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City boundaries unclear

Posted: May 30, 2009 1:55 p.m.
Updated: May 30, 2009 1:55 p.m.
 
Castaic resident Joyce Sipotz knows she lives in the Santa Clarita Valley. But does she live in the city of Santa Clarita? She couldn’t say.

“I’m not sure. I hear different things (about Castaic) — it’s Los Angeles County, it’s Santa Clarita ... ” she said. “I guess it’d be kind of good to know. I never really thought about it.”

As it turns out — Sipotz is not alone is her uncertainty about city-county boundaries.

“A lot of people think they are living in the city and are actually on the outskirts of the city,” Gail Ortiz, a city spokeswoman said.

“Elections are a very confusing time for people in the valley.”

Santa Clarita’s founders originally intended for the city to encompass the valley’s 90 square miles, Ortiz said. That was cut down to 45 square miles and has now grown to about 55 square miles, Ortiz said. While there are a lot of things city and county residents share, such as law enforcement, schools and the transit system, there are some differences.

For example, those who live in the unincorporated areas have to pay a utility user fee.

“We don’t charge that in the city,” Ortiz said.

In another example, Ortiz said, “If you’re a parent and have kids enrolled in the city’s recreation program, you’re going to pay less if you’re a city resident,” Ortiz said. “If you’re a resident outside the city, you will pay a nonresident fee for those sporting or recreational programs.”

The boundaries for the city are generally between the Highway 14 and Interstate 5, Ortiz said. The guidelines are generally Interstate 5 on the west, Highway 14 on the east, Copper Hill Drive on the north and approximately where I- 5 and the Highway 14 meet, according to Mike Murphy, the city’s intergovernmental relations officer.

The unincorporated communities of Santa Clarita Valley include Castaic, Val Verde, Stevenson Ranch, West Ridge, Acton, Agua Dulce and Sunset Pointe.  

Ron Mechsner, president of the West Ranch Town Council, said the knowledge of city and county boundaries doesn’t play much of a role in citizens’ everyday lives. The Town Council is an advisory group to Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, which represents the communities of Sunset Pointe, Southern Oaks, Stevenson Ranch and Westridge.

“My perception is that here in Stevenson Ranch, there are a number of people who don’t see the boundary and don’t realize there actually is a boundary until people here decide to sign up for a parks and recreation program in the city and have to pay a fee,” he said. “Or they go to get a (building) permit — people go to City Hall to get a permit without realizing they need to go down to the county.”

Stevenson Ranch resident Donna Nolan said boundary differences do come into consideration sometimes — like when she doesn’t receive the brochure for the city’s parks and recreations programs — but, for the most part, she feels like part of the city, she said.

“I don’t feel any connection whatsoever to L.A. but I do feel like part of Santa Clarita. We like the community and that’s who we consider ourselves a part of,” she said.

Nolan said she does see the importance of having knowledge about the area she lives in.

“It’s citizen responsibility. That’s how you decide where you want to live, if its meets the needs of your family,” she said.  “I think the more people know, the better they are, regardless if it pertains to schools, politicians, tax dollars,” she said.

“I think it’s important to be educated about your local government,” Ortiz said. “Everyday you’re walking on streets done by your local government, your kids are going to sports managed by your local government.”

Tony Bell, spokesman for Michael D. Antonovich, said what he called “the basic civics lesson” is that everyone should be informed about their city, county, state and federal government.

Santa Clarita Valley residents who want to establish whether their address lies within the city or county, can visit www.santa-clarita.com/cityhall/cd/address.asp.

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