A driver attempts to pass other cars in a curve on the two-lane Santiago Canyon Road. (File Photo)

Canyon Beat:

Santiago summer setbacks

September 2016

By Michelle Mainville

As this hot, dry summer shrivels to an end, a plethora of pernicious problems have popped up. Summer 2016 will be remembered as one of the deadliest on record for motorcyclists along Canyon roads. In the past eight weeks, there have been eight accidents, resulting in six fatalities. Collisions due to constant speeding and unsafe passing made this the summer of road closures for motorists in general. Many residents believe that an increase in CHP presence, as well as safety signage, might help encourage safe driving along this stretch of scenic highway.

Adding to the commuting chaos was the “Day N Night” hip hop festival presented by The Observatory, held at Oak Canyon Park Aug. 13 and 14. The event presented a logistical (and visual) nightmare to both Canyonites and festival attendees. During the festival, traffic was backed up onto Santiago Canyon Road, for up to an hour and a half, creating inconveniences and extreme safety hazards, as CHP officers made arrests and attempted to direct traffic on the two-lane highway. Young revelers were witnessed riding atop cars, driving in bike lanes, walking along the 55 mph road, and urinating in public. Lost drivers made illegal U-turns while emptying trash from their vehicles wherever they saw fit. At $220-$330 per ticket, it’s no surprise that some decided to spend the night camped out along the dangerous highway. When asked to leave by security, loiterers explained that there are no signs posted (past Irvine Lake) to inform them that “No Parking” is allowed.

Garry James, owner of Oak Canyon Park, lamented, “I feel just awful about this,“ referring to the event. After the festival, his crew cleared trash from the roadway for miles. Since the Day N Night festival, James and his staff have held four meetings with county agencies, in an effort to avoid another major malfunction. The havoc endured during this particular festival, according to James, was caused by Über and Lyft drivers unfamiliar with the area, the CHP “controlling” the  traffic  differently  than  the venue’s usual protocol, mixups at the ticket windows, the very young age of the festival-goers, and too many people. A normal event at the location has an average of two to nine thousand people, whereas this festival hosted nearly 20,000! When asked about the upcoming October 22-23 “Beach Goth” festival, another hip hop event presented by The Observatory, James said that he is trying to talk the presenters out of holding the event at this venue, even though it will result in a substantial loss in revenue.

Candid candidates

Three hopefuls are running for two SMRPD seats. These esteemed residents are Steven Duff, Heidi Murphy-Grande and Tara Saraye. Modjeska resident Steven Duff praises the current board for getting the SMRPD’s “affairs in order.” He has been on the ICL board for over two years, and would focus on facility improvements, press for open space in the canyons, bring in new recreational programs, and keep “healthy, sustainable financials, including the Children’s Center,” which he has long supported.

Heidi Murphy-Grande, a 21-year Silverado resident, has a background in environmental land planning, which gives her “the technical skills to deal with land use/regulatory issues.” She wishes to preserve the heritage, lifestyle, and the “unique environment and sense of community that make the canyons so special.” Her focus will be on protecting easement rights, developing new trail systems, and expanding community programs.  Silverado resident and Taco Tuesday regular Tara Saraye, a retired OUSD teacher and principal, has worked with many people to successfully complete a variety of projects. “I’m a problem-solver, hardworking, and have a no-nonsense-focused work style that gets things done.” She wants to work for the community, and will focus on the preservation of the rural environment and community cohesiveness that she so values.

Get out your gloves!

The 20th Annual Inter-Coastal Clean Up Day will be held on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 8 a.m.-noon. Interested volunteers should meet at the entrance to Modjeska at Santiago Canyon Road. Please bring your own bags to collect trash.

The “All Canyon Clean Up” will be held in conjunction with the Inter-coastal Clean Up Day.  On Sept. 17, Canyon residents (only) can drop off large trash items at the bins located at the “Riviera” across from the Silverado Community Center from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Electronics are fine, but no hazardous mate-rials or green waste will be accepted.  For more info on either event, email Phil McWilliams: phil.osophy@cox.net, or call at (949) 954-2089.

Celebrate your day of clean up by heading over to the last of the Silverado Summer Concert Series, Saturday, Sept. 17. You can enjoy rock 'n' roll tunes by Horse-Fed Buffalo, Echo Sparks, and Canyon favorite, Tommy Reiser and Friends. Please bring canned food donations. $5 burger plates will be served from 6-8 p.m. at the Silverado Community Center.

Heads–up y’all

The Silverado Country Fair and Folk Festival will take place on Oct. 8 and 9. This year’s committee wishes to honor longtime Modjeska resident and legendary Cowboy Hall of Fame singer/songwriter Rusty Richards. It is fundraising for travel expenses for family and other musicians to surprise Rusty. Any donation you can offer will make a difference. gofundme.com/2jurkpw.

Special thanks this month to the new head of Canyon Watch, Marion Schuller, and to Lora Roberts for beautifying the Calvary signs at the Silverado entrance.