26 February 2020

Fatal Police Shooting at Carbon Canyon Regional Park

There isn't much information provided, given the incident happened yesterday late afternoon/early evening, but NBC Los Angeles news did air a brief segment about a fatal shooting of a man by Brea police.

Here is the link: https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/olice-shooting-under-investigation-in-brea/2317908/.

15 February 2020

Hidden Oaks Community Meeting Recap

Today's edition of the Champion features a review by Marianne Napoles of a community meeting held on the 6th at Western Hills Country Club with a developer's presentation of the Hidden Oaks housing project, which proposes 53 units on 527 acres south of Carbon Canyon Road, just east of Sleepy Hollow and across from the Circle K convenience store and the Hillcrest community of 76 houses which is just now, after some three years, finally in its last phase.

The discussion, led by consultant Jeff Weber, noted that, when a project was first proposed on the site some thirty years ago, the number of units zoned for the property was just under 250.  This was when a notorious uprooting of a great number of oak trees took place, with many of them boxed and left on the property to die when the developer went belly up.  That travesty was not forgotten as a few audience members well recalled the incident during the presentation.

Current developer K.V. Kumar and associates had a preliminary community meeting at the McCoy Equestrian Center in September 2015 and the link here is from a Chronicle post that goes into great detail about the project as it was proposed then.  Among the elements at the time was that the number of units was 107 and they were spread out through a significant part of the site, including on some prominent higher points.

Since then, however, there has been a significant reduction in units, about half, and they have been even more clustered on about 60 acres (comprising just over 10% of the total acreage) toward the northeastern portion of the property, leaving the higher elevations of the site in open space.  Much of this was to address concerns about visibility of those locales from Chino Hills State Park.

The "Vesting Tentative Tract Map" for Hidden Oaks, which is slated for 53 large homes on average lot zizes of a half-acre, south of Carbon Canyon Road (see top left) at Canyon Hills Road.  The clustering at the northeast corner is a significant change from the 107 units more spread out on the site as proposed several years ago and a massive reduction from the nearly 250 units proposed in a project some thirty-years ago.  Click on the image to see it enlarged in a separate window.
Notably, there was a great deal of effort put into having an emergency access road built to the southeast from the tract, exiting through the Vellano community and several routes were explored.  The most likely and least invasive, however, was not possible because the landowner refused to sell an easement.  So, now, and with the approval of the fire district, the secondary road is one first proposed in 2015 and which exits the northwest part of the tract and onto Carbon Canyon Road.  An issue here is that this is just a few hundred yards west of the main entrance at Canyon Hills Road and, if there was a large-scale evacuation of the canyon, it would put everyone in Hidden Oaks on the state highway with everyone else.

It was stated that new state standards for fuel modification zones are to be applied and some 450 trees, mostly oaks, are to be removed and the 2-1 ratio for replanting in compliance with a city oak tree ordinance.  The units will have sewers and there will be a tie-in to the lift station built across Carbon Canyon Road for the Hillcrest subdivision, which takes the material out of the canyon to the northeast and into the Chino Hills system.

There were plenty of questions and comments from the audience, much of which had to do with the question of tree removal and replacement and how residents will be notified of future meetings, specifically those before the city's Planning Commission and City Council.  There were a couple of outliers, one comment being that it would be better to spread out the units even on the more visible and prominent ridge lines because the current configuration would be too visible within the canyon.  Another commenter suggested public access to trails leading through Hidden Oaks to Soquel Canyon, where a parking lot could be placed for easy connection to the state park—slyly, he added that he happened to own the property where he proposed the parking area be situated.

Generally, though, there didn't seem to be that much opposition to the project in totality and this may be a reflection of the fact that the number of units is drastically lower than the original zoning and that the clustering kept houses in lower elevations, preserving much more open space.  Napoles quoted city council member Ray Marquez, a canyon resident, as being surprised that opposition was somewhat muted.  Council member Peter Rogers, who also lives in Carbon Canyon, was pleased at the attendance and reminded that there will be plenty of opportunity for residents to share views with city staff as the project moves forward.

A detail of the map showing the clustered area, a clubhouse and tennis courts at the upper left and the intersection of Carbon Canyon Road and Canyon Hills Road at that corner.  Click on the image to see it enlarged in a separate window.
It will be later in the year before studies are completed and the matter gets scheduled with the Planning Commission.  Weber, when asked, stated that it would not likely be until 2022 when ground is broken.  It is worth restating that Hillcrest, which looks to be similar in terms of square footage if not lot sizes (Weber said the general average for Hidden Oaks is a half-acre), has sold slowly, perhaps because of the price range as well as concerns about traffic in the canyon.

When traffic was discussed, it was noted that the significant increase in volume in recent years has largely been due to massive growth in the Inland Empire, a trend that will only accelerate.  One persistent audience member kept asking council member Rogers when enough is enough with respect to development in the canyon and, unfortunately, there is no good answer, partially because, even if the canyon was closed off completely for more building, traffic will still increase dramatically because of the tens of thousands of units projected just for south Ontario and Chino alone, much less elsewhere.

So, stay tuned as Hidden Oaks becomes a lot less concealed to the public in its progression.

06 February 2020

Hidden Oaks Community Workshop Tonight

Sorry for the late notice here, but if you're available and interested, there is a community workshop TONIGHT on the Hidden Oaks subdivision, proposing just over 50 houses, in Carbon Canyon, south of the state highway and across from the Circle K convenience store at Canyon Hills Road.

The developer is hosting this event at Western Hills Country Club, 1800 Carbon Canyon Road at Fairway, at 6:30 p.m.  There will be a short presentation explaining plans for the project and then time for Q&A will follow.

This is preliminary to hearings before the City of Chino Hills Planning Commission, which will make its recommendation to the City Council.

27 January 2020

Chino Hills Historical Society Presentation on the History of Carbon Canyon Road

Hope to see you next Monday, 3 February @ 7 p.m. at the Chino Hills Community Center for a PowerPoint-illustrated presentation for the Chino Hills Historical Society on the history of Carbon Canyon Road.

The talk covers the opening of the road just over a century ago, its realignment and paving in the late 1920s, and some of the changes that have taken place over the decades.

This detail is from a 1920s Auto Club of Southern California "strip map" of "Automobile Roads Leading Into Brea & Carbon Canyons."
Carbon Canyon Road obviously led to the creation of early subdivisions like Sleepy Hollow and Mountain View Estates, was paved partially to allow easier access from Los Angeles and other areas to Los Serranos Country Club, and was increasingly important as an inland to coast route.

This will be the first of three talks for the Historical Society in 2020, so please come out and take in some of our interesting local history.

19 January 2020

On the Skids and Off the Grid: Last Week's Carbon Canyon Road Blowout

Last Saturday the 11th, a single-vehicle accident at Carbon Canyon Road and Carriage Hills Lane near the summit in Chino Hills involved the toppling of a power pole, and live wires fell on the state highway.  The driver and passenger in the car were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not described in terms of seriousness. While an investigation determined that alcohol was not a factor, nothing was said about speeding, though it is possible that there was some other cause.

What followed was the temporary loss of power and longer-term disruption of cable and internet access in parts of the Canyon.  Electricity was restored, at least in Sleepy Hollow, within about five hours and internet and cable late on Sunday, though there were problems for other Canyon residents lasting much longer.

Work by Southern California Edison crews replacing the power pole that was toppled by a car early on Saturday morning the 11th.  This was taken that afternoon.

As reported by Marianne Napoles in yesterday's edition of the Champion, however, there was a second incident later on Saturday morning when a trash truck driver pulled over on the shoulder at the summit to let vehicles pass and came into contact with a portion of cable that was low on the run on lines in that area. 

Whether this was related to the previous accident is not known, though a Frontier Communication representative stated that the tall trash truck pulled down the cable line, even though these trucks frequently pull over there and have since Republic Disposal was hired some years ago.  In any case, the second incident led to cable and internet service being out until early Tuesday morning.

Another view of work done on the 11th.
The Champion article quoted a longtime Carriage Hills resident who often comments on Canyon-related concerns involving the state highway and development projects, as well as a Sleepy Hollow resident and Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council member.  The former said the accidents last weekend were the worst he'd experienced in over 20 years living in the Canyon, while the latter observed that accidents in Sleepy Hollow have involved outages like this recent example and asked for drivers to go more slowly through the canyon.

A lieutenant with the Chino Hills Sheriff's Department station told Napoles that there were 60 traffic collisions on the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon Road in 2019, a 20% increase from the prior year and said "the number is an estimate only."  There are, of course, differences between reported and unreported incidents.  What also wasn't stated was the severity of the damage caused, both in terms of personal injury or death or property damage.

Debris left behind on the 13th and before more work was done.
The lengthy project, still not quite finished, by CalTrans to rehabilitate Carbon Canyon Road has included additional safety features involving more guardrails, replacement of older ones, grooved striping, more signs and others.  These are certainly welcomed and needed, but, despite this work, accidents are clearly increasing in number and some, like last weekends, are severe.

Discussions about the state highway prior to work starting mentioned that the California Highway Patrol would be providing more patrols in the Canyon, but, when asked about the commonly known issue of the CHP not having enough officers to keep up with the growth in traffic, the response from a city official was "that's a good question."

Also from the 13th.
The truth is that all of the physical improvements in the world can be added, but, if accidents, even on estimates, are increasing, those additions are not mitigating the problem.   There has to be more of a physical presence, but it is also understood that staffing and funding are issues to be addressed.  As the Sleepy Hollow resident quoted in the Champion article expressed it, "the situation makes residents feel helpless."

As CalTrans is expected to decide soon about a request from the cities of Chino Hills and Brea to ban large truck (over 50 feet in length) on the state highway, it is clear that, if this is approved, signs won't be enough of a deterrence and a law enforcement patrols will be needed (some truckers and their employers still will find a fine worth the time saved.) 

This is another recent incident, which took place before the ones shown above.  This is at the middle of the S-curve east of the previous scene and is where a westbound vehicle went off the road and chewed up a good part of the embankment.  As can be seen, there are signs indicating a change in direction of the roadway as well as white reflector signs added in the nearly completed rehabilitation of the state highway.
This goes, however, for broader driving issues, though, because large trucks aren't causing the majority of accidents—that's happening with passenger vehicles of various types.  Otherwise, the kind of incidents embodied with last weekend's accident will continue.

31 December 2019

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #59: A Postcard of a Bucolic Scene at St. Joseph's Hill of Hope, 1970s

Among the most popular posts on the blog over its 11-year history are a pair about the remarkable St. Joseph's Hill of Hope religious compound, nestled among the hills north of Carbon Canyon Road at the border of Orange and San Bernardino counties.

Disillusioned by the changes wrought by the Roman Catholic Church after the Vatican II or Second Vatican Council completed its work in 1965, Frances Krug announced two years later that she was visited by God, who revealed directions to her concerning how to return to the true faith.

One of these instructions was "that a basilica be built in honor of The Holy Trinity" and Krug, who died in 2009, proclaimed that "Heaven directed her to purchase 440 acres of land in Brea, California."  Further commands from "Heaven" required more structures so that the project became a "City of God," the title of a famous book by St. Augustine in the early days of Christianity.

A 1970s postcard published by the St. Joseph's Hill of Home religious community showing a portion of its 440-acre property near the San Bernardino and Orange counties line in Carbon Canyon.
Perhaps as a promotional vehicle for the building program at the Hill of Hope, postcards were published with photographs of the site.  As we close out the year, we feature one of them, printed in the 1970s by the Angelus Shop of Yorba Linda, and showing a beautiful bucolic scene with a dirt road winding through gently sloping hills and stands of mature oak trees.

The caption on the reverse states that the view is "reminiscent of the Holy Land and Biblical times" and that "this scene is similar to the road to Emmaus which Jesus traveled after His resurrection."  There is also a post office box in Anaheim for the curious to write to for more information.

Notably, the location of Emmaus has been in dispute ever since the account of the journey to it from Jerusalem was discussed in the Gospel According to Luke.  Just this past September, however, a team of French and Israeli archaeologists working west of Jerusalem near the town of Abu Ghosh and the hill of Kiriath Yearim offered the supposition that they'd found the town.  Because Luke identified Emmaus as 60 stadia from Jerusalem, this is about the 7 miles that separates the holy city from the archaeological site.

It is stated on the reverse that the Hill of Hope tract is "reminiscent of the Holy Land" and that the dirt road shown in the photo is similar to that Christ was said to have taken after his resurrection when going from Jerusalem to Emmaus, the location of which is in dispute.

An Israeli expert of ancient history stated that the leaders of the dig made a good case, though he added "it is a hypothesis and remains a hypothesis" and noted there are two other sites in close proximity that could have been Emmaus. 

Whether the Hill of Hope property bears any real resemblance to can be left to those who read the linked article above and see the photo showing Abu Ghosh and the Kiriath Yearim—albeit we're now two millenia removed from the time of Christ.

With 2019 ready to recede and 2020 poised to ascend, best wishes to everyone reading this for the New Year to come.

30 December 2019

The Olinda Oil Field and Samuel C. Graham

In previous posts on this blog connected to the Olinda oil field, which was opened in 1897 with the successful completion of a well on the Santa Fe lease by famed oil tycoon Edward Doheny, mention has been made several times to one of the early firms to drill in the area: the Graham-Loftus firm with some biographical detail on the two principals: William Loftus and Samuel C. (Cam) Graham.

Last spring, Bruce Graham, a great-grandson of Samuel C. Graham, got in touch and sent some photos and additional information.  It only took about nine months to get this post together, but belated thanks are expressed to Bruce for sharing the photos.

"Cam" Graham was a native of Pennsylvania, born there in 1862 (a previous reference here stated 1861) two years after oil was found there and marked the beginnings of the American oil industry.  Graham was a pumper, tool dresser and driller in that state until he moved west to Los Angeles in 1888 (1882 was a date given on this blog before.)

Samuel C. (Cam) Graham.
Graham worked in the Santa Paula area for Torrey Canyon Oil Company initially and then for Union Oil, another early and later very prominent company, and married Mamie Hardison, a sister of a couple of the firm's founders.  When he and William Loftus, who also married a Hardison and worked closely with Graham in Torrey Canyon and Union, went into business together, Loftus lived on the Olinda land held by their company, while Graham lived in Los Angeles.

In his 1965 study Oil, Land and Politics, W.H. Hutchinson wrote that Graham and Loftus worked with Torrey Canyon head Thomas Bard, a powerful figure in Ventura County business and politics and a former United States Senator, on "an attractive power play" with an oil company controlled by the uber-wealthy James Flood of San Francisco and which had undeveloped property near Union in the Olinda area (commonly referred to as the Fullerton field in the early days).

Graham, Loftus, Bard and two others acquired the land for $10,000 and Bard offered his quarter share to Union for reasons unknown, though the company declined.  The new Graham-Loftus company immediately brought in a producing well, acquired more land, and did very well financially.

Graham on the Tapo oil property in eastern Ventura County, west of Santa Clarita and northeast of Simi Valley.
In addition to his work in oil, Graham, a former Los Angeles Police Commission member, was a significant figure in Progressive-era politics in Los Angeles, most notably serving as chairman of the committee that organized the recall of Mayor Arthur C. Harper (he resigned before the spring 1909 mayoral election).  Graham also headed a "Non-Partisan Committee of 100" which battled to reduce the influence of the mighty Southern Pacific railroad company in Los Angeles politics.  This led to the creation of the Lincoln Republican Clubs, which played a major role in reform activities.  Hutchinson and Martin Schiesl, in a fine article on Reform mayor George Alexander, who won the 1909 campaign and then reelection two years later, discuss Graham's role in Los Angeles politics.

As covered by William L. Kahrl in an interesting article on early 20th century water development and politics, Graham, who served on the Los Angeles Public Service Commission, proposed a plan to sell surplus water from the Los Angeles Aqueduct, an engineering marvel of its time which allowed for massive development in the region.  The plan, adopted by Los Angeles County voters in November 1912, allowed for nearby areas to buy this water at the rates charged by the City of Los Angeles, but it also provided for return of such supplies "whenever the public service desired" and rates could be raised to do so.

Graham's concept had the opposition of Aqueduct impresario, William Mulholland, the chief engineer for the city and Mulholland and his allies managed to get their plan, which called for surplus water buyers to have their own distribution systems, put on the ballot when it came time to vote for the bonds issues for the surplus matter.  Mulholland's side won the day in the April 1913 election.  With outlying areas practically unable to build their own distribution systems and needing water to survive, this allowed for the City of Los Angeles to embark on a massive annexation process that greatly enlarged the metropolis.  The Aqueduct then opened its water supply from Owens Valley in November 1913.

Graham with a grandson.
He was also a land developer, with one of his major projects being his service as treasurer of the Laguna Maywood Company, which developed the city of Maywood, southeast of Los Angeles.  In fact, he was said to be the "Father of Maywood."  His social connections, tied in with good government reformers, included being vice-president of The City Club in Los Angeles.

Graham contracted pneumonia on Christmas day 1933 and battled the illness for a month, succumbing to it in late January 1934.  His obituary in the Los Angeles Examiner stated that "in his business contacts he was noted for his kindly response to every request made upon him, even as was the case in his civic work."

Thanks again to Bruce for providing this further information and, especially this trio of photos, of a key figure in the development of the Olinda oil field, which is gradually ending its lifespan as we speak.