The Cox Family’s 100-Year Legacy

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | October 25, 2019

by Martha Michael

When Sand Canyon lost longtime resident Paula Cox, who died on July 31, 2019, there was a sadness felt by many members of the community, but the loss had an even wider impact. The history held by the Cox family serves as a marker in time, specifically to the earliest days of Canyon Country’s existence.

Paula Palmer Cox was the widow of Clement Cox, who died in 2014. The couple met in Sand Canyon as youngsters, and four generations of the Cox family have lived on the same property going back to the early 20th century.

Clem, as he was known, was the son of Leona and Clement Dunbar Cox, who moved onto 40 acres in Sand Canyon when the area was called “Saugus” in 1923. Leona Cox Community School in Canyon Country honors the name of Clem’s mother, who was widowed in 1930 at the start of The Depression and stayed in Sand Canyon to raise her three sons. The Cox family has lived on the same property for nearly 100 years.

Leona worked to improve the education her sons received at Sulphur Springs School, even hauling water and building fires to heat the room. She acted as librarian, secretary, custodian … and was praised for being an advocate for education in general.

Paula Palmer and her parents lived in Hollywood, but owned property adjacent to the Cox family’s lot in Canyon Country (at the time, called Saugus), where they would visit on weekends to ride horses. In 1944, Paul and Edith Palmer would make Canyon Country their home.
At the age of 13, Paula met her 15-year-old neighbor on the same piece of property where the couple would later establish their home as husband and wife.

Clem completed school at Sulphur Springs Community School and attended San Fernando High School, followed by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he earned a degree in agriculture. Only time away at college and serving in the South Pacific during WWII took Clem away from his Sand Canyon home. Upon returning, he became a teacher of floriculture at Van Nuys Junior High School in Sylmar, where he also taught math and agriculture.

Paula Palmer went to Hollywood High School and University of Southern California, the same college where their daughter, Cathy Kraeger, would later choose to attend.

On their property in Canyon Country the Cox family created a chicken ranch. Clem had a group of poultry ranchers that went by the moniker “The Dirty Dozen” and they met regularly to advise each other about their respective challenges. Clem’s ranch grew to include 30,000 chickens and more than half of those were laying hens.

Handy and mechanically inclined, Clem helped build a swimming pool on his Sand Canyon property in 1957. “I had the tractor and dug the hole,” he told Canyon Country Magazine in 2008. “I put the steel in and hired a gunite man to come in. Then I bricked it.”

Cathy Cox married Steve Kraeger and they raised their children on the large property as well. Before retiring, Cathy taught at Canyon High School, serving as head of the Spanish Department. Their children, Scott and Katie, were the fourth generation to reside on the family’s property.

In the late 1990s, Clem Cox opted to sell most of his acreage in Sand Canyon to Ted Robinson, a golf course owner and architect, who had been a part of more than 160 projects around the world. It was a joint venture between Ted and his son, Ted Robinson Jr., and opened in 2000. It is now called Sand Canyon Country Club.

Both Clem and Paula lived long lives and died the way they lived – at home, on the land where they met, surrounded by their loved ones.

“She had 92 very good years and turned 93 on June 26,” Cathy Cox Kraeger said. “We certainly miss her, as she was very much present in our everyday lives. It just takes time.”

Paula used to tell her grandchildren, “I live in the house that gives me hugs.” Canyon Country community members are grateful she chose to share those hugs with the rest of us. And now it’s time to pass them on.

Update from the Stop Sand Canyon Resort Group

| Canyon Country Magazine, Community, Sand Canyon Journal | October 10, 2019

Sand-Canyon full logo

A group of concerned Sand Canyon residents formed the Stop Sand Canyon Resort Task Force and are taking steps to formally resist a building project proposed by Sand Canyon Country Club owner Steve Kim.

Hundreds of residents attended a standing-room-only meeting on September 11 at The Church of the Canyons to hear from speakers set up by the task force. Issues on the agenda included:

  • Emergency Evacuation Dangers
  • Major Zone Change Required
  • Cumulative Infrastructure Burden & Other Developments
  • Open Space Elimination

Two retired fire captains spoke first, discussing the hardship of evacuating during fires. Using phrases like “recipe for disaster,” they spoke of the difficulty in getting people, horses and other animals out of the canyon during the Sand Fire of 2016. Cars, trucks and trailers sat on roads for hours waiting to drive out of Sand Canyon when evacuated.

The two former firefighters laid out physical reasons why alternate routes to exit Sand Canyon are not reasonable alternatives when there’s a wildfire.

Resident and architect Russell Meyers, AIA, spoke about the changes required to allow Steve Kim to proceed with a project of this size, including a removal of Sand Canyon’s “Special Standards District” zoning.

“This rezoning & project will adversely affect our rural and equestrian lifestyle with the infusion of high-density, mass commercial-oriented development in the least density-zoned area of our city,” he said. “And it will do so now and more so in the future.”

He explained that the general plan is intended and recognizes the need to provide for all residents with a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle, establishing the appropriate distribution of land use by type, intensity, density and codes through zoning.

“Our special village and Special Standards District is facing the most transformational challenge to date,” he said. “We need to protect it. This individual developer’s current proposal, long-term vision or underlying agenda intended in our community is not compatible with mine nor, hopefully, your vision. It’s our choice where and how we choose to live.”

Next, Sand Canyon resident Susan Carey spoke to the group.

“We are being told by project supporters that we, Sand Canyon residents, will have to adjust our lives to accommodate this commercial facility and get used to more traffic, constant noise and thousands of visitors,” she said. “And the reason we’re supposed to make these sacrifices? There (are) two: So the city can get tax revenues from the hotel and so the developer makes a huge profit from the speculative real estate purchase.”

She talked about the lack of fairness in the trade-off and the alarming change in the environment if the City of Santa Clarita leadership agrees to it.

“Many of us are very worried that if the city is leaning toward approving this project then that’s a signal to us residents that the city is ready to disregard our special status,” she said.
Resident Michael Hogan took the stage next and told the audience about the stipulations made when the land was sold to Ted Robinson for the golf course. He explained that city leaders made sure there was plenty of open space and protected the rural nature of Sand Canyon. He also said that none of the current Santa Clarita City Council members were serving at the time.

Residents do not want members of the Santa Clarita Planning Commission or the City Council to forget the zoning granted to Sand Canyon at the time nor to dismiss it as unimportant. That’s one of the goals of the task force.

“What started as three people at my dining room table grew into a task force of 27 in order to stop the Sand Canyon Resort from changing the land’s zoning from open space to community commercial,” said Alex Guerrero, chairman of the Stop Sand Canyon Resort Task Force. “It has now taken on a life of its own, with hundreds of Sand Canyon residents now standing united in opposition of this development.”

When the late Clement and Paula Cox sold some of their acreage for the development of Robinson Ranch Golf Club and adjacent homes in the late 1990s, there were stipulations drafted regarding zoning.

On September 10, 1996 the Santa Clarita City Council unanimously approved, with community input, a zone change allowing for the construction of single-family homes and the preservation of approximately 300 acres of land into perpetuity as recreational/open space at the location being proposed for this resort.

“Perpetuity, as we all know, is defined as ‘forever,’” Guerrero said. “Now, the City of Santa Clarita is entertaining a request by a developer to change that open space zoning to allow for commercial construction. That should alarm all Santa Clarita residents. That park, trail, greenbelt, Central Park or bike path our citizens thought they had ‘in perpetuity’ in their local neighborhoods are vulnerable if a billionaire developer wants to come convince the city to eliminate our open space in all corners of this city. The current City Council and Planning Commission will have to search within themselves and decide if they want to reverse a unanimous action taken by the Santa Clarita City Council in 1996. If that happens, how can we trust City Council votes and promises ever again?”

The Stop Sand Canyon Resort Task Force has a Facebook page and website you can visit to stay updated.

On the website StopSandCanyonResort.org you will find a petition you can sign, which reads:

We, the undersigned are:
AGAINST the Sand Canyon Country Club Hotel and Resort Development
AGAINST REZONING and ask that the Santa Clarita City Council keep Robinson Ranch golf course as Open Space
ASK the Santa Clarita City Council to recognize the Sand Canyon SPECIAL STANDARDS DISTRICT

What is being proposed?
•      This will be one of the largest resorts in L.A. County right in the middle of Sand Canyon.

•      Zone change for this project will allow for future massive, dense, commercial use throughout the entire canyon forever.

•      3,000 occupants (guests, employees)

•      Main Hotel (1 three-story building 165,000 sf)

•      Main Hotel Basement & BOH (23,000 sf)

•      Wedding Hotel (3 three-story buildings 67,500 sf)

•      View Villas (14 two-story villas 110,000 sf)

•      Oak Villas (9 one-story & 1 two-story villas 47,500 sf)

•      Grand ballroom (10,000 sf)

•      Junior ballroom (3,000 sf)

•      Meeting room & pre-function space (10,700 sf)

•      Dining (3 restaurants with kitchens 25,000 sf)

•      Spa/Gym/Salon (33,000 sf)

In Memory of Paula Cox

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | August 9, 2019

Sand Canyon lost a favorite daughter last month. Paula Palmer Cox passed away in her home while surrounded by loved ones. She was the widow of Clement Cox, who died in 2014. The couple met in Sand Canyon as youngsters, and four generations of the Cox family have lived on the same property dating back to the early 20th century.

Next month look for an article about the Cox family
and their influence on our community.

Route 66 Classic Grill

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | July 15, 2019

George Thomas knows what he likes. And when he makes a decision, he doesn’t let challenges stop him.

It’s been 20 years since he opened Route 66 Classic Grill in Canyon Country. And that’s after a 25-year career on the Los Angeles Police Force.

It’s pretty safe to say he likes big projects – He’s even built more than one home in Sand Canyon.

“I moved out here in 1973 when I became a Los Angeles policeman,” Thomas said.

He lived about 12 years in Valencia before buying a lot on Saddleback Road where he and his wife at the time turned their ideal floor plan into a reality.

“We’d go to new construction sites like Circle J and go through models and take pictures of things we liked,” he said. “We kind of put our pictures together and showed it to the architect and after a lot of drawing and redrawing, we had it built.”

The Thomas family was extremely content with their design – they even used the floor plan when they built their next house – only in reverse.

“We loved that floor plan,” he said. “We were constantly having people approaching us wanting to buy the plans and build a house.”

Knowing what he likes came in handy for George Thomas when planning his restaurant – another first for him. He liked the ‘50s diner theme and wanted it to involve cars. At first he looked into the Hudson’s Grill franchise, but consultants urged him to create his own restaurant.

“I knew very little going in and I just listened to everybody. I was like a sponge – anybody who had anything to say about what I should do,” the restaurateur said. “I’ve been absolutely blessed.”

Whatever he did, the Santa Maria native knew one thing would be on his menu: Santa Maria tri-tip.

“I grew up barbecuing with my dad on oak wood – he did it for Kiwanis and American Legion,” he explained. “In Santa Maria the Chamber even has a barbecue museum, which goes back to the 1800s when the cattle ranchers would go to big auctions there. They would barbecue their beef and compete for who had the best beef.”

Thomas grills tri-tip every day on oak wood at Route 66 and he said it’s a customer favorite. He also has a trailer that does off-site grilling for events.

When it came to decisions about his new restaurant’s location, he was considering Stevenson Ranch. “Because my boys grew up in Canyon Country and went to Canyon High School, I decided to do it here,” he said.

George Thomas’ son Rick and his L.A. County Fire “Strike Team” during one of the local fires

LeAnn Rimes at Route 66 during the Fire Hogs Fundraiser

Crowds at a Love Ride after-party

Thomas’ sons, now both grown and working as firefighters, played football at Canyon High, and George Thomas is one of the parents who was pivotal in getting Coach Harry Welch to return to the school. Thomas and others also garnered the funds to erect a sign reflecting the field’s new name: Harry Welch Stadium.

“I was point man for getting the stadium named for him,” he said. “We passed the hat among big fans of Harry’s and paid to have the sign made.”

But it’s the tip of the iceberg when you consider Thomas’ support of local causes.

You can see the massive attendance at Route 66 Bike Nights, which are every Wednesday, and the parking lot is packed during monthly car shows. Thomas has the longest running bike night and car show in Santa Clarita history.

And in this facet as well, Thomas knows what he wants: for local nonprofits to benefit.

“A man wanted to put on a California State Arm Wrestling Championship,” Thomas explained. “I said we’ll do it under one condition: benefit a local nonprofit.”

He has other examples too.

“There was a car accident on Soledad where some young men got killed, so I called Canyon High School and asked the principal if there was anything I could do,” he said.

Thomas was directed to Safe Rides, a nonprofit organization offering teens free, safe rides home on weekends after partying. For 20 years all of the proceeds from Route 66 car shows went to Safe Rides, which is now closed, so the shows are benefiting Rotary Club.

“Safe Rides was a perfect fit for us because it’s about kids driving safely,” Thomas said.

Two of the business owner’s favorite events were the tribute to 9/11 and a special event honoring a military man from Canyon Country.

“A local Canyon High School graduate became a Navy Seal,” Thomas said. “I met his parents and I was so impressed by hearing his story. He was constantly deployed and they never knew when he was coming home. We recognize (soldiers) when they’re injured or killed, but not while they’re alive.”

So, Thomas organized a “welcome home party” for the young man which drew approximately 500 attendees. It included a low flyby from a Van Nuys Condor Squadron.

“When I asked if they’d do (the flyby) they said, ‘Absolutely.’” Thomas said. “I told them to drive back up to Route 66 for dinner after returning to Van Nuys and they did – to meet the (man of honor).”

The list of events and fundraisers goes on and on. There have been so many, in fact, that Santa Clarita Planning Commissioner Dennis Ostrom called Route 66 Classic Grill the “entertainment hub for this side of the valley.” Thomas likes that reputation.

And even when it comes to the future, George Thomas knows what he wants. His two boys and four grandchildren live in the Santa Clarita Valley and he’d like to spend more time with them. Also, six years ago he started riding his bike, as many as 20 miles a day.

But while he is contemplating retirement, he won’t abandon the goals of Route 66 Classic Grill. He wants the friendly staff and popular food choices at the restaurant to thrive … and for the events to continue.

Birtwick Park Equestrian Center 3rd Annual Win Place Home Gala

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | May 11, 2019

A barn party is coming to the Canyon – and your attendance supports the rescue of retired racehorses.

Birtwick Park Equestrian Center is hosting the 3rd Annual Win, Place, Home Gala and Silent Auction fundraiser on Saturday, May 18 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

In addition to taking in the atmosphere of a country-western celebration, you can shop from a large collection of auction items in the barn, where you can also see the horses you’re supporting. The auction will include hundreds of items for bidding and there will be a raffle to win two Disneyland one-day Park Hopper tickets (you have to be present to win).

Last year, more than 100 guests attended the event at Birtwick Park, which raised more than $11,000 for the non-profit. Beginning at 5 p.m. guests can peruse the silent auction, meet the horses, visit the crafts table, and buy food and drinks.

Located on Lost Canyon Road in Sand Canyon, the ranch has plenty of room for the family-friendly event, which will include the chance to see two miniature unicorns; free glitter tattoo and caricature from Taylor Entertainment; free psychic reading from Michael Mirth-Magical Entertainer; giant games provided by Joymode; scavenger hunt trivia game to win raffle tickets; a bounce house; a kid’s craft table; food provided by Jersey Mike’s; drinks provided by Firestone Walker and Garage Brewing Co.; a SynNutra booth and much more.

CJ Marinaccio, the founder/CEO of Win Place Home, Inc., created the non-profit after working at a racetrack in the early part of her career. When she moved to Sand Canyon she brought some horses with her and decided to begin taking them in to care for them after their life on the track. She gets them treated for injuries and lets them retire there.

“I worked at the racetrack from 2005 until 2015 and saw many horses come to the track and go from being treated like champions to being forgotten about when they were done,” Marinaccio said. “I decided to be in their lives in a different capacity. They had enough to help them on the track. They needed help getting off of it.”

The first boarder to move in to Birtwick Park with Win Place Home was Thorin in February of 2016. The nonprofit provides surgery when needed and finds adoptive homes for some of them.

When horses leave the electrified scene of the racetrack they have a vastly different lifestyle at Birtwick Park, which Marinaccio named for an estate in “Black Beauty.”

“When we get a horse we gently let them down from being a racehorse,” Marinaccio said.

Her horses eventually get a job to do at Win Place Home. “When they get off the track and can settle into just being a horse, it’s amazing how much their personality shifts!” the founder said. “And when they are put into a second job that they WANT to do they are so willing to please.”

Birtwick Park is located at 16257 Lost Canyon Road in Canyon Country. For more information about the non-profit, visit WinPlaceHome.org. Tickets can be ordered online at WPH.givesmart.com and auction items are available for bidding online before the event.

Sand Canyon Country Club Resort Expands – Replies from residents requested

| Sand Canyon Journal | April 13, 2019

Sand Canyon residents are asked to provide input about upcoming changes in the neighborhood.

Less than a week after the Sand Canyon Homeowners Association meeting held on Monday, March 28, 2019, an email was sent out from the Santa Clarita planning department regarding the scope of the Sand Canyon Country Club’s project. Associate Planner Hai Nguyen sent a revised Notice of Preparation, or NOP, with a new description of SCCC owner Steve Kim’s plan for the development.

The following is Nguyen’s letter to the Sand Canyon Homeowners Association:

The City of Santa Clarita is the lead agency and is preparing an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for the Sand Canyon Resort Project. The City previously circulated the Notice of Preparation (“NOP”) for the project between October 17, 2018 and November 16, 2018. This revised NOP has been circulated to provide opportunity for public comment and input regarding the EIR’s expanded scope which now includes updates to the project description and new project area; approximately two-acre area south of Robinson Ranch Road would be utilized as a water quality detention basin associated with the project.

We need to know the views of your agency as to the scope and content of the environmental information, which is germane to your agency’s statutory responsibilities in (connection to) the proposed project. Your agency may need to use the EIR prepared by our agency when considering your permit or other approval for the project.*

Due to the time limits mandated by State law, your response must be sent at the earliest possible date, but not later than 30 days after receipt of this notice. As such, the comment period for the Notice of Preparation begins on April 2, 2019 and ends on May 2, 2019. Please send your written response to Hai Nguyen at the address shown (below).

The approximately 77-acre project site is located at 27734 Sand Canyon Road at the northeast corner of Sand Canyon Road and Robinson Ranch Road.

The proposed project would result in the replacement of existing open space that was formerly a part of the Mountain Course of the Robinson Ranch Golf Course with a new resort and spa consisting of the following:

  • Main Hotel: three-story building with 241 rooms/keys totaling approximately 165,000 square feet, and back of house and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing space in the Main Hotel basement totaling approximately 23,000 square feet
  • Wedding Hotel: three three-story buildings with 81 rooms/keys totaling approximately 50,000 square feet air conditioned space and 17,500 square feet of open non-air-conditioned space with an outdoor wedding ground and pergola
  • View Villas: 14 two-story villas with 56 rooms/keys totaling approximately 110,000 square feet
  • Oak Villas: nine one-story villas with nine rooms/keys totaling approximately 38,000 square feet and one two-story villa with five rooms/keys totaling approximately 9,500 square feet
  • Function Wing: meeting center and celebration open air atrium (32,500 square feet), a grand ballr om (10,000 square feet), a junior ballroom (3,000 square feet), meeting rooms (4,500 square feet), and pre-function space (6,200 square feet)
  • Dining: three restaurants with kitchens, pantries and back-of-house totaling approximately 25,000 square feet
  • Children’s Center: approximately 7,000 square feet including nursery, kids program spaces, cooking classrooms, and a teen arcade
  • Spa/Gym/Salon: Spa, gym and salon facilities as well as a retail boutique totaling approximately 33,000 square feet
  • Outdoor Recreation: two pools, one tennis court, two pickle ball courts, a nine-hole miniature golf course, picnic areas, meditation garden, nature garden, and three miles of trails
  • Parking: 375 parking stalls and 18 car parking spaces in Oak Villa garages

Additionally, as part of the project, the existing approximately one-acre water quality detention basin located south of the project site and south of Robinson Ranch Road would be enlarged to a total of 1.9 acres and connected to the new resort project via a new storm drain pipe.

*(The project description, location, and the probable environmental effects are contained in materials that were attached to the original email.) To offer your opinions/concerns, contact: Hai Nguyen, Associate Planner, City of Santa Clarita Community Development Department, 23920 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 302, Santa Clarita, CA 91355 (661) 255-4365. Email: [email protected]

Vista Canyon Update

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | March 20, 2019

Canyon Country Magazine checked in with Stephen Valenziano from JSB Development to find out the status of Vista Canyon, which is the property in the Sand Canyon/Lost Canyon area. The first phase, building the water reclamation plant, is pictured.

“The Water Factory is complete – equipment now being tested and certified,” he said in an email. “We will operate the Water Factory for 18-24 months before turning it over to the City of Santa Clarita.”

It is scheduled to be operational in June or July.

“The first three-story commercial office and retail building is about eight weeks away from completion, with initial proposals and leases under review,” Valenziano said. “Street paving, sidewalk and curbs, street lights, etc. is now underway.”

And what’s next?

“Bridge design is 95 percent complete,” he added. “The City has redirected a grant and will be building the bridge, with reimbursement coming from future developer bridge & thoroughfare fees. Road intersection work is beginning in summer /fall, with actual bridge construction beginning in spring 2020.”

The city bus transfer station construction will start in a few months, according to Valenziano. Grant funding for the new Metrolink station is nearing completion and station design is 95 percent complete. Station construction may start as soon as late 2019 or early 2020. Over the next 5 to 7 years, the balance of 650,000 square feet of offices, 165,000 square feet of retail, a 200-room hotel and approximately 400 luxury multifamily units will follow in the Town Center portion of the project.

How has the rain affected the Vista Canyon schedule?

“It has been a difficult winter for construction projects,” Valenziano said. “The rain has caused us, and all other builders throughout Southern California, some delays.”

Dallas builders JPI purchased the west side of the Vista Canyon development and construction is now underway for 480 luxury multifamily units.

The east end of Vista Canyon is in a land sale transaction with a major national homebuilder, which is scheduled to close at the end of the month. They will build 245 small-lot, detached homes for sale and the first models are scheduled to arrive in October.

Look in the April issue of Canyon Country Magazine for another update … and possibly an announcement!

The Great Outdoors

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | March 19, 2019

Life in Sand Canyon is never dull, especially with dramatic changes in weather this year. It’s been a wet winter, so Canyon Country Magazine checked in with some of our neighbors…

Wildlife Waystation

The Wildlife Waystation has reached out to supporters more than once for assistance. The constant rain has caused mudslides and flooding that’s affecting the lives of the hundreds of animals living at the sanctuary.

An email went out on Friday, March 1 from the Wildlife Waystation saying:

Thank you for supporting us! You’ve made a big difference this week helping to address our water, heating and repair needs. We are incredibly grateful.
We asked for your help this week because it is a very challenging time right now and our resources are strained. Also, since it is National Justice for Animals Week, we wanted to share with our friends and supporters some of the issues we face while providing the very best quality of life, which all animals deserve.

We›re asking one last time for your help this week. We have a large population of animals — much larger than most municipal zoos. A significant portion of our animals are geriatric or have special needs. Medicine is expensive. Analysis is expensive.  And, treatments are expensive.

The Wildlife Waystation has a full-time veterinary team providing daily care. Most sanctuaries rely on contracted veterinary support services to care for animals weekly, or even monthly in some cases.

For more information about the nonprofit animal sanctuary, call 818-686-6681 or visit WildlifeWaystation.org.

Placerita Canyon Nature Center
They have had a lot of water in Placerita Canyon, but the Nature Center is doing very well, says Evelyne Vandersande, editor of the nonprofit’s newsletter, “The Rattler.”

“There is no major problem with the stream, but it is running, and we love to see kids coming to play in the water,” Vandersande says. “I am sorry to say that we just received the news that the Canyon Trail won’t be open any earlier than next November. We had hoped it could be sooner.”

The Placerita Canyon Nature Center is planning its annual Open House, held on May 11, 2019.

Regular Programs
Every Saturday the PCNC offers a Family Nature Walk at 11 a.m. and a Native Live Animal Presentation at 1 p.m. There is no charge for these programs.

Every second Saturday of the month there is a docent-led Bird Walk starting at 8 a.m. for beginning to advanced birders. Bring binoculars, a field guide and water.

Every third Saturday of the month there is a Twilight Hike. Here’s the schedule:
March 16 7:00 pm

April 20 7:00 pm

May 18 8:00 pm

June 15 8:00 pm

July 20 8:00 pm

Every third Sunday of the month is the Community Nature Education Series, held at the Nature Center at 2 p.m. with a different topic each month. Check the website calendar for the current schedule.

Every fourth Saturday of the month there is a “Blooms of the Season” wildflower walk from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Every second Saturday of the month there is a “Nature Tots” program for children 3 to 5 years old from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Pre-Registration is required.

Canyon Country Resident Receives Award from PCNC

The annual Paul Levine Cup was presented to Placerita Canyon Nature Center docent Suzy Hermann of Canyon Country.

“Suzy’s attention-grabbing techniques while making a classroom presentation and unique educational approaches while teaching children is exactly what the Paul Levine Cup represents,” says an article in “The Rattler.” “Suzy motivates children in a way that enables them to understand and appreciate the natural features of Placerita Canyon. Many children come away saying they had the best day of their life.”

Originally from La Canada, Hermann became enamored with the outdoors as a youngster.

“My brother and I could wander the canyons, climb trees, throw rocks and just plain run around exploring all there was to enjoy outdoors,” she says. “It’s always better outdoors. We had dogs, cats, rats and snakes to keep us busy.”

She graduated from John Muir High School in Glendale and entered the nursing program at Pasadena City College. It was a chance meeting at a gas station where she jumped out of her car and hollered, “Hi ya, handsome!” that led to a 55-year marriage, the birth of a son and daughter – and now three grandchildren as well.

The Hermann family moved to Canyon Country when it was still called Saugus, where she heard about the Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates and became a member.

Life took her away from the PCNC during the years of playing softball and soccer, coaching sports, teaching swimming, teaching Sunday School, all while putting in 50 years of nursing.

“I always intended to return actively to the Nature Center and eventually did,” Hermann says. “All I had to do was retire, which came about six years ago. … For me, the best part of being a docent is time spent with the kids, enlightening them with new knowledge about the beauty of animals, plants, ecology and how to enjoy and value all that nature presents, and helping them realize that nature is not to be feared, but to be protected, while hungrily exploring it all.”

Sand Canyon Real Estate Expert – What is it About Sand Canyon?

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | March 15, 2019

Yes, it is true, I have lived in the same home in Sand Canyon for 40 years and, God willing, that is where I will finish out my days. Simply said, it has been a wonderful place to call home for so many years. My neighbors are all great, many of whom have lived on my street – Ravenhill – even longer than my wife Kathy and I have.

Has Sand Canyon changed over the decades? I would have to say “yes.” There are twice as many homes today as there were in 1979.

So, what is it about Sand Canyon that makes it such a special place to live and raise a family? I believe there are a couple of reasons.

First off, there are the thousands of magnificent oak trees that line, virtually, every street in Sand Canyon. They bring a beauty to the area that is hard to find elsewhere.

Next, I would say the “special standards district.” There are no curbs, sidewalks or streetlights in Sand Canyon, with the exception of safety issues. That is to say, the neighborhood is rural with large lots, most of which exceed an acre.

Also, the Canyon is nearly surrounded by the National Forest, which adds even more to the beauty of the area.

Shifting gears, I’ll discuss the home sales market. Presently, there are 23 homes on the market in Sand Canyon with the average days on the market totaling 166. Of those homes on the market, only three are priced under a million dollars with the highest at $3,999,000, which is 13,000 square feet on over 8 acres. Over the last year, 37 homes sold and currently seven are in escrow.
You might like to know that sales of vacant land has been slow. There are many great opportunities for land, with 13 presently listed for sale and four having closed in the last 6 months.

Here is the bottom line, as I see it: There is no crisis in real estate, as prices are holding steady, in Sand Canyon in particular.

The last quarter has been a bit slow, but then, the end of the year and going into the new year is always slow, compared to the rest of the year. We are going into the best time of the year to sell or buy a home.

Also, don’t overlook the possibilities of building your dream home on one of the many beautiful lots that are on the market. Interest rates are still great. Does anyone remember the Jimmy Carter years?

Here’s looking forward to a great 2019!
Bob Kellar
Kellar Davis Real Estate

Better by the Dozen – Boron Family Leaves their Mark on Canyon Country

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | December 7, 2018

The last few issues of Canyon Country Magazine featured Canyon High School’s 50th anniversary celebration, where we met members of the Boron family. Their ties to the area were so compelling that we asked them to share some memories of life at Canyon High School in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Peter and Marilyn Boron and their family came to Canyon Country in 1967 and moved into a new home in a tract named “New Woodlands,” sometimes called “Woodlands II,” in Sand Canyon. Their oldest child was almost 11 at the time, and by May of 1969 they were a family of 12.

Nine of the 10 Boron children graduated from Canyon High School. Oldest son, Steve, chose to attend Crespi High School in the San Fernando Valley, where he played football for coach Harry Welch, who would later coach Steve’s brothers at Canyon High.

Seven girls followed Steve, and then two more boys, in order: Stephen, Peggy, Ann, Mary Jo, Fabienne & Suzette (twins), Stefani, Jenni, Joe and Andy.

Peter Boron, father of 10, was born in 1928 and passed away in 1997 of pancreatic cancer. He worked for Hughes Aircraft for more than 40 years and was influential in establishing Habitat for Humanity in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys and was instrumental in getting the Distinguished Graduate Award started at Canyon High School. Both parents were active in religious education in Canyon Country and a huge presence when Masses were held in the Canyon High gym.

Marilyn Boron added some of her thoughts and memories.
Pete was a very enthusiastic football fan and for a few years moved the chains for Canyon games. He also went to a meeting once to promote girls’ sports at Canyon. I don’t remember who he met with, but I presume that after that, whatever the issues were, they improved.

Our family enjoyed attending Canyon and were active participants in school affairs. I was often late in picking up my kids and their friends, too often, after practices or events. I just forgot!

Stephen Boron graduated from Crespi High School in 1974. Born in 1956, Stephen paid for his own tuition and rode his motorcycle down to Encino to attend Crespi, because he wanted to play football and join their wrestling team. He still holds the records for tackles in a game & tackles in a season.

Steve attended Cal Poly Pomona on a football scholarship and graduated with a degree in engineering. He became a pilot in the United States Air Force and for Delta Airlines. He died in 2005 of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
Peggy Boron-Downs graduated from CHS in the class of 1975. She is a court reporter living in Santa Clarita.

We all went to Sulphur Springs Elementary. At the junior high level, the south side of Sand Canyon at Soledad was bussed to Placerita with kids that lived in Princess Homes, instead of us going to Sierra Vista. I was sorry to leave my junior high friends, but looked forward to meeting new friends in high school.

My fondest memories of Canyon are the art classes with Bob Brown, who was very supportive of students’ creativity; and algebra with Mr. McGreevy. I loved attending the football games and dances afterwards with a live band, and I have a great memory of being nominated to the CHS Senior Homecoming court with a few other wonderful classmates. Our fathers escorted us.
I took business classes and had Ms. Black as a teacher in Gregg Shorthand, which piqued my interest in the field of court reporting.
All of us had a great time when we’d load up the van and go to the Mustang Drive-in. There was a playground at the base of the big screen. Every once in a great while, dad would take us to dinner at Sir George’s Smorgasbord by Friendly Valley – always a treat.

Ann Rhys graduated from CHS in 1976. She is a controller for Rush Truck Insurance Services in San Antonio and lives in Canyon Lake, Texas.

Memories of Canyon High School teachers were, notably, taking driver’s education with Mr. Kevorken and home economics class with Ms. Levand. I learned my math foundation from Mr. Burrill, and I remember a field trip to Rodeo Drive with Mr. Mast’s sociology class.

Ms. Black in the business department repeated a saying – “I don’t want to hear excuses, I want to see results.”

Back then Canyon had a legal smoking area on the balcony of the girls’ gym, and there were occasional concerts at lunch on the quad. Also, we graduated in red, white and blue gowns.

Mary Jo Widing graduated in 1978. She is retired and living in Dallas, Georgia.

I played volleyball at Canyon High School for three years. I enjoyed eating lunch on the quad with my friends and watching them film “Police Story,” a TV show with David Cassidy.

Mr. Burrill taught math, not one of my strongest subjects, but he was always patient. Once he had to go to a conference and chose a student from each class to teach, including me. The day I presented I was pretty nervous, but it definitely gave me more confidence – I still remember to this day.

I was a foreign exchange student and spent my junior year in France. I had my appendix surgically removed while in France and Mr. Diaz, my favorite biology teacher, kept my appendix in a jar in the science class.

We were Borons. It didn’t matter where we went, someone knew us – our brothers, sisters or our parents. And it wasn’t only in the Santa Clarita Valley, but in the San Fernando Valley, Mammoth Mountain, or at the beach. It was crazy. Even as we got older, this phenomenon continued.

Fabienne McGeever graduated in the class of 1979 with her twin sister, Suzette. She is an administrator with Simpatico Systems and lives in Santa Clarita.

Some experience bad high school years, but my memories of this time are great. I was active! Sports, drama, madrigals & concert choir, ski club and honor society consumed my days, but homework and study most nights. I ended up 75th in a class of 500. My twin was top 10!

As a family, we would go bowling, roller skating, participate in track and field at COC, ski trips to Mammoth Mtn., beach camping, church youth group, choir, and working at Magic Mountain was an SCV requirement. Riding a converted motorcycle or the van got the working-age kids where we needed to be at any given time. Who had time to get into any trouble!? Deciding who got what vehicle when was a challenge. We made it work somehow.

Canyon High shaped my life. My best memories are deciphering Shakespeare in Mr. Moos’ class, being a TA for Mr. Mast, and getting challenged in Mr. DeCoster’s English class – and winning the argument. Of course, my mother showed up to corroborate. I still brought in the home baked cookies, as promised, if I lost. There were trips with choir – songs from “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Blue Moon” and “Grease” will always stick in my head … performing in “Little Me” and “Go Ask Alice,” and Christmas concerts. Volleyball was prominent and we all loved every minute of it. I wouldn’t mind doing it all over again!

Suzette Cass graduated in the class of 1979 with her twin, Fabienne. She is a computer programmer at NTT Data in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

I have a vivid memory of sports at Canyon High. The boys played football and the female Borons played volleyball. In 1979 there were four Boron girls on the varsity squad! I also played badminton.

The gym was a fun place. I was the girls’ athletic commissioner my senior year. Being in “politics” was not my forte. The sporting experience encouraged me to coach the volleyball team after graduating, and I rose to varsity volleyball coach for one year.

I recall school being engaging. I liked math and the sciences, although I had to teach myself math, with help from Dad. Dean Hurd, who I admired, was a great science instructor. I did get a degree in computer science from CSUN – Somebody must have done something right!

Since I had lots of sisters around, I knew lots of people. I participated in Concert Choir and Madrigals conducted by Bob Scott. Fabienne and I sang a medley of “Grease” songs in the Rock & Roll concert. That was a blast! I also remember singing “Close To You” by the Carpenters as a trio. I could always sing in public, but never wanted to speak in public, though with my current career I have to give training classes. I do think Canyon High prepared me for my future.

Stefani Brown graduated with the class of 1981. She is a teacher at Kirchgater Elementary School in Elk Grove, California.

My fondest memories were playing sports. We had awesome coaches. I played volleyball, basketball and softball and was named “Athlete of the Year” as a sophomore. We went to CIF in volleyball and basketball and I loved playing on teams with my sisters. One year, four of us Boron Girls played on the varsity volleyball team. Everyone treated each other like family. Coach Masters was like a mother: loving, dedicated and pushing us hard to play better than we thought possible!

The teachers at Canyon were excellent! I was learning higher level math concepts and was challenged in my literature and advanced biology classes. I remember Mr. Diaz teaching us how to hold our books close to our hearts because “we were scholars and these were books of knowledge.” On one assignment I wrote in my lab book that although the experiment was a failure, I had learned quite a bit, and the comment in the margin was, “You would make a great teacher!” And that is what I have become. To this day, I tell my students, “No mistake is bad if you learn something from it.”

I have very fond memories from high school and living in Canyon Country. I’d like to thank all of my teachers, coaches, and family who had an influence and impact on helping to mold me into who I am today!

Jenni Boron-Schaeffer graduated in 1982. She served as a military RN, then practiced as a NICU/PICU RN and is now a certified fertility care practitioner in Chico, California.

I had a great experience at Canyon High. Playing sports was a given. I played basketball, softball and badminton, but volleyball was my passion! And I was fortunate to play collegiate ball at University of San Francisco.

I earned a “Scholar Athlete” award and I really liked school too. My brother Joe would call me a “geek” because I would run to each of my classes – I was so excited to get to them!!! I still have a love of learning!

I hung out with a large group of women athletes and always felt like it didn’t matter what “group” you were in; people were friendly. Being #8 out of 10, it seemed like someone knew me wherever I went. I actually didn’t think we looked alike, so I never understood how people knew I was a Boron.

Having kids go through sports, I feel extremely blessed that I had such awesome coaching at the high school level. I didn’t realize how truly fortunate we were at Canyon. I am guessing that Ardyce Masters, our girls’ athletic director, had a lot to do with it. It’s astonishing that it was so exceptional. Many thank yous to all the naturally amazing teachers and coaches!!

I made a wooden plaque in the Canyon High wood shop with my dad’s motto: “Fix it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Joe Boron graduated in the class of 1984. He was part of the CIF streak at Canyon High School and was such a giving soul. Whenever anyone needed help, he was there. He drove a big truck and shared all he had. His shop classes served him well in his chosen field. He became an airplane mechanic for Van Nuys Airport and we miss him every day! He was born in 1966 and died in 2009 of an unknown heart problem or hepatitis C complications from a blood transfusion.

Andy Boron was in the 1987 graduating class. He is a loan officer at Augusta Financial in Santa Clarita.

I’m the youngest of 10 and the ninth Boron to attend Canyon High School. The path for a successful high school career was carved out by seven remarkably talented and athletic sisters and a brother three years my senior. My brother Joe was an inside linebacker and a member of the first team to play for legendary Harry Welch. There was not a teacher or counselor at Canyon who wasn’t intimately familiar with the Boron Family.

Mr. Mast was the cool sociology teacher who took a personal interest in his students. Mr. Flaherty was a favorite. No one thought Mr. Flaherty was cooler than Mr. Flaherty. He reminded me of a mix between Dean Martin and Knute Rockne. He recruited me to play football my sophomore year, a challenge, since I wanted to make my own athletic path and play basketball for Coach Hayes, who was the nicest guy on campus and proof that nice guys don’t always finish last.

If you could possibly respect, admire and love a man that you hoped drove off a cliff before Monday’s practice … that would be Coach Welch. I was lucky enough to be a part of “The Streak.” Welch appointed me defensive captain my senior year and I wondered if it was the fact he coached my brothers that made him choose me, or perhaps he felt it was a natural fit since I was ASB president.

Mr. Diaz deserves every accolade. He was to science what the teacher in “Mr. Holland’s Opus” was to music. Most of us worked at Magic Mountain while maintaining solid grades and being multi-sport athletes. My impression of Canyon High was that we were a blue-collar community with educators who genuinely loved getting to know their students and to have a hand in their future success.

Vista Canyon’s Developing Story

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | August 6, 2018

The most common question developer Jim Backer receives from local residents is: “When will the Vista Canyon project be done?”

And like his 185-acre property between Soledad Canyon, Lost Canyon and Sand Canyon roads, Backer’s answer is anything but short and sweet. But he’s happy with the progress, and he feels the market is receptive to the types of amenities Vista Canyon is bringing to Canyon Country. Those include 1,100 residential units, nearly 1,000,000 square feet of commercial space, a new Metrolink station and more than 21 acres of recreational areas.

To begin with, much of the base utilities – sewer, water, storm drain, etc. – are getting completed on the west side.

“It’s really looking good over there,” Backer said. “They have the underground parts done, mostly. It’s coming along, making good progress.”

The first project completed will be the water reclamation plant, which should be finished in October or November of this year.

“It’s required to be operational before we start,” Backer said. “SCV Water is eventually going to have a pipeline for the excess water and they’ll build a tank.”

There’s a ramping up phase, Backer said, because there are a number of people who have to sign off on the plant.

Transportation Stations
“A lot of good things happened at Metrolink this month,” Backer said in mid-July. “Ninety-five percent of the drawings are completed.”

Money from the California gas tax has been allocated to construct a new Metrolink train station at Vista Canyon – $9 million, actually. Of course, that money could be jeopardized if the ballot initiative to repeal the 12-cent gas tax increase passes in November. City of Santa Clarita leaders have been working to acquire grants for the station’s construction, and part of its financing is on the shoulders of Backer’s company.

“They’ve never had another developer contribute to a train station like we have,” Backer said. “None of the other three train stations ever had significant developer contributions like ours has. The city is working on getting it funded and we’re optimistic it will be in the next two years.”

A bus transfer station that’s a part of the Vista Canyon project is scheduled to commence construction later this year, he said.

Office Space
One of the earliest aspects of the Vista Canyon project is construction of office space, which will be operational by the end of the year, Backer said. And apartments should be available a year later.

“When people see activity there, and Metrolink starts to be a reality, it’ll excite the office crowd,” the developer said.

There will be 650,000 square feet of office space and 165,000 square feet of retail stores. And with another 130,000 square feet for a hotel, Vista Canyon is almost 1 million square feet.

Most of the retail store space is on Lincoln Place, which starts at the river and goes to the train station. The development will be a mix of professional tenants and possibly big tenants who relocate here.
This fall, the project will encompass a structure where apartment dwellers and office space employees can park.

“That’s going to happen,” Backer said. “We’ve done the conceptual design which is leading to permanent design, which is in process. It gets a lot of scrutiny … making sure the radius is correct, and making sure they can get horse trailers through there.”

The testing process for the size of the roundabout involves constructing it larger than the actual size of a horse trailer, he said. JSB Development expects it to be completed next summer, but it’s based on the approval process. Of course, it will be easier to build when kids are on a break from school.

Jefferson Vista Canyon is the name of the 480-unit luxury apartments being constructed on the west side of the property by JPI, a company specializing in multi-family residences. The east side of the property is being sold by JSB to a builder who will move forward with the sale of new single-family homes. “That’s moving along; they’re in escrow,” Backer said. “We have roads with curbs on them now, and eventually they’ll have pavement and landscaping.”

“Assuming the deal closes in fall, we’re probably starting construction on the park late this year or early next year,” Backer said. “The park takes about six months or a little bit more.”

The bridge over the Santa Clara River bed is a few years away. “We’ve designed the bridge and submitted it to the city for review check,” Backer explained. “We will build that sometime between now and April of 2020. And it’ll take about a year to build.”

Most residents are aware of other Canyon Country building projects, as well. JSB Development sees them as fellow contributors to the improvement of the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Sand Canyon Resort Hotel & Spa
Jim Backer shared his thoughts on other projects, such as the former Robinson Ranch Golf Club, now Sand Canyon Country Club. Owner Steve Kim is in the planning stages of an expansion into a resort hotel and spa.

“I applaud some of the vision for what’s going on there to make it more accessible to people, to build on what’s there,” Backer said. “It’s a great property, the topography and everything else.”

What Jim Backer and his associates have learned in the years leading up to Vista Canyon’s fruition is that the community matters.

“Mr. Kim (owner of the Sand Canyon Country Club) is in a neighborhood that wants to have input,” Backer explained. “His success here is going to be dependent on his ability to have community support. … The key is it’s taking into consideration good ideas and the needs of the community and the needs of the project.”
The developer said he disagrees with some residents who are concerned with further construction. “I don’t see it as the traffic generator that some people think, if it’s designed sensitively and there’s appropriate parking and access,” Backer said. “You have to see how the plan comes out in the end.

He doesn’t see the planned resort as a competitor to Vista Canyon. “I think it can be very complementary to what we’re doing,” Backer said. “It’s positive for that side of town. If Mr. Kim builds on what he has in a positive way, we would certainly support that.”

Sand Canyon Plaza
Tom Clark, the developer of Sand Canyon Plaza, is in regular communication with the JSB Development team.

“I think he’s getting pretty close to starting,” Backer said. “He’ll have some services there on his side of the freeway, and we have a pretty easy connection to him, so people living either place who want to go to the other – there’s some real opportunities over there for being really eco-sensitive.”

Backer has seen a lot of changes in Canyon Country in the nearly 15 years since Vista Canyon was in the idea phase. “Fair Oaks, Skyline – it’s creating energy and I think it’s turning out well,” he said. “With quality projects you get services and people have places to live and recreation and retail.”

So, how does Jim Backer answer the question, “How long will Vista Canyon take?”

He says: “People will be amazed from now to about 30 months from now, that 80 percent is built in the next three years.”

Nancy Eckels Inspired by Nature

| Sand Canyon Journal | July 3, 2018

For an artist like Nancy Eckels, whose inspiration comes, largely, from her time spent in nature, it makes sense to live in a place like Sand Canyon. When she and her husband, Don Thorne, began looking for a house, they wanted a bigger piece of property than they could find in the San Fernando Valley.

“I saw a small ad in a newspaper talking about acre-plus lots,” Eckels explained. “We came out to look, and the rest is history.”

They built a house in the canyon and moved into it in August of 1993, about six months before the 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake.

“While it was happening we thought, ‘Oh no, our brand new house is going to come down around us,’ but it, and we, survived in good shape,” she said.

That was good news in and of itself, and ever since, the couple has been happy with their decision. “We love Sand Canyon,” Eckels said. “It’s quiet and friendly.”

An artist who does mostly abstract painting and mixed media, Eckels has also dabbled in sculpture, but not often, due to a lack of time. Two decades ago, she left a 25-year career in television to pursue art full-time. She joined the Santa Clarita Artists Association, a group where she’s met and made friends with many fellow artists. Eckels will present a demonstration at the non-profit organization’s meeting next month.

The natural beauty that influences much of her work began to make its mark long ago.

“My Dad took all of us to many national parks when my sister and I were young,” Eckels said. “I’m sure the beauty of nature that I learned to appreciate with him is part of my inspiration.”

Color is important in Eckels’ artwork. “Sometimes just seeing a combination of colors will inspire a painting,” she explained. “I recently told someone at the gym that I was going to do a painting based on the colors of his shoes and socks. He probably thought I was a little strange.”
The colors of the ocean are a part of her work as well. She recently created several paintings based on tropical waters.

Her career in television production included many jobs and titles from receptionist and producer’s assistant to game show writer and associate director. Her final TV job was director on the daytime drama “The Bold and The Beautiful.”

It was that creative side that helped Eckels through a diagnosis of breast cancer five years ago. She said it was painting, her passion for poker, and her husband, Don, who got her through treatment.

“During my initial diagnosis, the Sheila Veloz Breast Center was very caring and helpful as far as getting me to the right people for my treatment. This included Dr. Gregory Senofsky, my surgeon,” said Eckels, who was also pleased with her oncologist, Dr. John Barstis, who has since retired. “My treatment has been through UCLA Oncology out here in Santa Clarita. My current doctor, who is supervising my ongoing treatment, is Dr. Rena Callahan, who I also like very much.”

Nancy plays once a week in the SCV Poker League, which she calls “a friendly group.” (SCVPoker.com)

“I also like playing a big tournament in Las Vegas every now and then,” she added.

Nancy Eckels pays it forward by offering guidance to others, including her work with the Santa Clarita Artists Association, a group Eckels applauds for staying active and giving members a way to show their creativity. She will demonstrate abstract acrylic painting at next month’s meeting at Barnes & Noble on August 20, and the public is welcome to attend (see below).

Abstract Acrylic Demo at Barnes & Noble

Nancy Eckels will demonstrate acrylic painting at the Aug 20, 2018 meeting of the Santa Clarita Artists Association (SCAA). This event is free, open to the public and meets at 6:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd. in Santa Clarita.

Since her work is totally abstract, it comes entirely from Eckels’ head, heart, and imagination, according to a release by the SCAA. Anything that has contributed to her sense of color, texture and composition becomes the basis of what eventually comes from her hands and brushes.

“A creative block is overcome only by working on your art, not sitting on a couch waiting for inspiration,” Eckels said. “My paintings are a combination of sculpture and painting. I begin with a texture medium, which I sculpt by shaping, carving and manipulating on the canvas. When I apply the texture, I keep in mind a loose composition and try to imagine what it might become. I want to make something new. I’ve often thought that abstract art is the purest form of what people consider a one-of-a-kind art.”

Eckels often experiments with combinations of color, making colors pop against each other, pulling some forward and pushing some back to create depth.

“I love making the texture, color and composition – the ONLY things I need to concentrate on when I create,” she explained. “It’s just so freeing to my imagination.”

For more information about her artwork, visit NancyEckels.com.

To attend the demonstration, arrive early, as there will likely be standing room only by 6:30 p.m. For more information about the event, visit SantaClaritaArtists.org.

Sand Canyon Real Estate News

| Sand Canyon Journal | June 29, 2018

Sand Canyon seems to be changing. Baby boomers are retiring and moving out of the area. Millennials are finally buying in. They are behind much of today’s price-resistant housing demand, as they’ve finally reached the point where they can afford a home and desire one where they can raise their families.

Raising interest rates are pushing buyers to lock in rates and find their forever homes. Interest rates are only expected to increase. Now is a great time for sellers in Sand Canyon to list their homes, because prices are up and inventory is low.

The landscape is changing with new developments such as Vista Canyon, which is also bringing in a new Metro station, Sand Canyon Plaza (at Sand Canyon and Soledad), Sand Canyon Country Club/Resort, and the City of Santa Clarita’s new Community Center in Canyon Country (on Soledad and Sierra Highway). We will finally have more restaurants, shopping options, trails, and services on our end of town.

Sand Canyon Real Estate Snapshot:
Active Listings -22
Low Price Median Price High Price
$765,000 $1,350,000 $4,750,000

Pending/Under Contract-5
Low Price Median Price High Price
$824,000 $1,288,000 $1,688,000

Low Price Median Price High Price
$905,000 $1,200,000 $2,500,000

In the last 30 days homes sold at 100.03% of their listing price. Great news!

Real Estate Broker Julie Henry specializes in Sand Canyon real estate and has been a resident for 33 years. You can reach her at 661-313-6190 or email [email protected]

Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center Meal Delivery

| Sand Canyon Journal | June 11, 2018

The mission of the SCV Senior Center is to promote quality of life for seniors, which the facility does in many ways. On top of classes, adult day programs of all kinds, trips and more, there is a reliable food delivery system.

Tom Hartmann of Sand Canyon has been giving back for a very long time, but when he retired from Lockheed Martin where he was a program director a few years ago, he decided he wanted to do more. While he and his wife, Jackie, have been active in non-profits for years, he decided to go to the next level at the SCV Senior Center.

He literally walked in the front door and asked how he could help.

“They asked me, ‘Can I help you?’ And I said, ‘The better question is How can I help you?’” Hartmann said.

He was directed to the kitchen and they made him a driver.

“The Senior Center has been so welcoming,” he said. “They clearly appreciate the volunteers and they also appreciate the seniors there. It’s just a collegial atmosphere.”

He has two regular routes and delivers mid-day meals two days a week on a regular basis. He takes on a third if they need it.

There are a total of 10 meal delivery routes from the Center. Typically drivers start as back-ups and fill-ins, Hartmann said, and he got a regular route within a few weeks.

“It’s very flexible and easy,” said Hartmann, who has lived in Canyon Country for nearly 30 years. “There’s a range of times you can show up. The routes change a little bit during the day, but for the most part, they’re pretty consistent, so you get to know the people on the route.”

The interaction with people is what makes it worthwhile to Hartmann.

“Nearly all of them are face-to-face contacts,” he said. “Sometimes a person is bed-bound, in which case we’ll go leave it for them.”

On one occasion, Hartmann delivered to a woman who was in distress and needed medical help.

“I try to at least have a short conversation, and nearly all the time that’s very much appreciated,” he said. “A lot of these people spend a lot of time by themselves. We’re advised that we may be the only person they see all day.”

The Senior Center has a kitchen where meals are prepared, and they are usually packed and ready to go, or close to being ready to go, when drivers arrive.

“When they move to a new facility early next year there will be more room in the kitchen to make more meals,” Hartmann said. “I could see the program expanding.”

If you’re interested in becoming a driver, chances are there’s an opportunity.

“You can call or just walk in like I did,” Hartmann said. “They take you out on an orientation drive … then you take a second drive and at that point you see if this is something you want to do. … I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s true – I get more out of it than I put into it.”

To get involved, contact the SCV Senior Center volunteer and recreation coordinator Robin Clough at 661-259-9444.

Sand Canyon Housing Market Update

| Sand Canyon Journal | April 17, 2018

By Tracy Hauser
Cobalt Realty Group
CalDRE# 00906411

Have you been wondering about the two new projects near us – Vista Canyon & Sand Canyon Plaza – and what their impact will be on Sand Canyon home values? Like most neighbors in the Canyon I have been very interested and have been personally talking to both developers to stay informed. If you would like to see more information, and actually hear from the developers about what they are planning, then go to my Facebook page, “The Canyon Country Come Up” and you can see interviews my team has done with both developers, and also see what other interesting things are happening in Canyon Country, like the new community center. It’s being built behind Toppers Pizza and it’s going to be fantastic!

Here is an update for the Canyon. As of late March, Sand Canyon has 14 homes for sale ranging in price from $765,000 to $2,995,000, which is less than a two-month supply of inventory. There are currently six homes in escrow ranging in price from $635,000 to $2,499,000 and over the last 90 days, nine homes have sold, ranging in price from $774,000 to $1,695,000.

Feel free to contact me with questions you have about the value of your home in today’s market. It’s hassle-free. And naturally, if you would like more info about the new developments, I am more than happy to share that with you, too.

Women in History: Costumed portrayals of historical women

| Sand Canyon Journal | April 16, 2018

Every year, PTA members at multiple schools create theatrical presentations that take kids back in time in honor of “Women in History Month.” Approximately six volunteers – usually mothers of students – appear in costumes, portraying real life women from American history.

But when a local woman takes the stage at her child’s school to recognize the achievements of a historical female, she may not realize she bears a striking resemblance to the woman she portrays: Like her character, she is taking her place in history (of the school, at least), while also making a notable achievement – capturing the imaginations of hundreds of elementary school students.

Schools in the Sulphur Springs School District all have the opportunity to take part in the program. The local chapter of the American Association of University Women decides the theme and selects the female icons to be portrayed each year, and the rest is up to the individual schools. Each site works on its own to choose presenters, create scripts, and gather costumes and props. Leona Cox Community School will hold the presentations in April this year, while volunteers at Sulphur Springs Community School performed for the kids in March.

This is the second year that Sabrina Randall was the program coordinator at Sulphur Springs. It used to be handled by Sue Hoefflin, who retired after 20 years teaching in the district.

“I was honored to be asked to coordinate Women in History because it’s an opportunity to introduce students to historical icons they don’t often get exposure to, if ever,” Randall said. “Women in History is also essential in the realization that success in any field isn’t gender or race biased. It also opens up the realization that there are multiple careers out there and how subjects students are learning in school right now can lead to their chance to enter some of the same fields as any of the icons we portray in Women in History.”

This was Tina Roberts’ second year portraying a woman in history at Sulphur Springs.
“It was just a blast, so I was happy to do it again,” said Roberts, who impersonated the wife of John F. Kennedy last year. “I put on a wig and really had the kids fooled. They really thought it was Jackie Kennedy come to life.”

In addition to the information AAUW provided last year, Roberts added her own research and created a large poster board with a timeline.

“I wanted to emphasize her as a woman, rather than the wife of Kennedy, to point out that she was an editor, and educated, and didn’t just sit on her laurels as a person in a privileged lifestyle,” said Roberts, who pulled off the look with a scarf and sunglasses. “She could’ve come off more as a debutante than a contributing person.”

This year, Roberts’ character was naturalist Joy Adamson, perhaps known best as the author of the book “Born Free.” She and her husband, George Adamson, who was a wildlife warden, lived in Kenya. They took an orphaned lion cub, Elsa, and domesticated her, but eventually realized the animal had to be set free.

“They had to reintroduce her into the wild, which hadn’t been done before,” Roberts said. “They had to teach her to be wild again.”

Joy Adamson spent much of her life serving causes associated with wildlife.

“She became an advocate for animals,” Roberts said. “She wanted to make people understand that they have personalities, they’re not just food and game.”
Roberts dressed in safari pants and set the stage with a stuffed lion and gourd art from her home, plus played the movie’s title song, “Born Free” on her computer. Recently elected recording secretary in PTA, Roberts is the mother of two children at Sulphur Springs – a son in fourth grade and a daughter in sixth grade. She is also the chair of the school’s Founders Day celebration.

“I’m impressed, in this day and age, with so much electronics, so many distractions, and about 60 kids … they were all just staring and asking questions and so engaged,” Roberts said. “It was so unexpected that you’d get that out of kids all day long.”

The volunteers who take a Women in History role year after year rarely have acting experience, just a desire to learn and pass the information onto the kids.

“I’m not an actor by any means and I felt so interested in learning about this woman,” Roberts said. “It was a great way to learn about somebody. Another woman, Rebekah Child, who did Rosalind Franklin – she did such a great job. She had to teach the kids about DNA! It’s fun to see what women come up with, as a mom and presenter.”

Randall is heading up the program at Sulphur Springs, but hasn’t participated as a presenter yet, mostly because of the enthusiasm of women around her.

“We have so many outstanding parent volunteers at Sulphur Springs who immediately come forward to portray an icon the minute roles become announced,” she said.

The other Women in History icons this year were astronaut Peggy Whitson, engineer Ellen Swallow Richards, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, and NASA research scientist Katherine Johnson.

Sand Canyon Real Estate Update

| Sand Canyon Journal | March 13, 2018

by Bob Kellar
Sand Canyon is probably one of the most unique areas in which to live in all of Santa Clarita. The main attraction is its character; Sand Canyon has what is called a Special Standards overlay. Simply stated, it is without curbs, gutters and street lights, which is exactly why so many want to live there. The lot sizes vary, with most ranging from one acre to some with as many as 10 acres; with those large lots, yes, it is very much an equestrian-friendly place to live. There are around 1,000-1,100 homes in Sand Canyon.

Presently, there are 12 homes listed for sale in Sand Canyon ranging from $750,000 to $3,000,000. Eighteen homes have sold in the last six months. Additionally, there are 18 parcels of vacant land for sale, with many offering incredible views for home sites. Prices start for as little as $150,000 to $2,750,000 for a magnificent oak-studded 40-acre parcel. By the way, did I tell you I have lived in Sand Canyon for just shy of 40 years and have no intention of ever leaving?

Currently, Kellar-Davis has 35 full time professional real estate agents working at out Canyon Country, Newhall and Friendly Valley offices. Although a small, independent company, our agents at Kellar-Davis take great pride in their work and strive to accomplish the goals of our clients. To reach Kellar-Davis Realty, call 661-299-5570 or visit KellarDavis.com.

Kellar-Davis, Inc.
16670 Soledad Canyon Rd.
Santa Clarita, 91387

Kellar-Davis, Inc
26364 Sierra Hwy Suite #C
Newhall, 91321

19310 Ave Of The Oaks Suite #C
Newhall, 91321


| Sand Canyon Journal | March 12, 2018

The Sand Canyon Homeowners Association acting secretary Ruthann Levison sent out minutes from the meeting, which was held at the Sand Canyon Country Club on February 22, 2018:

The 2018 SCHOA Board of Directors members are: Alyssa Alderman, Jennifer Jean Cacavas, Mark Donaldson, Dave Hauser, John Higby, Ruthann Levison, Dana Martin, Russell Myers, Robb Nelson, Roger Sager, Tom Schurke, Bill Schwartz, Kathie Schwartz and John Sires.

SAND CANYON TRAIL UPDATE: Mayor Laurene Weste said she has been pushing for trails since the 1970s. She reported that 400 acres of open space were acquired last fall, bringing the total to 9,500 acres. The goal is a greenbelt surrounding the Santa Clarita city borders. The Sand Canyon Trail is divided into six phases, some of which are complete. The section at Macmillan Ranch is almost complete. A couple of the remaining phases have some challenges that need to be dealt with, including needed easements and infrastructure costs, which will be dealt with one at a time. She said it is important to get the entire trail completed, since it is a “major emergency safety issue,” as well as the needed connection to nearby open space areas.

SENATOR SCOTT WILK spoke briefly about the continued Sacramento “bipartisan” fight to keep CEMEX from mining on the eastern border of Canyon Country. However, this is now in the “federal” domain – the Bureau of Land Management. He continues to work closely with the City of Santa Clarita on behalf of residents.

LA County Sheriff’s Dept. Captain Robert Lewis has lived in SCV for all of his 53 years, and has seen it grow immensely, he said. There are now 293,000 residents, with 39 deputies on duty any given day. He tracked 42 incidents in which residents helped “catch the bad guy.” The Santa Clarita Valley is divided into eight zones, and Sand Canyon is the eastern part of Zone 8. The best way citizens can help is: “If you see something, say something!”
He said that when reporting an incident to the Sheriff’s Department, you should provide vehicle license plates, a good vehicle description, location, description of person(s) involved and any other pertinent information such as time and date.

The crime total for Sand Canyon so far, in 2018, is zero; for 2017 there were 28 crimes; and in 2016 there were 33 crimes. Capt. Lewis said Sand Canyon is definitely safer than most other areas, but there is always room for improvement. Of course, due to limited resources, the deputies handle the more serious crimes first.

Increased traffic on Sand Canyon was a big subject of concern for residents who request more patrols. The department would like to hire more deputies, he said, but too few individuals have applied lately. Last year, there were 98 citations for speed on Sand Canyon Road. One canyon resident complained about the “Waze” traffic app that detours cars down Sand Canyon and Placerita Canyon roads from the 14 Freeway. On one occasion, he personally counted 1,100 cars going through the stop sign at Lost Canyon/Sand Canyon between 6 a.m.-7 a.m. The California Highway Patrol covers 674 square miles and has about 25-30 officers on duty any given day.

John Sires, who is a SCHOA board member and a “commercial security professional,” gave a presentation with safety tips to make your home less inviting. SCHOA provided a “hand out” list of the tips. Highlight from the list included:
– Minimize your risk potential
– Situational awareness
– Motion sensor lights
– Cameras in yard

LA County Fire Dept. Interim Chief Anderson Mackey introduced himself as the new assistant fire chief. He has 30 years on the job and is now responsible for 25 fire stations. He is committed to continuing the relationship established between the LA County Fire Dept. and the Emergency FireSafe Council Executive Command.


Arklin Movie Ranch: Steve Arklin has been in Santa Clarita since the 1950s. He is building an 8,400-square-foot barn/office building (1880s style) on the corner of Placerita Canyon and Sand Canyon Roads. The barn will consist of offices, a conference room and hall. All parking will be located on the ranch property. There will not be any increased traffic to the canyon and he is adhering to all the same restrictions that affect other homeowners in the canyon. He is hoping the project will be completed within one year.

Sand Canyon Country Club: Owner Steve Kim gave a short presentation to announce the beginning of his proposed development. He will be inviting everyone to an in-depth presentation in the near future, where he can hear your questions and concerns. Additionally, there will be public meetings as he goes through the development process.
Presentation highlights include:
Hotel – 308 rooms
2,500 sf spa & sauna
2 ballrooms & 8 meeting rooms
4 restaurants
9 hole Par-3 golf course
2 tennis & 4 pickle ball courts
adult & kids’ swimming pools

Sand Canyon Plaza: Tom Clark has been involved since 1985 with the project, which was approved by the Planning Commission in 2017. Details include:
50 acres usable
284 homes (approx 3,000 sf)
312 apartments
140 units of assisted living space
60,000 sf of retail
Grading starting May/June 2018 and completed by end of year.
Possibly 2-3 years of construction

Vista Canyon Ranch: Steve Valenziano and Glenn Adamick reported on the project, started in 2006. Entitlements were received in 2010, and land development began in 2015.
Water reclamation will be done in 2018
First office/retail bldg will be completed Dec. 2018
200-room business type hotel
6-story & 5-story corporate buildings
Metrolink/Bus transit facilities
Bridge over River (construction start 2019 Qtr 2)
Sand Canyon Roundabout (construction start 2018 Qtr 4)
Vista Canyon Park (construction start 2018 Qtr 4) The park will be turned over to the City of Santa Clarita upon completion, and 10 miles of multi-purpose trails are contained within the park and around the development.

College Freshmen Benefit from SCCC Donation

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | March 12, 2018

Steve Kim, the CEO of Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country, presented a check for $50,000 to College of the Canyons’ First-Year Promise program (FYP) last month. Students in the FYP program are full-time freshmen and receive waived tuition and fees during their first year at COC.

The Sand Canyon Country Club Scholars contribution is a two-year commitment, which will support 50 FYP students.

“We are very grateful for Sand Canyon Country Club’s donation toward the First-Year Promise program,” said Steve Corn, chairman of the COC Foundation. “This sizable donation will make the dreams and goals of 50 FYP students a reality.”

Aside from receiving free tuition, FYP students enroll in a one-year sequence of courses with priority registration, preceded by summer orientation to learn about majors and receive academic guidance. FYP courses are offered with the benefits of Open Educational Resources (OER) textbooks and other learning community elements.

“Obtaining an education can open doors and lead to success,” said Kim. “It is my honor to support College of the Canyons in its goal to make high-quality education accessible to all students, regardless of their financial situation.”

Each student receives a $100 voucher per semester that can be applied toward other supplies and instructional materials. In addition, participating students also benefit from ongoing counseling and student support to help them reach their academic goals. Applications for the 2018 First-Year Promise class will be available April 1.

To ensure the continued success of FYP, which launched in the fall, the COC Foundation has committed to fundraising $500,000 over the next two years. For more information about the program and how to make a donation, visit Firstyearpromise.com.

Sand Canyon Market Update

| Sand Canyon Journal | January 30, 2018

By Tracy Hauser
Cobalt Realty Group

As 2018 gets rolling along, some people are wondering how the new tax codes are going to affect them, especially when it comes to real estate. One of the new tax codes reduces the limit on deductible mortgage debt to $750,000 for new loans taken out after Dec. 14, 2017, but current loans up to $1 million are grandfathered.

The inventory in the Canyon as of early January is low, with only 12 homes currently listed, ranging in price from $650,000 up to $2,998,850. There are 5 homes in escrow as of early January, ranging in price from a short sale at $685,000 up to a semi-custom home with guesthouse and 15-car garage at $1,695,000. Over the last six months, 21 homes have closed escrow ranging in price from $675,000 up to $1,425,000, with the average days on the market being 147.

Below are comments from an economist weighing in on the upcoming year, in relationship to the new tax codes. Low inventory is still a huge factor in our local market and will continue to be for some time. Calculated Risk’s Bill McBride weighed in on the subject. Here are some highlights:
The impact of reducing the MID from a maximum of $1 million in mortgage debt to $750,000 in mortgage debt will have very little impact on the housing market.
State and local taxes (SALT) will have an impact on housing in some areas. Some people might choose to live in one state over another (if they have a choice) based on taxation. This could impact demand in certain states – especially for the middle and upper-middle class homeowners.
The corporate tax cuts (and other tax cuts) will mostly benefit the wealthy, and this will be a positive for high-end real estate.
There will be some negative impact based on SALT, but overall, the impact of these policy changes on housing will be minimal.

Update on Developments

| Sand Canyon Journal | January 22, 2018

Vista Canyon Update
When Sand Canyon residents pass through the four-way stop, they can get a glimpse of the 185-acre site of Vista Canyon, but it isn’t easy to monitor progress from a distance. Canyon Country Magazine got an update from JSB Development at the beginning of the year.

Site Prep for Homes
Preparation should be completed this year for a developer to move forward with the construction and sale of 322 detached and attached homes. By the middle of the year, preliminary roadwork and installation of underground utilities should be completed.

Afterward, home parcels will be turned over to the homebuilder(s) and final designs – which are subject to city and master developer approval – permitting and lot preparation will be completed, followed by model home construction. According to JSB Development, the group of homes should be characteristic of those found in emerging walkable, transit-focused neighborhoods.

Construction of 3-Story Office Building
With expected use as a commercial/retail center, construction is underway on Santa Clarita’s newest office building – a cornerstone of Vista Canyon’s Lincoln Place. It will be three stories and 56,000 square feet, and designed by Gensler, architect behind Facebook’s corporate headquarters, KCET Studios, and the Abu Dhabi Financial Center.

The aim for the reinforced concrete building is to provide upscale office, retail and entertainment space for the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley. There are six three-story buildings planned for Vista Canyon’s town square, and this initial building is expected to open by the end of the year.

Builder Chosen for Apartments
Multi-family home developer JPI will build 480 luxury apartments in 13 acres of Vista Canyon’s centralized town square. Floor plans will be available in studio size, as well as those with one, two or three bedrooms. In the long-range plans for Vista Canyon, the developer’s selling point of the apartments includes “the convenience of a city center address located just steps from shops, coffeehouses, cafes, corporate offices, entertainment and transit.”

JPI Western Region is based in San Diego and has developed communities in Arizona and California, including Mission Bay and Jefferson Stadium Park.

Water Reclamation Plant
As planned, Vista Canyon is constructing a water reclamation facility to make more water available each year. It will be the only water plant in the state that is privately built and funded. It is designed to exceed state mandates and aims to achieve net zero water consumption levels to advance long-term sustainability in the community.

Once constructed, the plant will be a part of Castaic Lake Water Agency’s recycled water system and will be turned over to the City of Santa Clarita for operation. Construction of the facility should be completed by the end of 2018, followed by a several-month period of testing and certification. Target timeframe for turnover to the City of Santa Clarita is fourth quarter of 2019.

The recycled water facility will serve Vista Canyon and other “non potable water uses” such as irrigation for landscaping, parks and medians, in the surrounding area. The facility is part of Phase 2B of SCV Water Agency’s (formerly CLWA) Recycled Water Master plan. The water agency determines the specific areas that the excess water will service.

Site Prep for Second Bus Station
A part of the Vista Canyon site is being prepared for transportation purposes. When ready, the parcel will be handed over to the City of Santa Clarita to establish a second bus station. The only bus station currently is the McBean Regional Transit Center.
Sand Canyon Plaza
The corner opposite Vons on Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon is starting to change. Mobile homes have disappeared and have been replaced by signs of construction. The new project, Sand Canyon Plaza, is underway since its approval last September, which followed five public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Santa Clarita City Council. Developer Tom Clark has permits in process for grading and construction of buildings, while clearing the site in preparation for breaking ground in the second quarter of this year.

Sand Canyon Plaza is a mixed-use project on approximately 87 acres planned as 580 dwelling units, which are comprised of single-family and attached multi-family units. There are 60,000 square feet of retail space in the plan – primarily restaurants situated around a water feature – and a 130-bed, 80,000-square-foot assisted living facility. The project will also include three private recreation areas, commercial plaza areas, private streets, driveways, parking and landscaped areas.

“We have made several changes to the project over the last two years based on input from the community, city staff and the Planning Commission,” Clark explained. “Recent changes have included increasing the size of the commercial square footage, the provision of additional parking, and the creation of a two-acre park, which will include a pool, jacuzzi, club house, barbecue, fireplace, basketball court, dog park and trails.”

It was rumored that Sand Canyon Plaza would receive water from Vista Canyon’s water reclamation plant, but Castaic Lake Water Agency plans to distribute the recycled water off-site into Fair Oaks Ranch instead. They are not proposing to utilize the water at this stage to properties east of Vista Canyon such as Sand Canyon Plaza.

“However, we will be incorporating all of the city’s green building requirements into the project, including the use of drought-tolerant landscaping, low-flow fixtures and other water conservation strategies,” Clark said.

Water for Sand Canyon Plaza will come from Santa Clarita Water Division and the project will connect to the existing public sewer system.

“We made a point early on to reach out to the surrounding community,” Clark said. “The feedback has been very positive. Additionally, the public outreach process has really resulted in the creation of a project that will be an asset to this part of town.”

Sand Canyon Christmas Gift – SRD Straightening Reins

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | December 13, 2017

In this season of giving there are many examples of generosity, and here in Sand Canyon, a local non-profit is grateful for a new home. If you’ve noticed a sudden flurry in the corrals at the ranch on Sand Canyon and Lost Canyon roads, it may be the presence of SRD Straightening Reins. The organization offers mental well-being and hope to at-risk teens through equine therapy.

Previously located on the other side of the Santa Clarita Valley, the SRD board of directors completed a yearlong review of finances and programs, finding a Canyon Country property that better met their needs.

“After reviewing multiple ranch locations, our Sand Canyon facility met the criteria — improved accessibility, transition feasibility, and a decrease in overhead costs,” said Deborah S. Rocha, SRD Straightening Reins executive director.

Rocha founded the non-profit in 2011 after the death of her daughter, Samantha Rocha Dyer, who had struggled with mental illness. Her initials became the moniker for the organization — SRD.

Clients are from the Santa Clarita Valley, students at many of the middle schools and high schools. Both the teens and their families take advantage of SRD’s programs. Youth who participate there range in age from 5 through 22 years, in addition to parents. Currently, there are 14 participating in equine-assisted psychotherapy, known as EAP. There are weekly groups for foster youth, domestic violence center clients, individuals from the department of children and family services, and teens known as Ranch Crew.

About 6-10 young people and 6-8 adults volunteer their time every week, providing supervision, maintenance of animals and the facility, advertising, data entry, a food recovery program, and fundraising, among other tasks.

SRD board member Susan Lopez became involved when her son, Eric, needed hours for Honor Society at Canyon High School.

“SRD is a wonderful place for children 8-18 to volunteer and give back to the community,” Susan Lopez said. “There weren’t very many non-profits in SCV (at that time) that had ongoing opportunities to volunteer for students under 14 years of age. After the first year, I fell in love with the cause and difference SRD made, and continues to make, in the lives of those who become involved, either as a volunteer or recipient of services.”

Deborah Rocha and her son live on the property as caretakers for SRD’s herd.

“The Hanson family has been wonderful and have already become part of our SRD programs,” Rocha said. “Our herd came with us from our original facility, as they’ve been chosen specifically for helping others heal.”

Like most charities, SRD Straightening Reins relies on donations to survive.

“Without our donors we’d be nothing. They’re the peanut butter to our jelly,” Rocha said. “Just because we have a great mission doesn’t guarantee that we’ll be around for years. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s just that: reality.”

The SRD Straightening Reins board made decisions that cut expenses by a third, Rocha said, including pulling up stakes in San Francisquito Canyon. It was a big job with a team of people assisting.

“We are fortunate to find an owner of a location that believes in our mission that we can afford,” Lopez said. “Moving to a new location was more out of necessity, rather than desire. Sustainable funding is a challenge for any nonprofit, especially one that has only been in existence five years.”

Rocha has been able to continue by forming partnerships and seeking out businesses, organizations and individuals who have like-minded goals about mental health education and treatment.

“Honestly, most other challenges pale in comparison to our need for funding to keep our doors open and accomplish our mission,” she said.

The organization has worked in the lives of many local families to address behavioral issues and reduce teen suicide.

“I’m not sure those who hear about SRD understand the multitude of benefits this nonprofit provides to youth in need of services or a safe place  to hang out, do homework or ranch chores,” Lopez explained, “where kids can be themselves without judgment.”

Rocha wants to bring the problem of mental health challenges into the open and garner more community awareness.

“We work with mental health in our community, and we have a difficult time getting media/community support,” she said. “Mental health is a very sensitive subject … and the dirty little secret of many families.”

For more information, visit srdstraighteningreins.org.

Sand Canyon Real Estate Market Update

| Sand Canyon Journal | December 9, 2017

by Tracy Hauser

Amazing to believe we’re almost to the end of 2017!!!!! And what a year we have had, too. Home values are still on the rise and inventory is still very limited in some price points. Currently there are 18 homes listed in Sand Canyon, ranging in price from $665,000 up to $2,998,850. As of November 27 there are 10 homes in escrow and, so far this year, 36 homes have sold in the canyon, ranging in price from a little tear-down at $399,900 to the Quail Manor Estate, with its 8 bedrooms and 8 baths in more than 8,000 square feet, selling at $2,650,000.

Barring a catastrophic event next year, all indications are pointing to home values rising another 4, 5, or 6 percent-plus next year. Santa Clarita is very appealing to home buyers coming from other parts of Los Angeles County looking for a good value and a clean, safe place to live. Take, for example, what homes from 1,100-1,600 square feet are selling for in Burbank. Over the last 90 days, 68 homes have sold in this criteria ranging from $560,000-$925,000 and most of these homes were built in the 1940s & 1950s — charming, but not the best floor plans to live in.

If you’re a long-term local and have lived here 30-plus years like I have, you too can remember Santa Clarita before the Town Center Mall, plus the numerous parks, bike and walking trails, among other amenities. As our town keeps getting better, our home values keep going up because we’re attracting new residents who see the great value in this community.

For more information about what’s happening, join “The Canyon Country Come Up” Facebook page, where my team and I will be posting more about Sand Canyon Plaza, Vista Canyon and other upcoming projects in town.

661-254-2055 – Office • 661-755-1960 – Direct • www.TracyTeam.com • 23929 Valencia Blvd Suite 311

Sand Canyon Real Estate

| Sand Canyon Journal | November 15, 2017

by Julie Henry

The fall real estate market in Sand Canyon is almost always a hot season. Home selling in autumn or fall is the second best time of the year to sell a home. Families have returned from summer vacations. Kids have gone back to school. The holidays aren’t yet upon us, at least not yet in an annoying way. We are set to enjoy 75 to 80 days of normalcy, and that›s a great time to sell a  home.

People are happy and relaxed as the temperature begins to drop. It’s not just sweater weather that creates static electricity in autumn; it’s the scurrying of agents diligently working to pop a few more sales into the hopper before third quarter sales results are posted.

Here are a few tips for attracting the autumn home buyer in the fall:

Clean Up the Yard — Rake dead leaves and debris in your lawn. Don’t let overgrown vegetation block the windows or path to the entrance.

Create Autumn Curb Appeal — The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums (or mums), and they bloom for a long time. I am also partial to marigolds for fall.

Utilize Autumn Accent Colors — You don’t need to dump a lifeless sofa when you can accessorize its dullness

with bright red, orange and/or golden yellow pillows. Toss a quilt or autumn-colored throw over a chair

From Our House to Yours, may you have a Peaceful and Love filled Thanksgiving Holiday.

Real Estate Broker Julie Henry specializes in Sand Canyon real estate and has been a resident for 33 years.
You can reach her at 661-313-6190 or email [email protected]


Snap Shot for Sand Canyon Real Estate from August–October 2017
Homes Listed: 28 High-$2,998,850 Median-$1,193,000 Low-$655,000

Homes Pending in Escrow: 8
High-$1,279,000 Median-$1,1017,973 Low-$685,000

Homes Sold: 7 High-$1,310,000 Median-$1,137,000 Low- $1,020,000

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