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It appears that Halloween has arrived early in the form of a landscape horror story in the Stevenson Ranch community. If you drive along Stevenson Ranch Parkway you will immediately notice the visual terror that has descended upon this once beautiful roadway; the landscape is dead and overgrown. But the story goes beyond that if you start to look around at the slopes and other common areas within Stevenson Ranch which are suppose to be maintained by the L.A. County Landscape Maintenance District (LMD).

Yes, we are in a drought and watering has been cut back leaving grass to brown and die around the community. Yet, if you drive across the freeway into the City of Santa Clarita you will see center mediums that have brown, dry grass as well, but which are also well groomed. On the mediums along Stevenson Ranch Parkway there are patches of dirt, weeds, and overgrown spots of grass; unkempt and looking more abandoned than anything else.

The LMD has been working on the center mediums for months removing much of the irrigation and replacing just enough sprinkler heads to water the trees. This work is moving along at a snail’s pace and in the meantime the community is suffering on a number of levels. At the very least, the LMD could rip out all the weeds and dead grass leaving only dirt. That would at least appear much better then what is currently there, which looks more like neglect than a work in progress.

Several residents have complained to me asking what is going on and all I can tell them is that LMD is a bloated bureaucracy that uses at least 40% of the money we pay in for administrative expenses. The LMD is just not working at an acceptable pace nor doing the job that they were created to handle. But that is no solace for those that are trying to sell their homes or who are having guests come to visit for the first time. The curb appeal of our community has slid into complete embarrassment; Stevenson Ranch looks visually terrible and it is having a negative impact on home prices.

So what can be done to rectify this situation; get rid of the LMD. It is time for the Stevenson Ranch Community Association (HOA) to step up and manage the landscaping of the community better. Many years ago there was a Landscape Committee that helped to keep the LMD on point and doing their job but that appears to be nonexistent at this time. Other communities in the County and here in the Santa Clarita Valley have taken over their LMDs and are getting much better value for the fees that residents are paying. The HOA should be looking into the option of getting rid of the LMD now and not waiting for the landscape to deteriorate any further especially with the holidays fast approaching. Sadly, the process takes more time than it should.

At this point, the landscaping around the community is so bad that when the El Nino rains come there very well be more problems with unstable hillsides giving way because of the lack of vegetation to hold the soil in place. That will create more expenses and more unsightly problem areas within the community. This is not what residents bargained for when they moved into Stevenson Ranch.

If you live in Stevenson Ranch and are fed up with how awful our community has been looking lately then you need to either attend the HOA meeting or contact the management company and demand that they get this situation under control. The Stevenson Ranch Community Association (HOA) meets on the third Tuesday of the month at the IHOP on Pico Canyon. That is the place to have your voice heard and to ask that the HOA board do a better job managing the common area landscaping for residents.

Dave Bossert- Commentary

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on a number of boards and councils. He is an award winning artist, filmmaker, and author of several books. 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.