Property owners pay an extra fee on their tax bills for communal landscape service. The city cares for common areas in many tracts, including Old Orchard I and II, Mountain View, Canyon Crest and Shangri La. Many areas were grandfathered from county oversight when the city formed in 1987, while others, like the Stonecrest neighborhoods, are new additions. Aliso Viejo-based MERIT Property Management provides service for about seven local homeowner associations, including Hillside Villages, Camino del Lago and Cypress Point. Gene Reynolds, who oversees the Santa Clarita region, said frost-damaged areas have been replanted and broken sprinklers and backflow valves were replaced right away. Aside from being unsightly, dry brush can pose a fire hazard. According to a report issued by the California Department of Forestry, more than half of the state’s 12.5 million homes face wildfire danger. County fire officials caution homeowners to clear brush to provide a defensible zone around their homes, especially in hilly areas or those teeming with dense brush. Insurers may reward those who do so. “You want to keep your insurance costs low, and one way to do that is to reduce the risk of fire,” said Tully Lehman, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Network of California. The trade group represents about 70 percent of the state’s property and casualty insurers. [email protected] (661) 257-5255 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A record-breaking freeze in January destroyed millions of crops statewide and sent plumbers scurrying to repair fractured pipes. And the National Weather Service says it’s one of the driest years on record – countywide many areas have recorded 25 percent or less of normal rainfall. Microclimates in Santa Clarita neighborhoods – nuances of sun exposure, prevailing winds, drainage and soil types, sometimes even within a single yard – mean uneven damage across the valley. The city’s maintenance district comprises 37 far-flung zones, each with its own budget. Fees can only be spent within the zones where they’re collected. Hired landscape crews are taking a wait-and-see attitude with some grim-looking plants, but in the Summit and other areas they’re yanking out lifeless former greens. Evaluations are ongoing, but Luppens said it could cost the city $200,000 to $400,000 to replace damaged foliage and irrigation systems. SANTA CLARITA – Last winter’s cold snap is taking its toll in cold cash this spring, as the city and homeowner groups shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace dead foliage. Plants were destroyed in every one of the three dozen landscape maintenance zones citywide, which include medians on major thoroughfares and common areas in tracts such as the Valencia Summit. “The Summit has a lot of little microclimates because of the hilly terrain – some areas were more severely damaged than other areas because of where they’re located,” said Dennis Luppens, who oversees the city’s special districts. A plant that died in one area survived in another simply because it was a few degrees warmer. The weather has packed a double whammy.