Real Estate Reality Check – The Winds of Change

| Sand Canyon Journal | March 20, 2017

First of all, there is nothing like owning your own home; it’s certainly not something enjoyed by all around the world. Many people choose to rent a home, however, as it is less responsibility, and often times it is more financially the right thing to do. Residential real estate prices are always in a state of change. They go up and they go down. The same with interest rates – up and down. Presently we are in a market that is going up: In 2016, housing showed about a 5 percent increase and is expected to go up another 3 percent this year.

Traditionally, in Southern California residential sales are at their peak during the spring and summer. Presently, the housing inventory is low in Santa Clarita, which is consistent with rising prices. The National Association of Realtors indicates that the inventory of existing homes for sale a few months ago had dropped more than 9 percent in one year, to the lowest total since the year 2000. Sellers are in a strong position to make a good gain on their home investment. Remember, sellers, you will make even more on your home investment by making the home shine. That is to say, make your home look as similar as possible to what you find when going into the models of a new home development. In today’s market if you price it right you should have no trouble finding a buyer. Your professional real estate agent can assist you with establishing your home’s value.

If you have been setting money aside for buying a home, your timing is also very good. Interest rates are still very attractive, compared to years in the past. However, they are showing signs of going up and the higher they go, the more affordability goes down. The right home is out there for you, but sometimes it takes a little patience, so don’t get discouraged. Also, it is always recommended to talk with your tax consultant when making a substantial purchase such as a home. Your professional real estate agent can be a big help to you in getting through the process of buying a home. They are glad to sit down with you and provide guidance without charge.

Sand Canyon Market Update

| Sand Canyon Journal | February 15, 2017

by Tracy Hauser

The Sand Canyon lifestyle is very unique and not for everyone. We still have a rural feel, with dirt roads and horse trails in some areas, plus lots of open space between homes. I have found that people either get this lifestyle or they don’t!

In 2016, 50 new homeowners did “get it” and moved into Sand Canyon. Last year, homes sold anywhere from $581,000 (an old shack in Iron Canyon sold for land value) to $1,750,000. As of late January 2017, there are 22 homes for sale ranging in price from $719,000 up to $4,400,000. If you have been thinking about selling your home this year, don’t wait until spring when everyone else is putting their homes up for sale … beat the rush and get on the market this winter, while both inventory and interest rates are still low.

We still have some more winter weather ahead of us and if you have suffered storm damage, you can go to www.211LA.org and click on the banner for Damage Assessment Survey. Residents can also call 211 to complete a Damage Assessment Survey and get information & referrals for assistance. The website also gives up-to-date weather outlooks, road closures and information on emergency preparedness.


Community Emergency Response Training

| Sand Canyon Journal | February 15, 2017

While her friends may have longed to live in a mansion or pined away for a palace, Toni Shelton had a big dream of her own: a tiny house.

Inspired by such TV shows as “Tiny House Nation” and HGTV’s “Tiny House Hunters,” Shelton got in touch with one of the reality show contractors and hired him to build her “tiny dream house.”

“I designed it and had it built. It’s got a bedroom on the first level and a washer, stove, oven, hardwood floors and a barn door for my bathroom,” said the Canyon Country resident. “I have the tiniest house on wheels.”

At the moment, Shelton’s tiny house is without a home. It sits on a trailer in a storage unit until she finds a piece of land to rent where she can place her house and live in it.

Now that her four children are grown – her youngest, Carl, graduates from Canyon High School in a few months – she decided to move forward with the home she had saved her money to build.

“They didn’t believe me. They said, ‘Mom, you’re crazy,’” Shelton recalled.

The whole experience was brand new territory, and she wasn’t sure how to even begin, so she turned to her computer.

“I started doing some research online to find a builder. I saw a builder on HGTV and I was in awe of his work,” she said. “You could tell he put a lot of love in his work. It was like love at first sight. He was detail-oriented – from the wood to the light fixtures, to the flooring. I thought, ‘I’ve got to call him, I’ve got to call him.’”

That’s just what she did. Shelton contacted Doug Schroeder at Timbercraft Tiny Homes in Guntersville, Alabama. And though he was booked up, she got on his list and gave him a deposit.

The website for Timbercraft Tiny Homes reminds you why you might consider a house like Shelton’s, especially with taglines like: “Downsized living is all about making time for things that matter.”

The company customizes the tiny houses, taking 8-10 weeks for construction following the design phase. They also build bumper pull trailers from 16-28 feet long for hauling the houses, and customers have access to gooseneck trailers for up to 39 feet in length.

When Shelton heard it was built and ready to be picked up, she had a friend from Chicago fly in to drive with her to Alabama to get her new house – a 4,500-mile trip in less than three days. They hurried, because her friend had to return to work.

When Shelton first laid eyes on the house, she actually thought it looked large. It is 8 ½ feet by 24 feet, weighs 14,000 pounds and has two levels.

“We got stopped along the way, people were pulling to the side of us, following us, stalking us – it was like that the whole way,” she said.

That part of the adventure is over, and since November the house has been in storage.

“I’m still in awe of it,” she said. “I go and visit it like it’s a family member.”

It sleeps 5-8 people tightly, and when she moves in she will be downsizing quite a bit. Shelton will be moving from a 3-bedroom, 3-bath house to her 192-square-foot custom home. Luckily, she designed it with a lot of built-in storage, mostly for her shoes, clothes and photos, she said.

Shelton’s children live in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, but she is established here in Canyon Country. Shelton moved here because she had a friend who “lived in the area and loved it,” she said. “It’s family-oriented and safe for children.”

She has her own event planning/promotions/photography business. Shelton is also a prolific formal model, who has appeared in everything from billboards to music videos.

Right now, however, her attention is fixed on one appearance: finding the perfect home for her new house.

If you have some land available for rent, contact Toni Shelton by emailing Tsprodhouse@gmail.com.

Sand Canyon Journal: Traffic Update

| Sand Canyon Journal | December 12, 2016

The following is the full response from Gail Morgan, communications manager for the City of Santa Clarita regarding the plan for a roundabout at the intersection of Sand Canyon and Lost Canyon roads.

The proposed roundabout at Sand Canyon Road and Lost Canyon Road will be constructed as part of the Vista Canyon Ranch development. During the development and review process for Vista Canyon Ranch, several traffic control options were evaluated for the Sand Canyon Road/Lost Canyon Road intersection. These included a traffic signal, a modern roundabout, and the existing multi-way stop. It was determined that a modern roundabout would provide the most efficient traffic flow and highest degree of safety compared to the other options.

A properly designed roundabout installed in an appropriate location has many advantages over a traditional signalized intersection. Roundabouts typically have a lower collision rate than signalized intersections, due to lower traffic speeds and fewer vehicle conflicts. For the same reasons, roundabouts also generally experience fewer pedestrian collisions. Since there are no traffic signals at a roundabout, there is usually less congestion and delay, which results in lower vehicle emissions and improved air quality. Roundabouts also have lower electricity and maintenance costs, since there is no traffic signal equipment to power or maintain.

The modern roundabout that is currently being designed for the Sand Canyon Road/Lost Canyon Road intersection will be able to accommodate both current traffic volumes and patterns, as well as future traffic flow anticipated to occur with the development of Vista Canyon Ranch. The ability to accommodate both current and future traffic conditions is another reason a roundabout was deemed a superior alternative to either a traffic signal or multi-way stop.

We realize that roundabouts are unfamiliar to some motorists, but experience at the roundabout in downtown Newhall, as well as from other cities, indicates that motorists quickly become accustomed to these types of intersections.

Sand Canyon Road is a two-lane arterial roadway with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour. Additional stop signs would not be appropriate along such a roadway for purposes of reducing cut-through or diverted traffic. Stop signs are typically installed to regulate traffic flow and improve safety. Their main purpose is to provide right-of-way control at intersections and reduce accidents. The use of stop signs as a means to reduce cut-through or diverted traffic is typically limited to residential neighborhoods and other low-speed, low-volume situations.

Please contact us at Canyon Country Magazine with further concerns, both about traffic and related issues, as well as new topics.

We had a vigorous response from our last discussion concerning additional traffic on Sand Canyon. Thank you for your feedback! We do intend to continue monitoring the traffic issue during peak hours. Let us know if you see any changes and if you observe a lessening of congestion due to Vasquez Canyon Road reopening.

We want to publicly thank Ruthann Levison of SCHOA for her tremendous help in facilitating feedback from residents. It is a great benefit to have community discussion about such important affairs.

We hope to be a conduit for finding solutions to issues we face together in the canyon. Please email Jean@santaclaritagazette.com with all of your local concerns.

Sand Canyon Traffic

| Sand Canyon Journal | November 4, 2016

Canyon Country Magazine recently polled residents of the Sand Canyon area via email regarding commuter traffic. We were not surprised at the many responses from people who find the increased traffic both a headache and a danger. But what was surprising was the volume of common thoughts about solving the problem. Here we present to you a brief look into what the neighborhood is saying. It is clear that respondents would like to see something done. What follows are excerpts from the numerous responses, worded the way we received them:

*I feel like I take my life in my hands when I try to turn onto Sand Canyon from our street, Alamo Canyon. I’m positive when this road was put in the designers never would have imagined the amount of traffic and the speeds.

*We suspect an internet traffic routing app is to blame for this sudden increase in vehicle numbers. A sharp increase in cars illegally passing multiple vehicles on this curvy canyon has the potential to lead to deadly head on collisions with residents.
commuters coming off the 14 treat Sand Canyon like a freeway. I frequently see cars tailgating cars in front (who are going the speed limit) then getting frustrated and cross the double yellow lines to speed past them…often dangerously into oncoming traffic.

*This has created a very dangerous situation for drivers and takes away from the country atmosphere that brought us to Sand Canyon and has turned Sand Canyon into the likes of a busy freeway!

*There are many blind turns and dangerous locations along both Sand Canyon and Placerita Canyon that restrict the visibility of oncoming traffic, road conditions and the ever important ability to navigate the endless sea of bicyclists. Add to the burden of these existing hazards, the need for local residences’ to merge from side streets and blind driveways and we find ourselves living in a community that no longer has the feeling of safety and a rural homeliness. 

*Don’t really know just why now it is happening, although I suspect it’s a combination of factors, especially the traffic congestion on Soledad

*The stop sign can slow them down, but with the Sheriff waving people through,it makes it hard for me to turn onto Sand Canyon.
*The majority of the non residents are speeding and some regularly are passing over the Double Yellow illegally to pass people that are driving the speed limit. We used to see fairly regular CHP presence on Placerita Cyn between Sand and the 14 which helped a little, but they have not been visible for a couple of years now.

*I would rather see restrictive measures put in place before there is a bad accident caused by these unsafe drivers that do not belong here in the first place. Our Canyon is not a Freeway or Highway. It is our neighborhood and needs to be treated as such.
Sometimes I literally wait five minutes before somewhat pulling out in front of someone!

*The wear and tear on both Sand Canyon and Placerita  Canyon are negatively impacted by the additional traffic.  Potholes on Placerita have become a big issue, the other day six vehicles were pulled to the side of the road with flat tires due to a new overnight pothole!  I barely escaped a flat but it damaged my cars alignment.

*The traffic does affect us with noise, pollution, danger to our kids who have to get to school.  We are very discourages with how the increased heavy traffic is affecting the whole canyon area. 

*Yes, we support restricting use of Sand Canyon Road during rush hour!  I cannot for the life of me imagine why deputies are posted to wave traffic through.  It is nearly impossible for my family and me to make the necessary left-hand turn onto Sand Canyon off of our street because there is no break in the traffic …

*One morning when I was finally able to enter the lane on Sand Canyon, the car behind me was so irate at my speed limit of 45 that he passed over the double yellow lines, swerved in front of me and ran me off of the road, causing myself and the car behind me to be forced into the dirt.

*The other concern is the speeding and overtaking above the posted limit.I can only imagine what it will be like when the new development is completed at the end of Lost Canyon with an additional 11,000 homes to impact that early morning traffic. We definitely need more law enforcement around at that time of day. Traffic lights would slow everyone down. However Sand Canyon residents moved to the area to get away from that type of thing. We really hope someone can come up with a good suggestion.

*At 6:00am average speed 60 to 70 mph! Lots of dangerous passing

*Amazing traffic….a line of cars racing toward Placerita longer than you can see, bumper to bumper hell bent on getting through to the 14 via Sand Canyon, as fast as they can.   They honk at cars that respect the speed limit, race around them across the double yellow lines, at speeds that exceed 65 mph. God forbid some person would walk their dog during that time.

*We only moved here 2 years ago, We love the neighborhood, but had no idea about the traffic on Sand Canyon when we moved here.

*Though, I do feel restricting the commuters would help. I feel much stronger and concerned about safety during school hours, children/parents drop-off and pick-up directly on Sand Canyon which adds to the congestion. , this intersection when is school is getting out or in. There is no crossing guard so the kids and parents just keep streaming across the street and never giving cars a chance. That is why the traffic backs all the way across the wash and passed the church on the south side.

*Our quiet, secluded and safe little Canyon has become congested,  open to the public, and a traffic hazard.

*The families that live in the Sand Canyon area moved there to get away from the rush of the city only to have the city come to them. This is small community and it is now the cut off for thousands coming in from the Antelope Valley areas.  Not proportionate in any way. Finally because of the increased traffic Placerita Canyon road is taking a heavy toll and the condition of the road is deteriorating quickly. Will those commuters pays for the use?  

*Let’s also mention that when you follow the speed limits set these outsiders race around you with no care of your life, the wild life, or anybody else.

*The problem is with the city, It seems to me that they only go as far as the west side with with their street widening or cross valley connector and no further.  Again Canyon Country is being treated like the red headed step child of the area. Also why hasn’t the city of for that matter the county pushed the state of California to improve the 14?

Solutions Suggested

*I believe one answer would be to install Stop Signs at Live Oak Springs, Condor Ridge and Iron Canyon This would Discourage people from cutting through from the 14 and would slow everyone down so we would be saving lives in the future and at all hours Day and Night.

*Speeding tickets will slow cars so cross traffic will have a chance.

*Perhaps a gated arm at Lost Canyon and Sand Canyon?  For residents or visitors only?

*Speed bumps to slow down the rush traffic.  I hate them but the traffic coming thru is purely commuter.  The speeds are scary.
*Traffic Throttles (pinch points) The narrowing of a two-way road over a short distance to a single lane. Sometimes these are used in conjunction with a speed table and coincident with a pedestrian crossing.

*Mini-roundabout (traffic circle) Small roundabouts situated at an intersection. Some have raised centers, others are just painted circles on the road. 
*Entry Treatment Across Intersections Surface alterations at side road intersections, generally using brickwork, setts or other textured surface materials. Level of the road may be raised to the level of the sidewalk. 

*Textured Surface The use of nonasphalt surface such as setts, brickwork, paving or cobbles to reinforce the concept of a traffic restricted area. 

*Reallocated Road Space for bicyclists Many of the unsafe conditions to our roads can be attributed to motorists and bicyclists using the same road space. 

*My personal feeling is there should be a traffic light – plain and simple – at that intersection. Placerita should always be an alternative for when the 14 has a problem, but that intersection at Lost Canyon is a mess because of the STOP sign.

*Not have the sheriff there relieving the congestion on Lost Canyon.  I know it’s a hassle but if the commuters realize that    Sand Canyon is not a good alternative, they will stay on the fwy. Put a sheriff on Sand Canyon and slow the speeders down

*Install stop signs at Live Oak Springs and Iron Canyon

*The police need to be out every day writing tickets!!!!! Not directing traffic thru at Lost canyon.
?  Make this a gated community – have a gate with something equal to a Fast Pass – where residents can pass through without stopping.
Also, we need improvements (additional lane) on the SB14 Fwy between Sand Canyon and the 5 Fwy,

*There should be a traffic break in the middle of sand canyon.  Either a light timed to activation during the high volume times in the am and pm, or at least a stop sign

*Try speed bumps every ¼ mile (that would be a non-labor intensive way of discouraging traffic and speeding), a gate at Lost Canyon, cameras that take pictures of speed violators, or how about police actually enforcing the law ?  What a concept.

*My view is that the City of Santa Clarita should 1), erect a sign at the Golden Valley exit from the 14 Southbound indicating that is a way to get to the 5 northbound in order to relieve pressure on the 14; 2) install traffic sensors to adjust traffic light timings on Soledad Canyon Road when the 14 is congested; and 3) build bus pull-ins on Soledad Canyon Road Westbound in order to avoid lane blockages and lane swapping whenever the bus stops.

*The cost of signs, sensors, and pulls-ins could be paid for by stopping the program of rebuilding the median every two years

*If we can’t eliminate the Antelope Valley commuters from cutting through then how about adding more stop signs to slow them down? Or maybe adding speed bumps like they have on the lower section of Placerita Cyn.

*A barrier like is at the top of Calgrove/Valley in Newhall, allowing entrance only from one side to non-residents

*I do think we should restrict motorists who don’t live in the area. This has been done off Balboa where the same issue occurred, along with other residential areas throughout Los Angeles

*More stop signs along Sand Canyon starting at Live Oak Springs Canyon Rd and continuing south on Sand Cyn, placing them on other busier cross streets.  It would break up traffic flow and give drivers an opportunity to turn onto Sand Cyn.  It may possibly discourage the commuters who would then have to contend with all of the stop signs and for sure it would slow traffic down, in general improving safety overall.  

*“heavy, but selective” enforcement is all it takes. Enforce for everything from “no front license plate”, expired licenses, no turn signal, no seal belts, to cell phone usage, to 5 miles over, tinted windows, and so on. Make it very inconvenient to travel the canyon (Placerita and Sand)

*We would support ideas that would restrict traffic on Sand Canyon as a thoroughfare for Hwy 14 — and maintain our Canyon Road to be safe for residents and animals.

*Let’s make Sand Canyon a gated community.

*Installing gates that are closed and secure at SAND CANYON AND LOST CANYON, then installing signs at the start of the bridge stating “SAND CANYON RESIDENTS ONLY, NO THROUGH TRAFFIC.” We can even include a Specific Time Frame on the Signs, Bel-Air, Hollywood Hills and other Cities have this.

*Placerita has a gate at one end of the canyon to prevent cross through traffic. Why can’t Sand Canyon?

*Reduced speed limits on Sand during the 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. timeframe with enforcement present.

The following is the response we received from Santa Clarita city officials upon forwarding a summary of residents’ feedback.

There are a number of factors that account for the recent increase of traffic volume occurring in this area. Since November of 2015, Vasquez Canyon Road has been closed due to a landslide which made the road unsafe for motorists. … The County is working diligently to get the road reopened. Unfortunately, while it is closed, motorists often use Whites Canyon Road, Soledad Canyon Road, and Sierra Highway as a detour. … Another factor is the proximity of Soledad Canyon Road to the State Route 14 Freeway. As heavy traffic congests the freeway, motorists will again seek alternate routes and use our streets, adding to the existing traffic. This is occurring more often with the popularity of traffic apps like WAZE.

It is important to note the City has been working in partnership with the Sheriff’s Station to address the rise in traffic volume and the unsafe driving behaviors on these roadways for the past few months.

The City’s Traffic division has recently installed two electronic speed feedback signs on Sand Canyon Road. One is located at Valley Ranch Road for southbound traffic, and the other is located at Sultus Street for northbound traffic. … The City will also be performing an evaluation of the current vehicle speeds and traffic volume along Sand Canyon Road. … Unfortunately, speed humps are not intended for use on all streets. Speed humps are appropriate for residential streets with 25 mph speed limits. Sand Canyon Road is classified as a secondary arterial and has a speed limit of 45 mph; therefore, it is not an appropriate candidate for the placement of speed humps. In addition … Sheriff’s Deputies have been and will continue to provide strategic patrols to aggressively target illegal driving behavior. … Furthermore, the Sheriff’s Deputy placed at the intersection to help move increased congestion has been advised to allow more breaks in traffic moving forward to minimize the impact to residents.

These efforts together will hopefully provide much needed relief in the area and we sincerely appreciate the ideas and suggestions and welcome the open communication from residents as we work to resolve these issues.

Canyon Country Magazine will continue to follow the traffic situation and solutions. Check back next month for an update!