51 The Next Level

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | November 14, 2017

At last month’s “Top 51” event hosted by The Signal at Sand Canyon Country Club, community members from 10 different categories of service were recognized. While some awards presentations feature individuals who are influential in their neighborhoods and towns, the Top 51 winners are chosen for their level of involvement in the community, say event leaders. The goal is to inspire others to greater volunteerism and build stronger bonds among residents and their causes.

The Santa Clarita Valley Signal vice president and editor Jason Schaff poses with Gillian Stone after she wins her award in the non-profits category during The Signal’s 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Ryan Painter/The Signal

Sand Canyon residents Chris and Sue Hoefflin were in attendance with a table filled with associates of their nonprofit organization, the Michael Hoefflin Foundation. MHF president, Gillian Stone, was a winner in the “Nonprofits” category. Stone has been at the Foundation for six years, inspiring growth and dedication to the charity, which benefits families battling pediatric cancer.

The Santa Clarita Valley Signal vice president and editor Jason Schaff poses with Jasmine Foster after she wins her award in the education category during The Signal’s 2017 Top 51: The Next Level event at Sand Canyon Country Club in Canyon Country on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Ryan Painter/The Signal

Sand Canyon resident Jasmine Foster was a “Top 51” winner in the “Education” category. She is public relations liaison for College of the Canyons, notifying members of the community and bringing attention to programs, events and notable individuals. Her volunteerism includes furthering the causes of SCV Habitat for Heroes, the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center and the William S. Hart Union High School District.

The top award went to Taylor Kellstrom, a 27-year-old realtor and owner of SCV Book Exchange. He founded “Bowling for Kids” in 2012 to raise money for the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, and he serves as board president for Circle of Hope. He is a motivational speaker for high school and college students and the entrepreneur is creating a free workshop for teens who want to start their own businesses.

Another award winner was Steve Kim, owner of Sand Canyon Country Club, formerly called Robinson Ranch Golf Club, where the event was held. On top of donating $150,000 to the SCV Senior Center’s capital campaign, he is transforming his Sand Canyon business venue, earning him “Top 51” recognition in the “Economic Development” category. The entrepreneur began his career in his home country of South Korea, but expresses gratitude toward the United States for the opportunities he has had in the last few years.

The event was held at Sand Canyon Country Club where, in addition to 27 holes of golf, there is a 25,000-square-foot clubhouse with new furnishings inside and on the patios. Guests crowded the resident-favorite terrace lounge and sampled from a variety of food while listening to live music by Dole-Humphries, a duo who won an award in the “Hospitality Philanthropy” category.


Tried and True – True Crime Details from Local Menendez Juror

| News, Sand Canyon Journal | October 5, 2017

It isn’t often that Sand Canyon has a prison insider. But viewers of “NBC News” following episodes of “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” can see local resident Betty Oldfield share what she knows about the famous trial 23 years ago. She served as a substitute on the jury for Erik Menendez during the first trial, which ended in a deadlock. After a second trial, in 1996, the brothers were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

NBC began airing the “Law & Order True Crime” series on Sep. 26, which will be presented in eight one-hour segments. It is a drama starring Emmy Award-winner Edie Falco as Erik Menendez’ defense attorney, Leslie Abramson. NBC’s Colleen Williams will air her interviews with jurors intermittently.

Oldfield and another juror, Hazel Thornton, were interviewed by Williams for the segments, as well as many other shows over the last two decades, such as “Snapped” on the Oxygen Network. One of Oldfield’s first interviews after the trial was on “Larry King Live,” plus she appeared on TMZ, and she was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren on “Fox News.” Producers always send a car to take Oldfield to their studios in Los Angeles, she said, except the Reel Channel, who filmed in her Sand Canyon living room. She’s been on so many shows at this point that she’s lost count.
While actress Edie Falco was impersonating attorney Leslie Abramson to the best of her ability, the real Abramson was reconnecting with former jury members Oldfield and Thornton, now an author with a book entitled “Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror.” Back in 1994, to prepare for the second trial, Abramson reached out to several jurors to learn which aspects of the defense resonated with them. Oldfield developed a rapport with the attorney, as well as a friendship with defendant Erik Menendez.

According to press about the new show, the storyline will focus on why the brothers committed murder, an attempt, in part, to humanize them. And in the same way “Law & Order True Crime” seeks to grow public empathy for the Menendez brothers, Erik has a parallel project behind bars, according to Oldfield. He works with groups of inmates to help them develop empathy for fellow prisoners.

“One of his goals is to bring in some of the younger inmates to learn empathy for the older ones,” Oldfield explained. “He makes much time in helping others while incarcerated.”

Over the many years Erik Menendez has corresponded with Betty Oldfield, she has become impressed by how he’s turned a life sentence into a life of productivity, including educating himself and developing his skills as a painter.
She received a copy of a letter from a Folsom Prison official praising the younger Menendez for how he’s helping fellow inmates.

“The prison where he is has a lot of physically handicapped individuals,” Oldfield said. “Erik said they’d be pushed in a corner and just be ignored. So, he started a group where they could all meet and socialize a bit — and now the group has grown way beyond that.”

The role the cameras played in the courtroom during the first trial (the judge barred them from the second trial) have, doubtless, affected public sentiment about the case. And the spate of shows about the Menendez brothers will add layers to the already existing (largely negative) attitudes.

“My slant is not what the media has portrayed,” Oldfield said. “I certainly know Erik for who he really is. He’s a very caring person. My main goal is to help people understand they are not the rich, spoiled kids from Beverly Hills. Those people have not sat through the same trial that I sat through.”

In the case of both Lyle’s and Erik’s deadlocked juries in 1994, votes were pretty much split down gender lines. The women voted for leniency, while the men were unsympathetic to the defendants.

“You could see (the male jurors) throw their notepads down and not bother to take any notes,” Oldfield said. “It was never a case of whether they were guilty. It was question of degree.”

For anyone wondering how the jurors in the second trial managed to make a decision for guilt, Judge Stanley Weisberg limited testimony about allegations of sexual abuse by Jose Menendez. “I could understand how they reached a verdict,” Oldfield responded. “They didn’t hear the truth of it.”

Sand Canyon Real Estate News

| Sand Canyon Journal | September 5, 2017

by Julie Henry

Low inventories are still the nature of today’s market in Sand Canyon. Out of approx. 1,200 homes in Sand Canyon, only 27 were listed for sale in August. The average listed price was $1,267,964 with an average square footage of 3,944 sq. ft. Today’s market puts sellers over buyers as far as price goes, but we are still seeing historically low interest rates for “qualified buyers.” Qualified is the keyword here, because buyers are finding loans hard to come by, especially in this price range. Low down payments mean mortgages are out of reach for most buyers. We look at Sand Canyon as a “move up” community, where most buyers are moving up from a previous sale — very few first-time buyers here. But the “move ups” will find this community a relative bargain. Current challenges for sellers are what we refer to as “labor day” blues. Real estate transactions generally peak in early summer and fall off dramatically as fall season approaches. With back to school and the holidays on the horizon, most buyers retreat to spending time with family and friends. Don’t be fooled, though, because this is the time of year that puts the ball back in the buyer’s court. Most sellers want to sell before the holidays and that’s when you can negotiate a great deal.

Sand Canyon Market Snapshot on 8/24/17:

Property Count: 27
Avg Sq. Ft: 3,944
Avg List Price/SF: $332.60
Avg Days On Market: 95
Avg Orig Price: $1,317,747
Avg Price: $1,267,964

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 Julie@juliehenry.com.

Hello Mustang Families!

| Sand Canyon Journal | September 5, 2017

Welcome to the 2017 – 2018 school year! My name is Eric Guerrero and I have the pleasure of serving as your principal at Sulphur Springs Community School. I am excited for the many programs, some new and some well-established, that are offered to our students and our community. Sulphur Springs is rich in history and known for strong ties with the community and excellent academic success. These strong connections have allowed the students to flourish in many amazing ways. All of us at Sulphur Springs are excited to get the new year started and continue our excellence as number one.

The Sulphur Springs School District has adopted a new English Language Arts program, Benchmark Advance, providing all students a rigorous academic education. This new program aligns with our innovative practices using technology. Students are paving the way and setting goals with a growth mindset.

Our annual Mustang Roundup is around the corner, put on by our PTA. The date is set for Saturday, October 14 from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the Sand Canyon Country Club. The PTA is always looking for donations. For more information visit their website at http://www.sulphurspringspta.com.

We are very proud to serve the community and are always here in education.

Eric Guerrero
Principal, Sulphur Springs Community School

Saddle Up for the
22nd Annual Mustang Roundup

It’s the PTA’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Sulphur Springs PTA is looking for auction items for the Mustang Roundup, which will be held at the Sand Canyon Country Club on Saturday, October 14 from 6-10 p.m. Community members may donate (new only) items such as movie tickets, amusement park tickets, restaurant certificates, time shares, jewelry, etc. You may drop off items at the Sulphur Springs Community School office or email dedee.gorelick@gmail.com.

Richard Cook – The Sky’s the Limit

| Sand Canyon Journal | September 3, 2017

While a lot of us were seeing stars last month during the solar eclipse, for one Sand Canyon resident it was just another day at the office. For almost 30 years Richard Cook has made his mark as an engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. As project manager of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project at JPL, he played a key role in the landing of the rover, “Curiosity,” in 2012. Cook attracted the attention of Time Magazine when he was counted among the publication’s “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.”

While people all over the U.S. faced the eclipse on August 21, 2017 wearing special order glasses and holding up homemade pinhole boxes, JPL employees were doing the same — perhaps with slightly more enthusiasm, however.

“Eclipse day was pretty exciting at JPL, although we didn’t have any particular equipment to view it, other than the standard viewing glasses that most people had,” Cook said. “I would say nearly all JPLers came outside and watched it directly, so it was a bit of a party. Lots of folks didn’t come to work, though, because they travelled up to the ‘zone of totality’ to check it out in person. I heard lots of great stories about what it was like in person.”

Cook says this year is another big one for JPL.

“We just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Voyager mission, and we continue to get science data from it, even though the spacecraft has left our solar system — the furthest human made object,” he explained.

The public can get unprecedented views of Saturn this month, he said, as the Cassini mission finishes 13 years of orbit. “We have to crash the spacecraft into Saturn on September 15 because it has run out of fuel,” he described. “There will be lots of coverage of it as it gets closer … culminating in some amazing close up pictures of the rings as the spacecraft goes in.”

Next year brings even more drama at JPL, Cook added. “We are getting ready for Mars missions in 2018 (a lander) and 2020 (a big rover),” he said. “Plus, we want to send an orbiter and lander to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, to look for potential life in its subsurface ocean. Those missions will happen in the 2020s.”

Cook has been a Sand Canyon resident for 16 years. “I love it and it’s been great seeing my kids grow up in Canyon Country,” he said. “My youngest is graduating from Canyon High School this year, so 2018 will be a big year.”

Sand Canyon Real Estate News: How is the Market in Santa Clarita?

| Sand Canyon Journal | August 23, 2017

by Tracy Hauser

This is still a very popular question, and for good reason. If you’re buying a single family home in the $400,000-$450,000 price point, you will be paying anywhere from $340-$423 per square foot, and for a condo in the $250,000-$300,000 price point (if you can find one), price per square foot is ranging between $265-$346. This stands in contrast to homes in the $700,000-$800,000 price point, where price per square foot is anywhere from $205- $299.

Status of SCV Inventory
As of the end of July, there are 507 listings, of which 432 are single-family homes. Pending sales are still outpacing active listings with 581 properties in escrow, and 416 of those are single family homes.

Sand Canyon Active Update
As of July 26, there are 32 properties on the market, ranging in price from a small 3-bed 1.5-bath listed at $665,000 up to a custom estate for $3,149,888.

There are currently 7 homes in pending status (in escrow), ranging in price from a short sale listed at $685,000 up to a home in MacMillan Ranch for $1,495,000.

Properties sold over the last 180 days range in price from a fixer, sold for mostly land value at $399,000 up to a custom estate that sold for $2,650,000. I just recently sold two Sand Canyon homes to wonderful past clients of mine:15842 Iron Canyon (the old Carousel Ranch) for $975,000 and 26359 MacMillan Ranch for $1,265,000.


Born to be Wild: Saving Mustangs & Burrows

| Sand Canyon Journal | August 22, 2017

Wild horses couldn’t drag one local couple away from their mission. Fred and Tony Santoro aim to make sure that mustangs and burros can continue to live in their natural habitat, free from government intervention and destruction by the thousands.

More than 10 years ago, the Santoros of Canyon Country added some very special horses to the number of Sand Canyon’s equine residents. They adopted two wild mustangs from the U.S. Dept. of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. Their names are “Misty” and “Nevada.”

“They were beautiful, and actually ‘friendly’ in a casual sense of the word. They came up to the fence (remember, they were captured from the wild and had no direct contact with humans),” said Freda “Fred” Santoro. “They also seemed to hang out together and ate together. They captured our hearts.”

The Santoros have spent more than a decade keeping abreast of governmental action affecting the fate of horses and burros in the wild, including the methods used by agencies to limit their burgeoning numbers. The couple receives news alerts from several non-profit organizations dedicated to monitoring the treatment of the wild animal population.

According to the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Congress will soon vote on a budget concern that may result in the destruction of thousands of these animals.
“The Department of the Interior is currently attempting to cut the fat from its 2018 budget by killing off up to 46,000 wild horses and burros in BLM holding facilities, and even more ‘excess’ wild horses & burros on the range,” said a press release from the WHFF.

Another non-profit group, the American Wild Horse Campaign, or AWHC, sent an email saying the BLM is planning to round up and remove almost 10,000 wild horses from their homes on the range in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon and Colorado in the coming months.

“Every one of these majestic and innocent horses will be in danger of being killed by this agency that is seeking permission from Congress to destroy healthy wild horses and burros and sell them for slaughter,” the AWHC email said.

Fred Santoro said that Misty and Nevada were in danger of being destroyed for the same reasons 10 years ago.

“If not adopted, that most likely would have been their fate. That being EXACTLY what the situation is today,” she said. “BLM rounds them up. … If not adopted they sell them to (buyers) who ship them to Mexico and France, etc. for horsemeat.”

The Bureau of Land Management is in charge of managing wild horses and burros on public lands in 10 western states. The responsibility was set up in 1971 with the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

“By creating this whole program they gave us tools to gather, remove, adopt and to have humanely euthanized excess horses where there’s no adoption demand,” said Jason Lutterman, spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management. “The BLM has never used that option. Our emphasis is finding good homes.”

One reason the BLM has not been euthanizing the animals is a prohibition that was placed on killing healthy wild horses and burros. Upcoming Congressional voting on budget concerns may withdraw that prohibition.

“It takes $50 million just to feed those horses that aren’t adopted,” Lutterman said.

More than half of the horses live in Nevada where there is no grassland, but rather, arid desert conditions, according to Lutterman, who said it takes about nine football fields of pasture to support one horse.

“We’re really faced with a challenge, especially on the range, where there are three times too many horses and burros,” he said. “Most animals, like deer and elk have natural predation or they’re hunted. Every large species is managed on the range in some way.”

While the BLM cites limited water and food from foraging as problems with overpopulation of grazing animals, non-profit groups believe it’s lobbying by ranchers that sway government agencies in the direction of thinning out wild herds.

What’s Being Done

Of the more than 70,000 wild horses and burros estimated, about half are held in off-range pastures and corrals managed by the BLM or contracted out. Adoptions take place through the corrals, while mustangs in the wild get supplemented food in winter, which is supported by taxpayers. Non-profit groups such as the Mustang Heritage Foundation work with the BLM to increase adoption opportunities through training, which increases the chances a horse will find a home.

“Mustangs are great horses to have,” Lutterman said, making a case for adoption. “Compared to domestic horses, wild horses are a lot more intelligent, more sure-footed. They’ve been evolving and adapting, they’re more resilient.”

The Santoros found that to be true. They said that training their mustangs to become saddle-ready was not that difficult.

“We did hire cowboys that we trusted to be gentle with Misty and Nevada and the end result was amazing,” Fred said. “They have unique personalities, mischievous and inquisitive, and I could not imagine life without them.”

Unfortunately, adoption numbers are down. Only about 3,000 per year are being adopted through the BLM. And one of the biggest problems managing predator-free animals is their reproduction rates. One of the government programs involves “shooting” birth control into wild mares. Fertility control requires a fairly close proximity, plus a means to track which horses receive the chemicals. More research is needed, also, to create longer lasting birth control, as the current system only works for one year, Lutterman said.

Taking Action

“The massive helicopter roundups will decimate the wild populations in those areas, leaving the public lands available for increased cattle and sheep grazing by ranchers who pay bargain basement rates to graze private livestock on public lands,” according to the American Wild Horse Campaign.

To prevent helicopter-led roundups, removal and destruction of these animals, the organization suggests action by citizens.

“A strong show of public opposition will make a powerful statement to Congress that Americans want our iconic wild horses and burros protected on our public lands, not rounded up and destroyed,” said the AWHC. “We have a much better chance of stopping this lethal legislation in the Senate … but only if your senators hear from you. Please don’t wait to give America’s horses a voice – call Congress today!”

Misty and Nevada enjoy their life in Canyon Country, and their owners urge others to save as many as they can from governmental intervention.

“Becoming aware of their plight has been my passion in doing all that I can to support keeping these amazing wild horses and burros free and wild,” Fred Santoro said. “As an individual, I feel frustrated in not being able to get the word out to many people! We need as many people as possible to be made aware of this crisis, and calling their congressman and senator(s) to voice their opposition to the rounding up and slaughtering of these innocent and beautiful animals will have a huge impact on their fate.”

Contacts for Reaching Leaders:

Rep. Stephen T. Knight
California District 25
Phone: (202) 225-1956

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
California U.S. Senate
(202) 224-3841

Sen. Kamala Devi Harris
California U.S. Senate
(202) 224-3553

Donald J. Trump
(202) 456-1111

Sand Canyon Real Estate News

| Sand Canyon Journal | July 25, 2017

by Julie Henry 

Low inventories and high demand have kept the Sand Canyon real estate market prices averaging 6.5 percent over last summer. Current market conditions favor sellers over buyers, with only four houses currently in escrow.

There are a total of only 30 houses for sale now. The recently sold listings of 10 homes — with the lowest priced at $848,000, the medium price at $1,162,000 and the highest priced is $2,650,000. The price increases are putting some buyers on the sidelines as the inventories decrease and prices rise with moderate demand.

The only bright point is that interest rates are still at historic lows. Many of us are old enough to remember mortgage rates in 1980 topped 13.74%, five years later we were still looking at 12.43% and throughout the 90’s at around 8.3%.

Finding qualified buyers is a challenge in this price range and banks are not lowering lending standards. With current conditions not improving much I predict a slower than average fall season with home prices flattening out. Now may be a good time for sellers sitting on the fence to make a move.

That being said, there are some BIG things coming to the Sand Canyon area. The 85-acre parcel at the corner of Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads (previously the mobile home park) will be a brand new development, according to the latest news at the Sand Canyon Homeowners Association meeting.

The plan is to develop 50 of the 85 acres into four restaurants, homes and an assisted living facility. The remaining 35 acres will be landscaped, including water features. The plan includes 148 single family homes, 120 townhomes, 312 apartments and a 100-bed assisted living facility.

If all goes according to plan, construction is expected to begin late summer and will open in late 2017 into 2018.

The Duchess and the Cowboy

| Sand Canyon Journal | July 19, 2017

They were Sand Canyon celebrities—he, a TV and movie stuntman and she, a concert pianist. Loren Janes and Jan Sanborn lived on Sand Canyon Road south of Placerita Canyon Road until the devastating Sand Fire that wiped out their home and virtually all of their belongings and memorabilia.

Less than a year has passed and the Sanborn-Janes family was dealt another blow last month—Loren Janes died at the age of 85.

He was born in Sierra Madre and first made a name for himself as a swimmer/diver, competing twice in the Olympic trials in the pentathlon. He taught high school science and math and then began a long career in stunt work. Janes doubled Steve McQueen for decades and worked with numerous stars, from Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments” to Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future.”

He was considered one of the most daring — the man called when a character was going to leap, swing or drive in dramatic fashion. He drove the famous San Francisco car chase in “Bullitt.” He jumped off a train into a cactus in “How the West Was Won.” He dodged horses doubling Debbie Reynolds and even donned a wig to do stunts for Esther Williams.

A co-founder of the original Stuntmen’s Association, Loren Janes’ skill set was much larger than the tip of the iceberg audience members saw, says his childhood friend Bernard Laddie Lamb.

“Loren had boundless optimism,” Lamb says. “He had gifts and talents you’d never have thought. We had a bad kitchen sink faucet in our house in Altadena. One day he shows up with a faucet to replace the one we had. He replaced it in 15 minutes. He didn’t even get his hands dirty.”

Another story Lamb tells is from a mutual friend named Ed who thought Janes was exaggerating his skiing ability—until he hit the slopes with the stunt man.

“Ed said, ‘I have to eat my words for the first time. There was nothing in the snow that was an imperfection that he didn’t use on his way down the hill. It was poetry in motion,’” Lamb says.

From their early teens, Laddie Lamb, Loren Janes and a third friend, Bland Ewing, built a solid relationship. Lamb worked in aerospace, retiring after 42 years as a physicist at Aerojet-General Corporation. Ewing was a professor at UC Berkeley and a technician at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Lamb says Janes’ IQ had an official rating of 140, but he thinks it was higher. “He had an understanding of physical laws that he incorporated into everything he did,” Lamb says. “Almost an inexplicable gift.”

But Janes’ mind wasn’t his only weapon. It was his body that became his bread and butter.

“He was so gifted physically and he had excellent vision,” Lamb says. “He never broke a bone stunting.”
Lamb’s sons remember Janes for his numerous Hollywood stories, but even more, he says, for the stuntman’s politics.

“The thing they remember was his political clarity. Even if you didn’t agree with him, you could understand,” Lamb says. “He was a brilliant political person.”

Janes was a good friend of Republican activist Howard Jarvis who spearheaded the property tax-cutting Proposition 13. Janes also ran for a California State Assembly seat twice, but lost both races.

“He was a totally reliable person,” Lamb says. “If he said he would be there he’d be there. If he said he would do something he did it.”
When their house burned down last year, Jan Sanborn’s daughter Janet Hansen created a GoFundMe page to help the couple. She called it the “Janes Family Phoenix Project,” posting: “The place where they have lived for more than 20 years housing all of the memories, pictures, art work, awards, music, her grand piano and everything that meant something to them was being burned and captured live on the news.”

Lamb heard about the fire a day or two after the tragedy. “That was shocking,” he says. “The firefighters had come and said you’ve got to evacuate. They took very little with them. They never expected to come back and find nothing standing.”

The public is welcome to visit the GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/helpJanSanborn.

The Santa Clarita Housing Market

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | June 21, 2017

Supply and demand is driving our local market, same as it is the national market! In some price points and areas in the Santa Clarita Valley there is not even one month’s supply of inventory. In fact, there is zero inventory. In May 2017 there were 395 homes that sold and 15 of them sold for $1 million or more, however there are currently 69 homes in Santa Clarita for sale in that same price point, which is approximately 4.6 months’ supply. In the $400,000-$499,000 and the $500,000- $600,000 range, the demand in SCV is the highest; there were 96 homes in those price points closing escrow in May.

National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “Prospective buyers poured into the market to start the year, and while their increased presence led to a boost in sales, new listings failed to keep up and hovered around record lows all quarter. Those able to successfully buy, most likely, had to outbid others, especially for those in the starter home market which, in turn, quickened price growth to the fastest quarterly pace in almost two years.”

Bill Banfield, the vice-president of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans offered an assessment of recent trends also. “Home values were pushed higher once again by the demand for housing, outpacing the stock of available homes,” he said. “While sellers are obviously thrilled, as their investment continues to grow in value, this trend could make homebuyers set their sights on smaller homes or less pricey neighborhoods. I would encourage homeowners who are considering listing their home to take advantage of the opportunity they have in this sellers’ market.”

Tracy Hauser

661-254-2055 – Office 661-755-1960 – Direct

23929 Valencia Blvd Suite 311
Santa Clarita 91355

Dr. Ron Nekoukar

| Sand Canyon Journal | June 19, 2017

The residents of Sand Canyon have a lot in common, though they come from a wide variety of backgrounds. And no one embodies that notion more than new resident Ron Nekoukar, DVM.

Animal lover? Check. Likes rural living? Check.

And like so many residents of the canyon, Dr. Nekoukar, his wife, Lilie, and their son and daughter, Eithan and Leah, have already started adding furry family members to their numbers. They have two dogs, two cats, two pygmy goats and two Russian tortoises. But they aren’t done yet. There are more to come, say the new residents, possibly starting with chickens.

The owner of Sierra Veterinary Clinic on Sierra Highway for the last five years, Dr. Nekoukar became acquainted with Sand Canyon through clients who live in the area.

“I love it here,” he said. “The fact that when you leave the house and go to work you go through a few minutes of horses and it’s green … it’s like living in the country.”

When he was a young boy in the Middle East, where many of Dr. Nekoukar’s relatives still reside, he would frequently bring home hurt birds or cats and interface with the local veterinarian. His interest was piqued at a young age, but he points to experiences he had later as most significantly affecting his future.

“I grew up in Israel and went into the military,” he said. “The men serve three years and females serve two years. It shaped me in many ways. … That’s when my life fell into place — you get structure, and you appreciate things.”

One of Dr. Nekoukar’s most notable habits today was forged by the strong arm of a superior officer. Whereas he used to be lax about time, now he is never late, thanks to harsh penalties for lack of punctuality in the military.

Dr. Nekoukar then went to veterinary school in Budapest, Hungary, earning his degree in 1999, after which he moved to Canada and then the United States. Able to speak English, Hebrew, Farsi and a little Hungarian, the widely traveled veterinarian took a job at an emergency clinic in Miami, where he met Lilie, who was a veterinary technician.

Lilie holding a Maine Coon Cat

Prior to purchasing Sierra Veterinary Clinic in 2012, they lived in Tarzana and he worked in the San Fernando Valley, sometimes as a mobile vet, seeing clients in their homes. He almost exclusively treats dogs and cats, but has treated other animals when necessary, even a lemur one time.

This time of year, pets with snake bites come into the clinic once or twice a week. He treats the greatest number of bites from May through the summer, Dr. Nekoukar said.

“It’s mostly dogs. Snakes don’t attack animals,” he explained. “Dogs usually push their noses into them. … The best thing you can do is snake bite classes for dogs. One training is usually enough.”

The number one issue facing most of Dr. Nekoukar’s patients — as many as 70 percent — is skin disease, often from allergies, which can lead to ear infections.

“It’s probably the most discomforting problem dogs have,” said the veterinarian.

When your dog is suffering from these issues, Dr. Nekoukar has a home remedy that works to maximize your dog’s comfort level. Keep them occupied. Boredom adds to their distress, much like a child with chicken pox who doesn’t think about the itching while he’s at Disneyland, he said.

“Most allergies are food allergies,” he explained. “Generally we know it’s the protein that causes the allergy.”

Symptoms include chewing on their feet and ear shaking. And tackling the problem yourself involves making choices about dog food. “Focus on one protein,” Dr. Nekoukar said. “Try to find an alien protein, like rabbit or deer.”

Performing surgeries is the vet’s favorite part of the practice, but not the routine ones — the more unusual, the better.

When not in the clinic, Dr. Nekoukar enjoys practicing Krav Maga, an Israeli self-defense technique. Eithan and Leah go to Hugo’s for gymnastics classes, plus the family uses their passes to Magic Mountain and Universal Studios for entertainment. And with their recent move, they will likely increase the time they spend enjoying life in the canyon.

Eithan helping a kitten

Leah and the goats

“Now with everything in the backyard,” the new homeowner said, “the solar heating in the pool — it works great. It brings it to 90 degrees.”

After settling in this summer, the Nekoukar family will be gearing up for fall, when Eithan, who is 7, and Leah, 5, will enroll at Pinetree Community School in Canyon Country.

Meanwhile, Ron Nekoukar will do what he does best — making animals feel more comfortable at his veterinary clinic … and at home.

Sierra Veterinary Clinic: (661) 252-3333
17755 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country, CA 91351

Oaks of Hope

| Community, Sand Canyon Journal | May 15, 2017

Like many local families know, addiction is something that, once planted, can take root and grow. And grow. And grow.

Statistics show opioid abuse is rising across the nation. And closer to home, the last few years the numbers of deaths by drug overdose in Santa Clarita have averaged about one per month.

But there is a family in Canyon Country who decided to slow the pace of the problem. And they hope their idea can take root and grow faster than the rate of addiction.

Teri and Greg Gault turned their Sand Canyon home and its expansive grounds into a residential detoxification center, which they opened last fall. The house is now the site of a chemical dependency treatment program that focuses on motivating change and helping patients develop a healthy, therapeutic lifestyle of recovery.

Oaks of Hope admits patients in the initial stages of recovery. “We’re the first point of contact — that’s detoxification,” Teri Gault explained. “Detox is usually anywhere from 5-10 days, depending on what their condition is. Then detox plus residential is about 30 days.”

The clients take part in a minimum of six groups a day, and on weekends they go on outings. There are speaker meetings, which is often a place for members of the program to find sponsors. The addiction treatment is founded on a  12-Step Program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Celebrate Recovery, which is faith-based.

“Some people don’t want to do 12-step and they don’t have to do 12-step. There are a lot of ways to get well,” Teri said.The client comes first. We really care and want to challenge in addiction treatment. It comes down to one word that comes to me a lot, which is ‘submission.’ If you want to submit to the addiction treatment plan, you have a really good chance of making it, and we have a lot of good results.”

So far, 18 individuals have “made it” through the program at Oaks of Hope and they range in age from 19-54. “We have a fantastic clinical team,” Teri said. “But also it’s a great home — this place is meant for recovery. My friends, everybody would say, ‘There’s just such a good feeling here.’ That’s the Lord, or your Higher Power, which is a huge component of recovery and the 12 steps.”

Before Greg and Teri Gault and their two sons created Oaks of Hope, the house was their residence. After they made the necessary preparations they were issued their California Department of Health Care Services license for detoxification and all levels of care. The home had been transformed into a place of recovery and they moved to a four-bedroom rental property in Canyon Country.

“I’m so content with it,” Teri said. “It’s kind of amazing, leaving after living here for eight years, and now I get to come here every day (where) I see people coming in and people getting well.”

Oaks of Hope is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a high-end neighborhood. There is an outdoor gym, a swimming pool and a full-time chef.

What motivated the Gaults to open Oaks of Hope was their watching family members suffer the consequences of addiction.

“I have a brother that I lost to meth-related heart failure and he was only 29,” Teri said. “And I have another brother who was in and out of incarceration. He’s sober now. He’s one of my key staff members.”

Oaks of Hope is a residential detox center for chemical substances and alcohol. “In 2008 in the Santa Clarita Valley we started having a lot of black tar heroin,” Teri said. “But now it’s gone more towards ‘benzos,’ which is Xanax. We’re seeing that coming from everywhere.”

Oaks of Hope is dual diagnosis addiction treatment, as mental health is most often treated along with addiction. Doctors, Nurses, Detox Technicians, Counselors and Therapists work with clients at Oaks of Hope, who all have psychological and psychiatric evaluations, and sometimes they are referred to a higher level of care. Sadly, there are times when individuals are referred to treatment facilities, but never show up. One woman who was referred to Oaks of Hope overdosed the night before being admitted.

“Her name is Audrey,” Teri said. “We have a chair that our clients sanded and painted that sits in our room and the empty chair reminds everyone that you need to get help, because nothing good comes from drug abuse.”

When you discuss the range of drugs that are affecting the lives of those with addiction, Teri can reel off a long list, including Fentanyl, heroin and elephant tranquilizers. Ironically, Alcohol and Xanax (benzodiazapines) are the most prevalent in Santa Clarita, and detoxification of those are more critical than heroin.

“The good news is, with addiction treatment there are a lot of ways to get well. You’re going to find something that makes a difference,” Teri said. “If you want it, it’s here.”

For more information about Oaks of Hope, call 866-705-HOPE.

Sand Canyon, Where Time Stands Still

| Sand Canyon Journal | May 11, 2017

by Julie Henry

Some of us are old enough to remember when the Santa Clarita Valley was rolling hills of oak trees and onion fields. Now we have shopping malls, big box retailers, tract homes and developers preying on every available parcel of land for the next WalMart.

But there is a place in Santa Clarita where time has almost stood still. The Sand Canyon area looks and feels the same as it did 30 years ago, when we made it our home. Located 25 miles north of Los Angeles, it is bordered by Placerita Canyon to the south and Highway 14 to the north, and most homes in Sand Canyon have an equestrian flavor with large parcels of land. Surrounded by mature oak trees, it is home to the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, the site of California’s original gold discovery in 1842. Bordering the Angeles National Forest helps keep out urban sprawl, and there is dedicated open space where you can ride horses and hike through an extensive trail system.

There are approximately 1,200 homes in Sand Canyon. Woodlands I and II, built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, have single-story ranch homes on one-half to one-acre lots, and prices are in the $700,000 range. Crystal Springs and Ridgecrest homes were built in the ‘80s and also sit on half-acre lots or larger. Their prices range from $800,000 to $1,200,000. The Hope Ranch development to the north includes large homes bordering the golf course and ranging in price from $700,000 – $1,300,000. The gated Robinson Ranch development, built in the early 2000s, is adjacent to the 400-acre Sand Canyon Country Club (formerly Robinson Ranch). The Spanish style architecture homes sell for $1,000,000 to $1,500,00. Two other gated communities in Sand Canyon are MacMillan Ranch and The Preserve. The 24-hour guard gated MacMillan Ranch development opened in the 1970s with building lots of 2-plus acres. There are approximately 30 custom homes, with lot sizes ranging from 2-5 acres and houses averaging 5,000-10,000 square feet. Prices range from $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. The Preserve was built in 2011 and features home sites with up to one acre lots. The prices are $1,200,000 to $1,600,000.

Santa Clarita’s pocket of paradise — Sand Canyon — is truly a place where time stands still.

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 julie@juliehenry.com.

Sand Canyon Country Club

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | May 10, 2017

Sand Canyon residents have watched the changes at Robinson Ranch unfold over the last couple of years, anxiously awaiting its final transformation. It began with closure of the Mountain Course due to drought conditions. Then there were the fires, followed by floods.

Owner Steve Kim had the weighty decision to create a direction for the necessary redesign after half the holes on the Valley Course were burned in the Sand Fire. He and his team took a drought-friendly approach, choosing to build a “desert concept” style for the golf course. While designing the outdoors, the owner also redecorated the clubhouse, which now has crystal chandeliers and new furnishings in the Sycamore Bar & Grill.

And last month he changed the name. Robinson Ranch is now Sand Canyon Country Club.

“Everything is kind of changing after the fire and so much rain,” Kim said. “The fire caused us to close down. Now we are making it a 27-hole course.”

Sand Canyon Country Club will have three nine-hole courses—Mountain, Valley and Desert. Valley and Desert are open and the Mountain Course is still being constructed.

“To conserve water we’re doing a lot of things,” Kim said. “Like synthetic turf. And we’re making it a desert course.”

There are 30 spots on the driving range, which has synthetic turf, and will soon be covered by solar panels for additional shade.

“We got (the) permit and it’s being fabricated,” Kim said.

There are special promotions with various tee times, some as low as $35 per player, which are spelled out on the Sand Canyon Country Club website. Lessons and membership are offered also, and there are tournament packages available.

Indoors there were both physical changes and an effort to make the facility more community friendly, head golf pro Mark Kagaoan told Canyon Country Magazine in March. “We have the most beautiful clubhouse,” he said. “Some of the concerns were we were always closed because we were such a busy wedding and event venue.”

Steve Kim said that changes to the patio, including Plexiglas, mean the Sycamore Bar & Grill can remain open during most of the events held at the venue.

“Now we have a fireside patio, so it’s a separate room covered with glass,” Kim said. “Occasionally, unless it’s a big wedding, the restaurant will be open.”

Sand Canyon Country Club can hold functions with as many as 300 guests. There is live music on weekends and the Sycamore Bar & Grill holds events such as taco night and wine tasting.

What began as a course designed by Ted Robinson, Jr. was eventually owned by Kim and a group of investors — until last month. Now Kim owns the 400-acre property completely.

Its final phase should take about two years. Kim is planning to expand the club to become a resort, complete with a 100-room hotel, a spa and tennis courts. The plans will be submitted soon for the project, he said, a vision he compares to the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.

But in the meantime, Kim’s message to locals is: “Just come in.” Even the name change is his way of communicating his desire to build a sense of community.

“He is a golfer, he loves golf. He wants this place to succeed,” Kagaoan said.

From Kim’s perspective, Canyon Country residents are invited to step up to the tee and become a part of the changing landscape at Sand Canyon Country Club — both inside and out.

Sand Canyon Real Estate Market Update

| Sand Canyon Journal | April 12, 2017

by Tracy Hauser

As of March 27, 2017 there were 19 homes listed for sale in the Canyon, ranging in price from a Woodlands home at $709,000 to a sprawling mansion on Rolling Hills for $4,400,000. Over the last 90 days, 15 homes have closed escrow and there are five homes now in escrow.

The Sand Canyon lifestyle is so unique to other parts of town. We have a lot more nature and space around us than in most areas, which is great for privacy and offers the opportunity to spread out. This feature also has a double edge to it by allowing us to keep and store more things than we need, want, or can even use. I work with a lot of baby boomers helping them to downsize, or downsize aging parents (seniors 85 and older make up one of the fastest growing segments in the U.S.).

Have you ever looked around your own home and thought, “Good grief, what am I going to do with all this stuff?!?!” If you have, here is a helpful tip to start lightening your load of belongings. Get 3 boxes/bags, to begin with, for the following:
Box 1 is for things that are broken and/or have turned to trash.
Box 2 is for things that you have not used in a year or longer and forgot you had, but that still work, or are in good condition, but can be given away or donated.
Box 3 is for things you are not sure about. Mark the date on Box 3, close it up with tape, and put it aside. If you have not opened it in 3-6 months, don’t open it — just donate it. This is a tip for people who are considering a move in the next 6-18 months or simply know it’s time to clear some space in their home and mind.

For a more detailed list or suggestions you can contact Tracy Hauser by emailing Tracy@TracyTeam.com or calling 661-755-1960.  23929 Valencia Blvd Suite 311
Santa Clarita 91355

Sand Canyon Plaza

| Canyon Country Magazine, Sand Canyon Journal | April 8, 2017

Current view of the site

It is perhaps best known as the project replacing the mobile home units on the corner of Sand Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads.

Sand Canyon Plaza is a mixed-use project on approximately 87 acres that plans to include: 580 dwelling units (comprised of single-family and attached multi-family units); 60,000 square feet of retail (primarily restaurants situated around a water feature); and a 130-bed, 80,000-square-foot assisted living facility. According to developer Tom Clark, the project will also include three private recreation areas, commercial plaza areas, various private streets, driveways, parking and landscaped areas.

“We have had two Planning Commission public hearings, to date, with a third scheduled for May 16, 2017,” Clark said. “If approved at that meeting, the project would likely be scheduled for City Council consideration in June/July. We intend to start land development after City Council approval, if granted.

Royal Clark Development has made several changes to the project over the last two years, after considering input from the community, city staff and the Planning Commission.

“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, clubhouse, BBQ, fireplace, basketball court, dog park and trails,” Clark said.

The project will connect to the existing public sewer system, and water for the project would come from Santa Clarita Water Division. Previously, the Sand Canyon Plaza development was intended to connect with the nearby Vista Canyon development for some of its water.

“Castaic Lake Water Agency will be distributing recycled water from the Vista Canyon Water Reclamation Plant,” Clark said. “Based on their engineering studies they will be using the recycled water in Vista Canyon and then off-site into Fair Oaks Ranch. 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.”

To some of Canyon Country’s residents, progress seems slow, considering rumors that the lot where the mobile home park currently stands would possibly become the site of a Trader Joe’s, or that Vons would move there from its current location across the street.

Tom Clark explained some of the process involved. “Large scale development projects like Sand Canyon Plaza and Vista Canyon take time (years, not days) to develop,” he said. “Assuming City Council approval, grading and infrastructure work on Sand Canyon Plaza will take us through mid to late 2018, with vertical construction following.”

Nearby residents are hoping the presence of both developments prompts two thumbs up.

“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.”

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!

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