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Marsha McLean: Live from City Hall

Posted: February 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 16, 2013 2:00 a.m.

One of the comments I often hear from people who visit Santa Clarita for the first time is how beautiful our city looks.

They are often surprised to find landscaped medians full of trees, plants and flowers, clean freeway ramps, parks with green grass, miles of well-maintained paseos, and streets and sidewalks free of litter.

It’s easy to take for granted our high quality of life, but the amenities that make the city stand out didn’t happen by accident. Although Santa Clarita is young in cityhood, it’s not a new community.

The city’s Landscape Maintenance District was created to help build and maintain a beautification standard that ties together each of Santa Clarita’s communities, including Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus and Valencia.

This includes managing more than 1,000 acres of thoroughfare landscaped medians, 40,000 trees, more than 20 miles of paseos, 30 bridges and tunnels, nine parks and more than 50 monuments and directional signs — all within 53 financially independent landscape maintenance zones.

Managing these robust landscape amenities for Santa Clarita is a non-stop effort and one that our residents certainly appreciate. In a recent community survey, 84 percent of respondents stated that the city is doing an excellent job at beautifying and properly landscaping Santa Clarita.

Hearing feedback like that from residents is a positive reinforcement that we’re doing a good job of keeping our community looking great.

One of the city’s primary goals with beautification projects is to look at ways to reduce water consumption and increase sustainability. As a part of this effort, the City Council replaced more than 500 irrigation controllers with smart, weather-based devices to water parks, medians and streetscaping.

These smart controllers access real-time weather information via the Internet to determine the right time and amount of water needed to irrigate various landscaped areas based on solar radiation, wind, humidity and temperature.

Since the launch of our Water Use Efficiency Program, the city’s management of irrigation has grown to become the world’s largest smart controller water system. Now the city is saving more than 200 million gallons a year, thanks to our investment in water-saving technology, which is only getting better.

In addition to continuing water conservation efforts, the city’s Landscape Maintenance District also supports ongoing enhancements and maintenance for existing landscaping projects, stamped concrete medians, pedestrian bridges, decorative paseo lighting and park play equipment.

Over the last few years, landscape and hardscape amenities have gone a long way toward enhancing community aesthetics throughout our city.

Local beautification projects like the Lyons/I-5 Corridor Beautification and Main Street streetscape in Old Town Newhall have helped attract new businesses, maintain higher property values and inspired secondary investments among area merchants to make additional private improvements to their local businesses.

In the coming year, the city intends to continue its beautification efforts with the construction of the Sierra Highway landscape median beautification; design and installation of directional way-finding signage for Old Town Newhall; construction of a gateway beautification project adjacent to the Sand Canyon/Highway 14 on- and off-ramps, including the construction of a new city monument sign.

The city will also add raised landscaped medians in several areas throughout Santa Clarita, including on Railroad Avenue between the Via Princessa bridge to the Old Town Newhall Library; Golden Valley Road from Centre Pointe Parkway to Robert C. Lee Parkway; and Sierra Highway between Via Princessa and Friendly Valley Parkway.

For newly annexed areas like Copperstone, North Copperhill and Fair Oaks Ranch, the city’s Landscape Maintenance District is working with residents and homeowner associations to identify needs for each community.

Future improvements are anticipated to include improved signage and landscaped medians, additional drought-resistant landscaping and new entry monument signage.

To learn more about Santa Clarita’s Landscape Maintenance District operation, contact the city at (661) 286-4067 or visit

Marsha McLean is a Santa Clarita City Council member and can be reached at


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