NOTE: Are you outraged by the new "holiday tree"? You should be. Here's why (or just scroll down to the next post).
Santa Clarita, a little-known Los Angelean hamlet recently thrust into the spotlight when a moderately-successful actor perished on her streets, held its last city council meeting of 2013 tonight. The meeting began 20 minutes late because of the silly theatrics surrounding the swapping of chairs and titles at the end of the year. As a result, tonight's was the first roll-call with the titles Mayor Weste, Mayor Pro Tem McLean, and Councilmembers Boydston, Ferry, and Kellar. The invocation was provided by Boydston, who read from A Christmas Carol as only he could.
Public participation began with talk about signs. Reena Newhall and Jana Einaudi spoke about the oppressive sign ordinances that nearly brought ruin to their fine shop, A Chorus Line. Some brute from the City's code enforcement division came through their doors and demanded that they remove a Halloween sign, which they did. But, as both Newhall and Einaudi would point out, the city's sign ordinances are complex and unevenly enforced. They found numerous sign violations along Valencia's Auto Row (balloons, sales signs, etc.) that the City seemed willing to overlook. "When you consider the car dealers, the sign codes are more like suggestions than mandates," zinged Reena Newhall. There were only a few other speakers. Alan Ferdman used his 3 minutes to talk about the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and Allan Cameron would also begin his comments by speaking about Pearl Harbor. Cameron, however, then segued into the chloride issue, suggesting that it's imperative we defend ourselves now that we've been "attacked" with regard to chlorides, just as America defended itself after Pearl Harbor. It's exactly the same thing, really.
The comments about sign ordinances prompted a flurry of discussion, especially from Councilmember Boydston, who has expressed his many frustrations with sign codes and enforcement in the past. I didn't quite hear all of it because I had to get a live response from another Newhall--Lindsey, that is--who was watching the City Council meeting from Thailand, where she's training to be a fighter (she blogs about it at Vice's Fightland). Lindsey said she thought both Jana and Reena's hair looked nice, and she said of her mother, "She's a great speaker...and BITING." In any case, City Manager Ken Striplin pointed out that the City's is a "reactive" enforcement policy--they only address sign problems when they get complaints. At the end of the discussion, it was clear that there needed to be a more even-handed enforcement and that the complexity of the rules made them particularly burdensome.
During councilmember comments, Mayor Laurene Weste shouldered the unusual task of eulogizing Paul Walker and Roger Rodas after their fatal car crash. It was short and sincere, and she closed by wishing everyone a very safe holiday season with their families.
The Consent Calendar passed with relatively little discussion. A Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Santa Clarita and Service Employees International Union was approved, smallish construction contracts were awarded, and so on. The old Newhall library will undergo $200,000+ in construction to make it ready to accommodate the Santa Clarita Business Incubator and the City's special districts office.
We got an update from the fire protection district of LA including a slight increase in developer fees, and the meeting ended with discussion of mid-fiscal year adjustments. There was a $30M revenue adjustment and a $12M expenditure adjustment--as in the City is getting more money and spending more money than had been anticipated 6 months ago. And in keeping with sound fiscal policy, Santa Clarita's credit rating was upgraded to AAA by S&P. There wasn't too much discussion about budget adjustments, though Boydston did make a point of asking to hear the value of City Manager Ken Striplin's raise (for meeting performance objectives), which was $11,330. The meeting ended around 7:30.
Have I got an agenda for you...