16 December 2014

Gold Spotted Oak Borer Spotted in Anaheim Hills

The Gold Spotted Oak Borer, a pest which has been doing significant damage to oak trees in southern California over the past decade, has now been detected in trees in Weir Canyon in Anaheim Hills, evidently at Santiago Oaks Regional Park.

This is very significant and highly concerning because this discovery represents the first documented incursion of the insect in this vicinity and could spell trouble for the oak tree woodland areas of this region, including those in and around Carbon Canyon.

According to the Center for Invasive Species Research at the University of California, Riverside, a leading agency dealing with the pest, the GSOB is native to southeastern Arizona (and a cousin coming from Mexico and Guatemala), where trees have developed a resistance.

In 2004, however, the pest was found in San Diego County and has been moving north, wreaking havoc on oak groves in its path.  The fact that an infestation has been located near here is an ominous sign for Carbon Canyon and nearby locales.

Treatment options have been very limited, mainly in seeking to keep firewood in the area, in which it was cut, and in exposing infected trees to sunlight or wrapping them in plastic.  These latter methods increase the temperature within the infected areas killing the adults, pupae, and larvae, but, obviously, this involves trees that are doomed to die and is more about preventing further infestations.

The cost of dealing with dead or dying oak trees can be very high for public agencies and private property owners and, until a natural predator can be identified that might be able to check the advance of the borer, the situation could prove devastating for our local oak trees.

To see more from the CISR, please click here.

15 December 2014

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #16852

Follow the tire tracks as they veer off the wide paved shoulder (a rarity along the highway) and onto the dirt where a poor, innocuous sign was just doing its duty before it was flattened.
Not an earth-shattering incident.  Sign-battering, yes.

All it was trying to say was that a school bus stop was 400 feet ahead.   Well, used to be--the bus hasn't stopped at Ginseng Lane/Fairway Drive for at least a few years.  Still, it's the principle of the thing.
This was either the work of an errant eastbound driver or a kid who really, really didn't want to go to school that day.

Actually, the sign, which once stood a little east of Valley Springs Road, is for a bus stop at Fairway Drive/Ginseng Lane, where no bus has stopped for who knows how long.  So, maybe CalTrans should send the poor little thing to that great sign storage building in the sky.

12 December 2014

Rain! Rain!! Rain!!!

UPDATE, 2 P.M.: Just drove through Carbon Canyon from the Brea side and there is a lot of material washing down from the steep, fire-degraded and waterlogged slopes west of Olinda Village along Carbon Canyon Road.

Significant mud and other debris is washing onto Carbon Canyon Road west of Olinda Village as shown in this photo from just fifteen minutes ago.  We'll see if there'll be any closures upcoming this afternoon and evening.
A CalTrans truck has been scraping the bottom of the hillside and a Brea Police Department truck is along the road, too.  At the moment, the sun is shining through and there are intermittent bursts of rain, but if another round of precipitation is coming, there could potentially be problems, as a commenter to this post asked about a couple of hours ago.

We'll see how the afternoon and evening go.

A detail of exposed hillsides ravaged by fire and scoured by recent heavy rains, providing many paths for mud and debris to wash down onto Carbon Canyon Road this afternoon.
The title of this post comes from an 1860s headline in the Los Angeles Star newspaper reflecting the joy and relief when a major rain storm descended upon a parched and drought-stricken Los Angeles which slaked its thirst on the drops denied the region for almost all of two years in 1863 and 1864.

In fact, the recent drought is the worst since that time--150 years ago--but we are getting the opportunity to receive some major rainfall here with the latest storm hitting our area today.

Walking up from the bus stop at the corner of Carbon Canyon Road and Rosemary Lane and looking behind the Sleepy Hollow Community Center, it was great to see some activity in one of the prettier spots in Carbon Canyon, a rock-lined waterfall spilling down from the upper reaches of the community down to the bottom.

A decent little flow of water descends a pretty waterfall right in Sleepy Hollow behind the community center in a photo taken about a half-hour ago.
Whereas in pre-Sleepy Hollow days, this fall emptied naturally into Carbon [Canyon] Creek, the water now runs down a concrete channel to one side of the community building, goes under Rosemary Lane, follows another channel under Carbon Canyon Road, goes through the former home of Sleepy Hollow's founders, Cleve and Elizabeth Purington, and then flows into the creek.

In fact, looking out the window at the creek right now, a nice little flow is observed as the water makes it way southwestward.

That little glimpse at the beautiful natural feature of the waterfall, hidden as it is by the community center, and the enjoyment of what is, at the moment, a steady rain, is another reminder of what is so great about living in Carbon Canyon.

Another view of the Sleepy Hollow waterfall.
The drought is, obviously, not going to be erased because of these storms--one source stated it would have to rain steadily every other day for three years for that to happen--but every little bit of rain makes it that much easier to deal with the historically dry conditions we're experiencing.

06 December 2014

Carbon Canyon Road Truck Advisory Posted

A new sign on the eastbound side of Carbon Canyon Road (State Route 142) just past Sleepy Hollow warning drivers of vehicles over 50 feet in length that it is "not advised" to travel beyond Fairway Drive [and Ginseng Lane].
Early this week, CalTrans District 8, which is responsible for the maintenance of the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon Road (State Route 142), placed a quartet of signs on both sides of the state highway warning that trucks over 50 feet in length were not advised to proceed up the S-curve between Fairway Drive/Ginseng Lane and Old Carbon Canyon Road.

There has been a committee of concerned citizens that has met several times in recent months to express opposition to the use of Carbon Canyon Road by large vehicles.  Whether this effort has led to the posting of these signs is not known.

In any event, it remains to be seen whether there will be any change in how bigger vehicles use the state highway.

A second warning piece of advise found just past Valley Springs Road at the Western Hills Oaks subdivision.
What is striking, first, though, is that there are no warning signs prior to trucks turning onto Carbon Canyon Road as they turn westward from Chino Hills Parkway [added 8 Dec:  There is an old sign on westbound Chino Hills Parkway way back near Pipeline Avenue advising against vehicles over 30 feet in length using the state highway, but this obviously contrasts with new 50-foot vehicle advisory].  This matters because there is no apparently convenient location for trucks to turn around once they are on Carbon Canyon and approaching the designated "point of no return," that is, Old Carbon Canyon Road.

Note, however, that the signs stationed along the westbound side of the highway read "Old Canyon Road."  A truck driver unfamiliar with the canyon could well think that there is no "Old Canyon Road" and continue on through.

Now, for the signs on the westbound side of Carbon Canyon--this one being a hop, skip and a few jumps from the intersection of Carbon Canyon Road and Chino Hills Parkway.  Notice that vehicles over 50 feet in length are "not advised beyond Old Canyon Rd."  The only problem is that there is no "Old Canyon Rd," though there is an "Old Carbon Canyon Road"!
The situation is basically the same for the eastbound portion.  The first sign appears just east of Sleepy Hollow and the second at Valley Springs Road.  A decent turnaround spot for trucks just doesn't exist in that area.

The second issue, however, is simply that the signs are advisory and not compulsory.  Truck drivers are merely warned.  Clearly, that's all that CalTrans feels it can do with a state highway paid for by public taxes collected throughout California and allocated in San Bernardino County where Carbon Canyon Road may still be perceived as an important arterial highway connecting the inland and coastal areas.

As raised here before, though, there are precedents for changing the status of a roadway so that local control can be exercised.  The most obvious nearby example is Hacienda Road through La Habra Heights.

For many years, State Highway 39 extended north from Huntington Beach along Beach Boulevard to La Habra, at which point the route briefly followed Whittier Boulevard east to Hacienda Road and then north through the Puente Hills--along a pathway with many similarities to Carbon Canyon Road, including steep elevations, tight curves and so forth.  Highway 39 then continued north through the eastern San Gabriel Valley and into the San Gabriel Mountains.

Some time back, however, the Highway 39 designation was removed from Whittier Boulevard northward in La Habra Heights and points beyond.  Moreover, portions of the old 39 route through Covina and Azusa have also been deleted from 2005 onward as a designated state highway.  The same is true for a section of Beach Boulevard in Buena Park, in which the city has, as of 2013, assumed control of the roadway.

And, finally, the second of the westbound signs just after Feldspar Drive at the Summit Ranch tract.   Drivers have 850 feet to figure out whether "Old Canyon Rd" means "Old Carbon Canyon Rd."
What this means is that it is possible for the same to be done to Carbon Canyon Road.  As with Route 39, Route 142 could be fully or partially returned to local control in Chino Hills and/or Brea.  Not that these cities are itching to take responsibility for the roadway and all that is entailed in keeping the road in good repair as it moves through areas prone to rock and mudslides, fire and so on.

However, if there is a major shared concern about the impacts of truck traffic along Carbon Canyon Road, it seems obvious that, at this juncture, CalTrans is not disposed towards banning vehicles longer than 50 feet.  If what was done with Route 39 was done with Route 142, it is far more likely that ban, rather than just an advisory, could be implemented.  Again, Brea and Chino Hills are not probably clamoring for control.

One last point:  while it is annoying when the driver of a larger truck does not know how to navigate the S-curve and gets stuck or crosses into the opposing lane to get through a tight curve, there have been very few accidents involving these vehicles.

The much bigger problem is the reckless and dangerous driving of the far greater number of smaller vehicles (cars and motorcycles) which cause the vast majority of the accidents along Carbon Canyon Road.  It seems reasonable to devote more attention to this significant threat to life and property, rather than the lesser one of larger trucks struggling to get through the S-curve.

Anyway, let's see whether the advisory signs have any real effect.

04 December 2014

Yet Another Carbon Canyon Road Closure

It's deja vu all over again, it's deja vu all over again, it's deja vu all over again . . .

Carbon Canyon Road was fully closed again this afternoon, albeit for a lot shorter period than the recent 26 hour debacle, because a car downed power lines once more on the Chino Hills side, this time near Canon Lane.

The mid-afternoon accident, however, appears to have been far less complicated than the accident earlier this week, as a closure alert went out at 2:42 p.m., stating the state highway was closed from Carbon Canyon Regional Park on the Brea side and from Canon Lane on the Chino Hills side.

Seven minutes later, though, a follow-up reported that, only three minutes after the previous alert, SCE was able to secure the site and reestablish power on the line, so the road was open once more.

02 December 2014

A Little English History in Chino Hills

This is not a post about the history of the British in Chino Hills (though that would probably be smashing), but, instead, a sketch of another interesting person associated with this area long before there was a Chino Hills.

One of the city's more picturesque parks is English Springs Park at the southeast corner of Grand Avenue and Chino Hills Parkway, with its pond and rolling hills tucked below the busy suburban activity around it.

A bit to the southeast is one of the few equestrian zones in Chino Hills, with its sole entry point off Peyton Drive being English Road.

In both cases, their namesake is a horse breeder of some renown in the years between 1910 and 1950 named Revel Lindsay English.  He epitomizes what made the Chino/Diamond Bar area a well-known center of horse (and other stock) breeding during the first few decades of the 20th century, the image of which is still maintained in the region.

The listing of the English family, including young Revel, at Kane, Illinois in the 1880 census.  From Ancestry.com.  Click on this or any image to see them in a separate window in an enlarged view.
English hailed from Kane, Illinois, a rural town north of St. Louis, and was born there in February 1877 to Wharton Kane, a farmer and auctioneer, and his second wife, Deborah Lindsay.  Despite his country upbringing, Revel turned out to be a fine musician and baritone singer and worked for a time as a baritone in  the Castle Square Opera Company, based in St. Louis.  In 1898, he was a member of the Illinois Lyric Quartette, which toured the United States.

In the 1900 census, English lived in Jerseyville, a town just south of Kane, and his occupation was listed as "Singer, Opera."  Soon after, he moved to New York to further his career in the competitive world of professional operatics.  However, in early 1904, he migrated west and landed in Pasadena, where he took up the business of teaching vocal music.  He worked for a time with the Fillmore School of Music and lived where the Pasadena Convention Center is now located.

Revel English's listing as "teacher vocal music" in the 1905 Pasadena city directory.  From Ancestry.com
English also became a popular performer at local parties, community functions and other events, singing to piano accompaniment of a young woman named Edith Ames, who Revel married in 1907.  At the same time, he began to become a fixture in Pasadena's equestrian community, which had strong ties to the Crown City's society crowd.  Moreover, in 1909 and 1910, English was a competitor in chariot races that constituted the actual "tournament" in the famed Tournament of Roses festivities that began in the 1890s before gladiators in another sport--that is, football--took the spotlight!

By 1910, English and his wife settled into a residence on Palmetto Street, just east of Orange Grove Avenue, the famed thoroughfare littered with the mansions of wealthy Eastern capitalists and local power brokers, though site of the English house sits in the path of the incomplete 710 Freeway.

Around this time, he also opened the Kentucky Riding Academy, which may have been named for the home state of his paternal grandparents and perhaps where the English family developed its interests in horse breeding, located near Fair Oaks and Del Mar in Pasadena, where there are now industrial and commercial buildings.  He appears to have operated the Academy until about the 1920s.

Meantime, his widowed father followed Revel to California and, by 1908, the two of them invested in some land in Chino (as well as in Victorville), where they created the 560-acre Sierra Vista Stock Farm, which was devoted to raising purebred saddle horses, draft and harness horses, poultry, cattle and hay farming, and a 1,240-acre tract in what is now Chino Hills and where the English Road area is located.  This may have been something they knew from Illinois, but, in any case, Revel devoted himself increasingly to horse breeding and left music as an avocation.

Ad for Revel English's Sierra Vista Stock Farm in Chino from the 1 May 1913 issue of The Breeder and Sportsman.
Sierra Vista was at the southwest corner of Chino Avenue and Pipeline Avenue, where today's Don Lugo High School is situated.  After a few years, however, Wharton English's declining health led him, as a veteran of the Civil War (he was discharged in 1863 because of battle wounds) to be hospitalized at the Soldiers' Home at Sawtelle, at what is now the Veterans Administration compound at West Los Angeles, and where he died in July 1915.

Perhaps because Pasadena was growing rapidly in the 1920s as the southern California real estate market mushroomed or because he simply wanted to devote more time to his operations in Chino, he moved out to the Sierra Vista Stock Farm.  As English developed his horse breeding operation, he became nationally known both for that and for his competition as an amateur in saddle horse events.

On the horse breeding side, he was widely known for the quality and pedigree of many animals, including one named for his wife, Edith Ames, and his horses were highly successful at events and shows throughout the country.  One prize-winning horse, Coquette, was purchased by film star Gloria Swanson in the early 1920s.  In addition, English became a very sought-after judge at equestrian events.  In the late 1910s, he was vice-president of the Pacific Coast Saddle Horse Association.

A San Bernardino Sun article on Revel English's 19 September 1926 triumph at Louisville, when his champion horse, Edna May's King, was the winner at the Kentucky State Fair, marking the first time an amateur owner won the event.
With regards to his participation in events, English, in 1926, took the saddle horse world by storm by becoming the first amateur to win the Watterson division of the Grand Championship stake for the five-gaited saddle-horses at the Kentucky State Fair  at Louisville, in the fabled center of horse breeding based in Kentucky.  This was a feat that was not repeated for over six decades until an amateur captured the prize again in 1988.  The 1926 victory was the second title for Edna May's King in three years, as she won the championship in 1924, as well..

The horse that won that competition, Edna May's King, was bought by English from a Kentucky breeder in 1923 for a then-record $12,000.  In 1930, as the Great Depression began to worsen, he commanded a new record when he sold her to a Beverly Hills businessman for $40,000.  In 1931, English sold, for an undisclosed amount, a string of 14 horses to F. C. Mars of the famed candy firm and announced that he was cutting his inventory of fine horses to just a few while continuing general management of his ranches.

In August 1940, English's Sierra Vista operation took a major turn for the worse when a fire erupted in the laundry room of his home and and burned down the two-story structure, destroying many of English's horse-breeding and competition trophies and honors and causing $10,000 in damage.  This was the third major fire at Sierra Vista in the space of five years.  In 1935, a large hay barn was burned and the following year its replacement was consumed by a conflagration destroying $10,000 worth of hay.

Although he rebuilt, the 63-year old English was never quite as active in the industry after the disaster as he was before.  In fact, in June 1941, English held an auction to sell sixty work horses, a dozen purebred colts, a few other animals, farm implements and tools.  This wasn't the first time he'd had a major auction of materials at the ranch, there was one in June 1927, but it seems clear that the fire's aftermath led English to scale down his activity and "downsized."  It appears that he mainly served as judges at shows and events and disassociated significantly, if not completely, from horse breeding.

Among his community activities was service on the Chino Rural Fire District, for which he was a founding trustee when the district was formed in 1935 and he also served as president of the organization for a time in the early 1940s.

As for his Chino Hills ranch, which terminated with the westerly line of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and was, therefore, the eastern neighbor of the Tres Hermanos Ranch owned by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler; Rancho La Puente scion, oilman and former Los Angeles County Sheriff William R. Rowland; and Olinda oil magnate Thomas B. Scott, English not only raised animals there but also, from about 1910, he leased the land out for prospective oil drilling.

A 3 September 1932 article from The San Bernardino Sun detailed plans to drill an oil well on land leased from Revel English on his 1,240-acre ranch in Chino Hills.  
In 1920, the International Petroleum Company drilled down 950 feet on a portion of the English ranch and it was said that there was some showing of oil about half way down the well, though the effort proved to be fruitless.

In 1932, a second well was drilled by the Great American Petroleum Company, subleasing from Si Rubens, who held the lease from English.  Rubens had acquired some 2,000 acres, including smaller leases from two owners adjacent to English and had permits from the state of California to drill three wells in a concentrated area.  Notably, this was a spot that had been the location of the first oil drilling effort in the Chino Hills, undertaken by a man named MacRae in the early 1890s--that attempt was curtailed because of excess water that filled the well and doomed the project.

Meantime, a portion of the Chino Hills ranch was dedicated to breeding horses and grazing stock, this being the area off today's English Road (known for years as English Ranch Road, which intersected with what was called Peyton Ranch Road.)

A San Bernardino Sun article from 13 April 1941 covering the sale of Revel English's Chino Hills ranch, comprising 1,240 acres, to Pasadena capitalist James N. Clapp and his wife.
In April 1941, however, English decided to sell his Chino Hills spread and found a buyer in Pasadena capitalist James N. Clapp and his wife.  While English continued to manage his reduced operation at Sierra Vista, the Clapps began an extensive renovation of the Chino Hills property.  They had only been owners of the property for a few years, however, when Clapp was killed while working with a tractor on the ranch.  His wife quickly sold the property, which was subdivided.  Among the later owners of a portion of the English Ranch were the Paynes, for whom the upscale Payne Ranch housing subdivision and adjacent shopping center are named--more on them later.

One other historical tidbit--in 1976, the San Bernardino County supervisors approved, after a long period of planning and deliberation, the extension of Grand Avenue from Diamond Bar eastward into the county.  Several routes were proposed, including two that would link Grand to Schaefer Avenue in Chino.  Another, however, was to extend Grand southeastward and connect it with English Road.  This latter route, however, was deemed to be too prejudicial to existing landowners, including the Payne family, and the current, more northerly route was selected.

Revel L. English, second from left, with other judges at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in a newspaper photo from 1948.
Meanwhile, within several years after the 1940 fire and subsequent auction, English relocated to San Marino and then Tujunga, between Pasadena and San Fernando, where he lived the last decade or so of his life, dying there in June 1953, at the age of 76.

30 November 2014

Carbon Canyon Road Closed At County Line

8:45 A.M., 2 DECEMBER: The reopening of Carbon Canyon Road finally took place at 1:30 this morning.

A little commentary--bearing in mind that this accident possibly had nothing to do with dangerous driving, but also understanding that it very well could have, given past history and experience.  So, here goes . . .

This pole has been destroyed or damaged several times in the last several years.

Maybe some steel bollards like those used to protect a similar pole at the S-curve further east near Carriage Hills would help protect this area, too.  Except that one of the S-curve bollards has been pushed back from repeated collisions to the point that it is now touching that pole.  A couple more significant crashes and there'll probably be another downed pole or power outage.

Again, the cost of continued damage along Carbon Canyon Road must be somewhat substantial, though absorbed by state and local agencies and private property owners.  These costs are probably not tracked with any detail and certainly not correlated, so the broad effects of dangerous driving may not be easily quantified.

For those who have to put up with the noise and the delays and other issues, though, much of this can be qualified.

It would probably take deaths, and several of them, to stir action, however, in terms of some consistent patrolling to check dangerous driving behavior.

Because, now, there is virtually none.  Yet, accidents continue to happen with some regularity.  Over 6 1/2 years, this blog has cataloged a significant number of incidents and certainly cannot be expected to track all of them.  A reasonable person could conclude that the inventory is alarmingly high.

Except that Carbon Canyon is somewhat removed from the centers of activity (and power) in Brea and Chino Hills.

Except that there seems to be a prevailing mindset that the Canyon, to use a too-popular nonsensical term, "is what it is."  In other words, we have to expect dangerous driving, accidents, and near-crashes, because it is the nature of the canyon and its serpentine roadway.

Except that it isn't.  Because if it was, everyone would be crashing all the time.

The road is perfectly and easily driven without incident by the vast majority of its users.  Sometimes, of course, there are pure accidents for a variety of reasons.  Far more often, though, there are too many reckless drivers.  They can be heard virtually every night, usually late at night, more often on weekends.

They do this, because they can.  There's no one or nothing to stop them.  And, there's virtually no effort to do so.  And, in ten years experience, there never really has been, except for some token displays that, insignificant as they were, have gone away the last several years.

After a decade here (and there are many people who have been here far longer), it would be easy to be apathetic and think things will never change.  And, they may not.

But, the concern that one reckless driver could hit an innocent driver and passengers and cause major damage, injury and death is every reason not to be (too) cynical and (too) apathetic.

Do our local leaders see and understand this?

OK, the soap box is now back in storage.  Enjoy our badly-needed rain.

UPDATE, 10:30 P.M.  Now the City of Chino Hills has sent out an update merely stating that work continues on the damaged power pole and lines, that there is still only one lane open on Carbon Canyon Road, and does not provide an estimate for completion, 26 1/2 hours or so after the accident.

Hold on, it's now 10:35 and the last little update was revised to say that the latest estimate for reopening the road is Midnight and that a new update from the city will come at 5 a.m.

UPDATE, 9:45 P.M.  OK, 6:00 is out; they're still working and there's still just one lane open in each direction.  How much is this response costing and who is paying for it?

UPDATE, 2:45 P.M.  Well, this is strange.  First, the anticipated reopening for Carbon Canyon Road is at 6 p.m. instead of Noon, which means those heading back east during commuter times will find it nightmarish no matter which route they take.  For now, there is one lane open for both directions and a pilot vehicle is employed in getting travelers through the affected area.

Secondly, the Chino Hills notification system has erred in stating that the accident was on the Brea side--the accident was at an old familiar crash location--the intersection of Carbon Canyon and Rosemary Lane/Hillside Drive in Sleepy Hollow.  Just how that misinformation could be generated when the accident happened in Chino Hills is puzzling, to say the least.

In any case, the projected reopening is 6 p.m.  For now.

Southern California Edison crews work on the downed power pole and lines taken out by an errant driver last night on Carbon Canyon Road at Rosemary Lane/Hillside Drive in Sleepy Hollow.
UPDATE, 7:00 A.M., 1 DECEMBER.  An update from 4:30 this morning states that, while Carbon Canyon Road is open through one lane only, a full reopening of the state highway by Cal Trans, as Edison works to replace a destroyed power pole, will not take place until about Noon today.

UPDATE, 11:30 P.M.  The latest news on the Carbon Canyon Road closure is that CalTrans is working on repairs and that the Brea Police Department is in control of managing the situation.  It is reported that there maybe access through one lane only as work is undertaken, but the update is not clear as to whether this is the case now, will be from a given time, or will be intermittent through the night.

Brea P.D. updates can be found by calling (714) 990-7732.

Chino Hills expects to provide an update at 5:45 a.m.

As of 8 p.m., Carbon Canyon Road is closed to all traffic due to accident near the line between Chino Hills and Brea just west of Sleepy Hollow.

It is reported that power lines are down and that Southern California Edison crews will be on-scene to do repairs, while some customers appear to be without electricity--this blogger, however, is 2/10 of a mile from the scene and has power.

While there was some heavy rain about an hour or so ago, it hasn't been all that strong in the last half-hour, but the roads are slick.  We haven't had much rain for so long that some drivers may not be making the necessary adjustments (read: slowing down.)

More info as it becomes available will be posted.