Just another day in … Awesometown.
Newhall Land Development has used a variety of marketing slogans over the years to sell homes and recruit new residents to Valencia, its master-planned community in the city of Santa Clarita.
"Built as promised" was kind of a snooze. So was "The place to be." But the website, print ads, billboards and banners now branding Valencia as "Awesometown" are generating plenty of buzz over the relative awesomeness — or lack thereof — of the massive development 33 miles north of Los Angeles.
Detractors have flocked to a Facebook page called "Who … decided that Valencia, CA was Awesometown?"
The page features a copy of a Newhall Land ad with a smiling Valencia resident toting golf clubs — slightly modified with a big red X plastered over the gleeful duffer and the commentary that "no one in Valencia is ever that happy."
Created by Valencia resident Alexis Brodie, a 23-year-old Cal State Northridge student, the page has attracted more than 4,100 Facebook followers in just a few months.
"There's nothing to do in this town, and no reason it should be considered Awesometown," Brodie said.
Some commenters have suggested some other less charitable nicknames for Valencia, including "Lameville." Some have used the page to criticize Newhall Land, which started planning a second massive community, Newhall Ranch, during the housing boom, and emerged from bankruptcy last year.
Fans of Valencia, however, testify to its awesomeness.
"If you have a family, it is a great place to raise your kids. It's a great place to put down roots," said John Buccola, 32, who bought a house in Awesometown last year for his family of four. He said his wife and two sons are excited about the schools, neighborhoods and walking trails of Valencia — although they don't love the development's nickname.
"We roll our eyes and shake our heads," he said. "But the essence of the message is true."
Rancher Henry Mayo Newhall planted the seeds for Awesometown in 1875 when he bought up parts of a Spanish land grant. Newhall Land & Farming turned the farmland into homes in the 1960s as the company started laying out a master-planned community. Valencia is now an affluent area of 20,000 homes divided into villages with bucolic names such as Orchard Village and the Summit.
The town's coolness factor is helped by the California Institute of the Arts, the progressive art school that calls Valencia home, and the adjacent Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor attractions. It's also where Taylor Lautner, the actor who plays barrel-chested werewolf Jacob Black in the "Twilight" movies, attended high school.
Newhall Land spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer said the company's ad agency asked dozens of residents what they liked about living in Valencia, and the answers — "awesome schools, awesome walking paths, awesome town center" — inspired the campaign. She doesn't mind the opposition to it.
"The great thing about this campaign — lots of people really love it, and there are some people who don't like it. In either case, they're talking about us," she said.
Even Brodie, the creator of the Facebook page, admits that Awesometown or no, Valencia has a certain appeal.
"When I graduate, my goal is to move out of Valencia," she said. "But not too far."