Vista Canyon The View from La Veda

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 24, 2015

photo 1

As the wheels are in motion on the Vista Canyon project, questions come up, such as, “What happens to the homes on La Veda Avenue?” (That is the one lone street off of Lost Canyon Road next to Sulphur Springs Community School.)
Whereas a lot of developments incite clashes between residents and developers, meetings between Vista Canyon developers and residents of La Veda have, so far, seemed smooth as silk.

photo 2 photo 3First of all, residents on La Veda who attended meetings held at the home of Jim and Susan Lentini learned that they will not lose their homes due to the project. When Jim Lentini was asked if he is satisfied that JSB Development heads have given them adequate information and preparation for the project, he answered: “Yes!”

Jim Backer of JSB Development said that meetings have been held on La Veda during different phases of the project.

“When we first started going there, we went to get their input on the project, and we originally had some houses backing up to their street. Through the course of discussion, we made the park larger and got rid of the houses,” said Backer. “The park will be a nice amenity for them.”

The project will likely affect the neighborhood in about 18 months, when construction begins on the west end of the Vista Canyon acreage. Lentini and his neighbors are most concerned about construction dust and traffic, though there have been years of gridlock during peak hours at Sulphur Springs and Pinecrest schools on Lost Canyon.
“We’re going to deal with the streets – it’s going to look a lot nicer than it does now. I’m going to keep the rural character. It’s urban and rural … suburban’s in there too,” said Backer. “It’s really good for their properties.”

The residents of La Veda Avenue are likely to be nearest to the train station and hotel on the Vista Canyon property, but there will be a park cushion between the homes and project development.

“Maybe one of the most rewarding aspects of it is that some things we decided to do early on are starting to come together, like the water reclamation plant. Glenn Adamick has been the one on our team to deal with the permitting for that. It’s one of the more redeeming features of the project,” said Backer, who added that the project’s plan to run Metrolink through Vista Canyon is “on its way to happening.”

As for homeowners, there’s always the bottom line to consider. Lentini and his neighbors are assuming their properties will increase in value, due to more services in the area, rather than requiring travel to the west side of the Santa Clarita Valley. As they watch and wait, Vista Canyon moves into the homestretch.

“I’ve been working on this for 10 years,” said Backer. “This is such a big deal that it’s kind of worth waiting for.”

Canyon Country Business Briefs

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 22, 2015


The first phase of land development at Vista Canyon, which will include more than 600 multi-family residential units, is expected to occur within the next two months. The developer is in the process of implementing required measures related to habitat restoration, including the translocation of alkali rye. An application has been submitted for the formation of a Community Facilities District for the purpose of financing a public parking structure and a portion of the transit station. Site and architectural plans for the water treatment facility are expected to be submitted for review this summer.

An application for a mixed-use residential/commercial project at the Sand Canyon Plaza at the northeast corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Sand Canyon Road has been submitted. The proposal is for 580 single-family and multi-family residential units, including apartments, and 116,000 square feet of commercial floor space. Studies for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) are currently underway, and a community scoping meeting for the EIR was held May 27.

The City of Santa Clarita hosted a public workshop May 9 to discuss the proposed Canyon Country Community Center at the intersection of Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway. Attendees were given an orientation and tour of the property and participated in a discussion regarding community needs, placement of the center at the site and overall design of the public space. RJM Design Group has been retained to develop a site master plan, and City staff and the consultant are currently completing a site analysis and boundary survey to establish site opportunities and constraints.

The City of Santa Clarita has plans to widen the Lost Canyon Road Bridge over the Santa Clara River near Pinecrest School. The proposal includes widening it by 16 feet on the north side of the bridge and adding two travel lanes, two shoulders and a multi-use pathway for future trail connection possibilities to Sand Canyon Road. For more information, contact Project Manager James Tong at (661) 255-4366 or jtong@santa-clarita.com.
The following productions were filming in Canyon Country in April 2015:

Feature Films:
Behind the Mask – at a Sand Canyon area home
Television Shows:
“Airplane Repo” – at Rancho Deluxe
“America’s Next Top Model” – at Sable Ranch
“Blood Relatives” – at a Sand Canyon area home
“Camp Cut Throat” – at Sable Ranch
“Grand Marquis” – at a Sand Canyon area home
“Hit the Floor” – at Rancho Deluxe
“The Hotwives of Las Vegas” – at a Sand Canyon area home
“Togetherness” – at Rancho Deluxe
Television Movies:
“The Carpenter’s Daughter” – at Sable Ranch
AT&T – at Golden State Storage
Honda – at Robinson Ranch Golf Club
Panera Bread – at a Fair Oaks area street
Walmart – at Walmart on Carl Boyer Drive
Music Videos:
Bea Miller – at Rancho Deluxe
Still Photo Shoots:
Pop Evil – at Sable Ranch

Venice Pizzeria

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 22, 2015


For nine years Canyon Country residents have had Esteban and his staff putting together favorite lunch and dinner items at Venice Pizzeria. This family owned and operated restaurant opens as early as 10 a.m., putting together the day’s sandwiches, salads, chicken wings, breadsticks, pasta, subs, and their most popular order: pizza.

The special that gets everyone in the neighborhood talking is the Venice Pizzeria $5 deal. It’s for take-out only (you pick it up), and includes one topping. The eatery sells a lot of those and the most popular is the pepperoni pizza.

Venice Pizzeria also delivers orders to homes in a three-mile radius. There are three sizes of pizza: the large, a 14-inch pizza with eight slices; the extra large, a 16-inch pizza with 10 slices; and the jumbo, an 18-inch pizza with 12 slices.

Pastas include lasagna, ravioli, manicotti and spaghetti, and the chefs at Venice have some original pizza combos. The “al pastor” pizza is topped with marinated beef with spicy green sauce, cilantro and onion. The al pastor and the carne asada pizzas blend the Mexican tastes with the Italian style. A favorite sandwich offered by Venice is the “hot deluxe sandwich,” with sausage, meatball, cheese and pepperoni.

Venice Pizzeria is located at 17806 Sierra Hwy in Canyon Country; (661) 298-0157

Athena’s Food to please more than just the gods

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 20, 2015


The Epicurean experience that residents have come to know at a popular Greek restaurant is expanding to include a very important neighbor: Italy.

One could almost call Athena’s a “Greco-Roman” eatery under its new owner, Karin Vahan, who, with husband, Moses, and son, Hayk, has kept it much the same, but with additional menu options. Yes, diners can still expect to find the same favorites served up by Athena’s in the past.

But, it’s not just mousaka and pastichio anymore.

The new menu still offers the memorable Greek comfort food it’s offered for years, but the restaurant has actually broadened its flavors to include both Greek and Italian food. Not only are there pastas and other Italian fare on the Athena’s menu, the restaurant owners are literally expanding their borders by opening Mama Mia Pizza next door.

“It has been in Stevenson Ranch for 15 years,” said Moses Sahakian, who owns part of the Mama Mia business. “It is known for its New York style pizza. It’s sold by the slice and there are 16-inch and 20-inch pizzas also.”


Athena’s Manager Hayk (left) and Chef Paul serve up freshly prepared dishes every day.

athenas1 Both Mama Mia and Athena’s will offer pickup and delivery service, as well as onsite and offsite catering. The restaurant will host parties and other special occasions, and the owners have plans to create an enclosed, private room in the future.

Wine and beer is served at Athena’s, now with a bigger selection than before, and another new feature: happy hour.

From 3-6 p.m. every day, customers can take advantage of appetizers at $4.95 a plate, wines at $3.75 and $4.75 a glass, and special beer pricing, including an addition soon: Italian beer at 2 for $5. In the near future, Athena’s will begin senior citizen specials also.

The freshness of the food, such as the lasagna, which is not pre-cooked, but baked after it is ordered, sets the standard, but what could possibly be the biggest crowd pleaser of the new Athena’s is its Sunday brunch. Offered every Sunday from 12 Noon-4 p.m., “Chef Paul,” who attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, rolls out regional favorites, which vary from week to week. The $12.95 buffet includes such dishes as lamb/beef gyros, tzatziki hummus, penne alla vodka, penne Florentine and much more.

Athena’s has successfully offered customers a taste of Greece for years, and the new owners hope to fill the parking lot with all the regulars, plus Italian food lovers, happy hour aficionados and a hungry brunch crowd.

“It’s been here for so long. It’s part of the neighborhood, part of the community,” said Sahakian. “We want to take advantage of that and offer more to the community.”

Athena’s is open Tuesdays through Sundays. The hours are Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 12 Noon-8 p.m. It is located at 18853 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country;
(661) 251-8442. Visit www.myathenas.com.

Sweet Summer Fundraiser

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 18, 2015

Sweet Charity Flyer_2010.S2_

SCV Youth Project “lets them eat cake” this month at Robinson Ranch Golf Club. Well … sort of.

For the most part, participants actually bake cakes and bid on cakes at the 7th Annual Sweet Charity Cake Auction & Reception on Saturday, June 27, 2015. Individuals and businesses enter cakes into an auction, where they compete for prizes based on creativity, originality, and the cake that raises the most money
for the nonprofit organization. Beginning at 11 a.m., the community is invited to attend the auction and reception.

scv youth project logoTickets are available for the reception, and sponsorships are being accepted for the event, and there may be room for additional cake entries. Professional bakeries can design and bake the cakes or individuals who enter the competition may submit their own creations.

SCV Youth Project is a nonprofit school-linked organization assisting teens with issues they face, such as depression, suicide, drug/alcohol abuse, pregnancy, bullying, peer-pressure, domestic violence, sexual assault, neglect, divorce, blended families, motivation, goal-setting, study skills, self-harm, healthy relationships, sexual identity, truancy, etc. Staff members intervene by providing safe, nurturing environments for teens and their families, aiming to mitigate the impacts on health and academic success associated with high-risk behavior, emotional and mental health.

Robinson Ranch Golf Club is located at 27734 Sand Canyon Road in Canyon Country. For information about Sweet Charity or about SCV Youth Project, call 661.257.9688 or visit the website

More Mugzey in Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 18, 2015


Mugzey Muzic, Santa Clarita’s provider of new and used musical equipment, has recently relocated a few doors down from its original storefront, due to increases in inventory and continuing success.

Louis Concotilli, or Louie, opened his store after years of experience in music retail. After decades of working for a large music corporation, Concotilli took the initiative and raised enough funds to kick start his own business, specializing in personal relationships, quality service, and an old-school atmosphere.

The increasing success of this retro music store reflects the desire of locals for a more personable, organic experience when visiting music stores and participating in music culture. Whether customers are there to receive hands-on music lessons or simply hang out and talk to Concotilli, the ambiance always remains that of respect and appreciation for the musical arts. “I would play the guitar and jam whether I get paid or not,” he says. “So if you can do this and make a living, you’re set.”

Using the spatial increase from his recent move to “resurrect the camaraderie and the fun,” the new building includes additional rooms, like the “Vinyl Vault”– a room filled with vinyl records and other media that introduces the antiquated medium to new generations and reintroduces it to the older generations.

mug5 mug3 mug4 mug2 mug1The vinyl can be played in a room called the “Acoustic Kitchen,” where listeners have the chance to experience the sounds and depth of original vinyl. Also on display in the Acoustic Kitchen is a series of acoustic guitars and seats where people can jam and enjoy the laid-back vibe.

Mugzey has a plethora of new and used equipment, ranging from guitars to drums and, occasionally, woodwinds and other instruments. With brands like Fender, Yamaha, Ibanez, Pearl, and more, Concotilli pulls in customers of all experience levels and different needs.

Not only does Concotilli provide the public with an individual approach to music, he and his colleagues are equipped with years of knowledge and experience. Unlike many corporations, this music shop incorporates passion, musical talent, and respect for the customer. Emphasizing the importance of interaction, the store owner asserts that he “treat[s] people the way that they want to be treated.” He upholds the necessity for a genuine experience by stating that guitar strings are the same, no matter where you go, but the environment and overall attitude should remain authentic and personal.
Interaction with customers is a staple at Mugzey Muzic, and Louie Concotilli can be contacted through the store’s official Facebook page, where photos of guitars and other merchandise are advertised. He also has an email and phone number on the website. He encourages customers to contact him freely with any questions for their musical needs. Offering appraisals, repairs, and music lessons for people of all ages, Mugzey Muzic continues to encapsulate the simple, unique musical experience that keeps customers coming back.

Mugzey Muzic is located at 18346 1/2  Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country; 661-299-1133.

Canyon Country Advisory Committee Drought Decisions Important in Good Times and Bad

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 16, 2015

Water Background Color

alanferdman-288x389by Alan Ferdman

By now, I am convinced there are very few Santa Clarita residents who do not know we are currently experiencing the fourth year of a drought. With water becoming increasingly more scarce, our water bills, newspapers, and even billboards constantly remind us of the need to conserve. Yet, when trying to gain insight about the issue, it becomes clear the magnitude of our valley’s water use is staggering. Currently, it is estimated, the Santa Clarita Valley uses 60 million gallons of water each day. Two-thirds of the amount is consumed by irrigation and 20 million gallons a day is processed by our sanitation district’s two waste water treatment plants.

As with any emergency, our elected officials appear in front of media cameras ready to save the day. Governor Brown jumped in and signed an executive order asking urban residential users to reduce water consumption by 20 percent.

When it still did not rain, he made water conservation mandatory and said, “People should realize we’re in a new era. … The idea of your nice, little green grass getting lots of water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past. We›re not going to change things overnight, but we are in a transition period. People have to realize that in many parts of California, they are living in a desert.”

So, let’s put this in perspective. Urban water use represents 20 percent of California water consumption. If residents accounted for 100 percent of urban water use and residents reduced their water consumption by 25 percent, overall California water use would drop by only 5 percent. What that means is, if California had one year of water supply left and we conserved 5 percent of total demand, it would extend our water supply by a mere 18 days. The numbers show that conservation alone will not solve this dilemma.

Ken Pulskamp, Santa Clarita’s prior city manager, was often quoted as saying, “We really take the approach that the decisions made in good times are more important than the ones made in bad times.”

So, what did we do when there was plenty of water available? Is this California’s first drought? Is this the first time Santa Clarita has experienced water rationing? Of course not. As a community, we need to look back to what decisions were made in “good times” which would have reduced today’s shortage.

First, the State of California has not built any major water projects for over 30 years. Right now, our state seems more focused on a high speed rail boondoggle than anything else. But, there are local projects the City and County could execute to reduce the effect of future droughts. Currently, the Santa Clarita Sanitation District produces 20 million gallons a day of non-potable water, which could be used to supplement irrigation needs, but today it is simply discarded in the river instead. Just think about it. Twenty million gallons a day represents 33 percent of our current water needs. Oh yes, there are rules that will not let us use it all, but right now we use almost none of it. Our city is planting and refurbishing medians, while including (purple) piping for irrigation, using non-potable water. Unfortunately, the delivery system has not been implemented so it goes unused.

Secondly, a system to capture water when it rains (storm water) could be constructed and additional non-potable capacity obtained. None of this can happen instantaneously and the cost is high.

It is time the county, city and our water providers come together with a real action plan and yearly financial commitment.

This will not be easy and missteps will occur, but I remember what Theodore Roosevelt said: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Doing nothing is not a realistic option in good times or bad. Let’s make our voices heard and get the ball rolling.

Alan Ferdman is president of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee.

PAC 2015-16 Season Has Something For Everyone!

| Canyon Country Magazine, News | June 16, 2015


Whether you prefer the heart-stirring twang of a country song or the hilarity of talented animals, the 2015-16 Season at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC) at College of the Canyons has what you need for an unforgettable afternoon or evening out on the town.

This year’s season kicks off September 12, with the incomparable classic rock band Kansas.

Known for timeless hit singles like “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind,” this rock band is responsible for serving as the soundtrack for the lives of multiple generations of music lovers.

Hot on the heels of Kansas comes the talent-filled super group from Nashville known as The Time Jumpers.

A favorite at the world famous Stagecoach Musical Festival, the band features musical greats Vince Gill, Kenny Sears, and Riders In The Sky front man Ranger Doug Green, along with a host of other well known musicians.

The Time Jumpers very rarely leave the arms of their Nashville residency, so don’t miss your opportunity to see this band live in action Sept. 30.

If family shows are more your style, consider purchasing tickets to some “fun for the whole family” shows.

The production of “Room on the Broom” will delight audiences on Oct. 24, as the tale of a sweet witch and a cat and a very tall hat comes to life before your eyes. The Golden Dragon Acrobats are also scheduled to flip, dance and amaze their way onto the PAC stage in a colorful show taking place October 30.

Not to be outdone by those pesky humans, the show “Stunt Dog Experience” will bring an afternoon of high-energy excitement — in the form of some seriously talented furry friends — to the PAC on November 13.

On Jan. 17 the PAC brings to the stage one of the most recognized and beloved storybook characters in history with a production of Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat.” Accompanied by fellow Dr. Seuss characters ‘Thing One’ and ‘Thing Two,’ this mischievous cat has some tricks up his sleeve!

The following month brings the American Chicano rock power trio Los Lonely Boys, who will be visiting the PAC on Feb. 27. From their smash hit debut single “Heaven” to their current album “Revelation,” this band knows how to bring an audience to their feet.

If powerful drumming and the beauty of exotic costumes interests you, then make plans to see the performance group TAO, which makes a return visit to the PAC in its newest show “TAO: Seventeen Samurai” on March 13.

The season finishes with a Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival kick off event on April 17. Don’t miss one of the biggest stars in country music — John Michael Montgomery. With hits like “Life’s a Dance” to “I Can Love You Like That,” audiences are sure to recognize some of Montgomery’s most beloved songs being crooned from the PAC stage.

In addition to these COC Presents shows, the PAC will also offer a number of lively community performances from ESCAPE Theatre, Santa Clarita Ballet, Santa Clarita Master Chorale and Santa Clarita Regional Theatre.

The COC theatre, dance and music departments will also be performing throughout the season, offering you the chance to see the stars of tomorrow shine on stage today.

Start planning now as series subscription tickets go on sale June 24, with individual ticket sales beginning July 15.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.canyonsPAC.com.


| Canyon Country Magazine | May 25, 2015

COL park sign

by Marilyn Hackett

To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary my husband and I wanted adventure that would take us to new heights. Celebrating an anniversary with The Colorado Rocky Mountains National Park (their 100th anniversary) was just the ticket.

COL teatro lobbyAfter a two-hour flight to Denver, we picked up a car and drove downtown to the Hotel Teatro, a four-diamond “techy- chic,” energetic and sophisticated hotel. The cozy library is the perfect way to unwind from your trip, sipping cocktails and coffee drinks by the fire. Once you’ve adjusted a bit to the change in altitude, grab a bicycle from the hotel and ride to historic downtown and Union Station. Stop at the Denver Mint and pick up a free bag of money! Ok, the bills are shredded, but still! The 16th Street Pedestrian Promenade is great for shopping and if you work up a thirst, there are many famous Colorado breweries all around the city. Denver drivers are cautious. So, even if your brewery by bike tour lands you upside down in an intersection, the chances of surviving are pretty good.

Across the street from Hotel Teatro (Teatro means “theater” in Italian) is the Denver Performing Arts Center, where we saw a production of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” This musical tells the story of a woman who survived the Titanic disaster and devoted herself to Denver and the women’s suffrage movement. The next day we toured her home and the Molly Brown Museum.

Stanley Hotel

Stanley Hotel

It took an hour to reach Estes Park and the Historic Stanley Hotel. The romance of this hotel is “other-worldly.” This is the haunted hotel where Steven King got the inspiration for his book “The Shining.” Celebrating our 25th here seemed like a fine idea. I mean, things worked out so well for the couple in that tale. It is said that Steven King booked the last night at the hotel before it closed for the season. It was empty except for the bar and the bartender. He was drinking and struggling to find the story for his next book. The bartender told him about ghosts that haunted the hotel ballrooms and phantom children in the halls. We took a ghost tour and sat in a dark basement most of the time. Our guide called out “Lucy, are you there?” and then “Lucy” closed the door to the basement.

The wonders and mysteries of nature are more my cup of tea. The entrance to

Estes Park

Estes Park

the Rockies (at Fall River) is just minutes from the hotel. The experience of traveling down Trail Ridge Road is humbling. You are miniscule, a mere dot, against the majesty of the mountain. After riding through the clouds and hiking the 12,000 -foot climb to the top of the Rockies, our journey circled back to the quaint village of Estes Park. We had lunch by the river and on our return to the hotel we passed by the public golf course where, on the 18th hole, were easily 100 wild moose. Maybe people just play the front 9? If you can, stay an extra day and take a side trip to Colorado Springs and see the Garden of the Gods, the Cave of the Winds and the Manitou Cliff dwellings. Once home, it took us a few days to adjust to the change in lower altitude. I played with my shredded money, cut down the maze of shrubbery in my yard and locked the tricycle in the shed. Looking at my pictures, I relaxed with a cold Denver brew, happy to be home in Santa Clarita.

For Recreation visit: www.coloradosprings.com. For Lodging: www.Hotelteatro.com. For Historic/GhostTours:www.stanleyhotel.com.

Business Briefs – Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | May 23, 2015


Vacancy rates in the City of Santa Clarita as of the 1st Quarter of 2015:
Office: 10.6%
Retail: 5%
Industrial: 2.5%

The City of Santa Clarita’s March 2015 unemployment rate:
6.6% (down from 7% in February 2015)

The 5,000-square-foot Toppers Pizza restaurant expected to open at the intersection of Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway is currently under construction, with completion scheduled for this summer.

Construction of the Golden Valley Road Bridge Widening project over State Route 14 has begun. The footing for the end abutments, or bridge supports, is currently being constructed, with construction of the center footing abutments expected to begin soon. Also beginning this month is the excavation for the bridge approach roadways. The project is scheduled for completion by summer 2016.

The 10,000-square-foot retail center being constructed at Sierra Highway and Golden Valley Road currently has two tenants, with additional space available for lease. La Cocina Mexican restaurant and an unidentified convenience store are currently under construction at the center, with plans to open by the end of the year.

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