11 November 2017

Tres Hermanos and Potential Public Use

Today's Champion has an article by Marianne Napoles on Tres Hermanos Ranch, located in Tonner Canyon just north of Carbon Canyon, and the continuing controversy over its potential future uses.

Napoles repoted that "The City of Industry reiterated its commitment to use the 2,450-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch for open space, public use, and preservation purposes" following last week's determination by the state's Department of Finance that it would not act on the sale of the ranch to the city for $41,5 million. 

Further, it was observed that Industry stated "it is not proposing a 450-megawatt solar facility" on the property, with documents suggesting the possibility of one up to that size.  This was confirmed in a statement made by Chino Hills City Attorney Mark Hensley, who told the paper that document he'd seen indicated that the project "could be up to 450 megawatts, but there are various numbers in various documents."

Paul Philips, city manager in Industry, was quoted as saying "we will collaboratively with interested stakeholders and residents to ultimately create a space for people to enjoy."  A restrictive covenant was part of the sale that would only allow for the three stated uses cited above.  Philips went on to say that there will be a plan for Tres Hermanos coming in the near future.

Officials in Chino Hills and Diamond Bar continue to express the belief that their lawsuits challenging the legal validity of the sale will be upheld in the courts, with Chino Hills council member Peter Rogers referring to "this shroud of secrecy" about Industry's plans keeping the city "vigilant in seeking information that defines this project."  Hensley added that "when you [Industry] are constantly working to hide the facts from the public and are untruthful when you are caught, it results in a lot of mistrust and confusion."

Diamond Bar City Manager Dan Fox stated that the sale, executed, in his view, "so Industry could have more cash to develop a massive solar generating facility is clearly inconsistent with" the long-range property management plan for the Successor Agency to the City of Industry Urban Development Agency.  The argument is that the sale should have been for the maximum monetary value for the benefit of public entities like the two cities.

To further explain their positions, Chino Hills and Diamond Bar have added pages to their web sites, with the former offering this page and the latter presenting this one.  The City of Industry has posted this press release on its website in the aftermath of the finance department's announcement.

08 November 2017

Madrona Appeal Rehearing Denied

Yesterday, judges from the fourth district of the California Appeals Court issued a ruling denying the petition of a rehearing before the court of the decision rendered in mid-October substantially upholding the superior court verdict in the Madrona case.

This matter involved a proposed 162-unit development in Carbon Canyon between Sleepy Hollow and Olinda Village in Brea and the trial court ruled for Hills for Everyone and fellow plaintiffs who alleged that the City of Brea failed to follow its own ordinances in approving the project.

Old Standard Life Insurance Company, a bankrupt Idaho company in state receivership, appealed, through its OSLIC Holdings, LLC variant, and then lost in the decision rendered about three weeks ago.  Yesterday's action ends the matter at the appellate court level and OSLIC and the State of Idaho now have to determine whether to take the issue to the California Supreme Court.

So, stay tuned for whether this matter moves to the state's high court.

05 November 2017

State Finance Department Takes No Action of Tres Hermanos Ranch Sale

The State of California's Department of Finance has issued a decision to "take no action" regarding the sale of the nearly 2,500-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch, north of Carbon Canyon, to the City of Industry.

The department indicated that, in its review of the sale, it determined that the transaction was approved by the Successor Agency to the City of Industry Urban Development Agency and that it had no objection.

The cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar requested a review because of concern that the sale price of $41.5 million, being far less than anticipated sale value and other offers topping $100 million, would result in significant financial losses.

Both cities have also filed two sets of lawsuits challenging the sale on the grounds that the sale did, as both claim, violate the state's law for disposing of former redevelopment land, as well as not meet state environmental review laws.

So, the legal wrangling will continue at the courts and Industry's proposed solar farm project, with promises for provision of the public use of other portions of the ranch, remains in play.

Read more in this San Gabriel Valley Tribune article just posted online today.

04 November 2017

Big Ballers in Carbon Canyon

It's news now, though rumors go back a few months, that the Ball family, which has garnered a great deal of national attention through the basketball talents of Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo and the publicity-generating promoter and budding enterpreneur that is their outspoken father LaVar, has purchased Chino Hills' largest home, located here in Carbon Canyon, and is renovating the structure. Here is one online article about the purchase.

A YouTube video shows a brief tour conducted by LaVar of the building and there are photos and news articles galore about the purchase and the family.  There isn't anything that could be said here that isn't found in dozens and dozens of places elsewhere.

But, there is an angle to add to this story going back almost twenty years.  When my wife and I lived in another part of Chino Hills, we got memberships to the brand new LA Fitness down the street.  My wife, who is dedicated to fitness, was doing her usual tough workout one day, when a man about our age walked up and, impressed with her intensity, started giving her some friendly encouragement.

A few minutes later, she walked over and introduced me to a guy standing about 6'5" and weighing well over 250 pounds.  After a handshake and a comment about how hard my wife was working out, LaVar Ball went back to his training.  We'd occasionally run into him and chat before returning to our routines.

When our older son was born in 2002, we'd ended our memberships at LA Fitness.  On a weekend, we were walking with our son in a jogging stroller up a steep street near our house when we saw the unmistakable figure of LaVar standing in the garage of his home where he did personal training.  Recognizing us, he hollered over to come by.

We went into the house and met his wife Tina and then were introduced to three little guys.  Lonzo was not quite 5, LiAngelo was 3 or 4 and LaMelo was 1 or 2.  After talking for a bit, LaVar, knowing I'd coached some high school basketball when I was in college, took me to the backyard to show me his set up.  He then told me that he was going to train his sons to be basketball players.  I don't remember if he mentioned the NBA, though I seem to recall that, and, knowing him, it is entirely possible.  I do remember thinking that he had pretty audacious plans with kids who were so young.

We saw LaVar out in his garage once in a while on our walks and then moved to the Canyon in 2004 and lost contact.  Then, ten years later, after reading an article in the local Champion newspaper about the phenom brothers, Lonzo, who was a sophomore, and LiAngelo, a freshman, and the up-and-coming Chino Hills High team that they led, my wife and I went over to Ayala High for a cross-town matchup.

There was a decent size crowd there, but nothing like the attention that steadily grew over the next few years.  Once we went over to the Ayala side of the gym, I pointed out LaVar and Tina to my wife and we walked onto the court.  We got no further than half-court when La Var rose up from his seat, pointed at us, and bounded out to greet us.  I was more than surprised that he remembered our names.  He was as friendly and gregarious as usual and Tina was typically gracious, too.  As for that game, I remember clearly being very impressed with the Ball brothers and their skills and abilities, but surprised at how wide-open their game was.  It only got wilder from there.

That part is well known and oft discussed.  I saw a fair number of games in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, but it was nearly impossible to get in during the 2015-16 campaign when the team went undefeated and was ranked #1 in the country.  I did go to the Southern Section semifinal at Ayala against Mater Dei, in which Chino Hills dismantled the Monarchs 102-54 (there was actually a running clock at the end).  Last year, I saw one game at U.C.L.A. with Lonzo and one Chino Hills contest, an overtime loss to Mater Dei in an open division playoff game at U.S.C.

Now, Lonzo is a rookie with the Lakers learning the ropes in the N.B.A., LiAngelo has just played an exhibition game with U.C.L.A. with the regular season starting in about a week.  LaMelo, however, was pulled from Chino Hills High and is being home schooled.  LaVar insists that his training and playing in A.A.U. ball will prepare him for U.C.L.A., but there is also the matter of the Big Baller shoe issue and eligibility.  He's a talented player for sure, scoring 92 points one game last year, so we'll see where he goes from here.

As for LaVar, his public persona is hotly debated.  To some, he's doing a disservice to his sons with his boasts and often outrageous comments.  To others, his persona is a publicity tactic and he's working to keep his sons in the spotlight to their future financial advantage.   Whether all three will eventually play in the N.B.A. (many feel LiAngelo is the least likely), the Balls have already achieved remarkable success.

What stood out to me was when I stood in the long line to get into the Ayala gym before that Mater Dei game.  I started talking to the person behind me, who was a teacher at Chino Hills.  I asked her what she knew about the Ball brothers and she said they were not only respectful and a pleasure to have in her class, but that they were excellent students—credit also goes to their mother, who is recovering from a severe stroke.

Hopefully, the hype, constant attention, critiques on 24-hour cable channels and endless online websites and social media platforms, the family's Facebook reality show, and so on, don't turn into a long, deep rabbit hole with a disappointing end.

As for that Carbon Canyon house the Balls bought, it was the subject of an early post on this blog, just as the Great Recession, largely brought on by a housing crash, was on its way.  It may be no small irony that the realtor representing the Balls was Richard King, who built and lost that home.

02 November 2017

2nd Lawsuits Filed by Chino Hills & Diamond Bar Over Tres Hermanos Ranch Sale

As reported by Jason Henry of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar have filed separate lawsuits, and for the second time, challenging the sale of the 2,450-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch to the City of Industry by the Successor Agency to the Urban Development Agency, the former redevelopment agency of the City.

The first suits were filed on the ground that the sale violated state laws governing redevelopment property liquidation.  These new filings argue that Industry's purchase and its recently revealed plans violate California's environmental statutes and are "an illegal gift of public funds."

Chino Hills City Attorney Mark Hensley accused Industry of having "rigorously concealed" the planned solar project and so "failed to maximized the value of the land," as well as rejected an offer of purchase for over $100 million.  Technically, the rejection was from the Successor Agency, which includes of city and county officials.

Industry countered by saying that the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, is not yet at issue because the city is researching the potential for the property and has not advanced to the stage with the solar project to have it be applicable to that law.

Chino Hills Mayor Ray Marquez issued a statement stating that there was a concern "that Industry will use their position as a public agency developing the land for public benefit' to proceed without any input from the residents and the City."

Notably, perennial Chino Hills city council Rossana Mitchell, at a recent meeting, accused Marquez of favoring housing on Tres Hermanos, which she stated most residents do not want, and Marquez responded strongly that this was not the case.

Henry's article concluded by observing that Industry's solar farm plan could be boosted by state policies geared towards ramping up alternative and renewable energy sources.  He noted that the state, nearly a decade ago, agreed to waive CEQA requirements for a proposed football stadium in Industry near the Walnut and Diamond Bar borders and implied this could be attempted at Tres Hermanos.

For more, here is the Tribune article.

31 October 2017

Happy Sleepy Holloween 2017

It isn't like decades past, when Sleepy Hollow residents, led by the Carbon Canyon Women's Club, would have a community event including the famed Ride of the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving's short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

It's not even ten or so years ago when the women's club hosted a Halloween party at the Sleepy Hollow Community Center.

Now my kids are too old to trick or treat, so there's not even that.

But, there are still folks in the neighborhood who get into the spirits of the holiday and put up creative, eye-catching, and creepy decorations--so there is something about upholding tradition that way.

For example, check out a neighbor's fence and the wish for a "Happy Sleepy Holloween" along with a witch making her brew for All Souls Eve.

Or, the one with the scary clown--after all, clowns are generally creepy.

Then, there's the ghostly lady gently swaying with the breeze as she hangs from an oak tree.

One of the coolest (yup, pun intended) decorations is a neighbor who created a 5-foot tall volcano in the yard.  Lavalicious!

And, check out the neighbor who carved this year into their pumpkin!

So, we'll see how many trick-or-treaters there'll be tonight--lately, it's been only a few kids plying the neighborhood.  But, they tend to do really well in terms of amount of candy per house!

It's getting dark, so time to see who will be coming to get their treats.  Happy Sleepy Holloween 2017!

28 October 2017

The Gaines and Brown Families of Carbon Canyon, Part Six: Flying Cow Ranch Photos

Thanks again to Joyce Harrington, who generously shared many photographs from the Gaines and Brown families, who lived in the Carbon Canyon/Olinda area for many decades from about the 1900s onward.

Past entries in this series included a couple of views of the Gaines family home on their Flying Cow Ranch in what is now the Olinda Village community on the Brea side of the canyon.

The home stood on what is today's Hollydale Mobile Home Estates property on the south side of Carbon Canyon Road, though the ranch extended north into the Olinda Village subdivision.  Edward F. Gaines used the ranch to pasture livestock and Joyce's photos include a number of great images of the ranch property.  He died in 1956 and less than a decade later, Olinda Village was developed.

So, today's entry highlights more of those snapshots, with the first being a view, of an unknown date, but perhaps in the 1910s or 1920s,  taken looking northwest towards the Gaines ranch house and framed nicely among some trees.


Among the gentle rolling hills sloping gradually downwards towards the photographer and, behind that person, the confluence of Carbon and Soquel canyons, is a man with a team of horses.  Presumably, he and the animals are grading the land or preparing it for planting crops.

In the distance are two stands of trees, the Gaines ranch house, what looks like a water tower, and an outbuilding.  In between the trees and further off is the distinct sharply pointed peak of a hill that can easily be seen today at the west end of the Olinda Village tract.

The second photo, perhaps from about the same time as the first, shows a pair in a buggy pulled by two horses and a group of four persons seated on the front steps and porch of the Gaines house.  Behind the house is a portion of the sloping hills in what is now the Olinda Village area.  Presumably the photo shows Gaines and his wife, Fannie Atwater, along with family and/or friends.

Finally, there is an image of a barn, horse and a man behind the animal on the ranch, again maybe from the time of the other two.  In 1939, a devastating fire burned down the barn; destroyed Edward Gaines' original and restored stagecoach, which he used for parades and other events; and killed some of his prize horses.

There are more photos from Joyce's collection to be posted, so check back for more soon.