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Steve Lunetta: Be grateful for what we have here

Right About Now

Posted: January 10, 2010 10:13 p.m.
Updated: January 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.
It's easy to be negative. That pothole in the street in front of your house that jars your teeth in the morning as you start the daily commute can make it seem like the city does not care.

The city will often experiment with new ideas, like the reverse parking spots in downtown Newhall and the bicycle lanes on Decoro Drive. If the ideas don't work out, the city usually listens and changes to accommodate the public, as was the case in the two aforementioned cases.

We do not have a police department, but we contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department which provides us with deputies who treat Santa Clarita like it is their home.

Our streets are clean and safe. City workers maintain landscaping and public areas with impeccable efficiency and quality. The occasional graffiti is snuffed out almost instantly.

Overall, our city is very well run and we are blessed with numerous advantages. Those who are negative simply don't see the situation for what it really is.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit another city in northern California that directly brought home this message to me.

Crescent City is located on the coast about 10 minutes south of the Oregon border, nestled securely in the picturesque, redwood-populated Jedediah Smith National Forest.

Crescent City was once a prosperous logging and fishing community, reaching its zenith in the 1950s. Replacing harvested lumber with four new saplings for each tree taken, the lumber industry was a model for conservation and sustainability.

Through disastrous liberal environmental over-regulation and meddlesome Sacramento policies, both logging and fishing were destroyed, leaving the only viable industry Pelican Bay State prison.

Pelican Bay is the place where only the worst criminal sorts go - murderers, rapists and armed robbers.

In contrast, Santa Clarita is a commuter community that services the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles. Our residents work in aerospace, health care, manufacturing, government services, entertainment and a myriad of private enterprises.

The loss of one or two business sectors would not decimate our economy.

We are a wealthy community. The state's the median income in 2008 was reportedly $61,021. For the city of Santa Clarita, the median was reportedly $87,396. That makes us about 43 percent higher than the state average.

Crescent City is not wealthy. The median household income in this area is a reported $32,000 per year. That means they are about 48 percent below the state average. The disparity is startling.

There's no Macy's in Crescent City. Folks just can't afford it. Wal-Mart is the big retailer in the community and seems to be the fit for the community's budget.

My brother-in-law Jim is the director of public works for Crescent City. He gave me a tour of the City Hall offices, which are simple and spartan but serviceable.

No fancy plush carpets, expensive wall hangings or $100 lunches. Without high property values, city tax revenues are not generous.

He also took me on a tour of the waste treatment plant that is undergoing a $43 million dollar renovation. Most of this money came from the federal government through a special grant/loan program.

It's strange how we often forget the unglamorous side of politics. Sexy topics and projects get much play in local media, but boring things like water and sewage systems often get ignored. That is, until raw sewage begins backing up into homes or flows down the middle of residential streets.

I don't recall the last time sewage backed up in our community and I'll bet that you don't either. That is because our local politicians are excellent at the "boring" aspects of public service.

A great example of this is the new science building going up at Hart High School. Science education is not sexy but our children need it. Great job, William S. Hart Union High School District.

So the next time you see some minor issue in Santa Clarita or the services it provides, think of the numerous communities throughout California like Crescent City that do not have the resources or blessings we do.

Also remember the excellent public officials who serve our community. They pay attention to the vital details that don't make the papers every day.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right About Now" runs Mondays in The Signal.


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