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Santa Clarita like Sin City?

City Council candidates tackle issues at candidates' forum Thursday

Posted: February 20, 2014 6:28 p.m.
Updated: February 20, 2014 6:28 p.m.
 

A proposal to eliminate 118 billboards on 62 structures throughout Santa Clarita in exchange for three electronic ones on Santa Clarita Valley freeways was blasted by some council candidates Thursday who likened the proposed electronic replacements to those in Sin City.

“The digital billboards are blight; they’re far worse than the billboards we have today,” said candidate Alan Ferdman, chairman of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, during a candidate forum. “It can turn the corridor down the freeway into looking like we’re entering into Las Vegas. It is absolutely the wrong thing to do in Santa Clarita.”

“I don’t want Las Vegas signs coming into our city,” said retired educator Sandra Bull. “I think it’s distracting to the traffic.”

The billboard proposal from Metro, the county transportation agency, was one of several topics discussed during a candidates’ forum Thursday by 11 of the 13 people seeking three seats on the Santa Clarita City Council. The election is scheduled April 8.

The forum was presented at the Hyatt Regency Valencia by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Industry Association.

Dante Acosta, a local businessman and former congressional candidate, said he supports the idea of removing the billboards in town. But the city has to be aware of the potential effects on local business, he said.

“I am in favor of cleaning up the city and beautifying it, absolutely,” he said.

Another candidate, Moazzem Chowdhury, also said the effects on small businesses need to be considered.
“Whatever is best for small business — I will vote for that,” he said.

Newhall County Water District board member Maria Gutzeit said she thinks the council should focus on business ahead of beautification.

“We need people that are going to really look at the real issues for business and not dither about with billboards and pretty planter beds when our businesses are struggling,” she said.

Another topic discussed at the forum was whether City Council members should be elected by district — in which residents vote for a single representative in their city region — as opposed to the current at-large system, in which all residents vote for all five council members.

Mayor Laurene Weste, one of two incumbents running for re-election this year, raised concern that districts would lead to council members who care more about their representative areas than working to improve the city as a whole.

“I think because there’s a lot more to do, keeping our city on a pathway where everybody is equally represented and there are no little fiefdoms that cause infighting is really important,” she said.

Another candidate, longtime Canyon Country resident Berta Gonzalez-Harper, also raised concerns with districting.
“I think that particular event would have the potential to completely change the way we function as a city, where you would have less affluent areas of the city competing with more affluent areas of the city for the same dollars,” she said.

City Councilwoman Marsha McLean, who is also running for re-election, said moving to districts would be “the ruination of our city” and could lead to some areas not getting fair representation on the council.

“Why would you want five people fighting over money when you have five people right now who care about the entire city?” McLean said.

Another candidate and elected official, William S. Hart Union High School District board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine, agreed.

“I think, when you begin to divide into districts, that it’s really divisive, because then you only represent a certain area or grouping and you don’t care about all the other parts,” she said. “And I don’t think that’s a good way to govern.”

Candidate Duane Harte, who is also a member of the city Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission, said he was concerned about special interests getting involved and trying to gerrymander the districts.

“Who are we going to have draw the lines?” he asked. “What special interests are going to be in there drawing the lines so that their group gets special treatment? ... That’s the problem we’re going to end up with.”

Another candidate, Stephen Daniels, said he thought some of the rhetoric regarding districts was “preaching to fear.”

“The majority of the cities in the United States use this system,” he said. “And the charter was originally written when the city was half the size it is now. It’s outgrown it.”

Two other candidates, Dennis Conn and Paul Wieczorek, were not in attendance at Thursday’s forum.

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

 

Comments

Vtown123: Posted: February 20, 2014 6:40 p.m.

I hope this doesn't go through. These signs are going to be 14'x48' on a 60ft high pole. NO THANKS!


Brit: Posted: February 20, 2014 8:19 p.m.

I'd like to see them remove 60 billboards. The freeways are ugly, put them there.


chefgirl358: Posted: February 21, 2014 9:10 p.m.

Next Tuesday the 25th at 6pm is when the issue is up for public debate at the city meeting. Show up and tell them what you think. They'll probably put in their hideous eyesores anyway, but at least I'll know I did what I could, the rest is on them.


lars1: Posted: February 21, 2014 9:38 p.m.

Both Weste and McLean live in Newhall. They have provided their "district" plenty of money. The $30 Million Internet Café, $2+ million roundabout and more $ for improvements and events in downtown Newhall have surpassed all the money spent in the rest of the city. Their local friends property values have gone through the roof because of city spending there.

The present billboards are an important part of our community. Local business needs them and will be hurt if they are eliminated. The electronic billboards are ugly and do not server the local business community.

With the candidates stating their position on serious issues, now is the time to "weed them out". Dante Acosta and Berta Gonzalez-Harper support removing the billboards, hurting small business, and putting in the new ugly electronic billboards.

Maria Gutzeit states “We need people that are going to really look at the real issues for business and not dither about with billboards and pretty planter beds when our businesses are struggling,”

Alan Ferdman says, “The digital billboards are blight; they’re far worse than the billboards we have today,”

“I don’t want Las Vegas signs coming into our city,” said retired educator Sandra Bull. “I think it’s distracting to the traffic.”

We all know where the incumbents Weste and McLean stand. They are for anything the city wants.

The rest of the candidates don't seem to have any position and will say anything.

chefgirl, its unfortunate in our city that the public has to form a mob to "try to convince" the city council to listen to what they want. It did not work when the city took over the library, and the public had to vote out the mayor Ender.


BBennetts: Posted: February 21, 2014 10:46 p.m.

"“We need people that are going to really look at the real issues for business and not dither about with billboards and pretty planter beds when our businesses are struggling,” she said."

Sounds like Maria Gutzeit has the only straight common sense answer of the bunch.


technologist: Posted: February 21, 2014 11:01 p.m.

Another candidate, Stephen Daniels, said he thought some of the rhetoric regarding districts was “preaching to fear.”

“The majority of the cities in the United States use this system,” he said. “And the charter was originally written when the city was half the size it is now. It’s outgrown it.”

A fallacious appeal to popularity. Is Mr. Daniels asserting that Santa Clarity is ungovernable holistically? What problem would dividing the city into districts solve?


bbcalvin: Posted: February 21, 2014 12:28 a.m.

$245 million spent on cross valley connector. Does not pass through Newhall. Lars1 statement untrue.


ricketzz: Posted: February 21, 2014 5:59 a.m.

If we go to districts there will need to be more council seats. 3 at large, plus 4 districts, something like that.

Then maybe we'll get some action on the East end of town where there are no trails and lots of above ground power lines.


bobforte: Posted: February 21, 2014 7:04 a.m.

Why fight it. They are going to put them in anyways. We didn't ask for the roundabout, but we got that also.


ruth: Posted: February 21, 2014 7:11 a.m.

Off topic but there should be term limits for the city council incumbents.


lars1: Posted: February 21, 2014 7:19 a.m.

bbcalvin, the city proposed a $1.1 Billion redevelopment district back in
1997.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/RESIDENTS+REQUEST+WATER+AGENCY+OK+%3A+THE+BASICS+OF+DOWNTOWN+NEWHALL...-a083870250

How much has been spent in Newhall? Can't be found on any city web site!
There are other neglected parts of the city. Canyon Country has long been considered a dump by the City council members. Since Weste and McLean live in Newhall, that is where the $$$ are going. Golden Valley road has opened up West Newhall. The city wants to turn the toxic waste site into residential development. How can that ever happen? Maria Gutzeit wants commercial development there that will bring more good paying jobs to Santa Clarita.

Back in 1997 Santa Clarita was the 4th safest city in the country.
Today, we are worse. Our crime rates far exceeds those of our peers, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks.


technologist: Posted: February 21, 2014 9:31 a.m.

That's it, ricketzz? Balkanization for trails and underground power lines?


tpaul: Posted: February 21, 2014 2:49 p.m.

A Tilted Kilt billboard in HD? Stop the press!


ricketzz: Posted: February 22, 2014 5:08 a.m.

"Balkanization"? Hardly. I'd just like new faces at city hall. The system we have is a rubber stamp of a rubber stamp.

I really think the city should stay out of things like decorating and art. If a developer wants a freeway interchange beautified he should do it himself. The earth is perfect; the more we manipulate it the less perfect it becomes.


garyr: Posted: February 23, 2014 3:27 p.m.

"when you have five people right now who care about the entire city"

Who are these people? All I ever hear is people at the city that want to turn the whole place into Valencia/Awesometown. All master planned communities with lots of car dealerships and corporate chain restaurants and endless beige houses that make life easier for Realtors to sell. Who are these other 5 people? I would like to support them.


Unreal: Posted: February 25, 2014 2:31 p.m.

I know the homeowners who have to see these signs from their homes glaring all night in the skyline won't be happy.

Get rid of old fashioned billboards and give us the more awful electric ones? What is wrong with them.

It must get rid of billboards in their neighborhood and stick them in someone else's face. Shame on the city council.


Katmews: Posted: March 1, 2014 9:15 a.m.

interesting comment by Mr. Daniels, "Another candidate, Stephen Daniels, said he thought some of the rhetoric regarding districts was “preaching to fear.” “The majority of the cities in the United States use this system,” he said. “And the charter was originally written when the city was half the size it is now. It’s outgrown it.” Mr. Daniels, I moved here eight years ago from Cincinnati, Ohio, a prosperous Midwest city with a population around 300,000, that still has a City Council without districting. It seems to do very well with it. How has our city here "outgrown" our charter?

http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/council/ --edited.



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