26 February 2015

Another Carbon Canyon Road Closure

Friday night, 7 p.m.:  This was a fatal accident according to a comment left here as well as a City of Chino Hills emergency alert update.  Perhaps some details will be available in a forthcoming issue of the Champion, unless someone out there knows more.

Here we go again . . .

From the Chino Hills Web site emergency alert page:

February 26, 2015 7:39 PM

Carbon Canyon Road is Closed in the Vicinity of Canyon Hills Road (Circle K)

8:15 update
Carbon Canyon Road is closed due to a major traffic accident between Canon Lane and Canyon Hills. The closure is expected to last several hours. From the Chino Hills side motorists have access to Canon Lane. From the Brea side, Brea Police Department is checking i.d. and allowing Olinda Village and Sleepy Hollow residents access. Additional information will be posted as it is available.

Thursday, Feb. 26th 7:30 pm - Carbon Canyon Road is closed due to a major traffic accident near Canon Lane. The closure is expected to last several hours. From the Chino Hills side, motorists have access to the vicinity of Canon Lane. Brea Police Department is allowing Olinda Village residents access. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

24 February 2015

Sleepy Hollow Artist Exhibits at Chino Hills Community Center

A wall in the Chino Hills Community Center displays a half-dozen paintings by Sleepy Hollow-based artist Hillary Miller and the showing will continue through April.
Since its opening, the Chino Hills Community Center has had displays of artwork from local artists on the walls in the hallway next to the multipurpose room, sponsored by chARTS, a committee of the Chino Hills Community Foundation that has also staged theatrical presentations and musical performances.

Through April, the current exhibit includes the work of three Chino Hills artists, including Hillary Miller, a neighbor here in Sleepy Hollow.  Hillary, who works in oil, pastel, watercolor, and, more recently, silk, and also paints murals and does ceramics, has several beautiful paintings in her exhibit.
A detail of a brightly-colored and highly-expressive still life by Hillary Miller of Sleepy Hollow, titled "Artichokes in the Garden" is a fanciful rendering of a plant from the artist's garden.
While much of her art consists of portraits, still lifes and Judaica, a favorite is the landscape in Carbon Canyon, which is well represented in the display.  The depictions range widely in terms of their emotive characteristics, with some heavily symbolic and more abstract and others more realistic and true-to-life.

This watercolor, called "Misty Canyon" is reflective of the landscape in and around Carbon Canyon.
Hillary began her career as a working artist some thirty-five years ago and she has a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts and a master's in drawing and painting.  This year marks her thirtieth as an exhibitor of her work and she has taught at local colleges as well as at her Sleepy Hollow studio.

For more information, please check out her Web site and blog here.

The chARTS page on the City of Chino Hills Web site can be found here.

And, the Web site of the Chino Hills Community Foundation may be accessed here.

"Carbon Canyon Summer II" is a beautiful pastel with rich colors and strong contrasts, evoking the diverse beauty of Carbon Canyon.
There are other artists in the Carbon Canyon area and a post coming soon will showcase a striking mural by another Sleepy Hollow artist, so look for that in a short while.

22 February 2015

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #17296

About a half-hour ago, a loud crash was heard here in Sleepy Hollow where Carbon Canyon Road meets Rosemary Lane, followed by the sound of a large semi heading westbound, though at the time any connection was unknown.

Walking down to that location, a homeowner along the state highway was seen moving around his car with a flashlight.  A subsequent conversation led to the news that home video captured the semi taking the curve at high speed in rainy conditions, with the trailer sliding off the roadway and onto the home's driveway, clipping the car and pushing it into a fence.  The truck just kept on truckin'.

While the video captured the incident, none of the truck's markings or plates were visible.  It just so happened, though, that an oncoming driver, seeing the truck swerving, pulled to the side of the highway, witnessed the accident and then, noticing the homeowners rush out of their residence to see what happened, offered to track down the truck and get what information he could.

This Good Samaritan returned a few minutes later with the plate number and other markings from the hit-and-run vehicle and gave it to the grateful residents--joking that it might pay off to go to church, since he was heading back home from services.  In this case, the use of the term "Good Samaritan" is very relevant.

Not more than a couple of moments after the Good Samaritan drove away, a Chino Hills police car pulled up to take a report.  It'd be nice to think the truck will be found and its driver charged with a felony hit-and-run.

Naturally, this ties in to the recent advisory signs put up by CalTrans District 12, warning that vehicles over 50 feet in length should not drive on Carbon Canyon Road any further east than Fairway Drive or west than Old Carbon Canyon Road, because of the sharpness of the S-curves.

Of course, this is purely advisory, because Carbon Canyon Road is a state highway and an outright prohibition is unlikely to happen.  But, concerns over the years about semis and other large trucks on the roadway do have merit, as witnessed by tonight's hit-and-run, though most large trucks seem to navigate the highway fine and there are far more smaller car crashes than ones involving trucks.

The video graphically showed what could have been much worse--the trailer not only left the roadway, but its outside wheels went down a small embankment leading to a gully that directs water from the upper reaches of Sleepy Hollow to Carbon [Canyon] Creek.  The driver either was highly skilled or extremely fortunate because he could easily have jackknifed and made matters much worse for himself and others.

18 February 2015

Sleepy Hollow Waterline Project Underway

In the large turnout area off the westbound side of Carbon Canyon Road at the east end of Sleepy Hollow are a big collection of construction materials, including a portable water tank, pipe and other items, while construction cones line that side of the state highway towards Canyon Hills Road.

The reason for this is that the City of Chino Hills has begun an upgrade of water lines coming from the new Canyon Hills development project, recently begun by new owner Woodbridge Pacific Group, LLC, to Sleepy Hollow.

The current phase of the project is to upgrade an existing 6-inch mainline to a 12-inch one between Canyon Hills Road and the site where all of the material is now parked, but not further into Sleepy Hollow.

A long section of 12-inch pipe sits along the north side of Carbon Canyon Road between Sleepy Hollow and Canyon Hills Road as crews work on replacing the old 6-inch lines with the new pipe.
A second, future phase will install a new 12-inch line from the Canyon Hills development in the hills to the north and east of Sleepy Hollow and run that past the community water tank and down Hillside Drive, much of which is a rough dirt road now, to its termination at Carbon Canyon Road at the west end of the neighborhood.

By installing much larger mains, the idea is to provide a consistent water pressure within Sleepy Hollow with an eye primarily for fire protection, rather than for residential use.  It may even be possible, down the road, that the Sleepy Hollow water tank, which sits atop the hill at the north side of the community will be retired and removed and pressure regulators installed to manage flow.

What isn't known is the duration of this first phase, or when the second phase, which is dependent on the construction timetable for the 76-unit Canyon Hills development, will take place.

17 February 2015

Carbon Canyon Road Closed at 4 P.M. Today

UPDATE, 5:03 P.M.: Here's the latest on this, as of a few minutes ago:

5:00 pm Tues., Feb.17th-Carbon Canyon Road is NOW OPEN

5:00 pm - Traffic collision has been cleared

This was reported on the Emergency Alert system on the City of Chino Hills Web site this afternoon:

February 17, 2015 4:24 PM

4:00 pm Tues., Feb.17th-Carbon Canyon Road is closed on the Orange County side west of Sleepy Hollow

4:00 pm Tuesday, February 17th - Carbon Canyon Road is closed on the Orange County side, due to a rollover traffic collision at the County line just west of Sleepy Hollow. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.
Traffic does appear to be moving eastbound, however, pretty smoothly through Sleepy Hollow, so there seems to be at least one lane open and there hasn't been a new update yet.

15 February 2015

Further (De)Grading at Canyon Hills

A portion of the Canyon Hills project site looking northeast from above the
former Ski Villa ski slope.  Click on any image to see them in an enlarged
view in a separate window.  All photos taken this morning.
A quintet of hikers visited the Canyon Hills development site today to see the further (de)grading of this area of Carbon Canyon within Chino Hills, a short distance east of Sleepy Hollow.

Coming up from the south the walk ascended the hill just to the west of the now largely demolished ski slope from the bizarre late 1960s Ski Villa experiment and continued to the upper reaches of the site, where 360-degree views on a clear day like today are spectacular.  That is, if you can keep your eyes beyond the sheer degradation taking place on the premises.

One image showing the scope of the scraping of the hillsides and tops at
the Canyon Hills project site.
On that first steep ascent up what had been a narrow trail, but is now a slippery path scraped clean through the side of the hill, a long connected above-ground series of pipes lead from the summit down toward a trail that runs along the base of the hill from Sleepy Hollow out to the former ski slope.  The intent of the pipe is not obvious, though there is clearly an intent to drain something from the upper elevations to the lower section of trail, which is just above Carbon [Canyon] Creek.

Acres of oaks, chaparral and other plant material have been scraped clean from huge areas.  Piles of demolished plant material appear to be less obvious than in previous visits, indicating, perhaps, that much of the plant removal involves chipping trees and other items on site and then the chips removed from the project area.

By contrast to the (de)grading at Canyon Hills, a view just to the north and west
 at the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope property shows cattle grazing. 
Remnants of a couple dozen structures built on the site during the years when the Jewish-owned Camp Kinder Ring operated from 1928 to 1958 have been pulverized, save for one small site that is largely covered by chapparal and which appears to be outside of the staked area for grading and will be in open space.

Well, this means, almost certainly, so-called "manufactured" open space, where there will be introduced landscaping, which, in turn, means that the Camp Kinder Ring remnant will also have to go.

The last of the Camp Kinder Ring (1928-1958) building remnants includes
what might have been an outdoor table with an umbrella stand.
Piles of cement, brick, tiles and other construction debris from the Camp Kinder Ring years remain, while other material is likely to be plowed under or pushed to areas that will be covered with fill.

What was also striking were the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of examples of soda cans, plastic water bottles, snack food packages and other trash by grading crews that were simply strewn all through the site and which will likely be covered by future grading work.

Another view of the remaining Camp Kinder Ring remnant with a rock wall,
cement pillars, paved floors and other elements.
It is becoming clearer where some of the major roads on the project site are situated, as well as at least some clusters of building sites, though much work remains to be done.

What is not clear is whether there are still large sections of the premises that will be flattened or lowered in elevation to accommodate flatter building pads.  In some instances, stakes at lower spots in the landscape indicate that this might be the plan.

One of the largest Camp Kinder Ring building sites is now reduced to two large
piles of rubble, just above the remaining site depicted above.
The walk continued to the southwestern corner of the property, where excellent views are had of Sleepy Hollow and points west within the canyon, the Madrona site, the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope religious retreat, and elsewhere.

Moving along the western boundary where new gates to the Hill of Hope tract (and where cattle have been observed grazing amongst the chapparal, wild mustard, and other material) have been installed along chain link fencing, the ramble ventured to the northern end of the site.

More cleared areas for future building lots with great views of the San
Gabriel Mountains to the north and east.
Towards this locale, another large pile of cement, brick and other construction debris from the camp were observed, including a large piece of painted cement (looking almost like a mini Stonehenge) propped up in the overturned soil.

Descending from this point, a road steeply ventures down towards another large cleared area, with more plant material in piles, and then back to where the phalanx of huge Caterpillar earth-movers are parked, readied for their further work of degradation.  From there it was back to Canyon Hills Road and the end of the journey.

At the southwestern corner of the parcel a large oak tree, which survived
numerous fires, as evidenced by the charred trunk pieces, but could not
withstand the onslaught of development, lies in pieces.
Second is that when the Chino Hills General Plan was drafted a few years prior to that, back in the early 1980s, the entire area was subject to what is called a "negative declaration."

A few points seem worth mentioning here.  One is that this project was approved by the County of San Bernardino in the late 1980s.  The vesting of tract maps for decades, even when conditions change dramatically, as they most assuredly have with respect to traffic, water supply, further loss of oak and walnut woodland habitat and so forth, is something that seems totally anachronistic.

From the same southwestern corner is another view looking east towards
Mount San Jacinto.
From a handbook applying to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is this statement about this development "tool."
A Negative Declaration or a Mitigated Negative Declaration should be prepared for a project when there is no substantial evidence that the project or any of its aspects could result in significant adverse impacts CEQA Guidelines Section 15063(b)(2)).
The assumption being that, nearly thirty-five years ago, the Chino Hills area was in such a rural condition that no "significant adverse impacts," as defined in CEQA relative to pollution from grading, habitat destruction, increased traffic and the like, were in evidence.

Amid the (de)grading and destruction, a few flowering plants and wild
mustard are growing in some areas, though not for long.
Well, again, that was in, say, 1980 or 1982--but things have changed significantly since then.  We do have more traffic on Carbon Canyon Road, we do have more loss of oak and walnut woodland habitat and so forth.

Projects like Oak Tree Downs and Estates, the second phase of Summit Ranch, Carriage Hills and Pine Valley Estates have all been completed since then.  Further, development eastward that affects the canyon in terms of traffic has increased astronomically.

More cleared areas towards that southwestern part of the property.
Yet, the old tract map standards and negative declaration findings from decades past are still considered relevant now?  Maybe someone in a position of local (city, county) and state authority could explain why this is allowed to happen--other than that the Building Industry Association and other vested interests have lobbied hard and donated lots of campaign money to make this continue to happen?

Just in the last couple of days, a new study released suggests a strong likelihood of a megadrought of thirty to forty years duration in the Southwest.  Whether this extreme drought condition, which could be the worst experienced in the region in something on the order of 1,000 years (yes, a millenium), is of natural variation, human-caused climate change or both, water supply will become the main issue of our future sustainability.

In a strange way, this looked almost artistic, with the circular shapes,
tire tracks, and various colors of soil making for a striking effect.  This is
looking southwest towards Orange County.
So, meantime, as we're all being asked to cut our water use with increasing severity as each year of the current drought continues, it somehow makes sense to someone that we should continue allowing development of the type embodied in Canyon Hills?  That is, larger homes and lots than average, which, in turn, means more water consumption is somehow in line with conservation efforts?

Our extraordinarily hot, dry weather since the first of the year should also spark (hah!) concern about fire risk.
At the northwest part of Canyon Hills, another leveled site from the Camp
Kinder Ring period, featuring many concrete pieces, iron pipes and so on.
A sidenote here, in case readers did not hear--San Francisco experienced no rain at all in January, which last happened in 1850.  Santa Cruz had no rain in the same month for the first time since 1893.  Our own rainfall was negligible.  While the amount of the state in severe drought did drop from 75% to 67% because of winter rains, that's still two-thirds of the state.  As soils dry out and chaparral become drier, the fuel that feeds fire becomes more dangerous.

When the hiking quintet stood at the upper elevations of the project site, a brisk wind blew--and today was a low wind day compared to several days ago when Santa Anas blew through the area--the kind of winds that fan the flames that race up the steep hillsides and gullies that surround the Canyon Hills (and Madrona and Hidden Oaks) sites.

Like a mini Stonehenge, this piece of concrete, which appeared to have a brick
like veneer on it was propped up at the southwest corner of the site.
Our conditions are changing.  Our development codes and standards (and attitudes, as embodied recently in published statements by Chino Hills council member Ed Graham and others) have not.  While the economy is good (at least for a few), the pressure to build increases, which is why Canyon Hills is being graded now.

But, what about the future of Carbon Canyon and its viability?  Prospective buyers of what will surely be million dollar plus homes will be showered with pretty marketing materials and shown model homes that will play up the rural nature of the canyon--but at what cost?

How many of these buyers will be told (spoiler alert: none) that the project site has burned several times in recent decades?  Even if their homes are "fire protected," is living amidst a scorched landscape that belies what the marketing machine feeds them what they paid the $1,000,000 (or whatever the cost of the homes will be) for?

Will these owners feel free to install lawns and lush plantings and use water the way we've been told for decades we can?

A large cleared area leading from the southwest corner of Canyon Hills
down towards the eastern end--this may be where the main street will
traverse the property.
Will these owners enjoy their admittedly jaw-dropping vistas on Saturday and Sunday and then drive down to an increasingly-congested Carbon Canyon Road on Monday morning and then do the same every morning and night and wonder why it is so bad?

Moreover, when they enter the Orange County portion of the canyon and see CalTrans District 12's recently-installed signs reading "Entering Hazardous Fire Area," will they assume that this only applies to the area only a mile from their homes or will District 8, covering Chino Hills, wind up making a similar declaration?

Just to the right of the above future road as it descends towards the bottom
is this roadway wending through a fairly dense area of oaks and other plants,
perhaps set aside for open space.
Conditions are changing.  When will our response catch up?  It's not that there should be zero development within Carbon Canyon (though during extreme drought, there probably should be some consideration of that as long as it persists), but the massive number of houses approved or proposed (Canyon Hills, 76 units; Stonefield, 24; Madrona, 162; Hidden Oaks, 107) is truly game-changing (canyon-changing?)

Isn't it reasonable to ask our local leaders why this makes sense?

The last view from the property, at the main entrance gate from Canyon Hills
Road, looking towards the construction trailer, earth-moving equipment,
discarded drain pipes installed by the previous owner, Forestar Development,
and other elements of the project.

13 February 2015

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #17171

There is an accident that took place about 1 1/2 hours ago on the S-curve along Carbon Canyon Road on the Chino Hills side of the canyon.

Eastbound traffic has been at a standstill (or was--this blogger is still at work and received info about this by phone call and then a comment left on this blog by a local resident.)

This was the latest update from the City of Chino Hills Web site at 6 p.m.:

Friday, Feb. 13th - 5:00 pm Accident on Carbon Canyon - Traffic Slowdown

6 pm - Carbon Canyon Road – A single vehicle accident occurred at approximately 5:00 pm at Old Carbon Canyon Road on the Chino Hills side of the S curves. Northbound and southbound traffic flow is alternating in one lane. The tow truck is on scene to clear the vehicle. The road is expected to return to normal flow soon, however traffic impacts are significant.
Perhaps the accident has already been cleared and traffic resuming uninterrupted, however.