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Some twenty-five years ago or so, then L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich had the vision to set up what was known then as rural town councils in the Santa Clarita Valley. He could see that the area was developing and becoming a refuge for young families looking for starter homes or the tranquility of bedroom communities. I was part of one of those young families living in a townhome while my current home was under construction. Master planned communities were beginning to move through the approval process and having the eyes and ears of residents—community leaders— living near these new neighborhoods was a forward-thinking concept.

I was one of those community leaders more than twenty years ago and was enlisted into one of the first councils by Dr. Richard Rioux. The Stevenson Ranch Town Council was a seven-member group of residents in the neighborhoods developed by Dale Poe. Over the years, the town council took an active role in looking out for the community we all lived in. We were responsible for changing how traffic lights were added to the community and making sure that new building conformed esthetically with what was already here, tying the community together visually. We also fought back against things that were detrimental to the community like density of housing and downgrading roadways to mitigate traffic.    

There were plenty of subdivisions pushing through the planning stage process at the County Department of Regional Planning. Westridge was only a dream. Valencia Marketplace just a thought and Southern Oaks rolling hills. There was a lot of activity and having residents weigh in on these projects was an intelligent thing to do. There were new schools to consider, traffic lights to be added for safety, and evacuation plans to be considered in the event of a catastrophic emergency—wildfire or earthquake.

Those have been dealt with over the years. Now the communities in West Ranch have been built out for the most part and the town council has run its course. Over the last several years there has been less and less attendance at the monthly council meetings. The reports being given by the Sheriff, CHP, County, Parks and Rec, and occasionally others typically outnumber residents in attendance. Sure, there is a swell when an issue pops up like the brine injection well but that was dealt with before the hysterical residents even showed up. The Johnny-come-lately types armed with misinformation, hurling insults, and demanding action, before they realized their own stupidity.

Those moments have become few and far between, mostly tiresome distractions by the ill-informed. What goes on in the community now can and should be dealt with by the master homeowner associations. The town councils have become largely irrelevant for the most part. There is the occasional issue that they can and should deal with but nothing that truly requires a monthly meeting, it could be done quarterly or even as needed by appointed community liaisons.

I know, some of the other town councils in the area look for or manufacture issues to deal with to make themselves appear self-important. It’s unnecessary and takes up the valuable time of public servants that must attend these meetings. Some of the meetings are run efficiently and others drag on for three or four hours in a mindless diatribe coupled with profanity laced outbursts. To what end?

No, I think that if the unincorporated communities around SCV are built out then there is no need to continue the town councils in those areas. It’s time to hand it back to the County and let them do their jobs. If residents are not happy with the service from the County then there are always alternatives that can be explored. But, for now if the County can simply improve the landscaping or at least do their job in maintaining it along with the roadways, then those options may not need to be explored.               

Bottom-line, the time has come to dissolve the town councils as they are now. They have exhausted their purpose and it’s time to look ahead again, to have a vision like Antonovich did so many years ago. What is that next vision going to be to shape the community—is there one?

Dave Bossert—commentary

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on several boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.