15 January 2018

Madrona Request for State Supreme Court Review Denied

This just doesn't happen very often, but the proposed Madrona housing project, which would have brought 162 houses to the north side of Carbon Canyon between Olinda Village and Sleepy Hollow, is now officially revoked.

Old Standard Life Insurance Company, through its conservator in bankruptcy, the State of Idaho, sought a review by the California Supreme Court of the superior court ruling denying the project and the state appeals court order upholding the lower court decision.

The high court, however, denied that request on Friday.  Now the Superior Court in Orange County will revoke all the approvals given by the City of Brea in June 2014.

Given the ease with which housing projects are routinely approved and upheld in court, this is a signal milestone.  Hills for Everyone, along with other partners, has shepherded this process through, at great financial cost and the time of dedicated volunteers and legal staff.

The Superior Court victory was secured in November 2015, followed by a win at the Appellate Court last October.  Friday's denial by the Supreme Court capped a 17-year effort by HFE and many others to fight this egregious project.

For more on this momentous victory, check out this HFE page.

13 January 2018

Seven Carbon Canyon Road Accidents in the New Year

It's front page news in this week's Champion, as staff reporter Marianne Napoles wrote that there have been seven (reported) accidents in just two weeks along Carbon Canyon Road, most attributed to unsafe driving.

Whereas it was posted here that there were two accidents within a few hours last Monday, the article stated that there was a third.  Napoles observed that the worst of those, noted here and which involved a driver who went off the road near the S-curve and summit on the Chino Hills side and was booked for DUI, was in the same location as a 9 December crash (and there have been others over the years).

It was also noted by local residents that the spot, just west of Carriage Hills Drive, is where 8 of 28 hours would be situated if the Stonefield project, approved by the City of Chino Hills several years ago, was to be built.  Presumably, guardrails and other protective elements would be put in place if that development (the site is up for sale) was to be built.

One of those residents, who lives in the Carriage Hills subdivision, was quoted as saying, "Carbon Canyon Road is an on-going mess in any weather," referring to the fact that, while some of the recent accidents took place in rainy conditions, dangerous driving is a regular occurrence, a point made (too) often on this blog.  The resident cited growing frustration with deteriorating conditions on the state highway.

With regard to those conditions, the article pointed out that the City of Chino Hills will be considering whether to approve an agreement for a second phase of a study underway about what to do with Carbon Canyon Road with respect to traffic volum and flow, the use of the highway by large trucks, and safety. 

The first phase was discussed here last year when it was presented to the city council.  The article also stated that a cost-sharing agreement with the City of Brea will be discussed at that meeting next month.  If approved, the new phase of the study is anticipated to take about six months to be completed.

Mention was also made of efforts since the fall to address growing traffic, including truck traffic.  A recent post here recounted an encounter I had with a long, flatbed truck that had to clip a shoulder berm and go fully into the opposing lane to maneuver through the sharp S-curve.  This has happened a number of times in recent years. 

Undoubtedly, the growing use of phone apps like Waze, which don't provide information about the road's structure just its volume, has accounted for much of the sharp rise in traffic on the road, which noticeably changed in 2013.

A study completed last spring noted that, between 2010 and 2015, there were 92 accidents (again, these were the reported ones) leading to over 150 injuries and three fatalities.  About 2/3 of these were on the Brea side with improper turning and unsafe speed cited as the biggest factors. 

With regard to those seven incidents, a list was provided of the incidents, occurring between the 1st and the 10th.  Four were determined to involve speeding, with two of them specifically denoted as "speed for conditions," that is, for the rainy conditions.  It appears that some people maybe thought it would never rain again after the phenomenally dry conditions up to the end of 2017!

Another cause was someone drifting over the double yellow centerlines.  It is remarkable, though, how many drivers think making turns across double yellows, especially at the corner gas station or convenience store is perfectly fine.

The last three reported accidents did not include assigned causes, though one was the DUI.  Another, witnessed by my wife, involved a truck skidding across lanes on the last eastbound curve near Old Carbon Canyon Road and might be assigned a "speed for conditions" cause, though, again, that was not stated in the article.

One other detail:  descriptions of some of these accidents include the phrase "due to the wet road."  This is a commonplace description when crashes occur during rainy weather.

Obviously, an inanimate object cannot cause crashes, unless there is a failure in its structure, such as a loss of pavement through a cave-in, a sinkhole, and so on.  When the descriptions provided by law enforcement also say "speed for conditions," that's exactly what the problem often is.  Drivers who are accustomed to being able to drive faster and more recklessly than they should during dry conditions (and even those who don't) often don't adjust their driving for inclement weather.

Clearly, some accidents are just that.  A split second decision made doesn't necessarily imply recklessness and unlawful conduct, but a good many of the ones reported in those nine days appear to have involved those behaviors.

Studies are understandably needed and some remedies, like signs, grooved centerlines, more reflectors, and so on, are likely to come out of these.  The truth is, though, most drivers who speed and are reckless through the Canyon don't care about signs (which are often mowed down), reflectors and other measures.  They're driving the way they do because there's no one to prevent them.

Patrols and enforcement have been sporadic and spotty and virutally never happen in the evenings or on weekends, when, by far, most of the worst incidents have occurred.  Invariably, cost and staffing priorities are cited as why the presence of law enforcement is low.  Seven accidents in nine days seems, even by the jaded standards of Carbon Canyon Road, excessive.

Nothing will affect drivers' behaviors more than when they see a patrol car.  It doesn't have to be, as a city official once expressed it to no purpose, 24/7.  It just needs to be occasional and consistent enough so that it becomes known that there is a good likelihood that regular enforcement takes place.

Otherwise, the speeding and reckless driving, and the big trucks crossing lanes to navigate the curves will continue, no matter how many studies are conducted, meetings held, and articles about crashes published.

"History of the Hills" Column in the "Champion"

I'm honored and privileged to have been asked to contribute a monthly column called "History of the Hills" in the Commentary/Opinion section of our amazing 130 year-old newspaper, the Champion

The first column is in today's edition and touches upon the native indigenous people (Indians) of our area. Future columns will go into the early days of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and its first two owners, Antonio María Lugo and his son-in-law, Isaac Williams.  The rancho's west boundary extended into Carbon Canyon to about where the Circle K convenience store is just east of Sleepy Hollow.  There will be posts down the road (!) about the Canyon, too. 

You have to either subscribe to the print or electronic editions to read the column, so here is the link to the paper's website.

09 January 2018

Two Major Accidents Yesterday in Carbon Canyon

It's always easy to blame the rain, especially when we had 12/100 of an inch since the season started on 1 October, but there were two major traffic accidents yesterday on Carbon Canyon Road.

My wife had the misfortune to be caught behind both.  With the first one, she remained on scene to be a witness as she was the car right behind the crash.  A truck came down the last portion of the S-curve heading east, skidded into the westbound lane, and badly damaged a vehicle.

The second one, however, got reported on in the Chino/Chino Hills Champion by Josh Thompson thusly:

Chino Hills police jailed a 35-year-old man on suspicion of driving under the influence Monday night after his vehicle fell 50 to 75 down an embankment, trapping his car on a barbed wire fence.
Mario Velez was booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. He was later released with a citation, according to San Bernardino County jail records.
Deputies were called at 5:50 p.m. to Carbon Canyon Road and Carriage Hills Lane on a report a vehicle went off the road, said Chino Hills Police Sgt. Eno Lassiter.
“The driver was not injured. During the investigation, deputies learned the driver was intoxicated and lost control of the vehicle,” Sgt. Lassiter said.
Mr. Velez was arrested at 6:59 p.m.
Traffic on Carbon Canyon Road was congested until the road opened shortly after 8 p.m., according to the City of Chino Hills.
Fortunately, Velez went off the side of the road and not into opposing traffic where he could have killed someone.

There's a lot more rain today so, if you're driving Carbon Canyon Road, be extra careful and watchful.

01 January 2018

Sleepy Hollow Photographs, 1930s/1940s

First off—Happy New Year to everyone and hope you have a great 2018.

The same generous neighbors who loaned the David Purington reminiscences that have appeared in two installments here to date followed up with some other great material relating to Sleepy Hollow history. 

These include copies of community newsletters from the mid-1960s and late 1970s, community calendars from the early 1970s and some photographs dating as far back as th 1930s.  A few of the latter are being shared in this post.

One is a great view taken from northwest part of Sleepy Hollow and looking to the south and east.  There are a smattering of houses on the steep slopes off Hay Drive as it winds up in switchback fashion from Rosemary Lane down towards the lower part of the photo and with Carbon Canyon Road at the very bottom.

There is a large light-colored home at the center and to the right of that, below and above Hay Drive, are two structures that are still standing.  The one above the road with a set of windows at the left and a single one at the right of the facing elevation was built in 1929, according to its current owner.  The one below, a Craftsman style dwelling, with a small second story tower, is the other.  The homes flanking the Craftsman may still be there, as well.

At the bottom towards the lower right corner is a Pueblo-style  unit with a garage accessed off Carbon Canyon Road.  At the top, above the 1929 house, is another 1920s-era house on Grandview Lane that is likely still there.  Otherwise, there was still plenty of space left for later buildings in subsequent decades.

The other two photographs are taken from near the same vantage point and it looks to this observer like the view is from the southeast corner of Sleepy Hollow from about Francis Drive and its intersection with Hay Drive, which would be the dirt road moving off from the center and lower left of the respective photos.

If this assumption is correct, the photos look back to about where the first image was taken, with Lion's Canyon being just beyond the community and to the right of the bare patch at the bottom of the sloping hillside at the west side of that canyon, which is the entrance to today's St. Joseph's Hill of Hope campus.  In the more horizontal of the two views, Carbon Canyon Road would move from the center of the right margin up towards that bare patch.

These rare early views of Sleepy Hollow not only show the community within probably 20 years of its 1923 founding, but also indicate just how rural and remote the neighborhood was 70-80 or more years ago.  Looking at the chapparal and other vegetation and thinking about the primitive state of firefighting generally, much less in an isolated area like Sleepy Hollow, it's remarkable that there wasn't more destruction from the wildfires that have occasionally burst forth in Carbon Canyon.

The situation has changed considerably, but the rural quality of the community, even as suburbanization has crept closer over the years, is what has been both a great attraction for its residents and a risk, as well.

26 December 2017

David Purington Reminiscences of Sleepy Hollow, Part Two

When Sleepy Hollow was established in 1923 by Cleve Purington and fellow investors, the main infrastructure issue to deal with was a reliable water supply.  Sources from the immediate neighborhood were tapped first, then other locations within the canyon were located.  Eventually, outside water had to be imported, especially as the community became largely one of full-time, rather than part-time/vacation, residences.

In recent decades, we've taken it for granted that there was enough water to supply local needs and wants, but that is going to have to change given current conditions of sustained drought.  That's why reading the recollections of Purington's son David about the water history of Sleepy Hollow has interest and relevance.

These documents, provided by long-time residents of the neighborhood, were scanned, but the originals had some fading and there are a couple of areas that are difficult or impossible to make out.  Still, they provide us a rare look into the history of the community.

To see them in separate windows in an enlarged view simply click on any of the images and you can review them all and get more detail.  Enjoy!

Note:  The original water wells were drilled along Carbon [Canyon] Creek between what was most recently Party House Liquor #2 on the west and the Purington home, which still stands, next to the former community church and across from the intersection of Carbon Canyon Road and Rosemary Lane on the east.  The later well, mentioned on page four, was on land leased from the Oasis Country Club.  This club, which opened in the mid-to-late 1920s and appears to have lasted for a few decades, is where the Western Hills Oaks subdivision is situated, south of Carbon Canyon Road and across from the Western Hills golf course.  Lookout Ridge is the steeper area of the hills at the north side of Sleepy Hollow.  A water tank is still standing at the highest point of the ridge.

23 December 2017

The Gaines and Brown Families of Carbon Canyon, Part 7: Christmas Greetings from the Flying Cow Ranch

As we head into the Christmas holiday and approach the New Year, it seems like a good time for a new post featuring photographs, provided by Joyce Harrington, of her ancestors in the Gaines family, owners of the Flying Cow Ranch where Olinda Village is today.

One nice item is a Christmas real photo postcard sent by the family--real photo postcards were very popular in the 1910s and this one shows the family posed in front of their Craftsman-style ranch house, which stood where the Hollydale Mobile Home Estates is located on south side of Carbon Canyon Road at the junction of Carbon and Soquel canyons.

There are so many great photos of the Flying Cow Ranch, so let's include a few, showing just how rural the place was decades ago when traffic on Carbon Canyon Road during a day would number probably double digits or maybe low triple digits and you were more likely to hear cattle lowing than a car audio system blowing.

First, the holidays are, of course, a time to celebrate with family and friends, so, while the second photo shown here, probably from about he 1920s judging from the car, clothing and hair styles, was not likely during the Christmas season, though it could have been, it is easy to imagine the Gaines' inviting folks to come out to the ranch to emjoy some rural yuletide cheer with hikes, horse rides and other outdoor activities.

Then, a major part of celebrating Christmas or any major holiday is to have a feast, there is a cool image here on a barbeque held on the ranch.  There are certainly times when Christmas day is sunny and seasonable, so having a holiday barbeque (check out that set up for cooking) outdoors would have been a possibility, though it is unlikely the photo was taken in December!

Finally, the Gaines family home probably hosted plenty of fun indoor gatherings with carols sung, meals eaten, and presents opened by a Christmas tree near a roaring fire (though, again, this is just general guesswork.)  The last photo shows the family hosting the Thompsons and the group gathered on the front porch with the neat rustic stone porch posts and the ca. 1910s car in the background as some fun details.

Meantime, enjoy your Christmas holiday and check back in a few days for more Carbon Canyon history through the reminiscences of David Purington, whose family founded Sleepy Hollow in the 1920s.