It is apropos that I am writing this commentary on Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil recently saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter. It reminded me of the film, Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray finds himself trapped in a time warp that has him repeating the same day over and over again. That is what living in West Ranch is like—residents pull their heads out of the sand every year or so and repeat the same behaviors by spinning out on misinformation and rumor.

There is a steady rotation of new residents moving in and others moving out so there is never a shortage of periodic dramas.  It has become predictable. Most residents pay no attention to what is going on in their community until they hear a rumor, spread like the telephone game, which evolves over time. You can quickly identify these folks by statements like; “I heard...” or “Someone told me…” or “My neighbor said…” That is enough to get them to continue spreading those rumors on social media until people are whipped up into a frenzy.

Then there are a few that jump into action believing that they are self-important enough to save the day—you know, the hero complex. They do so with complete illiteracy as to what the full facts are or that there is a process in place to deal with these community issues. They’re oblivious to what is already going on in the community and their behavior contributes to valuable time being wasted with volunteers and officials alike. It doesn’t matter if the person is a corporate officer, a professional, or a security guard, ignorance and arrogance comes in many wrappers; but they all act lemming-like nonetheless.  

Our community has gone through so many of these cycles—the non-existent drug and rehab house; the deep well injection issue; traffic lights; the retention basin; Old Glory; and the list goes on. With them all, residents got whipped up by bogus information, waste a lot of time, and then go away to put their collective heads back in the sand until another year or so goes by and a new rumor surfaces and their actions repeat. The same is happening again with the proposed landfill expansion.

The misinformation being circulated is coming from a small group of bullies that do not want any growth in the Santa Clarita Valley and don’t want the real information, the true facts, getting out. They have tried, fruitlessly, to constrict water, prevent new developments, protect weeds, and generally try to stop anything that might prevent the natural, incremental growth indicative to a major population center.

There have virtually been no issues with the Chiquita Canyon Landfill since it opened in 1972. I know because I first moved into SCV in 1980 and have lived in West Ranch with my family since 1992. The no-growthers have latched on to making up false information and distorting facts taken out of context since 2014 when the landfill filed its proposed plan. If they can prevent the landfill from operating, then that might stop any development, which is their agenda. It won’t. Instead it could triple, quadruple, or more the disposal fees residents pay and will be damaging to our quality of life and our home values.

I’ve written about the landfill before and it has been spoken about in detail, presented, and questioned at open public meetings within the community. The problem is that most residents don’t want to bother attending a once-a-month meeting where these topics are discussed. They don’t want to engage with credible, educated individuals that are involved in these issues and instead would rather rely on the rumor mill. But isn’t that what lemmings do—they are followers.

What these residents should be doing is attending the monthly community meetings where they can participate, ask questions, offer opinions, and get the facts. It is much better than being preyed on by bullies that have their own agenda. Unfortunately, I don’t expect anything to change other than the county officials to continue to direct residents to the appropriate community meetings. Whether residents choose to devote an hour a month is up to them. I hope they do as being armed with facts is much better than the ignorance that is regularly displayed in our community and on social media.  

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.