Where, exactly, are you from?

first_imgSANTA CLARITA – For Jennifer DiSarro, where she lives depends on who she’s talking to. “I’m from Canyon Country,” said DiSarro, 26, who has lived there since she was a sixth- grader. “Or I’m from Santa Clarita – some people in Burbank or Glendale don’t know where Canyon Country is. “Or you’re near Magic Mountain. Everybody knows where that is.” Ask Santa Clarita residents where they live, and you’re bound to hear more than one answer. When the city incorporated more than 18 years ago, the founders kept such old community names as Newhall, Saugus and Canyon Country – names from a time when travel from one to the next was a half-day’s ride on horseback. “We wanted to preserve the sense of individual community,” city of Santa Clarita spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said. “Many residents are very attached to their communities.” But the boundaries between these communities have blurred as new tract homes and new pieces of Newhall Land’s Valencia fill in the gaps. John Donahue, who has lived in Newhall for 30 years, runs a pet clinic on the corner of Bouquet Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads. He uses a Saugus address, after the defunct Saugus Post Office just south on San Fernando Road. “This was the center of the whole valley,” said Donahue, 58. “That’s why I had my clinic here.” But for DiSarro, that same corner is the edge of Canyon County, though Santa Clarita City Hall puts the line about a mile east at the Greenbrier mobile home park, near the Saugus Speedway. Then there’s the 695-acre property north of the Santa Clara River and east of Bouquet Canyon Road, where The Newhall Land and Farming Company is developing the 1,089-home River Village tract. The subdivision is part of the builder’s Valencia community – hence it’s in Valencia, according to Newhall Land, though maps and even Santa Clarita development director Paul Brotzman have called the area “Saugus.” “Everything’s too complex now,” Donahue said. Randy Wrage, a developer behind the Centre Pointe Business Park in city’s geographical center – it has a Santa Clarita address – sees it like this: “I explain Santa Clarita as one city made up of four boroughs,” said Wrage, a partner with local builder Spirit Holdings. “There used to be significant price point differences between all the neighborhoods, and those price points are not as prominent now. It’s all expensive.” There’s a historical basis to the place names. Newhall can be traced back to the 1880s, founded around a railroad station and nearby oil wells. Even Valencia – Newhall Land’s planned community developed primarily on its vast land holdings east of Interstate 5 – was drafted in the mid-1960s. Though cynics have dismissed Valencia as only a brand of homes, company spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer said the community has its own identity. “It’s more than the architecture,” she said. “It’s the community amenities, the paseos – it’s the neighborhood recreations we provide.” Indeed, home buyers routinely ask agents whether a home is in Valencia. DiSarro called people from that side of town “Valenci-ites” – a different breed from her Canyon Country neighbors. In contrast, the city of Santa Clarita formed only in 1987 and lacks historical weight. For many out-of-towners, it’s still that place 30 miles north of Los Angeles, next to Six Flags California. The communities together form the fourth largest municipality in the county, but it’s a tough sell for city officials trying to promote the area as a business destination. “One of the things we struggle with is the branding of Santa Clarita,” Ortiz said. “We want to brand the area so that we are well-known. It is vital to our survival and to be able to compete economically.” Yet it’s not a bad way to organize a city, city planning chief Brotzman said. “We’re more and more moving towards the concept of neighborhood-village-city,” Brotzman said. “When we’re looking at subdivisions and developments that come in, we’re looking at how they fit in – if they’re large enough to create their own neighborhoods. “That’s the lowest level of the building block. As this city gets bigger, can we create the villages where you go to live, work and shop? … It’s really important to create the strong, identifiable neighborhoods people really relate to.” The old community names already are a foundation for these “villages,” Brotzman said. Newhall Land’s Lauffer agreed. “People like to be connected to their community, and I think that there is tremendous pride in being the city of Santa Clarita and the overall Santa Clarita Valley. “But when you’re talking to people one-on-one, when you ask where they live, they say `I live in Valencia,’ or `I live in Saugus’ … I don’t see community names ever going away.” Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253 [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img