26 January 2015

An Early La Vida Mineral Springs Document from 1924

Thanks for Orange County historian and former county archivist Phil Brigandi for providing a copy of an "Application for License," filed with the county by the promoters of what was called in the document "La Vida Springs" on 10 June 1924.

These applications were either for a "pool room," or billiard space, or "public dance," or dance hall.  On the La Vida one, the description for the premises is that the parcel consisted of "160 acres of Deeded Land — Bath Houses, Cabinets, Etc. owned by — Wm Berkenstock, Wm Blatner, Pugh and Miller, Fred Cline, A.L. Lewis, C. E. Price."

The request was for the quarter beginning on 1 July and was signed "C.W. Blarner, Trustee / La Vida Springs Co."  The license, if approved, was to be mailed to Blatner at the resort site, which was then in the Fullerton R.F.D. 2 (the acronym standing for "Rural Free Delivery," people of a certain age might recall the old TV chestnut "Mayberry, R.F.D.")

Brigandi noted that the application was found in the records of the Orange County Board of Supervisors at the county archives and stated that the district attorney and sheriff were asked to weigh in as to whether applications were to be approved.

Indeed, at the top in pencil, is the inscription, "refer to / Dist Atty / refusal recommended" and this signed by district attorney Alexander P. Nelson and sheriff Sam Jernigan.  A separate inscription reads, "no fee paid," because of the refusal to accept the request.  Notably, Jernigan was a card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan, which had a host of prominent Orange County men on its rolls back in the 1920s.

As profiled by Gustavo Arellano in his Orange County Weekly column on KKK "pioneers" in the OC, Jernigan was also a fervent support of Prohibition as sheriff, which likely explains his (as well as Nelson's) recommendation to ban a dance hall license for La Vida--because the remote Carbon Canyon location would have provided easy cover for illicit drinking and gambling.  A future post will concern a bust on the latter that took place at La Vida a few years later.

On the reverse of the document is a stamp showing the application was filed on the same date of the request by county clerk J.M. Backs.  A pencil inscription in a corner noted that the petition was "Denied — June 10, 24 / La Vida Springs."

Obviously, the more important information ultimately concerns the size of the property, which constituted a quarter section of land and substantially more than just the developed areas, as well as the owners of the resort.

A June 1924 application for a dance hall license from the trustees of "La Vida Springs," from the records of the Orange County Board of Supervisors in the county archives.  The copy was provided by historian and former county archivist Phil Brigandi.  Click on the image to see it in an enlarged view in a separate window.
Pugh and Miller was the oil production company co-owned by William Newton Miller, who effectively ran the business and later owned the entire operation until it was turned over to his daughter and son-in-law, Lois and Robert Dickenson, who continued operating La Vida until the 1970s.  Miller's story has been detailed in this blog previously.

As to the others, William Berkenstock was a native of White Deer, Pennsylvania, a small community in the north-central part of the state, close to Williamsport, the birthplace of Little League Baseball.   Born there in 1870 to a farming family, Berkenstock made his way west as a young man and, by 1900, was living in the Fullerton township, where Placentia was later founded.

Berkenstock married Josephine Wagner, daughter of Charles C. Wagner, a prosperous Placentia citrus grower,  Several homes built by Wagner's children stand in the city, including one on Yorba Linda Boulevard east of Valencia Avenue and another on Valencia, cater corner to El Dorado High School, and there is a school and park named for the family.

Berkenstock made his money as a fumigator for growers and also operated his own groves on 80 acres immediately north of those of his father-in-law.  In 1913, he built an Italianate home that was designed by architect Frederick Eley, whose work includes structures at Chapman University, the famed White House restaurant in Anaheim, the Santa Ana Y.M.C.A., and others.  Said to have cost $15,000, a princely sum at the time, the nearly 6,000 square foot home still stands in a private enclave just south of Bastanchury Road and east of Valencia.  Among other activities, Berkenstock was a director of the Fullerton Savings Bank.

Charles William Blattner was born in 1860 in Chicago, where his Swiss-born father ran a saloon.  For many years, Blattner was a commission agent for Bell Telephone and Telegraph, but left the industry and Chicago for Orange County, where he purchased a 10-acre orange grove on Commonwealth Avenue east of downtown Fullerton in Spring 1909.

A year later, he sold the property and then bought a 40-acre property in the new community of Yorba Linda, in partnership with his brother, Oscar (a brick company owner in Chicago who retired to South Pasadena.)  Blattner, who was married with children and divorced about 1910 (he filed on the grounds that his devout Roman Catholic wife, Mary Flannagan, could not remain with Blattner, who had become a Mason--so they lived apart for some twenty years), remarried and remained at his ranch until he died on 24 July 1924, just six weeks after the La Vida Springs application was filed by him.

Charles E. Price was profiled here before with respect to the Carbon Canyon Oil Company, which after its incorporation in 1900 drilled some wells near where Carbon and Soquel canyons meet at today's Olinda Village.  Price was also discussed on this blog concerning his name being on a 1924 map of the canyon--this, of course, being the same year as the La Vida Springs application.  So, it appears that, long after the failure of the oil company, Price kept his ownership of land in Carbon Canyon and was then a partner in the La Vida Springs project.

Frederick J. Cline was born in 1878 in Fresno to a farming couple, Samuel and Elizabeth Cline.  By 1900, the family had relocated to San Pedro, then an independent city, and Fred was employed as a day laborer.  Married and with a family, Cline became a real estate agent in San Pedro, which was annexed to the city of Los Angeles, during the following decade.  Then, he and his family moved to King City, near Salinas in Monterey County, where he was employed as a lumberman.

Sometime after 1920, however, Cline relocated back to southern California and not only became a part-owner of the La Vida Springs, but was its manager, as noted in this blog previously.  In the 1930 census, he is listed as a water company manager, perhaps for the La Vida mineral water bottling enterprise  While his involvement with the resort seems to have ended by sometime in the 1930s, he remained in Placentia, selling insurance during the Great Depression years and he died in 1945, at the age of 67.

The last trustee of the La Vida resort was Arthur L. Lewis, who was born in the remote area in Monitor Pass in Alpine County, southeast of Lake Tahoe—a county that is the smallest in population of the 58 in California.  His father, Lafayette, was a stable keeper and his mother was Ellen Potter, with both hailing from New York.

During the 1870s, the Lewis family resettled in Anaheim, where Lafayette continued his line of work with the Fashion Livery Stable (and, from 1903-1907, owned the Workman Ranch in the La Puente area, now the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, but his destruction of the old cemetery on the ranch led to a lawsuit verdict against him, requiring Lafayette to rebuild what he tore down.  Consequently, he sold the property) and Arthur joined his father in the business for a period before turning to the new occupation of electrician.  By 1900, he was working in that field and maintained that vocation through the 1910s.  By 1920, Lewis relocated his family to Norwalk, where they took up farming and, presumably, this is what he was doing when he joined the La Vida enterprise.

By the end of the Twenties, Lewis and his wife, Louise, moved to Seal Beach, but their stay on the coast was relatively brief and, prior to 1935, the couple bought an orange grove off Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim and resided there, presumably, until Arthur's death in 1949 at age 86.

It appears from the list of trustees found on the application that Charles E. Price was the owner of the land where La Vida was founded, perhaps purchasing this from Edward F. Gaines, who was associated with a more rudimentary operation of a resort there from at least 1915.  Then, a syndicate of orange growers and farmers with strong northern Orange County connections came in and joined Price in creating the La Vida Springs or La Vida Mineral Springs resort.  Within a short time, however, it appears that Miller consolidated control with Cline serving as manager--at least for a while.

From sometime in the 1930s, Miller looks to have been sole proprietor of the springs, although having the restaurant run by Archie Rosenbaum, and then, in the early Forties, turned over the property to his daughter and son-in-law, the Dickensons, who operated La Vida for some thirty years.

This application adds significant new information to the evolving story of Carbon Canyon's most notable historic element, thanks to Phil Brigandi's unearthing of the document in the county archives.

20 January 2015

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #17048

This one is of very recent vintage, probably over the weekend (as is often the case), and is in a very familiar location.

There have been several instances of damage on this guardrail over the years because of the sharp curves along Carbon Canyon Road in the vicinity.

The spot is westbound on the state highway just a tich east of the old entrance to the La Vida Mineral Springs motel on the Brea side of the Canyon.

The vehicle departed from the well-striped roadway, reshaped a highway mileage marker, and turned a relatively-new section of rail into a ribbon of distended metal.

CalTrans District 12 has already marked the spot for another repair.

They also have some work to do to repair the pummeled 45 mph sign further west near the Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center, as noted in the last post here.

Give it another several months or maybe a year or two and they'll likely be back doing the same thing.

And, so will errant drivers who don't have to worry about anyone in officialdom paying the slightest attention.

Oh, and one other little item.  While driving home on Carbon Canyon Road eastbound this afternoon about 2:30 (and a couple of minutes prior to the above photos being snapped) while crawling along at 50 mph in the 45 mph zone, yours truly was passed by a youngster in a lifted white Ford 150 pickup crossing into the right turn lane for the Discovery Center and then into the accelerator line from said center, and speeding along . . . that is, until encountering the next slow commuter.

11 January 2015

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #16923

This poor sign, just east of the Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center on the south side of Carbon Canyon Road, has been taken out several times in recent years--the last time was in 2014 and the repair was done quickly before it could be posted here.

In any case, the vehicle appeared to be traveling eastbound on the state highway, when it lopped the directional sign (indicating a curve at a recommended speed of 45 mph for westbound travelers) off at the "ankles" and sent it flying a good twenty or so feet away.

Pieces of the car's undercarriage, silver fiberglass frame, and other miscellaneous parts are strewn about the crash site, as shown in the photos, taken about an hour or so ago.

Meantime, there are two new series of skid marks nearby, both from westbound downhill drivers on the decline from Olinda Village and, in both cases, the skidding winds and wends across the center divider in both lanes.  The first seems to have happened about two weeks ago and the other within the last week.


10 January 2015

A View of the Olinda Oil Field, ca. 1910

This post highlights an interesting cabinet card photograph of part of the Olinda oil field taken about 1910.

Given the topography of the hills and similar views, as well as the likelihood that the dirt road in the foreground is Carbon Canyon Road, it is apparent that the image shows a portion of the Santa Fe lease.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, under its subsidiary, the Southern California Railway, obtained land in the Olinda Ranch and partnered with Edward Doheny, whose Los Angeles City oil field project with Charles Canfield, was a major success in 1892 and afterward.

In 1897, Doheny drilled a well that became a major producer (and still is "on the pump" today as part of the Olinda Oil Museum) and inaugurated Orange County's first oil field.

Known as the Santa Fe lease, the property at the foothills of the Chino Hills range along the north end of Olinda was a successful field for many decades, and is now the location of the Olinda Ranch housing subdivision.  Santa Fe Road, a main road through the tract, is a reminder of the oil heritage there, along with the museum, which is located at 4025 Santa Fe Road in the upper reaches of the development.

The image shows a few dozen wells, associated pump houses and other structures.  The road is a simple dirt one with piles of dirt forming the shoulder.  Around this time, as noted in the last post, the roadway was fully built through to Chino and opened on 9 January 1915 and so has reached its centennial year.

The term "cabinet photograph," refers to a paper photo mounted (or glued) onto a stiff paper board--which were often stored in cabinets.  They were popular from about the 1880s through the 1920s.  This image was provided courtesy of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in the City of Industry, which collects material relating to the oil history of the Los Angeles region because the Workman and Temple families had oil-related projects in the 1870s and 1920s in the area.

Here is a circa 1910 cabinet card photograph of a section of the Olinda oil field, most likely the Santa Fe lease with Carbon Canyon Road in the foreground.  Click on the image to see it in an enlarged view in a separate window.  Courtesy of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry, California.

08 January 2015

Happy 100th Birthday, Carbon Canyon Road!

In the 10 January 1915 edition of the San Bernardino County Sun, that paper reported that, the previous day, the 9th, the completion of Carbon Canyon Road from Chino to Brea over in Orange County was complete.

The project was at least a few years in the making and it is not surprising why.  The increasing availability and use of the automobile (the "horseless carriage" to old-timers of the day), a growing appreciation and marketing of the region's tourism potential, changes in land ownership and use, and a rising economy were just some of the factors that led to the promotion of road-building throughout the region.

For example, at about this time, Turnbull Canyon Road was built from the La Puente area into Whittier for many of the same reasons there was a push for Carbon Canyon Road:  easier access from interior valleys to coastal regions, a pleasant "Sunday drive" and, less overtly stated, a chance for developers to use these roads to promote their projects.

Some of the prior planning goes back to at least late 1913, when a short article in the Sun noted that crews working for county surveyor Bright were at work on the new "Chino district road" that "will cut about 15 miles from the route from San Bernardino to Newport and other beaches."  The piece observed that Orange County officials were proceeding with plans to "extend the county highway from Olinda to the county line near Chino," an aspect discussed in this blog previously.

An article from the 10 March 1914 edition of the San Bernardino County Sun concerning lobbying efforts by prominent residents of Chino (which had incorporated just the previous year) requesting the Board of Supervisors to approve appropriations for a new Carbon Canyon Road to link the inland area with the coast.
In March, a delegation of some 40 citizens of Chino attended a board of supervisors meeting to lobby directly for approval of the new road.  Three of these Chinoans (is that a word?) were named as principal spokespersons including C.F. Ten Eyck, J. T. Schroeder (manager of the Chino sugar beet mill) and Edwin Rhodes, one of Chino's best-known citizens and author of a 1950s history of the community.  It was reported that the three "were well-armed with data, having exact estimates on cost," the total said to be a little under $8,300.  It was also noted that, because much attention was being paid to a proposed road, called the Mill Creek Road, through Cajon Pass along which Interstate 15 partially passes, the relatively minor cost of Carbon Canyon Road seemed to be a useful selling point.

Two weeks later, a special excursion was organized by Chino folks for the purposes of promoting the project during the famed "Alfalfa Day" event in town (what, you haven't heard of "Alfalfa Day"?)  The "auto parade," as it was called, was to take a couple of hours and to be back in town just in time for a dinner.

Tout suite something took place rather quickly, as an April note in the Sun reported that a baker's dozen of laborers were at work in the Canyon, evidently at the behest of Supervisor Samuel Pine (no, Pine Avenue in Chino Hills and Chino is not named for a type of tree).  The short piece stated that "there was formerly a poorly kept road through the canyon, little more than a trail," but that "little work had ever been done on it, and storms have made it next to impassable."

On the 14th of April, the Chino Chamber of Commerce organized another trip, this time inviting county supervisors, their Orange County counterparts and other interested parties to meet at the county line to discuss the proposed road and inspect the route.

Five days later, the Sun reported that there were 50 teams hard at work on the road project, which, evidently, was being pursued by local private interests in anticipation of approval by the county.  It was noted that, at the aforementioned Chamber ramble, Supervisor Pine was joined by two colleagues, J.C. Jones and J.B. Glover, along with boosters from Chino and Ontario.

A short piece in the Sun, 5 May 1914, reporting on approval by the Board of Supervisors for an appropriation of $5,000 towards the construction of Carbon Canyon Road from Chino to the Orange County line, where the road would meet up with the section built by Orange County in its jurisdiction.
With all of the lobbying conducted, no small wonder, that, in early May, the board of supervisors went ahead and gave their approval for the construction of Carbon Canyon Road.  Even though the estimate of cost was over $8,000, the board decided to appropriate $5,000, though that was likely just an initial outlay.

Part of an article from the 23 June 1914 issue of the Sun explaining how labor from prison camps on the Mill Creek Road and Carbon Canyon Road represented a huge savings for the county, while providing prisoners "the blessing of fresh air and honest work, receiving a small payment for their work."
In late June, the Sun issued an article noting that much of the county's road work was being contracted out to employ labor from prisoners and that this represented a huge cost savings for the county, for very obvious reasons.  The paper made sure to note that "at the same time the prisoners are enjoying the blessing of fresh air and honest work, receiving a small payment for their work."  Consequently, this interesting interpretation continued, "the gain on the humanitarian score is incalculable."

The announcement of the 9 January 19154 opening of Carbon Canyon Road from Chino into Orange County was made in the Sun's edition of the following day.
A little more than six months later, the announcement was heralded in the Sun that the road was completed and opened on 9 January 1915.

Another beautiful scenic and practical highway has been added to this district, with the finishing of the new Carbon canyon [road] through the hills south of Chino into Orange county.  Formal announcement that the road is open was received here today and will undoubtedly cause general interest, especially to automobile drivers, for there is offered a new and shorter route into Orange county and the beaches
It was added that previous excursions into the coastal region required going either "through the Santa Ana canyon, where the grades are steep and the road often impassable" or the alternate route of "the La Brea canyon . . . [which] is poor at the best."

With a lack of precision in its reporting, the paper stated that route involved, "leaving the hills west of the George Junior Republic [now Boys Republic in Chino Hills], [where] the highway comes out at Olinda and there connects with the Orange county good roads system."  The implication seems to be that the road went west from Chino, perhaps along what is roughly Grand Avenue or maybe Eucalyptus and then went into the lower reaches of the Chino Hills and came down through what might be close to today's Chino Hills Parkway before heading west into Carbon Canyon.

Later, a new route extending from Central Avenue south from Chino was developed, or so it seems.  In any case, speaking of impassable, the success of the first incarnation of Carbon Canyon Road, which was unpaved, was short-lived, as will be discussed in a future post.

06 January 2015

Madrona Lawsuit Openng Brief Filed

Just before Christmas, an opening brief, prepared by the San Francisco law firm of Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger, LLP, was filed by Hills for Everyone, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, California Native Plant Society and the Sierra Club in the lawsuit against the City of Brea and OSLIC (Old Standard Life Insurance Company) Holdings over the Madrona housing project of 162 units approved by the city in July 2014.

The forty-three page brief has all of the complex legal language expected in a court filing, but suffice to say that the brief outlines the many reasons why the plaintiffs believe the approval of Madrona was unlawful.  In essence, these are that the project:
  • violates Brea's Hillside Management Ordinance by 
    • its extensive grading; 
    • lack of process via a specific plan; 
    • and violation of the Carbon Canyon Specific Plan;
  • contains acknowledged "fatal inconsistencies with its own plans," with respect to 
    • the lack of protection for woodland habitat, and 
    • the failure to provide open space within the project site, yet was still approved;
  • and violated the California Environmental Quality Act with the city's certification of the project's Environmental Impact Report with respect to 
    • the failure to apply the city specific plan's grading standards; 
    • a failure to analyze climate-related impacts; 
    • inconsistency with and too high of a threshold for standards relating to greenhouse gas emissions; 
    • emissions calculations from car trip estimates that were elsewhere discredited in the document; 
    • inadequate analysis and mitigation of fire impacts, and 
    • an incorrect baseline in assessing impacts on open space and recreation
The document's conclusion concisely and succinctly summarizes the plaintiffs' position on the Madrona project's approval by the city:
The record before this Court establishes that the City knew it was being asked to approve a project it could not legally approve. But instead of acting as law required, the City bobbed and weaved, using its EIR and findings to try to explain how Madrona could nevertheless go forward. Petitioners have demonstrated that these attempts must fail. The City's approval of the Project is invalid under its own Hillside Management Ordinance and Carbon Canyon Specific Plan, as well as state planning law. And its certification of the EIR and approval of Madrona on the basis of that flawed EIR are both invalid under CEQA.
Consequently, the brief ends with:
Petitioners therefore respectfully request that this Court grant their petition for writ of mandate and set aside the City's approval of the vesting tentative tract map and development review application for Madrona and its certification of the EIR.
Looking from one ill-conceived housing project to another--this photo was taken from the Canyon Hills site, now under (de)grading, towards the Madrona project location in the hills in the distance.
Notably, the attorneys who crafted the brief rightly point out that "for decades the City crafted land use plans and ordinances to protect its residents" from hazards that are inherent to the steep, exposed hillsides of the project site, which sits on the north flank of Carbon Canyon between Olinda Village and Sleepy Hollow.

Another relevant statement for our entire region is embodied in the simply expressed observation that, "developers first looked to the flatter lands [of Brea] but as accessible land grew scarce, their gaze gradually extended to the hills."  These hilly areas involve a great many challenges and risks that have to be given far more scrutiny than those flatter areas developed over decades.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Brea enacted the Carbon Canyon Specific Plan and Hillside Management Ordinance in order to provide adequate safeguards against precisely the ill-conceived type of project Madrona completely embodies.

Further, in an ill-advised concession on the basis of the threat of a lawsuit, the city agreed to process Madrona (under its previous Canyon Crest incarnation) under old rules, which did not mean that the city had to approve the project under old plans and ordinances.

Yet, it chose to do just that and the extraordinary concessions made by city council members, including Brett Murdock, who was subsequently voted off the council in the recent elections, added to the shocking lack of foresight of the city in its approval.

Now, the matter is with the Orange County Superior Court for a ruling on the request for the writ of mandate and we'll see, hopefully relatively soon, what the decision is on the future of this project which would forever transform Carbon Canyon.

04 January 2015

Still Another Ramble in the Hills Above Carbon Canyon

Carbon Creek as it runs through a recently cleared area in Sleepy Hollow just east of the former Canyon Market property.
It was a gorgeous day with temperatures warmer than the recent cold spell, but the blood still ran cold when the (de)grading of the Canyon Hills development, undertaken by its current owner Forestar (which, evidently, intends to sell the property once basic utilities and grading are done) was visited on a hike today in and around Sleepy Hollow.

The walk, with a longtime resident of the community, started by descending into the recently-cleared area along Carbon Creek at the center of Sleepy Hollow.  Among interesting tidbits mentioned by my companion was that there used to be something of a park in the area just east of the former Canyon Market, including a swimming pool.  Today, however, there is only the cleared area, the small flow of the creek, but also two remnants of earlier days.

The inscription on the cement plug, probably for an old well just below Carbon Canyon Road and next to Carbon Creek in Sleepy Hollow reads, "8 FT. DEEP / PLUG."
The first is a cement plug for what must have been a well--etched into the cement is the lettering "8 Ft. Deep Plug" at the site located immediately below Carbon Canyon Road.  A few feet to the west is what is left of a gate and stairs that led to the site.

Emerging from the creek near the shuttered store, the walk led eastward leaving Sleepy Hollow and climbing a steep trail up the hill to the top of the old Ski Villa cement ski slope.  From there, it was a stark visit to the (de)grading for the Canyon Hills project of 76 houses.

A view on a trail from Sleepy Hollow to Canyon Hills.
So far, graders have mainly focused on areas with oak trees, brush and other plant material, though some razing of sidewalks and structures built for the Camp Kinder Ring facility, sometime between the late 1920s and late 1950s, has been taking place.  Other remnants of buildings will, however, soon be razed, leaving little or no physical traces of the Jewish recreational facility, operated by the leftist Workmen's Circle for thirty years.

What is striking is that there was evidently no interest whatsoever by San Bernardino County or the City of Chino Hills in documenting the history of the site, whether from Camp Kinder Ring, its successor recreational entities, or Ski Villa.

One section of the (de)grading of Canyon Hills, begun in late December, as part of the development for the future 76-home project just north of Carbon Canyon Road and east of Sleepy Hollow.
As noted here previously, there is one particularly interesting relic:  the handprint, name and date of someone associated with Camp Kinder Ring.  On a rock-faced pillar to one of the buildings is etched into the cement cap the first name of "Miriam", the surname, which might be "Posner", and the date 19 July 1946.  The hand print appears to be that of a small child, perhaps seven or so years of age.

Otherwise, there are a few other remnants, broken ceramic, floor tiles (some made by the longtime firm of Gladding McBean, which operated in Los Angeles and Glendale), red bricks, and other little items--all soon to be plowed over or carted away to a landfill.

Panoramic views abound on the Canyon Hills site, including this one taken from the largest structure once part of the Camp Kinder Ring facility and looking eastward.
Sadder, though, is the immense of amount of destruction to the oak and walnut woodland habitat, which is being diminished increasingly in our region.  As discussed here before, this site is one of the few in the canyon not disturbed in recent decades by cattle grazing, so the relative lushness of the landscape was notable--until now.

Again, many of the remains of Camp Kinder Ring structures are still in place, but it can't be very long, perhaps within a week or two, before all of it is gone.  There is even the rusted remnants of what appears to be a 1970s model Ford Mustang, which has, however, been adaptively reused as the site of a wood rat's nest.

One of dozens of piles of razed oak trees and other plant material dislodged by the (de)grading of the Canyon Hills site.
The jaunt continued to the summit of the Canyon Hills development site, where the 360-degree views of the canyon, surrounding areas, and, to the north and northeast, the San Gabriel Mountains are something to behold.

It was also a reminder, however, that the windswept hilltops of the canyon are exactly those places where occasional wildfires burn the quickest, drawing flames up the canyons and gullies and then fanned by those strong gusts.  Developers promise that fire-resistant planning will protect homes, though.  Ask the folks whose homes were lost in Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills in the 2008 Freeway Complex fire whether these promises always hold up.

A view from the highest point on the Canyon Hills project site taking in part of the beautiful views found in all directions.
Speaking of fire planning, the walk then headed back towards Sleepy Hollow and, specifically, the area about Hillside Drive and Sunset Way, two of the narrow roads in the 1920s-developed community that lead up to the fringes of Canyon Hills.  My companion pointed out Hillside Drive could be linked up as an emergency access road to the future tract, allowing residents of the north side of Sleepy Hollow or those of Canyon Hills a secondary escape route when future fires take place.  Whether this will be amenable to local officials, however, is another matter.

The walk concluded by descending down Sunset Way, at the extreme northwest of Sleepy Hollow and where, indeed, the sunsets are probably spectacular.  There was a beautiful little spot in that general area where, for many years, the son of Sleepy Hollow's founders, Cleve and Elizabeth Purington, lived.  It is pretty isolated and generally open, giving a sense of what the community was like in the years before development came in a big way to the canyon.

A pretty spot within the Sleepy Hollow community, highlighting some of the oak trees that are a significant part of the Carbon Canyon landscape.
That development is now manifesting itself in one of the biggest projects to come to Carbon Canyon in about 25 years, though the Pine Valley project above Western Hills Country Club may be viewed in a way as a canyon development, though access is from the north.

The (de)grading of the project site is only a portent of what may be coming, provided the 162-unit Madrona project's approval by the City of Brea is upheld in court (more on this soon) and that the 100-plus unit Hidden Oaks project, soon to come before the City of Chino Hills, is given approval on its site just east of Sleepy Hollow and directly across Carbon Canyon Road from Canyon Hills.  The smaller 24-unit Stonefield development, east of Western Hills Country Club, has been approved, as well.

Looking southeast from the top of Hillside Drive over Sleepy Hollow and towards the proposed Hidden Oaks site.
A little simple math means that, potentially, the canyon could see in upcoming years over 360 new houses--of larger-than-average size in homes and lots and meaning more-than-usual water use.  These approximately 1,500 new residents will bring thousands more daily car trips on a two-lane state highway that cannot be widened or improved (new signals will only assist those residents trying to access an increasingly-congested Carbon Canyon Road.)  And, those homes and people add a further burden for fire protection and fire fighting, as we deal with long-term drought, decreasing water supply and the challenges of dealing with that many homes on windy hilltop sites prone to frequent burning in wildfires.

This looks from the western edge of Canyon Hills across Lions Canyon and to the Madrona project site in Brea.