09 September 2019

Chino Hills Historical Society Talk Tonight!

Tonight at 7 p.m. is the Chino Hills Historical Society sponsored presentation on Albert W. Harris and his Arabian horse breeding ranch in what became the City of Chino Hills.  Hope to see you at the Chino Hills Community Center, 14250 Peyton Drive, across from Ayala High School, for the talk!

15 August 2019

Carbon Canyon Car Accident

UPDATE, 5:40 P.M.: One lane will be open at a time until the disable vehicle is cleared off the road.  The estimate to reopen is 6 p.m.

Just a few minutes ago I passed an accident on eastbound Carbon Canyon Road in Sleepy Hollow.  A sedan crashed into the side of the state highway and the airbags were deployed and the front end smashed in.

Expect a partial or full closure of the road and more information will posted as available.

14 August 2019

Chino Hills History Talk on 9 September

The Chino Hills Historical Society's next event is Monday, 9 September at 7 p.m. at the Chino Hills Community Center and features a talk on Chicago financier Albert W. Harris' Anazel Ranch, a 170-acre property for Arabian horse breeding just west of Los Serranos Country Club.

Harris, who ran one of Chicago's biggest banks, was said to be the first American to breed Arabian horses, starting with his Kemah Farm in Wisconsin.  After visiting Los Angeles, Harris was taken with the growing city and region and even organized and carried out an oxen-led covered wagon trip for the City of Angels to his Wisconsin horse ranch in 1911.

Click on the image to see it enlarged in a separate window.

Not long after Will Keith Kellogg, the Michigan cereal magnate, purchased land west of Pomona to breed horses—this now being the location of Cal Poly Pomona—Harris acquired 170 acres in 1927 from the Chino Land and Water Company, said to be the last major sale of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino land, and established Anazel Ranch to breed his prized Arabians.

Harris expended a large sum to build an expansive ranch house, barns, stables, workers' quarters and other outbuildings and maintained the ranch for about a quarter century.  Nationally known for his breeding, Harris wrote extensively about Arabian horses and held leadership positions with national associations for the breed.  Several years after selling Anazel to Paul Greening, who became one of Chino Hills' major landowners and developers, Harris died at age 91 in 1958.

Attached here is the Society's press release and hope to see you there.

13 August 2019

Carbon Canyon Road Closure

UPDATE: 7:57 A.M. The road was reopened about 7:30, looks like a truck rolled onto its side, but all clear.

Sirens were heard about ten minutes ago east of Sleepy Hollow and no traffic is seen on Carbon Canyon Road, so it looks like there is a full closure due to a traffic accident.  Updates will be posted when available.

07 July 2019

On The Skids and Off the Rails in Carbon Canyon

As noted here before, it's great to see the work CalTrans District 8 is putting into improving Carbon Canyon Road (State Route 142), including repaving, better drainage, new and replaced guardrails, and new signage.

It has often been pointed out on this blog, however, that, needed as these measures are, dangerous driving in the canyon, which is consistent particularly on weekend evenings, will often not be materially affected by these.

Recognizing funding and staffing, there has to be more of a physical presence by law enforcement personnel if any mitigation in behavior is to happen.  Meetings with a Carbon Canyon committee included discussion of more California Highway Patrol patrols, but there apparently is a lack of staffing and funding for that entity.  When I attended a presentation from a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department official recently, he told the group that there was difficulty in recruiting deputies--whether this is the same for San Bernardino County is not known.

Basically, instances of dangerous driving in the canyon are still regular and concerning.  Official crash statistics are not going to always reflect this, particularly if incidents are not reported, which presumably many, if not most, aren't, especially if the vehicle crashes into guardrails, signs and other objects and can drive off.

In the last several days, there are at least three more incidents that have taken place, demonstrating the continuing problem.  At the middle of the S-curve at the summit in Chino Hills, one of the two or three most common locations for problems, signs, including a new one, have again been hit and damaged.

Just to the west, as the approach to the summit is made at Carriage Hills Road, a car took the first curve there too fast, skidded off the road, tore up some grass along the side of the highway and kept on going.

Then, as noted here last week, a vehicle racing through Sleepy Hollow took a curve too quickly, overcompensated, bounced off a guardrail, crossed lanes and was hit by another car coming in the opposite direction, with more guardrail damage caused in the collision.

All three incidents were caused by drivers going eastbound, as was another fairly recent incident in which a vehicle on the Brea side skidded off a curve, crossed lanes, and plowed through newly installed chain link fence at the old La Vida Mineral Springs property.

Although there was an injury in the Sleepy Hollow wreck, or, at least, an ambulance was on scene, most of the dangerous driving incidents in the Canyon don't involve casualties, but the risk is always there.  It does seem as if more of an effort could be made to have regular patrols, particularly on weekend evenings, so that drivers know there is a possibility that enforcement will take place.

Otherwise, we'll continue to live with regular speeding and risky driving (it happens virtually every night as can be heard by those of us who live on the road) through our neighborhoods and hope that the damage is limited to physical objects and not more people.

06 July 2019

Paradise Ranch Project Proposed in Carbon Canyon

Today's Champion reports that an Irvine developer has submitted a proposal to build 45 houses on 85 acres on a ranch between the Oak Tree Downs and Hillcrest developments in the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon.

The ranch, which was profiled here some years ago, is owned by the Gentile family and there are houses, outbuildings, horses and other animals on it.  The project, now called Paradise Ranch, is being developed by The True Life Companies, formed in 2010 with offices in Denver, San Ramon, Sacramento, and Irvine and which states that its mission is "to create desirable communities in high-need markets" and to do so involves "tireless enthusiasm for consensus building, collaboration and American values."  There are projects underway in Los Angeles and the Silicon Valley cities of Milpitas and Santa Clara.

As for Paradise Ranch, because of the 2016 city ordinance on clustering units on ranch properties for the purposes of preserving natural open space and protecting habitats.  A member of the Gentile family spoke at meetings for the development of the ordinance saying it was welcomed because developers previously approached the family to do traditional projects that would "tear and cut the land."  Another family member indicated that the remaining open space could be dedicated to equestrian use and trails.

The clustered lots would be on the flat portion of the ranch at its northeast corner, where the main ranch house, outbuildings, stalls and pens are situated, this section comprised of about 17 acres or 20% of the ranch.  Access would be from just outside the gates of Oak Tree Downs.  True Life's Southern California Regional Director Rob Fitton said the company pledged to have the project be compatible with the neighborhood and environmentally sensitive, while engaging in community outreach..

Lot sizes are projected to range from the city-mandated minimum of 7,200 up to 18,000 square feet with house sizes of 3,200 to 4,000 square feet.  These parameters are more in line with Hillcrest, the project to the south on former lands of the Jewish-owned Camp Kinder Ring (which operated from 1928-1958 followed by a succession of social clubs and remnants of which are on the horse ranch across Canyon Hills Drive) that has experienced slow sales.

The article ends with the statement that a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review is to be conducted (unlike with Hillcrest, which bypassed that because of a negative declaration that allowed that project to be approved and then not built for some 30 years).

Still, the immense pressure the State of California is putting on cities to build more housing along with the existing massive loopholes and local government discretion afforded by CEQA means that this project is all but certain to be approved.

As the Champion article by Marianne Napoles indicates, the Hidden Oaks project across Carbon Canyon Road from Paradise Ranch and Hillcrest is moving along in its application and the recent decision by developer K.V. Kumar and associates to reduce the units, also clustered, from 107 to 53 also will make it far easier for the City to approve the project.

It bears remembering, however, that the Stonecrest project of 28 units east of Western Hills Country Club and just below the Summit is approved, though the land was recently for sale.  Moreover, Western Hills has also been offered for sale and the decline in interest in golf has led to the purchase of courses by developers aiming to rezone the properties for development.  Today's Champion has a piece about the ongoing battle with the closed Vellano Country Club in the city.

So, more homes continue to be proposed and approved for the Canyon.  State pressure adds to the likelihood of successful applications.  Yet, for all the emphasis the state puts on housing, what about the infrastructure needed to support these residences.  Where will the water come from?  Where will needed infrastructure funds come from? 

Roads and freeways continue to become more congested and Carbon Canyon Road, a state highway, will always be a two-lane thoroughfare.  With canyon and, especially, inland development increasing, traffic volumes will grow by leaps and bounds.  Improved mass transit could help, but this has been at a snail's pace relative to growth and most people remain wedded, for whatever reasons (legitimate and otherwise) to single-passenger commuting.  A traffic signal at Canyon Hills and Carbon Canyon to allow residents of Oak Tree, Hillcrest, and the future Hidden Oaks and Paradise Ranch projects to access the road is purported to help traffic flow, but we'll see.

Let's not forget the fire risk.  Climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of blazes in the urban/wildland interface and, while local agencies have worked to become more agile and proactive, this threat, now year-round, is still daunting.

To sum up, Paradise Ranch will almost certainly be approved.  Pending the economy and real estate market, it could be built within a few years, as could Hidden Oaks, adding just under 100 houses (and several hundred people and cars) in a compact area of the Canyon.  This isn't like the 1970s when the first phase of Summit Ranch was built, or the 1980s when its second phase and when Oak Tree Downs was developed, or the early Nineties when Carriage Hills went in. 

Carbon Canyon Road could handle those developments, while inland building was limited.  Water supplies were adequate.  Climate change hadn't yet worsened fire risk.  Conditions have clearly changed.  Our approach to housing has not, especially as the state is pushing for housing, but not, evidently, looking at infrastructure in conjunction as it should. 

30 June 2019

Carbon Canyon Road Full Closure

UPDATE, 7:20 P.M.: The road is open.

Carbon Canyon Road has been fully closed for about a half hour due to a two-vehicle collision in Sleepy Hollow near the old Party House Liquor Store.

A neighbor who lives next to the scene said an eastbound car took a curve too fast, skidded into the guardrail and into the opposing lane where a westbound vehicle hit it.  Evidently, an ambulance is on scene, as are tow trucks.

It is estimated the closure could last about another half-hour according to City of Chino Hills alerts.