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City's biggest issue: Allow residents to enjoy their lives

Posted: March 16, 2008 2:51 a.m.
Updated: May 17, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
As we heard in the debates, there are many "hot button" issues this campaign season. Having been elected twice by the voters to work on tough issues like water supply and the cleanup of the Whittaker-Bermite property, I respectfully offer that public office isn't about one issue, it's about handling everything so residents can enjoy their daily lives.

We have current "hot buttons" like the hospital, Cemex, Las Lomas, the Material Recovery Facility, and downtown Newhall redevelopment. My positions on those and more are on my Web site, ElectMaria.com, or you can call me at 661-670-0332.

On the Web, I also pledge to increase police patrols, as our Sheriff's Captain suggests, to deter crime. I will recruit higher paying local jobs to cut commutes, build roads through the Whittaker-Bermite property in the center of town, continue efforts on parkland and trails, and protect neighborhoods from code violations, graffiti, and gangs. I will, as the voters often request, crack down on undocumented workers and illegal housing conversions. I also will insist on smart growth in both the city and surrounding County areas - a pledge backed up by my recent Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters endorsement.

Getting things done
The bottom line? Everyone else is promising the same thing. Some of the above issues may be important to you, some not. Other people have mentioned dog parks, skate parks, BMX tracks, business permitting and more. Issues that don't get mentioned, but are important, include good budgeting, setting clear and consistent policy, and having a respected voice with other public agencies the city deals with.
There's a lot of work to be done that transcends just one issue.

Residents want to enjoy life in Santa Clarita and know that the city has the details handled. For that, we need more than people in office who promise things. We need leadership that gets things done.

Two issues
Two things come up a lot - growth and traffic. Rather than pointing fingers and blaming the county for growth, I will do several things.

First, I will work with the Local Agency Formation Commission as I already have done at the water district. We need a recognized "sphere of influence" so we can better influence projects adjacent to our boundaries. Second, rather than place blame, I will work with the County to ensure that project mitigations, including money extracted from developers, are used to improve city facilities impacted by the building. For example, County projects are often park-poor. County residents are large users of parks maintained by the city budget.

Negotiation can improve that imbalance. County projects also are notorious for negatively affecting city traffic patterns. Look at the Benz Road issue in Saugus, where residents found a quiet street turned into a commuter short cut. I will insist on far better coordination, and funding from the development fees, to eliminate such oversights.

I know this can be done because I have already worked with Supervisor Antonovich to initiate bikeway planning in the unincorporated areas, so bikers can enjoy safe travel and trail connections when they go outside city boundaries. One result of that relationship was the wider shoulders on Bouquet Canyon, which improved safety for bikes and cars alike.

For traffic, I initiated the city's Non-Motorized Plan effort, along with my friends at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. (Note to city - please finalize it!) This Plan lays out great things like bike-to-school and bike-to-work programs, pedestrian improvements, biker- and walker -friendly road and trail designs, driver and cyclist education, and improved transit coordination. A big bonus with the plan is we will be eligible for new pools of grant money. However - I know most of us, myself included, still have to rely on cars. Long term goals like mag-lev trains and freeway widening are often touted.

Great. We also need a focus on lower cost solutions that are achievable in the short term. I propose running the Metrolink trains more often, and improving parking at the Newhall Station. And no,
that shouldn't wait for the expensive parking structures which the train users fear will be too far away. I will optimize the commuter bus services, and add one or more good direct routes to the West Side to save people from the 405 freeway nightmare.

We know how slow the state works, and how their budgets are always out of whack - so I will not seek only freeway improvements. I believe it will be cheaper and faster to improve surface streets like the Old Road and Sierra Highway. These alternates will provide a good choice for local commuters, and help stop the gridlock that paralyzes our surface streets when there is an accident on the freeway. For this last solution, again, we must demonstrate an ability to work well with our neighboring governments and get things done together.

People love our city, as do I. We need to keep it great. Every issue - from neighborhood crime, struggling businesses and better healthcare up to biggies like growth and traffic - needs real solutions, not just lip service, in the face of outside pressures. I'm a business owner and engineer who gets things done. I have a track record of accomplishments as a publicly elected official since 2003. I would be honored to earn your trust again. Please select me, Maria Gutzeit, as one of your choices for City Council. Thanks for your consideration!

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