The Signal from Santa Clarita, California on March 27, 1997 · 1
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The Signal from Santa Clarita, California · 1

Santa Clarita, California
Issue Date:
Thursday, March 27, 1997
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1 J s" rrn-n- HI 71 THURSDAY March 27, 1997 -'-- 50 C SFGITS 0 ''. f ' Making a splash The Saugus and Valencia high schools' swimming teams square off at Santa Clarita Park Pool in their Foothill League opener. Bl Channel blocking A federal law that places new restrictions on sexually explicit broadcasts will not affect what local cable customers can see and hear on their television sets. A3 ; ! ; ivcntb'. ' .Bombing fears j Three explosions in Britain :and Northern Ireland raise :fears of an IRA bombing campaign in the days before :8ntain's May 1 general elec-:tions. A16 . ' jwf 1- f "'" . J . . . .. .... ... . . . I PGA preparations Do2ens of meetings will take place before the big-name professionals hit a single golf ball next February at Valencia Country Club. A12 Afternoon sun Morning clouds and fog. clear tonight. '-High 76. Low 48. A2 BUSINESS A12 CLASSIFIED CI COMICS A18 ENTERTAINMENT A19 NATION A10 OPINION A17 SOUTHLAND A7 SPORTS Bl STATE A7 WORLD A16 READER METER TODAY'S QUESTION: Should cable companies be required to fully scramble adult channels? YES: CALL 287-3531 NO: CALL 287-3532 WEDNESDAY'S RESULTS: Should illegal immigrants be eligible for government aid in housing? YES: 2 (3 calls) . NO: 98 (165 calls) 'polling concludes at 9:30 p.m. Results f will appear In Thursday's paper. The J.iReaoer Meier appears i uBudy A.KrMinh Qahirriav in ThA Slnnal. f-Jthrough Saturday in The Signal At least 39 fours In luxury esfafe Police say mass suicide, but cause is not known By DANA CALVO Associated Press Writer RANCHO SANTA FE The bodies of at least 39 young men were found Wednesday lying side by side in matching dark pants and tennis shoes after an apparent mass suicide in the million-dollar mansion they called "our temple." The men, all white and about 18 to 24 years old, were lying on their backs with their hands at their sides, said San Diego County Sheriffs Cmdr. Alan Fulmcr. There was no sign of survivors in the home, which real estate agents said had been occupied for months by members of a quasi-religious group of computer programmers. The cause of death was not immediately known, and there was no indication of a mo tive, deputies said. Real estate agent Scott Warren showed the house last week and was greeted by about 20 people, both men and women, who referred to the computer-filled mansion as "our temple," said his employer, Bob Dyson. "Everybody was met at each door. Shoes had to be taken off, and they were invited to wear surgical booties or socks," said Bob Dyson, whose agency had trouble showing the rented home because of all the activity there. Several rooms contained computers where members told Warren they were developing World Wide Web pages. They kept referring to the temple as very self sufficient and how proud they were," Dyson said, adding the tenants were staying for free. "It was very clean and neat A lot of bunk beds, referred to each other as brother and sister." The owner, Sam Koutchesfahani, also admitted having trouble selling, according to neighbor Arnie Kapan, who said he joked in late October "I can't sell it I'm renting to a bunch of monks." Wednesday afternoon, two deputies searched the palatial home after an anonymous caller told them to "check on the welfare of the residents." A deputy entered the home through a side door and encountered at least 10 bodies. Then, he and another deputy made a cursory search of the mansion, counting 39 bodies clustered in various rooms, "appearing as if they had fallen asleep," Fulmer said. The two deputies then left, and no one else had reentered the home as of Wednesday night. Authorities were waiting for a search warrant before proceeding further. Investigators believe it's a mass suicide "due to the number people involved, no signs of struggle, no signs of trauma," sheriffs Lt Gerald Lipscomb said. The cause of death has not been determined, he said. There was a pungent odor, and the two deputies were sent to the hospital for blood tests. Another neighbor. Bill Strong, said the group had parked four vehicles outside the luxurious estate on Wednesday, including a hotel courtesy van, a Ford Econoline van, another van and a Ryder truck. The mansion, built in 1983 on 3.11 acres lined with palm trees, has 9 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, a swimming pool and a tennis court. It was valued at $1,325 million in 199S. Shelby Strong, who also lives next door, described the tenants as "very conservative." She told the NBC station that she introduced herself to one man when they moved in, and he said he was in a religious group. "I made some kind of joke. It didn't go too well, he didn't seem to have a good sense of humor," she said. There was no indication whether the deaths were related to Saturday's tiery mass suicide in Quebec of five members of the Order of the Solar Temple, a doomsday cult that believes suicide transports them to a new life on a planet called Sirius. Over the past three years, murder-suicides by Temple followers have Set SUICIDE, page AS SCOPE aims its petition out of SCV By Kevin Surm Signal Staff Writer SANTA CLARITA In an effort to demonstrate that opposition to the 25 ,000-home Newhall Ranch extends beyond the local area, an environmental group has gathered 400 signatures from Southland residents. But a representative for The Newhall Land and Fanning Co. which plans to build the community, said the petition is perpetuating the same "inaccurate information" project opponents have used all along. Crafted by Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment, the petition was sent earlier this week to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovkh. "This will register our concern with the size and advene impacts of this project," the petition reads. "According to the Westridge environmental impact report, there are already 52,000 approved but unbuilt houses in the Santa Clarita Valley. A plan amendment of this magnitude is not warranted at this time." The petition also says the development would create undue traffic congestion, air pollution and a loss of farmland. "There are five supervisors and they're not all in (Antonovich's) Fifth District," SCOPE Vice President Lynne Plain beck said in an interview. "We thought it would help them to know that people in other areas besides Santa Clarita are concerned, too." Plambeck said SCOPE members gathered the signatures from various locations throughout Southern California over one weekend. "We have a concern about the urban sprawl as well as the impact on agriculture that the loss of farm land would create," she said. The agriculture industry doesn't affect us directly, but it does regionally." Plambeck said an adequate water supply for the 19-square-mile development has also yet to identified. But Newhall Land spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer said the concerns expressed in the petition are fully addressed in the Newhall Ranch Environmental Impact Report They keep focusing on water, but county regulations require that before building permits are granted the specific mitigation for water must be identified," she said. Lauffer also dismissed SCOPE'S claim that Newhall Ranch would create urban sprawl. "I can't speak about what projects have been approved by other developers," she said. "But we build to demand, and if there is no demand, projects don't get built" Dave Vannatta, a planning deputy for Antonovich, said the Board of Supervisors will review the petition. But it's the issues, not the signatures, that will ultimately come under consideration. The planning commission has extended the public comment period for Newhall Ranch to April 1. The commission is slated to meet April 23 for final discussion on the project -w. JtuM It Km W km 4 ' i 1?Y ' My -.' ' M -"-"'Tiniai r I 1 r? . : : - A J Forest fun :,r , NKMZNA.snai Second-graders at Bouquet Canyon Elementary School sing a song during a production of "Rainforest Review" Wednesday. In preparation for the play, students such as Tom Gilbertson, Nicholas Grover, Ryan Hendrickson, Danny Hand and Kyle Ernsberger (left to right), had been learning about the rainforest from teacher Jane Turner. McKeon: Klajic allegation 'offensive' By Kevin Smith Signal Staff Writer SANTA CLARITA Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon on Wednesday rejected City Council-woman Jill Klajic's allegation that he lobbied for federal highway funds to benefit The Newhall Land and Farming Co., a campaign contributor. "I found this an offensive statement based on assumption, rather than fact," McKeon, R -Santa Clarita, said in a letter sent to Klajic. "While projects submitted on behalf of the city La Masa students twist and tout on Career Day may better position Newhall Land, the overall benefit to the greater Santa Clarita Valley remains a paramount concern," McKeon wrote. McKeon also took aim at Klajic for writing to the head of a congressional committee and asking that $71.6 million in federal road funds requested by Santa Clarita be denied. "Had you attended any of my town meetings over the past four years, you would have heard the many complaints about traffic congestion, and the need to address the problem, voiced by the citizens of our community," McKeon said. Klajic could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Her letter to U.S. Rep. Bud Schuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, elicited loud protests from many in the community who said it could jeopardize the city's efforts to gain much-needed highway funding. "I, along with many members of our community, strongly believe that these projects should be the financial responsibility of The Newhall Land Sm McKEON, page A6 By Nicole M. Campbell Signal Staff Writer SANTA CLARITA It was Career Day with a twist Wednesday at La Mesa Junior High. Instead of students roaming class to class hearing speakers tout their respective jobs, it was the students themselves who touted their prospective jobs. Four classes of eighth-graders assumed personas of the career people they want to be someday. Students spent two days in the library researching the particular job and prepared a list of 15 questions to ask a person who practices the career. They put together a resume detailing the work necessary to secure a position in the field and wrote an informational booklet. In all, it was a month-long process that paid off as other La Mesa students, including seventh-graders, listened to the presentations. Dressed in the career's supposed uniform, students brought visual aids to demonstrate what the job entails. "Some of them wrote a song to educate each other about their career," said Peggy Goodwin, an eighth-grade history teacher. Potential professions included teachers, journalists, lawyers and jobs in the entertainment field. A few students entertained the notion of a military career. Unlike Career Days at other schools, Goodwin said the one La Mesa is beneficial in a unique way. y tv 1 w u i 4k. KEVIN KARZINTh Signal Eighth-grader Alex Freizes explains the roles of graphic artists at La Mesa school's second annual Career Day. City neutral over CLWA legislation By Michael Symes Signal Staff Writer SANTA CLARITA The City Council will not stand in the way of state legislation that may make possible a deal with the Castaic Lake Water Agency over Newhall redevelopment In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the council elected to take a neutral position on SB 1266, introduced at the CLWA's request by Sen. William J. "Pete" Knight R-Palmdale. "I was very pleased to see Sea CLWA, page A6

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