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SCV’s ‘silent majority’ screams

Myers' Musings

Posted: October 11, 2008 9:18 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 
During the upheaval of the 1960s, Republican Richard Nixon, the conservative of his day, liked to refer to the “silent majority.”

While these folks did not run into the streets to counter those protesting the Vietnam War or stand fast to overturn the Civil Rights movement, they did feel distressed by the seeming lawlessness and chaos in the nation.

Relying on these silent voters and some smart wedge campaigning, Nixon swept into the White House in 1968 and 1972.

Up until last week, I thought Santa Clarita possessed a “disinterested,” rather than a silent, majority.
Based on municipal voting patterns and other data, 75 percent to 80 percent of the citizenry does not involve itself with local political matters, and one’s particular point of view dictates the reason for this.

First, if one cannot imagine how the sitting City Council members ever got elected, people don’t show up because their busy lives and long commutes do not allow for attendance at lengthy City Council meetings.
Second, if one possesses an innate sense of superiority about local matters, people don’t show up because they lack basic knowledge and remain ignorant of the nuances of local matters.

But the Benz Road matter reveals the most probable third way: People don’t show because they feel basic satisfaction with the status quo.

Approximately five years ago the city and developers extended out Copper Hill Road to David Way in Saugus to serve developments along Copper Hill.

Copper Hill quickly became the preferred route from North Valencia to the Saugus Plum Canyon area, with a tie-in to Plum Canyon and somewhat easier penetration to Canyon Country than offered by Soledad Canyon Road.

Benz Road, the first road past Haskell Canyon that cut directly through to Bouquet Canyon Road, quickly surged in traffic.

I admit I even used the cut-through to pick up our youngest son from baseball practice at Sky Blue Mesa Elementary School during spring 2004.

A relatively small but dedicated group of Benz Road residents almost immediately began a campaign to mitigate the additional traffic on their formerly quiet residential street.

Their long efforts recently came to fruition when the city installed traffic barricades on Benz Road,
effectively negating the “cut-through” from Copper Hill to Bouquet Canyon.

Now, the Benz Road residents labored under a common false narrative of suburban life: Strange people from far away cause all of your neighborhood traffic problems.

The dedicated Benz Road residents felt certain that only people like me cut through their neighborhood and cause them grief.

Now, if I still used that cut-through, I would probably not complain about the barricade. Driving the additional .7 miles down to David Way and then back up Bouquet would only add about 3 percent to 5 percent to my total trip, so some grumbling but I could cope.

But one cannot dismiss the facts. Most traffic on residential streets comes from people who live in the neighborhood or nearby, so one’s neighbors cause most of the problems.

For someone living in the general environs of Benz Road, and making a trip to drop off children to Rosedell or Plum Canyon Elementary Schools, a .7 mile increase, either forward to David Way or back to Haskell Canyon, could add 30 percent to 40 percent to their total trip.

Much more irritating and inconvenient (relatively) than the 5 percent increase in the trip of the true alien.
In light of this, the consequences should shock no one. The city received more than 300 complaints about the barricades.

Nearby residents registered their upset with the barricades with perhaps the first local instance of editorial “graffiti,” spray-painting “Unsafe” and “This Won’t Work,” dutifully whitewashed by city workers.

Tempers ran so high the City Council called a raucous special meeting, with the 300 shouting down the 10 and resulting in the swift removal of the barricades.

I cannot weigh whether the barriers constituted a good or bad idea, or whether other “traffic calming” measures might work better, but local folks upset by some particular irritant in their neighborhood like additional traffic, a hospital expansion, or some other item should take note.

Just because it seems like everyone else who shows up at a City Council meeting agrees with you, 30 unknown people could disagree vehemently, and they can quickly find their angry voices!

Tim Myers is executive vice president and chief financial officer of Landscape Development Inc. in Valencia. His column represents his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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