Doc Rioux At Large

Why the fuss over Stevenson Ranch Parkway?

Richard "Doc" Rioux · December 1, 1996

Well, what is all this fuss over the wish of the Stevenson Ranch Town Council to have the main street through their community named Stevenson Ranch Parkway instead of McBean Parkway?

It seems like the feathers of some prominent folks in the City of Santa Clarita have been ruffled up again by that rabble who live west of the line of demarcation called the I-5 Freeway. Since I'm the president of the Town Council, I'm trying to figure out the real motives of those who've chosen to call us a bunch of "pompous posturants, prima donnas and Crabby Appletons" and many other things because we're advocating a change in street names.

Let's start with some of the members of the Santa Clarita City Council. The council approved sending off a letter to Los Angeles County Mayor Michael Antonovich opposing the name change out of "concern for the history of the Santa Clarita Valley." Apparently, Atholl McBean was an astute businessman who established the foundation for what The Newhall Land and Farming Company has become. Good for Ol' Atholl! In my opinion that's a pretty impressive thing to have done, since I'm mostly a fan of the Land Company and the town they built called Valencia.

But if my sense of local history is correct, isn't it true that Councilwoman Jan Heidt has been one of the Land Company's harshest critics over the years? I do believe that she's supported almost every effort to oppose Newhall Land's commercial projects. How is it that she suddenly became a rooter and tooter of the man who made the Land Company what it is today?

Maybe someday I'll recommend that Sand Canyon Road be named Jan Heidt Boulevard. It has a nice sound to it, and Jan could drive to work each day over her own road.

I was shocked to learn that Councilwoman Jo Anne Darcy voted to oppose the name change. The Town council gave her an award for all she did for Stevenson Ranch after the earthquake of 1994. I'm going to suggest that the life-size picture of her posing as Betty Grable be removed from the Stevenson Ranch Information Center.

As for Councilwoman Jill Klajic? For someone who has never had a love affair with The Land Company and who is a founding member of the Land Company's nemesis, Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment (SCOPE), support of Atholl McBean is a remarkable position for her to take.

Gary Cusumano is the president of The Newhall Land and Farming Company. He is a bottom-line, by-the-book businessman who reads company profit and loss statements before going to bed (his poor wife!) each night. To learn that he went ballistic when he heard about the proposed name change startled me. I'm afraid to upset Gary further, but rumor has it that Keith Pritsker, who has challenged The Land Company in court on many occasions, actually recommended that the name of McBean Parkway not only be changed to Stevenson Ranch Parkway west of the I-5 Freeway but that the name change be made to apply to all of McBean as it winds its way through the entire village of Valencia. Not bad, Keith. Take some Rolaids, Gary.

My friend and fellow columnist Dan Hon was very nice in urging the Stevenson Ranch community to change its mind regarding the proposed name change. It is of course possible that the women John Boston referred to as "sniveling soccer moms" on the Stevenson Ranch Town Council will change their position at their next meeting and embrace Atholl as one of their own. Time will tell, but I do believe that the "rascally varmints" in the hills west of the freeway should be able to exercise their constitutional right to self-determination in an unincorporated area of the valley over which the city (Mayor Carl Boyer notwithstanding) has no jurisdiction.

One thing I'll say about the present controversy is that more people know about Atholl McBean now than ever knew about him before the street name change was recommended. I must admit that I never thought once about Atholl -- never at all -- during the many years and thousands of trips I made along McBean Parkway even when I lived in Valencia. I'm thankful to Carol Rock of The Signal for the history lesson in a recent column she wrote critical of the name change. I currently think of Atholl every time I'm on McBean. In fact, I can't get his name out of my head even when I'm on other streets. Very strange.

Go away, Atholl.

The Stevenson Ranch Town Council certainly intended no disrespect to Mr. McBean when the idea for changing the street name was adopted. I'm beginning to believe, however, that if the Stevenson Ranch Town Council proposed world peace, there would be people in this valley who would object.

Anyway, I'll tell you what: If opponents of the name change will drop their opposition, I'll ask the Stevenson Ranch Town Council to lead a campaign to erect a statue of Ol' Atholl in front of City Hall where he can look across VALENCIA BOULEVARD at the headquarters of the company he rescued from financial collapse. You see, The Newhall Land and Farming Company is located on the boulevard THEY got named after the town THEY created, which we all know and admire as VALENCIA.

Sound familiar?

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Dr. Richard Rioux is a resident of Stevenson Ranch. His commentary appears on Sundays.

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