More than 200 people crowded into the ballroom of the Valencia Hyatt Regency Thursday afternoon for the annual State of the City luncheon to hear city council members talk about budgets, parks, crime and community programs.
Arriving at the conference center, guests walked past shining fire engines and mobile command centers for both L.A. County Fire and L.A. County Sheriff, going along with the luncheon’s tribute to local firefighters and deputies.
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A representative of Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman spoke to those assembled and Sheriff Leroy Baca accepted a key to the city from Mayor Laurene Weste.
“Obviously 45 years is a long time to have a relationship with Santa Clarita,” Baca said. “I remember working here 45 years ago on the Honor Rancho, driving up to Santa Clarita was like driving into a piece of heaven from the ‘down below’ and it gave me a whole different perspective how the rest of the county was compared to Santa Clarita.”
Each councilperson was given the task of presenting different areas of interest in a city-produced video; Mayor Laurene Weste talked about parks and open spaces, even poking fun at herself by wearing a blue gingham apron and carrying a basket of gardening tools to promote the new community gardens at Central Park.
Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean, who serves on various transportation organization boards, talked about bus tracking systems as well as speedy and reliable public transportation systems.
Councilwoman Laurie Ender reviewed amenities in the Newhall redevelopment area, highlighting the programming at the Newhall Community Center and the streetscape improvements on Main Street leading up to the new library.
Councilman Frank Ferry was given the task of explaining why Santa Clarita was still doing well, despite the nation’s economic crisis.
“The city has been careful with your money in good times,” he explained.
He also talked about the burgeoning Enterprise Zone and the opportunities available to businesses through the city’s grant programs, focused on downtown Newhall.
With his background in law enforcement, Councilman Bob Kellar talked about crime statistics and how they are going down. He also spent a long time in the studio of SCVTV, the local television studio that provides coverage of city council meetings and local sports that is administered by a joint powers agreement between the city, College of the Canyons and the Hart and Saugus School Districts.
In keeping with the healthy lifestyle espoused by the City, guests at the luncheon were each given polished metal water bottles. More popular, however, seemed to be bright red plastic L.A. County fire helmets, which soon popped up around each table in the crowded banquet room.