18 August 2015

Chino Hills State Park Tour of the Stars a Big Success!

Jeff Schroeder of Pomona Valley Amateur Astronomers addresses an overflow crowd at the Rolling M Ranch amphitheater.  Photos courtesy of Hills for Everyone.
This past Saturday evening's program organized by the Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Association and concerning a "tour of the stars" was a trememdous hit as more than 350 persons attended the event.

Jeff Schroeder of the Pomona Valley Amateur Astronomers led the "tour" and it was reported that people were arriving as late as 11 p.m., just an hour before the conclusion.  All available parking spots were snapped up and every seat on the benches of the Rolling M Ranch amphitheater was occupied, with people sitting on the concrete floor and standing four-deep on the perimeter!

Volvos are not only renowned for safety but apparently make excellent telescope platforms!
Guests waited in lines that wrapped around the parking area to get a look at the evening sky through telescopes--the location was particularly good for viewing the stars as the elevation and distance from nearby developed locations kept ambient light at as low a level as you can get in the area.

One organizer state that it was "quite a night" and that the remarkable turnout and accompanying interest demonstrates that "there was a real hunger for darkness/stars and information."

Guests view a display of meteorites at last Saturday's astronomy event.
This blogger was really hoping to be there with the family, but was out of town.  Maybe there will be an encore offered in the not-too-distant future.

07 August 2015

Chino Hills Police Targets Dangerous Driving in Carbon Canyon?

Thanks to regular reader Jeff Fischer for passing along a bit of news from the City of Chino Hills Web site, which can be accessed here.

Here is the press release issued by the city's police department:

It has been stated by department officials at public meetings, as recently as the 9 July public safety forum held at the Chino Hills Community Center that the official rate of 2.5 accidents per month was not considered unusual.  This was repeated at a Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council meeting just two days ago.  In fairness, it was also stated that study of the issue was ongoing and this development is obviously an outgrowth of that.

Yet, this press release cites statistics as indicating that, in the eleven months since August 2014, the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon Road has experienced three fatal crashes, 91 injury collisions, and 105 property damage accidents.

How did we get from 30 accidents a year to that?

Anyway, if this latest news means more patrolling to mitigate dangerous driving on Carbon Canyon Road, then more power to the police department for taking this next step.

So, we'll see what happens with this latest news.

04 August 2015

Chino Hills State Park Astronomy Event on 15 August!

Here's another great educational event offered by the Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Association.  On Saturday , 15 August from 7:30 p.m. to Midnight, join Jeff Schroeder, a retired optical engineer and flight technicial at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a founding member of the Pomona Valley Amateur Astronomers, for a tour of the evening sky, including stars, the Perseids Meteor Showers, which will be at its best viewing during that time, and other fascinating objects.  A display of meteorites will also be exhibited.

Schroeder not only has years of experience at JPL and as an amateur astronomer, but he has over three decades of background as a lecturer and producer of shows at the Mount San Antonio College Planetarium and is a part-time operator of two massive telescopes at the historic Mount Wilson Observatory.  With some of that calibre, this should be a fantastic program.

The free event (though park use fees may apply) will be held at the Rolling M Ranch, three miles off the brand new Bane Canyon Road entrance off Sapphire Road, near Soquel Canyon Parkway, in Chino Hills.  If there is rain (and who knows these days?) or red flag conditions for fire (and who knows these days?), the event will be cancelled.

Those interested in staying at the adjacent campground can do so on a first come, first served basis.

For more information, click on www.ChinoHillsStatePark.org.

02 August 2015

Candlelight Walk for Former Sleepy Hollow Resident

Friday night, a group of about twenty Sleepy Hollow residents gathered together to honor the memory of Darlene Walters, a former member of the community who passed away last week after battling cancer.

A group of Sleepy Hollow residents take part in a candlelight procession around the neighborhood in memory of Darlene Walker, a former resident who passed away a few days ago from cancer.
Darlene lived on Rosemary Lane for several years with a son and daughter and really loved living in Sleepy Hollow.  The sale of the home she rented, however, forced her to move and she hoped to buy something in the neighborhood, but this proved unworkable.  Not long after leaving the area, the cancer she had overcome before recurred.  She was living with her mother in Corona at the time of her passing.

Friends and neighbors, including several who remained in touch with Darlene after she moved, met at a nearby house to eat, drink and share memories of Darlene.  A photo board showing her with family and friends was part of an altar in the backyard.

About 9:00, everyone got together, lit votive candles, and went on a walk through the quiet, dimlit streets of Sleepy Hollow in recognition of Darlene's love of walking through the neighborhood.  It was a really nice way for those who knew her to pay their respects.

A full moon shines over the hills above Sleepy Hollow, illuminating banks of clouds, while the yellow glow of a streetlight bathes the foreground during the candlelight procession.
Places like Sleepy Hollow do provide an atmosphere that fosters a sense of community for many who live in it.  On Rosemary Lane, for example, many of the residents will get together for Super Bowl, Halloween and Christmas parties or for other functions.

This wasn't a celebration in the same way, though it was a celebration of the memory and life of someone who was special to those who took part in tonight's vigil.  There is a sense of loss when a friend and neighbor is gone so quickly and unexpectedly, but a sense of community enabled tonight's remembrance to happen and there's probably no better way to pay tribute to someone than that.

27 July 2015

Saturday's Stop Madrona Shindig a Shining Success

Saturday evening's wine tasting fundraiser by Hills for Everyone for its lawsuit to stop the Madrona housing project on the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon was a fun and successful evening for about fifty to sixty persons.

Held at the Oak Tree Downs home of Don and Suzanne Hodson in the Chino Hills section of the canyon, the event featured a silent auction for such offerings as stays at Big Bear and Catalina Island, a remarkable original painting by Chino Hills resident Dawn Secord, and a day of sailing, as well as the tasting, in which several wines from Ascension Cellars, based in Paso Robles and co-owned by Eric Allen, an Olinda Village resident.

The latter paired hors d'oeuvres, prepared and served by Hills for Everyone members and Carbon Canyon residents, with several wines from Ascension, including Rhone and Bordeaux-style offerings such as rosĂ©, viognier, a GSM (grenache, syrah and mourvĂ©dre), a proprietary Bordeaux-style blend aptly called the "Soul Shaker", and a port.  Allen provided interesting introductions for his wines and mistress of ceremonies, HFE board member and ex-Brea council member Bev Perry kept the evening moving.

Perry presented a list of six notable achievements of Hills for Everyone over the decades, including the creation of Chino Hills State Park, saving land in the Puente Hills for open space and recreation, preventing housing projects in other hills locations, and working to develop a crucial wildlife corridor under the 91 Freeway between the Chino Hills and the Santa Ana Mountains.

It was a night of fine wine, fun conversation, excellent food, and a beautiful setting in the hills above Carbon Canyon.  As the lawsuit on Madrona goes to trial for opening arguments at the end of August, let's hope a goodly amount of money was raised for this worthy cause.

14 July 2015

Hills for Everyone Stop Madrona Winetasting Fundraiser

As part of its continuing efforts to halt the 162-unit Madrona housing project, approved last summer for 367 acres on the north side of Carbon Canyon between Olinda Village and the county line in Brea, Hills for Everyone, which has spearheaded the movement, is hosting a winetasting fundraiser.

The event is being held on Saturday, 25 July from 5:00-8:30 p.m. at the home of Don and Suzanne Hodson in the Oak Tree Downs community in the Chino Hills section of Carbon Canyon.  Ascension Cellars of Paso Robles will be there to pour wine and guests can also purchase from Ascension at the event.

In fact, here's an excellent description of the event from Eric Johnson, Olinda Village resident and a key player in the fight against Madrona:
Ascension Cellars (of Paso Robles) will pour a variety of wines, which will be paired with carefully selected foods.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy the oak dotted hillsides, the fabulous wine, and the great company.  Be sure to bring your wallet as there will be a small silent auction and an opportunity to buy the wine directly from Ascension Cellars.
Tickets are $50 per person or $80 per couple through this Saturday the 18th.  After that date, prices increase to $70 per person or $100 per couple.

Paid reservations are required, so to order online using PayPal, please click here.   Instructions for paying by check are also available through the link, which provides background, as well, on Ascension Cellars.

Once tickets are ordered, an e-mail will provide all the information needed to get to the event.

The lawsuit filed by Hills for Everyone, the California Native Plant Society, the Sierra Club, and the Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, is now in process at Orange County Superior Court and the fundraiser will help provide support for that effort.

12 July 2015

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #17979

This happened last night, probably late, and is located eastbound on Carbon Canyon Road, just a hop, skip and a crash from the Brea/Chino Hills border.

The vehicle does not appear to have slowed until after maiming the guardrail, because deep, heavily curved skid marks after visible beyond the point of impact.  Good thing someone wasn't coming the other way, because this looks like it easily could have been a nasty head-on collision.

Incidentally, the City of Chino Hills and the Chino Hills Police [Sheriff's] Department held a public safety forum three nights ago and Captain Robert Guillen spoke about all kinds of issues related to policing in the city.

He briefly made reference to Carbon Canyon Road, indicating that contact with the City of Brea, the use [briefly, it should be added] of electronic message boards and more patrolling were implemented.  He repeated something he has said to individuals and groups, which is that the analytics show an average of about 2.3 accidents per month in 2015 so far compared to an average of 2.5 in the preceding five years (2010-14.)

Analytics and metrics are the rage everywhere, from the corporate world to the sports world and, evidently, to the law enforcement world.  Quantification has a place.

But, there's also there matter of qualification; that is, the quality of the data and the quality of the environment.

So, 2.3 accidents per month on Carbon Canyon Road is not qualitatively the same as 2.3 accidents per month on Grand Avenue, Peyton Drive or Chino Hills Parkway, to use some examples.  Those are multi-lane roads, they go through more heavily poulated areas, they are generally straighter, and they are better lit.  Adventurous drivers are less likely to take to those thoroughfares to test their cars, for example.

Carbon Canyon Road, however, is different.  It is a two-lane highway, heavily curved, poorly lit for most sections and does not go through as many populated areas, especially on the Brea portion.  A certain type of accident on Carbon Canyon could cause a full road closure, but not on a multi-lane roadway.

In fact, it is hard to imagine that any of the aforementioned streets, or any other, for that matter, in Chino Hills has had as many complete road closures as Carbon Canyon Road.  The accident metric might show similar numbers per month, but the kinds of incidents can vary dramatically.

A fender-bender and a fatality won't be distinguished on the basic metric, at least as publicly presented so far..

Neither will unreported accidents or near accidents, which almost certainly dwarf the 2.3 accidents per month figure used by local law enforcement.  A figure that was also put in context by stating that most accidents happen during high-volume use (morning and evening commute times).

That may be, but those incidents will almost always be less serious than the one noted above, or the full closure last weekend, or the dozens and dozens detailed on this blog over the last seven years.

The quality of the accidents has to be measured with the quantity of them.

Racing through Carbon Canyon is a consistent and near-nightly phenomenon.  It can be heard through the window behind this computer from a room looking right over the highway.  Where, by the way, a car went off the side of the road last weekend.

So, again, using statistics as part of an analysis of conditions has a place, but, so far, it appears this has been the only criteria used to judge what response there should be from law enforcement.

Granted, policing resources are needed in a variety of ways throughout the two cities and no one should expect regular patrolling of the canyon by police in Brea or Chino Hills.

However, electronic message boards are only fancier versions of metal signs and have limited effect.  Patrolling has, it appears, only been ramped up during daylight hours on weekdays.

But, most major accidents, like last night's and the road closure last weekend, are happening during late evening/early morning hours on weekends.

This has been conveyed to Capt. Guillen and others of his staff.

Accidents are continuing--at least three in the last week as noted on this blog.  Signs need to be part of the mix, but so does patrolling during those times when most accidents take place.