. Giant rubik’s cubes columned the stage, while this year’s update videos were made to look like an old episode of VH1’s Pop-up video show.

Mayor Cameron Smyth opened the address by inviting former councilman and city founder Carl Boyer, to lead the crowd in the pledge.

After lunch the mayor then looked back at the history of the city. Reminiscing on how difficult it was for Santa Clarita to become incorporated, the largest by area city to do so in California. This was followed by a video that showed the first city council meeting where they declared their incorporation and other milestones of the city’s beginnings.

Smyth also took the time to remember the former councilmen who had passed away since the city formed, George Pederson who served on the council from 1992-1996, and Clyde Smyth who served from 1994-1998.

The mayor then opened it up to a video where he talked about some of the upcoming projects to be completed in Santa Clarita in the next couple of years including the new Sheriff’s station and the Canyon Country community center.

The new station is expected to be completed by 2020 and will be a modern station up to date with the latest improvements including a heliport for more air support for Santa Clarita deputies.

The community center is also expected to be completed in 2020, with the mayor hoping to break ground on the project next year.

For public safety the city also purchased roughly 16000 LED streetlights from Southern California Edison this year to improve nighttime visibility, this move will also help reduce light pollution in the valley.

The last thing the mayor made an update on was their use of social media. The city has expanded their use of tools such as twitter and instagram to show the community the projects and events the city does.

“[We are] building a city that future generations will love,” said Smyth, capping his speech.

Next Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste, talked on business, education and the preservation of the valley’s open spaces.

Weste told the audience through her video that over 9000 acres of land has been preserved through the open spaces program since its start, with an additional 240 acres added this year with the Newhall open space.

The city will seek to continue this by adding Bee Canyon, which is currently in the appraisal process in becoming an open space.

Weste was also excited to speak about the Rim of the Valley corridor expansion that would help preserve more open space to the south of the valley to become part of a multi city effort.

This last winter also so the opening of the city’s 34th park, Marketplace Park, with a small garden to grow vegetables, as well has house chickens to be a natural pest control for the garden.

This summer saw the continuation of the Santa Clarita public library’s summer reading program which had 5000 participants who collectively read roughly 25000 books. The library will also be expanding soon by adding the Saugus public library which will also serve as a form of community center for Saugus.

Councilman Bob Kellar then played his video to speak on the future of traffic, safety and how the city plans to combat the rise in drug use.

Recently the city has seen an increase in traffic collisions, because of this the city has enacted the three E’s; enforcement, education, engineering.

With the help of the Santa Clarita valley sheriff’s station the city has been able to increase patrols, with the help of more motorcycle deputies on the road.

New programs, such as “Heads up” hope to increase driver awareness to avoid vehicle vs pedestrian collisions. “Heads up” specifically targets distracted drivers by reminding them to keep their heads up and their eyes on the road so they can better avoid terrible accidents.

On the tech side of things the city has installed new blank out signs for major intersections. These signs are designed to help better tell drivers when a pedestrian is crossing.

In the fight against drugs Kellar explained two programs that are in effect to help reduce those afflicted by these problems.

Heroin kills is a program designed to get people the help and information they need to battle heroin addiction, which has seen an increase in use in recent years according to Kellar. The program’s website links people to resources and other programs that can eventually lead to sobriety.

DFY, formerly known as DFYIT, is a youth drug free club for school campuses to keep kids away from drugs. The program is ongoing and is planning multiple events in the months to come to keep youth away from addictive substances.

Councilwoman Marsha McLean was then able to show her video detailing the future of business and community growth of the valley.

McLean shared how the new parking structure and businesses in Old Town Newhall will help keep the community thriving. Coming soon will be new restaurants, breweries and the opening of the Laemmle theater.

New homes and hotels will also be opening soon. Such as the recent Three Oaks Apartment buildings, that opened earlier this year. Plus a total of roughly 350000 hotel rooms that will help with increase in tourism, will also be coming to the valley according to McLean.

She then talked about the new businesses that will be leaving the Santa Clarita Business Incubator such as Outlyer, and hopes to see new potential business grow there.

For upcoming projects, places like Vista Canyon look to add new retailers, and new office spaces for incoming businesses the city hopes to put there.

Finally Councilman Bill Miranda spoke about the city’s commitment to the arts and arts development for the future after Tuesday’s decision to move forward with the civic arts program.

Miranda’s video highlighted the many art galleries that have already come up in the valley such as the gallery in the lobby of The Main, a theater in Newhall.

Santaclaritaarts.com was also mentioned as newer resource the city is using to spotlight local artists, musicians and events that celebrate the arts in Santa Clarita.

In 2017 the city gave out 319 film permits for local filming for shows and movies, including HBO’s emmy nominated Westworld. These permits didn’t reflect the filming that also took place in the city’s sound stages. Miranda said that this is part of the city’s hope to continue its work in being a place for studios to film.

The State of the City address ended with Smyth returning to stage in his high school letterman’s jacket from the 80’s to present a video of city staff and councilmembers in a tribute to the future of the city, set to the song “Footloose”.

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