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Our View: SCV civic center is long overdue

Posted: July 10, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 10, 2011 1:57 a.m.
 

It was the 1970s when planners had the foresight to build a Los Angeles County civic center in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Had you stood at the corner of Valencia Boulevard and Magic Mountain Parkway back then, you might have wondered what prompted the move. Agriculture still predominated in the area. Onions grew where City Hall now stands.

But over the years, the Santa Clarita Valley Civic Center would prove to be a well-planned community center, offering law enforcement, libraries and county health care, among other services, in one-stop convenience for the growing number of valley inhabitants.

Residents could go to one place to pay a parking ticket, check out a book, visit other county offices or talk to a sheriff’s deputy.

But the valley outgrew its county civic center a long time ago. And now — with the city of Santa Clarita recently taking ownership of the Valencia Library and the state considering a new courthouse site across Interstate 5 from most of the valley’s population — we believe it’s time to rethink this valley’s civic center.

One of the marks of a great city is its identifiable downtown government center. Scattering government services around in different parts of town is a disservice to residents and will be viewed by future generations as poor planning.

An attractive, well-designed and user-friendly downtown civic center can be the heartbeat of this city, one of the many reasons people choose to live here.

And there’s no reason why the planning should apply only to the relatively small area occupied by the sheriff’s station, library, courthouse and county office buildings.

Westfield and Newhall Land are both major stakeholders in property adjacent to the civic center. A comprehensive plan that offers not only government services but business offices, retail establishments and restaurants would truly be a civic center that all could benefit from.

It is, after all, part of the original plan for Valencia that Newhall Land began constructing some 40 years ago.

Making this vision a reality would require cooperation from the city, the county, Westfield and Newhall Land, with the vision and effectiveness improved if the state would also come to the table.

Though it’s a tall order, the end result would improve the quality of life for all local residents.

We encourage the city, county, state and private firms to join together to give this valley and its residents the landmark and convenience they deserve.

We appreciate that each of these entities has its own goals, cultures and interests. But they all serve the residents of this valley, and the outcome needs to be about the people.

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