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Making Hungry Residents Happy

| Canyon Country Magazine | July 16, 2015

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Crazy Otto’s
Diner
The eighth Crazy Otto’s Diner in the U.S. is opening here in
Canyon Country.

Currently, you have to head to Acton to bite into the popular restaurant’s brelogo-CrazyOttos akfast specials (including HUGE omelets), or for one of its slow roasted prime rib dinners. But, in a few months, you only have to drive to the Food 4 Less center, where El Chaparral was located. The original Crazy Otto’s was opened in the Antelope Valley in the early ‘70s, and the restaurant’s motto is “If you leave hungry, it’s your fault.”

Restaurateur Jin Hur, already an owner of two Lancaster locations, the one in Acton and one in Rosamond, will team up with two partners in the Canyon Country venture. Hur is currently waiting for the permit process, so opening is several months away.

“The landlord is a really picky person about his tenants,” said Hur. “They came to our restaurant before we turned in our application to the realtor. The landlord sent a comment to the realtor that they are really impressed with my restaurant. It was perfect timing.”

Hur’s partners, Adam Finley and Sean Chainy, already work with Hur at other locations. Chainy is Hur’s partner in the Acton location and
Finley currently serves as a
manager.

“We’ve been working together for so long; we know each other so well,” said Hur.

Dunkin’ Donutsdunkindonuts
Multiple franchise owner Lars Ottosson will open the latest uber successful Dunkin’ Donuts store. It’s slated for opening early next month, when residents can storm the doors at the venue on Sierra Hwy near Manoushee and Chi Chi’s for its signature fresh out of the oven baked goods. Ottosson is a seasoned food business executive, already running several Dunkin’ Donuts businesses in the greater Los Angeles area.

Hearing Loss: KHTS AM-1220 Leaves Canyon Country for Old Town Newhall

| Canyon Country Magazine | July 16, 2015

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The latest development in local radio is not music to the ears of Canyon Country residents.

After a quarter of a century in Canyon Country, KHTS AM-1220 (formerly KBET) moved from its familiar location on Soledad Canyon and Camp Plenty to Main Street in Old Town Newhall.

When you think about it, the irony strikes you. Owners Carl and Jeri Goldman moved the station into the old Newhall Hardware, which opened in 1947, bringing with them progressive, upgraded equipment that reflect the revolutionary changes in 21st century media.

The forward-thinking of the facility is a bridge to the future, ironically placed in Old Town Newhall, a self-proclaimed bridge to the past.

“All of our equipment is digital. The new technology is amazing. There is so much more we can do with it,” said Carl Goldman.

The move was, in fact, a good opportunity for the owners to update their operation.

“It is different in every way. First, the studio is right on the street. We created a fish bowl effect, with glass on all four sides,” said Carl. “We are renting space to the folks who own Coffee Kiosk. They are also a local husband and wife team. They are going to put a small coffee shop attached to our studios, so customers can watch our broadcast while sipping their latte(s).”

KHTS will now have three studios, the main on-air studio, a production room, which will also serve as a separate on-air studio, and they are building a news studio.

“We will have video cameras set up in our studios to video our radio shows and we expect to have plenty of audience interaction as people walk by or have a cup of coffee,” said Carl Goldman.

One of the radio station’s long-term talk show hosts, Arif Halaby, who owns Total Financial Solutions, is moving his office next to KHTS. Arif and his wife, Pam, have gone into partnership with the Goldmans on the Newhall building.

“Our programming will basically stay the same, although we intend to add three or four new shows once we are settled in over the next few months,” said Carl. “We want to bring back ‘Coffee with the Mayor,’ since we really will have a coffee shop adjacent to our studio. We also want to add an acoustic local talent music show tied in with Coffee Kiosk. We have several other shows we are planning to launch in the fall.”

In one more stroke of irony, the Goldmans – longtime residents of the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley – are taking the business west, just as Canyon Country is beginning its largest commercial renaissance ever. Vista Canyon, which just broke ground, is a Sand Canyon area development that will include a hotel, movie theatre and train station, among many other changes.

“We are really excited about the Vista Canyon project,” said Carl. “Jim Backer (developer of the project) has an incredible vision for Vista Canyon and we know that will become an awesome addition to the east side of our valley, but our heart has been with Old Town Newhall and wanting to assist in turning that neighborhood into the vision the City is creating for it.”

The Goldmans, who first purchased the radio station – as KBET – in July, 1990, sold it to Clear Channel in 1998 and re-purchased it five years later.
“We have been interested in moving to Old Town Newhall since we first re-purchased KHTS radio in 2003,” said Carl. “We were close to purchasing a few properties over the years, but we are glad we waited, because the old Newhall Hardware building is exactly the location we were looking to land.”
When the couple purchased AM-1220, it was located on Sierra Hwy and Soledad Canyon Rd and the station had been on the air for a year. The transmitter site and property is on Sierra Highway, next to the Halfway House on the edge of Canyon Country and Agua Dulce. When they re-purchased the station from Clear Channel in 2003, they rented the offices on Soledad Canyon and Camp Plenty roads, where it has been located for the past 12 years.

While Canyon Country residents will sense the loss, not seeing the brick-and-mortar radio station in town, they can still be part of the listening audience, of course, not to mention the myriad ways KHTS has added to its social media repertoire. But, another thing that hasn’t changed is the Goldmans’ dedication to the business of radio, and the couple’s commitment to the Santa Clarita Valley.

“Jeri and I love this Valley and the ability to make a difference in our own community,” said Carl. “We love the challenges and excitement of all the new digital technology. We believe radio will always be an important component in the media mix. We’ve been able to use the strength of our station to create the most read website in our Valley with www.hometownstation.com and we continue to explore ways to deliver our message to our Valley and for our advertisers.”front of khts

More Than Just a Drop in the Bucket

| Canyon Country Magazine | July 16, 2015

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If there are any possible impediments to the smooth visit by Special Olympics athletes later this month, hydration won’t be one of them, if Marie Hamilton has any part in it.

The Canyon Country 10-year-old Junior Girl Scout began a project two months ago to be sure there is enough water available to the athletes.

“I’m raising money … to give to the Special Olympics so the athletes have water during their training,” said Marie. “I saw it online and I wanted to help the community by making the athletes feel welcomed.”

The athletes Marie is anxious to welcome are the four delegations of international teams who will arrive in Santa Clarita prior to the Special Olympics World Games. Many Los Angeles area cities have become host towns, providing meals, accommodations, transportation and sports training for the 150 competitors. The games will be held in Los Angeles from July 25-August 2 and Santa Clarita will host athletes from El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Malaysia and the Philippines from July 21-24.

“I wanted the people coming to feel welcomed to our community and to stay hydrated while they’re training,” said Marie.

The Golden Oak Community School student has gone to friends, family and local events to ask the public to donate money or water for the cause.

“We went on Facebook and we found … one of the things I could do was raise money for gallon jugs of water (for the Special Olympics),” said Marie.

Beginning as a Daisy Girl Scout in kindergarten, Marie advanced to Brownies until last year, when she joined the Junior level of scouting. The water donations are part of her “Bronze Award” project, which is the highest honor a junior can achieve. Marie plans to continue with scouting, earning her Silver and, eventually, the Gold Award, which is the Girl Scout equivalent to the Boy Scout Eagle Award.

This year, in Marie’s troop, which meets at Golden Oak Community School, she has learned such skills as knot tying and making safety bracelets. Her troop does a lot of camping, including her favorite activity yet – a Hawaiian camp out.

The troop also has an emphasis on service. The community will be reminded of it when the Special Olympics comes to town and athletes are practicing their sports – fully hydrated.

It is also a reminder that when it comes to volunteerism, every drop in the bucket counts.gsmarie2 LA2015_Primary_Lockups_4_color-01_webready

Vista Canyon The View from La Veda

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 24, 2015

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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

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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
Commercials:
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

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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

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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.”

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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

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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
www.helpnothassle.org.

More Mugzey in Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine | June 18, 2015

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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

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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.

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