The People of 'West Ranch' Have Spoken

By Darryl Manzer
"Way Back When"
The Signal
Sunday, July 16, 2006

I
hope the West Ranch Town Council would consider its electoral "victory" of July 4 as a direct message from the citizens of their communities.
    That message was stated loudly and clearly: "We don't care about you or the Town Council."
    Really, only 54 people bothered to show up and vote at the Town Council "election."
    Not that there weren't a lot of people at the park where the election was conducted. A couple of Internet sites indicated that the crowd numbered somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000. You'd think that more than 54 would have voted by accident, even if the polling place weren't difficult to find.
    I'm worried that only 54 folks decided to show up and vote. How is Mr. Antonovich going to know what the thousands of people in "West Ranch" want Los Angeles County to do for them?
    He'll have a real problem saying, "The people of West Ranch want me to (fill in the blank) because the Town Council they elected says so."
    What town council? The "town" didn't vote. The "town" didn't care. Why even have a "town council" when they already have a homeowner's association that does so much more for them besides take their money?
    Why doesn't Mr. Antonovich go directly to the HOAs of Stevenson Ranch and Westridge? The HOA boards are elected by a majority of the homeowners every time. I'll bet the HOA bylaws stipulate that a certain percentage of the homeowners must vote in order for an election to be valid. It is that way in my community. Heck, once we had to have three elections before we got a quorum to make the ballots valid.
    Maybe it is time for the members of the West Ranch Town Council to find another way to be involved in the community they claim to represent. Maybe it is time for the Town Council to fold up shop and stop being lapdogs for Mr. Antonovich.
    I know the Town Council members appear to do many things for the community. They can list some accomplishments of which they can be very proud. But the vote of July 4 says it all: The people of "West Ranch" don't care about you.If you can't see that message, you're blinder than I thought, and your hearing is suspect, too.
    Here's an idea: What if the Town Council members voted to disband and work with the HOAs? What if you told Mr. Antonovich he had to consult with the HOAs in all matters affecting "West Ranch"? Really. Those board members were elected by a majority of the people. Your "mandate" of 54 voters out of thousands would make that action a very courageous, non-self-serving act of community support.
    I've not asked the HOAs what they think about the idea. They probably think that having to deal with Mr. Antonovich isn't very much fun. (At least it isn't high on my list.) But I'll bet they would be willing to eliminate a layer of "government" created without voter input that tends to block what the HOAs try to do at times.
    Now, y'all might not be happy if the HOAs vote to support annexing into Santa Clarita, but at least you'd be able to work directly with your neighbors to effect changes to the community. You'd still have a voice, the same as everyone else.
    Or do you want a bigger voice? There is something to be said about being able to talk directly with the "high and mighty," even when it serves no purpose. It feels good, builds the ego, gets recognition — and makes one deaf and blind to the real concerns of the community.
    I know from personal experience as a member of a city commission in Chesapeake, Va. I had all those thought and feelings.
    If I still lived in Mentryville, I guess I would have worked to get included into the "West Ranch" sphere of influence. I would have loved to be involved in the changes to Pico Canyon. But I'd have to opt out of the "West Ranch Town Council" now because 54 voters isn't a mandate. It isn't even fair to those the Town Council says it represents. It only heard from 54 voters.
    To all of you citizens in Stevenson Ranch and Westridge, I hope you know what you did on July 4. You started yourselves on the road to freedom from Los Angeles County. You took away most of the voice of the Town Council and thus decreased the power of Mr. Antonovich over yourselves.
    Please continue not to vote for them. Please continue to work with your HOAs, because that is where you send your money anyway. By not voting in the Town Council election you told Mr. Antonovich his "Town Council" means nothing to you. You have town councils already — they are your homeowners associations.. Use them as your voice. You pay them and vote for them.
    While I'm at it, let me say one more thing. Those of you who stayed away from that Town Council election, I hope you had a great holiday maybe at Castaic Lake or the parade in Newhall or watching the fireworks with friends and family. You may not have known you were really voting on the Town Council — but you did. And if you stayed around "West Ranch" and went to the park to watch fireworks but didn't vote for the Town Council...
    Well done, my friends. Well done.

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].


©2006, DARRYL MANZER · ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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