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Santa Clarita was nice before it became over crowded and now some gangs are showing up so the Vally problems are starting to move up here it isn't the safe sleepy little town it once was, and did I mention traffic sucks here now?
Glendora USD schools certainly do rank on the higher end of the scale if that's your main concern.
We have, like all school districts, had some pretty major money issues, this summer resulting in the closing of one elementary school and the subsequent shifting of those former students to various other schools in the town.
There is a bit of a "snob" factor here in that "north v. south of the 210" bit and the "Glendora USD v. Charter Oak" thing, but in day-to-day life, just talking to people about "whatever," I find it rarely comes up.
Glendora is cute but not gorgeous, though parts of it are very homey and sweet (particularly the live oak-lined section of Foothill running from before the high school, going west, to just past town). It seems pretty family-oriented; definitely a family focus is there in the schools and at institutions like the library, with Story Hour, Pajama Night, different cultural history months, etc.
It's not crazy-exciting, certainly. I myself am pretty low-key so that definitely doesn't bother me.
The drive to the city isn't fun. That part is tough.
I'm biased towards Santa Clarita because I live there, but I'm sure all three communities have their strong and weak points. They're all suburb- type communities and mostly likely very similar- I'd look at your commute times and pick the city that is closest to your respective work places, go there and see if you like it.
I am biased towards Chino Hills because I am a resident. It is a beautiful suburban community with young families and excellent school district. It does border three counties (LA, Riverside and Orange), so you can get to the beach, Disneyland, or the mountains very easily. I've lived in LA and Orange County, and I love it here. My spouse works in downtown LA, and catches the Metrolink into Union Station. I would highly recommend it.
I've lived in Chino Hills (2 yrs, 2005-2007), San Dimas (right next to Glendora; 1998-2000), and now Valencia (one of the communities in Santa Clarita; moved here earlier this year).
We have 2 little kids, both under age 7.
Despite some local knowledge of the differences, it remains commonly mistaken with Chino. Chino is a separate city which shares the same name. It's unfortunate because Chino Hills is truly a different city with its own character. You'll find lots of green here, with great schools, hills, shopping, libraries, etc. If you are looking in this area, try to stay closer to Grand / Chino Hills Pkwy - there are newer communities (Butterfield Ranch - closer to CH High) that are cheaper but have higher taxes and don't have the views, shopping, and access afforded to the other end of town. The newer areas are closer to Chino and the prison for which it is infamous (plus an airfield) - try to steer clear of that area. The problem with Chino Hills, beyond the stigma (it is arguably the nicest and most affluent city in the Inland Empire, which isn't highly regarded in a broad sense) is the access to jobs. There are very few jobs locally and getting in and out of Irvine or downtown LA is an hour plus each way. You have options to get in and out of downtown, but be prepared for hell. OC would be a better commute alternative. Outside of civic/scholastic entities, there are very few large employers in the immediate area. Alorica (a reverse logistics/outsourcing firm) is there, along with a dist facility for Best Buy.
This is an older town with a ton of charm. Here you'll find a very close-knit community, farmers markets, lots of pride, and tremendous character. Glendora-San Dimas-La Verne kindof run into each other; there are great restaurants, the LA fair is held in the nearby Pomona Fairplex, a water park (Raging Waters), an amazing number of schools (APU, Citrus, ULV, Cal Poly, Mt Sac, Claremont Colleges) within a 10 mile radius - if your kids are getting close to high school, this is a great spot if you want to be near them as they transition to college. Every possible option is available - community, state, private. Downside is the d@mn 210 freeway. It is jammed with people commuting from LA all the way to Ontario, etc -- you're stuck with them. Of course every town will have traffic going in and out of DTLA, but the 210 is especially horrible. There are scant employers in the immediate area, though ADP has a large presence. This option is the most fun of the 3 - with the dining, outdoors opportunities, and college atmosphere in La Verne and Claremont, you definitely won't be bored here.
It's hard to put Santa Clarita in one box. It is actually a large triangle-shaped valley with distinct communities each with their own feel. The SC Valley has over 160k people in a large, expansive area about 15 miles wide. In LA terms, that's huge. The binding tie in SC is the "escape from LA" mentality - most are ex-San Fernando Valley-ites who enjoy the region as a pleasant, planned respite from the density, crime, and bustle that is SFV. The previous poster who mentioned that it is almost anti-single is correct. I have family that moved nearby who feels a bit out of place -- because they don't have KIDS. So if you have kids, you'll feel at home. The west edge of SCV is expensive (Westridge, Stevenson Ranch) and the east edge is rather inexpensive (Canyon Country). As you would expect, the west side (particularly Westridge) has a well-deserved rep for being snobbish. Lots of BMWs, Juicy Couture jump suits, little dogs with sweaters and the like. The east edge is spotty - dudes with wife beater tank tops, loud motorcycles, etc. Newhall is known for being more blue collar but has some trendy aspects, such as the old town area. There are shades inbetween -- Saugus and Valencia. You see where I'm going with this... look very closely at Valencia. It has a legendary master plan with distinct villages, walking paths ("paseos"), community pools, bike trails, etc. People are down-to-earth. The community is extremely safe - many moms out with their jogging strollers at 9pm, etc. Schools are top notch - it's very hard to find a bad school in Santa Clarita but you'll find the best schools in Valencia, Stevenson Ranch, and Westridge. You can access Ventura beach in 40 minutes, Santa Barbara in about 1.25 hours. Unlike the other 2 options, there is rarely traffic getting to the beach via highway 126.
Here's the kicker: Santa Clarita offers the best commute/job options of the 3 you're looking at. It is accessible to downtown AND Burbank via a direct metrolink (30-45 mins each way), Pasadena (35 mins, no traffic), the east SF Valley (35 mins, traffic), and Warner Center (45-55 mins, some traffic). Each of these is a significant job hub. Even better: between the 3 areas, Santa Clarita actually offers the most job opportunities in town -- although it is known as a bedroom community, there are a number of large employers here (Woodward HRT, Princess Cruises, Advanced Bionics, Suncal) along with the expected school and civic employers.
Downsides to SCV: the Newhall pass (14 and 5 fwy) can be treacherous. It's probably on par with the 91/57/55 interchange you'll experience in Chino Hills and the 210/605 near Glendora, but it can be ugly. It's also rather stale here -- chain restaurants and the like. A true bubble if there ever was one. "Sterile" is a word that comes to mind, but as parents, that's perfect for us
Bottom line of Santa Clarita is this: it meets all your criteria and I'd choose it over the other two as it offers the best balance of safety, cost, commute time, and school quality. While it is 'sterile,' it is very easy to stay in the SC Valley and get everything done (shopping, church, community/sports, dining, etc.) My wife stays at home and only leaves town to visit family. If you remain interested in SC, get to know the areas -- they are all different.
Glendora, CH, and SCV have nearly the same climate, plus or minus 3 degrees, so that's a wash. They also have relatively high average household incomes. They are safe and family friendly - the difference will be the accessibility of jobs. This is where SCV has the edge.
Last edited by NickelDime; 09-10-2009 at 11:09 PM..
Which would you say is the better neighborhood as far as:
1. Quality of public schools
2. Family-friendly environment
4. Housing prices
5. Easy access to Downtown LA (via Metrolink)
Both appear to have great schools and many homes in the $300K range. Though the homes is Santa Clarita are much newer.
Thanks very much!
Regarding Santa Clarita
1) Some of the best schools in California.
2) Town is family oriented, concerts inthe park, art festivals, sports and streets that roll up at 9:30 PM.
3) SCV has been rated on of the safest cities in the country for many years.
4) Housing prices are way down at present but not cheap if coming from out of state.
5) Metrolink runs commuter trains to downtown with several stations in the Santa Clarita Valley (three I believe) City has bus system that also runs buses to downtown, the SF valley and I believe to LAX or to the SF valley bus to LAX.
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