31 July 2008

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #3

Here is another great item connected to La Vida Mineral Springs Resort. This ca. 1940s/1950s bottle represents a long history of flavored mineral water beverages offered by the proprietors of La Vida from 1928, although the end of production is something to still discover. Although the front label is badly faded, the back is still very clear and lists the many flavors offered. At the bottom of the blog are details from this bottle. The 1928 date comes from an online historical timeline of Orange County and the beverage is mentioned in a recent Arcadia Publishing photo book on the county and, I think, Esther Cramer's 1992 history of Brea.

In a detail view at the bottom of the blog, you'll note the location of the La Vida Bottling Company was in Placentia, although obviously the water was brought in from the springs in the canyon.

Given the 80-year history of La Vida, there will, hopefully, be some other great artifacts to share in future posts. This item is 2008.3.1.1 from the Carbon Canyon Collection.

30 July 2008

Canyon Crest Appeal: Could Come Faster than Originally Thought

Here's a new item appearing on a bulletin board at the top of the horseshoe curve on Carbon Canyon Road, as you head east in Chino Hills towards Brea.

An appeal submitted following the Brea Planning Commission's 3-2 vote approving the 165-home Canyon Crest development may be heard by the City Council as early as mid-August, only about 3 weeks from now.

Anyone who lives in or uses the canyon regularly for commuting or a nice weekend drive ought to consider lending their voices in opposition to this project if they are at all concerned about:

  • 1,650 or so additional car rides on an already well-beyond capacity road;

  • or the destruction of 1,800 trees in an oak and walnut woodland community mainly destroyed by decades of nearly uninterrupted development region-wide;

  • or one year's worth of grading that would send tons of particulate matter in the air, heading east with ocean-borne breezes or west with Santa Anas and other interior-originating winds

These being the three unavoidable, significant adverse impacts cited (and, consequently, overrriden by the Planning Commission) in the Draft Recirculated Environmental Impact Report. Despite claims to the contrary, water looms large over this and all other development plans in the region. Folks in Chino Hills will learn soon, if they haven't already, that the city is implementing a next stage of water conservation, including the banning of watering between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and other measures (admittedly, these will not be enforced by code officers unless there are complaints, which are likely to be very few and far between.)

Why this matters is because Canyon Crest, like Vellano on the Chino Hills side, and like developments with very large homes and large lots, is going to involve water use about triple that of the average home in Brea. Global climate change, drought, fire, water scarcity--all of these go hand-in-hand, even if there are some who refuse to or are unable to connect the dots.

Developments like Canyon Crest are going to almost certainly be archaic, outmoded, and completely unsustainable if current climatic trends continue.

Not that the Brea City Council will take such "big picture" issues into consideration (who does in government, anyway?) That shouldn't stop those who are concerned about these issues from expressing them, along with the specific questions of traffic, natural habitat destruction, and pollution generation. Having a "high quality" (whatever that means) housing stock, a new fire truck, some money for affordable housing and other cited benefits just aren't enough and the City Council should hear that.

Let's not wait for someone else to speak for us: take a few hours of your time and attend that council meeting at which this item appears on the agenda. Sign up to speak. Make your points succinctly, clearly, calmly, and without attacking anyone. There's no guarantee this project will be approved, but the only hope for defeating it will be galvanized citizen action (the kind of action that actually makes democracy truly work, rather than through the executive and legislative branches, as in city staff and council.) After all, this is the time to find out if the Brea City Council and staff works for its citizens or for developers--let's not forget, above all, that there was absolutely no legal grounds or basis for staff to recommend and for the planning commission to approve the "statement of overriding considerations." It was not an imperative, it was a choice. It seems that it is now imperative for citizens to respond and demonstrate the consequences of that choice.

Time for bed.

A Little Rattler in the Canyon (no, not a snake! a quake!)

All right, all right, so it was a minor quake, a mere 5.4 that was only a fraction as powerful as the Northridge quake of 1994. I guess that, because it had been almost 15 years, many had forgotten what these things were like. I also suspect that the advent of 24-hour media, with all that time to fill, makes these events look far worse, especially to nervous family and friends out of state who only deal with tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and other natural calamities where they live.
Yet, here Chino Hills was having its fifteen minutes of fame for being the epicenter of a little rattler that broke a few windows, spilled some canned goods, knocked grandma's porcelain ballerina figurine down off the curio cabinet, and shook more than a few nerves. I imagine we all thought the big faults were Andreas, or Whittier-Fullerton, or some other that would be far from us.
The fact is: damage from earthquakes can be most severe at places somewhat far removed from the epicenter and dependent on the movement of the quake, the geologic conditions (soil and other factors), and the quality of the construction in any given area.
I'm not trying to minimize the reaction some people had: 5.4 is a fair-sized, if moderate, tremor.
But, folks, the "Big One" that the seismologists warn us about, the one that has a 90% chance of probability in the not-too-distant future (10 years? 30 years?) is going to be 8.0 or greater, meaning close to 30x more powerful in amplitude and 100x greater relative to the release of energy than this relatively harmless event we experienced today.
Would this "Big One" occur on a fault running through Chino Hills? Evidently not, since the Andreas Fault is most likely the one from which a "great earthquake" of over 8.0 magnitude would come. But, anywhere within a wide-ranging area would be significantly affected, so we can assume canyon folk would be as impacted as millions throughout our massive, sprawling region.

And, just when was the last "Big One" in the Los Angeles area? 1857. So, I guess we're due.
Stock up that earthquake kit, have plans for escape and a gathering place established, and, whatever you do, don't start bolting for the nearest exit thinking that outside is the best place to be during a quake.

I still can't fathom people doing that, knowing that exterior building surfaces, entire walls, power lines, trees, and other objects are more likely to kill people in this region than anything inside. The horrific scenes from China earlier this year of totally collapsed buildings, with pancaked floors crushing thousands, is as much a reflection of shoddy construction and a lack of strong earthquake mitigation codes as anything else and is unlikely to be repeated here in the same way. Unfortunately, those scenes might convince some people here to hightail it for outside despite the obvious differences between Sichuan and Los Angeles.
This isn't to say that a comparable quake of 8.0 here won't cause building collapses. But, the only instance where leaving a building is recommended is when you are in an unreinforced adobe building. I happen to work at a place that has one of those (and there was an archaeologist inside studying the building when it happened--guess where he went?) but for the 99.984% (approximately) of us who aren't in one when the quake hits, stay inside, take cover under sturdy furniture or against a wall (and away from glass and other potentially damaging objects) and ride the sucker out. And, be prepared for powerful aftershocks that could cause great damage in weakened structures.
Canyon folk: I suppose that in a "great quake" event, we could see landslides and cracking closing down Carbon Canyon Road, some hillside homes slipping, and other major damage. Being three miles or so from just about anything, with power lines above ground, and what have you, it would appear to be an imperative to have plenty of emergency rations around the house. I didn't get something like this together until a few years ago and am not sure if I'm entirely prepared if my house is unsafe to reenter. But, I do have a 48-hour kit outside in a sealed plastic container (the kit even has a toilet seat that fits over the container--just in case!) and there are 48-hour backpack kits in the two cars. So, maybe that will be sufficient, though many experts suggest more.
At any rate, our little rattler next to Carbon Canyon ought to be a reminder about what we potentially face in our region and preparedness is probably about as shaky (oops, sorry) as our savings-to-debt ratio.

With all of the emphasis on fire safety (definitely needed), we shouldn't forget about this other potential canyon calamity. Today sure brought that home for me.

17 July 2008

Carbon Canyon Google Interactive Map

I've set up a Google interactive map for Carbon Canyon that has placemarks (various icons for housing tracts, recreational places, historic sites, and others) that you can access and read information about concerning places of historical interest, notoriety, or distinctiveness within the canyon. If you have corrections and suggestions, please let me know.

15 July 2008

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #2

Here is another interesting postcard of La Vida Mineral Springs, this one a colorized photograph probably dating to the 1940s. Through a stand of trees appears to be the cafe with the sign partially readable at the upper left. Behind the row of period automobiles is what looks to be part of the hotel with some of the hills as a backdrop.

On the reverse is a cool printed description: "La Vida Mineral Springs, Home of World Famous Natural Mineral Water. Baths, Massage, Colonics, Hotel Rooms, Housekeeping Cottages, Excellent Cafe with Home Cooked Food. In Beautiful Carbon Canyon just Seven Miles East of Brea, Calif. For Health and Relaxation out of the Smog and Fog, Visit this Secluded Restful Resort. Just Thirty-three Miles from Los Angeles. For Information Write Rt. 1, Box 176A, Placentia, Calif. or Call Placentia 5150."

Although the mineral water was somewhat well known locally and maybe a little known outside, the "world famous" sounds a bit far-fetched. Also, I wonder how many patrons took advantage of the "colonics" option! It is also interesting to contemplate the fact that La Vida and Carbon Canyon were removed from "smog and fog." At any rate, a neat item.

The unused card was published by Advertising Pencil Co. of Kansas City, Missouri. As with my previous post, this item comes from the Carbon Canyon Collection, item 2008.2.1.1, and is scanned at 150dpi without a watermark, though I don't know if that means anything as far as possible "use" by others is concerned!

12 July 2008

Useless Documentation?

I'm going to periodically do this because I want to have some documentation of incidents that demonstrate dangerous driving on Carbon Canyon Road, even if some of our elected officials and professional staff don't seem to be convinced that there is a problem.
Today, as I was heading westbound on the road at Canon Lane, two motorcyclists on hogs casually passed four cars on the eastbound side by taking advantage of left turn lanes on the widened portion of the road to squeeze between the aforesaid cars and my own.
To review: passing ANYWHERE on Carbon Canyon Road is illegal, which is why there are double yellow lines EVERYWHERE, except where left turns are permitted.

As long as people think they can choose which laws apply to them, the potential for serious problems exist. Is it going to take innocent fatalities and injuries by people like these motorcyclists before government officials do something? Sure seems like it from my experience in trying to contact city and state representatives. Then again, I'm just one person. But, why be reactive instead of proactive when it comes to the most fundamental of government's responsibilities: protecting the health and safety of constituents?

Anyway, send a comment if you have similar tales of woe!

Neighborhoods of Carbon Canyon, Part Two

Olinda Village is a close-knit community of about 120 houses on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) on the Brea side of the canyon. First subdivided in 1964, the community is laid out along six streets with homes ranging from modest one-story ranch-style structures to massive McMansions engineered into steep hillsides at the top of the development. While the merits of the latter can be debated ad infinitum, Olinda Village retains the feel of a well-kept, unpretentious neighborhood.
Within a couple of years, the community will lose one of its most valuable assets: Olinda School, a small, high-performing elementary school tucked into a corner of the subdivision. Citing the cost of maintaining a campus that has a low attendance compared to other schools and arguing that a new, long-planned school to be built on old oil field property at Lambert Road and Valencia Avenue should accomodate Olinda children for efficiency as well as cost, the Brea-Olinda Unified School District is shuttering Olinda School.
Another community feature looks like it has lived long past its intended use: this is the small shopping center built adjacent to Carbon Canyon Road. Aside from Carbon Canyon Realty and the Sol de México restaurant, most of the center is either deserted or barely hanging on, with some medical testing office and a storefront church the only other apparent tenants.

I've already given this pitch once but, folks, try Sol de México restaurant. It is very good, authentic, home-cooked, fresh and family-owned. In this world overrun with chain restaurants (some, of course, are just fine), there's a real need to help the little guy compete, especially when the food is as good as it is as Sol de México.
Anyway, Olinda Village is a highly-desirable place to live. Homes rarely come on the market and when they do, they don't tend to last long (well, that might have changed a little lately). There are residents who have been there for decades and my understanding is that there is a very neighborly feeling there.
Across Carbon Canyon Road is another neighborhood, a mobile home park called Hollydale. I don't know what the relationship is between the folks from Olinda and those from Hollydale, but, to me, they're in the same neighborhood and have to deal with many of the same issues. First and foremost, naturally, is traffic and related matters concerning Carbon Canyon Road. Turning onto the road in this area is especially difficult and dangerous because of the steep approach on both sides and drivers' tendency to drive pretty fast through this section. I've got to say: mobile home communities get a bad rap, although the ones where the residents own the land are usually much better, but Hollydale's location is pretty hard to beat, especially those lots that face the confluence (ooh, big word) of Soquel and Carbon canyons. The terrain at Hollydale slopes downward from the road, so the further you are from it, the quieter it is. Unfortunately, there is space rent there.
Another plus to Olinda: there is access to the recent addition to Chino Hills State Park to the north of the community. I've only hiked there once, but there is some beautiful scenery back there. Of course, if the "Canyon Crest" developments gets built, there will be some impact, but that section of the park is a much less utilized area than the rest of it across the canyon.
The Los Angeles Times did run a "Neighborly Advice" column for Olinda back in 2005, a year before one was done on Sleepy Hollow. As with the latter, I'm not sure there's another part of Brea that would be considered for the column (but who knows?)

08 July 2008

Filmmaking in Carbon Canyon?

Thanks to YouTube, here is another tidbit relating to Carbon Canyon.
I'm not sure if the young dude who put Lying in Wait: The Carbon Canyon Killings together in '06 and posted it on YouTube aims to be the next Eli Roth or not, but why don't you be the judge?
The post commentary stated, "based on the true and horrific events that occurred at Carbon Canyon Regional Park" and one of two comment providers wondered if that was really the case or not. Hmmmm . . . Anyway, here's the link, but, as with my earlier post about ghost stories in the Canyon, beware!

90 mph on Carbon Canyon Road: Documented

Here's a little discovery I found on YouTube:

By the way, I'll say it one more time: I'm sure that many or most motorcyclists drive with reasonable restraint and respect for the road, its speed limit, and residents of the areas the border the road.

But: there are plenty of folks like this guy (I'll go out on a limb here and assume this is a male) who think nothing of racing through the canyon heedless of the potential consequences of their actions.

'Nuff said?

07 July 2008

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #1

This is the first in what I hope will be a regular series of posts of historical images and artifacts relating to Carbon Canyon. It's almost impossible to visualize this site now with its mowed down chain link fence, dense patches of weeds, overgrown trees and bushes and Carbon [a.k.a. Carbon Canyon] Creek choked with arundo, but here is a really cool view, perhaps from the 1950s or 1960s, of La Vida Mineral Springs.

In the foreground is Carbon Canyon Road with a wood fence and a small asphalt sidewalk. At the left is what is described on the reverse as an "Old wooden bridge" as a "familiar landmark." The one-story white building may have been the restaurant (corrections will be much appreciated) and the two-story structure behind it is part of the hotel. Beyond the hotel was the mineral springs pool.

Note how well maintained the site looks and you can readily see why it was a popular place for many years. From a timeline at: http://www.ocalmanac.com/History/hi01f.htm we learn the the resort was opened by William Newton Miller and an unnamed son-in-law in 1924. Esther Cramer, however, in her 1992 history of Brea, states (p. 134 with footnotes referencing the old Brea Star newspaper) that the facility was there in 1921. She goes on to state that the mineral springs in a more natural state were patronized as a favored picnic spot by residents of the oiltown of Olinda (the site is now Carbon Canyon Regional Park--see the links). I would sugges that those springs were probably patronized as far back as human beings lived and traveled in the canyon and that the native Indians of the area undoubtedly took advantage of the springs. Cramer also mentioned that "speakeasies" serving illicit alcohol during Prohibition (a ban on most alchohol production and possession via a constitutional amendment enacted in 1920 and repealed in 1933). Moreover, she relates that the narrow dirt road that was Carbon Canyon Road was given a stronger surface in 1920 and then paved after 1921 because of the patronage at La Vida.

There was another business (perfectly legal!) conducted at La Vida, but I'll save that for another time. As the region urbanized and Carbon Canyon was no longer as remote from Los Angeles as it used to be, the use of La Vida declined (as did the use, for example, of Sleepy Hollow as a weekend cabin get-away). By the 1990s, the decrepit motel was gone and everything either torn down or left to be swallowed by the weeds and other plant life, except for the restaurant. This rustic old building hosted punk rock and blues concerts and became a favorite hangout for bikers enjoying the then-wide open rides on Carbon Canyon Road. Earlier this decade, though, after the owner's death, the restaurant/bar closed and was razed. Banners have advertised the property for sale, but there is apparently little if nothing going on at the site.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to place a historic marker at the site someday, so people would know about his early Brea landmark? Just don't make it brass, because it wouldn't last a day without being poached!

Note: this postcard comes from the Carbon Canyon Collection, item 2008.1.1.1, and was published ca. 1950s or 1960s by Amescolor Publishers of Escondido, California. The image was scanned at 150dpi and is not watermarked, so I'm going by the honor system here if it is good enough quality or interest for someone to "steal"!

06 July 2008

Sylvan Scenes in Soquel Canyon

Chino Hills and Brea are widely touted, among other things, for their community amenities, including well-maintained parks, good libraries, highly-rated schools and sophisticated, upscale shopping. These are all valid reasons to live in these cities, but for those who live in Carbon Canyon, there is one perhaps more important than all of the others: the opportunity to live in a more rural, open setting than can be found anywhere else in our communities. As threatened as the canyon setting is by development, there are still plenty of ways to find and admire the beautiful canyon environment.

This morning I had another reminder on my hike* through Soquel Canyon just south of Carbon Canyon. Within a short distance of home is a world that is filled with interesting scenery, remnants of history, quiet and solitude, and a refreshing escape from everyday life. While all of this can generally be found in Chino Hills State Park, which lies just south of Soquel Canyon, the difference is that its isolation keeps Soquel even more untrammeled by human activity.

I left home a little before 6, hoping to keep most of my hike in the cooler morning hours. Still, climbing and descending the hills can be brutal on fire roads on which the goal is to get a vehicle uphill as fast as possible, usually on steep grades. Fortunately, the temperature was manageable, even though I broke a good, little sweat, on the uphill and just had to watch my knees on the downhill.

Emerging at the canyon bottom after about 1 hour or so (and this was after stopping to take many photos--see above and at the bottom of the blog screen), I came out to an area that seemed to have been used for horse staging or events of some kind. Small concrete structures, including old bathrooms, were scattered about. I had been in the canyon once before and knew there was an access road to Chino Hills State Park, so I turned east and walked a short distance.

Reaching a spot where there is a large rusting steel derrick (a remnant of early oil exploration or, perhaps, for water), I noticed a cleared road turning to the south and headed up. Initially the grade was fairly easy and a section had a nice canopy of tall, stately oaks, but then I emerged into open sun and a steep grade, not unlike my initial ascent from home, but longer! After perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes of marching uphill (and a few more stops for photos), I reached a junction with a ridge trail in the state park. Naturally, the junction was closed by barbed wire fencing and a carefully secured gate. Stopping to take a photo to the south showing the marine layer over Orange County and Saddleback Peak poking through it with other mountains in the Cleveland National Forest, I enjoyed a little break, encountering the only other people (two runners and a mountain biker) I would see for a long while.

Returning the way I came, I scampered down the road and wound up back at the bottom of Soquel Canyon and turned east once more. Although the creek that winds through the canyon was dry to that point, I heard a trickle of water, then a rush. I noticed a clearing to the south of the road and walked across it. Coming to a barbed wire fence with two strands missing, I ducked under it and headed toward a large oak tree. Here was a beautiful little area where the water splashed over some rocks, making a sweet sound that was mine to enjoy alone. Of course, I can't say if the water (after all, it is July) came from springs, runoff from Vellano Golf Course, or who knows what, but at least it sounded good. Sitting with my back against a gnarled oak that has been there for probably decades and, perhaps, centuries, I enjoyed the isolation, the solitude and the ambience. You do have to watch for the flies and other critters that may want to hitch a ride and infest your home, but it's probably a small price to pay for something as restorative as this little bide-a-while by a picturesque creek in Soquel Canyon. How many of the 120,000 or so residents of Chino Hills and Brea have had an experience like this in their own backyard, rather than watching their big screen in air-conditioned comfort, eating in a chain restaurant, and sipping a Peet's or Starbucks coffee. Nothing against those things--but I can't imagine anyone going to a place like the one I've described and not being affected (though I'm sure there are many who wonder what the big deal is.)

I relunctantly left the creekside break and continued my walk east. I encountered four cattle lazily grazing along the road and gently retreating on my approach. I also stumbled upon the bones of an animal I had seen freshly decomposing on my last trip a few years back. Not long afterward, however, I came upon the relics of a Cold War canyon legacy that few people know of and fewer would want to know very much about.

Shortly after World War II and during the height of the hysteria that gripped Americans and Russians and led to the insane atomic weapon buildup that culminated in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a compant called Aerojet began using Soquel Canyon and surrounding areas as a testing laboratory for chemicals and fuels associated with weapons (yes, weapons of mass destruction.) Now, I'm not suggesting that all military buildup of arsenals is bad, but time will show that we and the Soviets were on a path to madness, built on paranoia, suspicion, mistrust, misunderstanding, power, etc. etc. The reality of how close we were to nuclear war in 1962 is truly stunning, if we stop to think about it. The trouble is we usually don't bother, but the vast caches of weapons and nuclear material is still an issue that both the United States and Russia have to do a better job of confronting. Anyway . . .

Even though the Aerojet property was closed down in the 1990s and a massive cleanup ensued that have culminated in Chino Hills' most upscale and prestigious real estate development (still, on top of a munitions site!) called Vellano, there are still signs, literally, of the decades of toxic destruction of a beautiful rural setting. After all, no one in 1947 could, presumably, foresee that there would be homes and people out there, could they?

I hopped an old fence to see what was behind the foreboding signs. I heard another little waterfall in the creek and climbed down to the creek to hear it. Just then, a security vehicle rode by but I was adequately concealed. Strange to think that, even though this was all said to have been cleaned up, or maybe just those areas where the homes and golf course are, there is still the need to patrol the area (even on Sundays.) What else could be back there, I wondered?

Not wanting to risk being confronted and unceremoniously evicted from this Cold War relic and feeling the temperature rising as it got toward 10:00, I headed back westward through the canyon, retracing my steps to the road that led me back to Carbon Canyon and home.

That last jaunt (!) up the hill in exposed sun was a tough one and I met a couple walking their dog on the fire road overlooking Carbon Canyon from the south, but at least there was the downhill to home, where cold water and a comfortable couch beckoned. Next time, I'm going to explore points east on the Brea side and we'll see what we see!

Photos from my excursion are below.

* Kindly note: Access to the areas described in this post constitute trespassing on private property. Caveat emptor transferred to the hiker!

05 July 2008

Ghost Tales in Carbon Canyon!

Come to think of it, St. Joseph's Hill of Hope isn't the only spiritual aspect of Carbon Canyon. A little gander (OK, where does that word come from?) at a website devoted to ghost sightings, a site that proudly wears the bage of "Second Worst Site of the Year" for 2005 from something called I. I. Q. A., has some "reports" that may be of interest to some of you out there.
For example, "The ghost of a silver-miner was made out a Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs before sunrise going nuts. The ghost was swallowed by the thin air after being made out. According to what the residents declare, this ghost gets pleasure from frightening folks who dare to disturb the peace in Yorba Linda. One thing's for certain, it's a menacing ghost that you shouldn't go looking for."

OK, well, I hate to do this--kind of like sticking a needle in a kid's balloon at his birthday party--but: silver was never mined in Carbon Canyon. Also, the canyon is not exactly in Yorba Linda, is it? I'm guessing the "writer" of this information is probably from out of state (and, likely, out of his/her mind, too.) But, if there is a ghost at Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs, which according to latitude/longitude coordinates is just east of The Party House liquor store in Sleepy Hollow and on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road, couldn't he give our faster-driving visitors a little scare to slow 'em down a bit?
Here's another one: "A woman with a semi transparent body has often been witnessed at Carbon Canyon Dam at night excavating a nook. Many locals assert this ghost takes pleasure in terrifying unwise people who come trying to find ghosts in Yorba Linda." Ummm, can you "excavate a nook"? Also, I'm guessing that this ghost doesn't care about people trying to find ghosts in Brea, which is where the dam actually is located?

A third one seems to refer to the Canyon: "The phantom of a gentleman in a police outfit has been seen on a small number of occasions [one?] by Horseshoe Bend mounding rocks. People who have made out this ghost argue [on a small number of occasions?] this ghost can be the soul of a local who passed away here in Yorba Linda in the past." Yeah, I suppose it would make sense that someone died in the past. Does anyone know if there is a Horseshoe Bend in Yorba Linda or is this referring to the S-curve on the Chino Hills side of the canyon?
Here's a good one: "A sizeable creepy ghost has been said to have been observed on one or two occasions downing motor oil in Carbon Canyon Creek." By someone who's downed a little too much of something else? Also, motor oil?
There's also one about a young girl covered in blood in Angeles National Forest, which is only 25 miles from Yorba Linda, but I shouldn't let facts get in the way of a good ghost tale, especially if it's on the Internet.
Now, that's the Yorba Linda one, here are some sightings from Placentia:
"A half decayed human corpse showed up at Carbon Canyon Creek before dawn throwing boulders into the flowing water. This precise ghost has been noticed frequently in this spot. One thing's for sure, it is unquestionably a frightening spirit that is better not messed with." I'm fascinated by the fact that this ghost is evidently very accurate in his/her boulder throwing. And, this is despite the disability of being half-decayed.
"A woman with maggots crawling out of her nose has once in a while been noticed at Brea Dam at midnight staring at the water." Wow, what can you say about that one!
"The phantom of a youthful female having on a blood-covered dress can occasionally be noticed smoking a cigar down beside Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs late at night. In any case, this is an unsympathetic ghost that any wise person would not want to encounter." What would a sympathetic ghost be like and just what kind of ghost would a wise person want to encounter?
Well, here is the website that posts these true, real life, and really SCARY accounts of ghosts in our area (you can even submit your own sighting!): http://www.ghostsofamerica.com. I especially enjoyed the ads for "Tru Blood," which is described as a "synthetic blood nourishment beverage." Perfect for a little refreshment when going out looking for ghosts in Carbon Canyon--too bad The Party House doesn't carry it ( . . . or does it?)

CalTrans and Carbon Canyon Road

In a recent post, I mentioned the fact that there was a surprising difference between the level of maintenance on Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142--oops, looks like someone ought to clean that sign in Sleepy Hollow!) from the San Bernardino County side (better) relative to the Orange County portion (not so good).

Now, it is possible that there are some plans to make improvements on the OC end, but the San Bernardino County stretch has had a pretty considerable amount of work done to it in recent months. There is a sales tax fund in San Bernardino County that is probably the biggest contributor to the difference.

Anyway, it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to provide links to the two district offices that service the road, so these can be found in the links section of this blog.

I have no experience, obviously, with District 12 (OC), but have had a good experience so far with the folks in District 8 (SB). I would be interested to know how others have fared in their communication with CalTrans, so please feel free to post comments.

04 July 2008

Fireworks Could Mean Fire on the Fourth

There is some debate going on in California about whether fireworks should be prohibited statewide given drought conditions and the increasing incidence of catastrophic fire. The governor and many fire management officials have publicly asked residents to consider foregoing the use of home-based fireworks and attend public, professionally-managed displays and stopped well short of calling for an outright ban.
The argument will probably fall under the same general rubric as that about guns: in other words, fireworks don't cause fires, people do. Fair enough. In those areas where the risk of a major fire is low, it would appear less pressing to consider a prohibition than in those areas where the danger is far greater.
Regards Carbon Canyon, the fire risk is severe. I'm heading down to Orange County tonight to see a city-sponsored fireworks show and, in some way, am leaving my home to a certain degree of chance or circumstance.
I sure hope that my canyon neighbors all heed the local ban on fireworks of any kind so that there isn't the possibility of the kind of fire we've seen in northern California, an unprecedented series of wildfires prompted by lightning strikes. The canyon is full of tinder-dry brush and undergrowth and people sometimes look at the green trees (oaks, sycamores, and the like) and don't see the problem. All that would need to be done is to look at the charred remains of the May fires to know how much fuel there is for fire here.

So, enjoy the 4th, fire up the barbeque, enjoy being with family and friends, show your love of country, but don't tempt fate (or, more precisely, fuel) by setting off what might seem to be a little innocent fun with fireworks.
In Carbon Canyon, we can't afford the risk.

03 July 2008

Canyon Hills project: It's in the works for 76 homes!

You know, when I saw that emergency outlet map for Carbon Canyon at the May fire preparedness meeting at Western Hills Country Club and noticed that there was a tract laid out north of Carbon Canyon Road, west of Canyon Hills Road, I wondered if there was a project in process there.

Well, there is!

From the City of Chino Hills website, I found a "Public Information Fact Sheet" stating that developer D. R. Horton's "Canyon Hills is a proposed development of 76 single-family detached homes on a 141-acre property. . . Approximately 100 acres of the project site is reserved for the [sic] open space."

Moreover, the project status section notes that "the developer is processing their grading plans through the City." Still to come is a "Tract Home Design Review" for Planning Commission approval, followed by the submission of building construction plans.

The sheet concludes: "At this time, there is no estimated time frame as to when the actual construction will take place. Potential buyers are encouraged to contact the developer for construction information."

Now, with the state of the housing market and economy, it is possible that this project will be delayed. Whether it's several years, as was the case after the early 90s crash, or not, though, we face the prospect of 76 homes in this development, 165 at Canyon Crest in Brea, and there has been talk of about 25 homes on the east side of Fairway Drive across from Western Hills golf course. That's somewhere around (likely above) 500 more cars just from new canyon developments, never mind what will continue to come from the former Dairy Preserve and points east. The other complicating factor could be water and its availability, pending continued drought conditions, tightened supplies due to agreements on water distribution from the Sacramento delta and the Colorado River systems, and southern California's ability (or lack thereof) to instill self-discipline in the use of water.

At any rate, it will be verrrry interesting out here in the canyon. The above photo is of the project site taken from across the canyon. At the far left is a property for sale in Sleepy Hollow and at the far right is the horse stables across from the project site on Canyon Hills Road. In a few years, all of this could look totally different!

For the city fact sheet, follow this link: http://www.chinohills.org/index.asp?NID=653 and then scroll down to the Canyon Hills project which will direct you to the fact sheet and site plan (this required Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free from Adobe.)

Street Racing Video Game Mirrors Life in the Canyon?

In Fall 2006, EA, one of the world's largest creators of video games, released a new version of its "Need for Speed" series called "Need for Speed: Carbon." Not having really played many video games, I don't want to try and describe what the game is about, but there are some online reviews that say that the inspiration for the setting was "Carbon Canyon, California."
Now, it is possible the source could have been Carbon Canyon in Malibu, which has its own Carbon Canyon Road. But, that road is narrow, short, very steep and doesn't have an outlet, so it just doesn't seem like a street racing magnet.
Anyway, if our Carbon Canyon was the inspiration for this game, it would make sense given that people have used the road for street racing for decades. It's just that now, with more people using the highway, more full-time residents living next or near to it [unlike, say, before the 1960s], and with cars and motorcycles having more horsepower and speed--the racing can get a whole lot more dangerous.
Three fairly recent examples come to mind, although there are more:
A few years ago, two Chino Hills residents, students, I believe, at Servite High in Anaheim, roared in a Ferrari (that's right, a Ferrari) through the canyon, heading westbound through Chino Hills when they screamed through Sleepy Hollow (I sure heard them) before crashing and killing themselves in front of the Party House Liquor Store, if I remember correctly.

In the fall of 2006, coincidentally (or not?) when the "Need for Speed: Carbon" game came out, a young dude in a Cobra 427 made regular 10:00 p.m. runs through the canyon at high speed. One night, while heading east through Sleepy Hollow, he decided to pass a minivan (let me repeat: in Sleepy Hollow, at night, he passed someone), overcompensated, went up an embankment on the south side of the road, went airborne, and landed upside down in the middle of the highway. Now, leaving aside the possibility that someone else driving westbound could have been seriously injured or killed (which, thankfully, did not happen), this young man had a racing car roll cage and harness system (street legal?) which saved his own life. He emerged with only cuts and bruises.
Sometime in 2007, a man on a motorcycle racing at an excessive speed westbound toward the S-curve went under an express delivery truck and was killed. The cross for this person still sits at the southwest corner of the highway and Old Carbon Canyon Road.
In the case of the Cobra, instead of, oh I don't know, say outrage or concern, the local papers were content to express how interesting it was that the car was worth some $60,000 (as configured) and that the driver's father needed crash scene photos for making an insurance claim. Not one iota about the sheer recklessness of the incident or the potential for innocent people to be killed by such behavior. Actually, there was not one peep after the Servite students killed themselves or after the motorcycle fatality, either.
In fact, there have been at least a half-dozen fatalities and several more serious injuries that I know of in the canyon in the four years I've lived here, not to mention innumerable fences mowed down, landmark signs pulverized, street signs rended into various pretzel-like forms. Yet, there has not been one indication from city government or the local press that this constitutes any problem at all--at least, none that I know of.
CalTrans, to their credit, has installed more guard rails, been pretty good about righting downed signs, and made other improvements (incidentally, it's interesting that the Chino Hills side is better maintained than the Brea side, which is in a different CalTrans district--you would think the OC portion would be much better off!)
Maybe the idea that the canyon is just that "out of the way" place where kids "let out a little steam" and "experiment" and "have fun" is just so old and ingrained that it almost seems a part of "growing up."

Well, for any of us who live in the canyon and have to take a calculated risk turning onto the highway not knowing who might be racing along at excessive speeds, that is not the case. There is a problem on this road.
So far, to my knowledge, there hasn't been an innocent person killed by a reckless driver since I've lived here.
I do, however, distinctly remember a New Year's Eve about eight or ten years ago when I and my wife were heading down the hill eastbound from Olinda and came across a horrific multi-car accident. After I jumped out and saw a person sitting in a car staring blankly into the shattered windshield, the girl who was moaning that she couldn't feel her leg, and the guy who was stretched out on the asphalt, and after I made the 9-1-1 call and placed a blanket under the guy lying on the road and after the EMTs arrived, I wondered, "How often does this happen here?" Back then, I lived in another part of Chino Hills. It wasn't until I moved to Sleepy Hollow and was around for a fatal accident, which happened on 1 May 2004, the day of our housewarming party, that I realized that it happens far more often than ought to be acceptable to those charged with the duty and responsibility of at least making an effort at mitigation.
Having said this, I did read in the Chino Valley Champion last week that the City of Chino Hills did allot an additional $1 million or so for the Sheriff's Department's budget, including two new traffic officers. Maybe some of these resources will be put into the canyon where they are increasingly needed. After all, we're likely to have between 250-300 more houses (i.e. 500 or more cars) in the canyon if three proposed projects (one in Brea and two in Chino Hills) get built in the canyon and there's going to be more construction in the old Dairy Preserve, too.
The bottom line is: traffic will increase and if enforcement doesn't, road incidents surely will. Will local officials be reactive or proactive? Isn't the cost of enforcement much less than the cost of response and repair? How many lives are lost and people hurt before the issue moves to the fore?
Let's hope these aren't rhetorical questions in the blogosphere.

St. Joseph's Hill of Hope: Cult or the true Catholicism?

It is probably the most unusual part of Carbon Canyon, this large compound concealed in the hills north of Carbon Canyon Road just inside the Brea/Orange County border before you cross into Chino Hills and San Bernardino County (photo shows the facility from across the canyon). Rumors and gossip have abounded for some 40 years about this place of which many have heard but few know much.

In July 1967, Frances Marie Klug, wife of an insurance salesperson, announced that she had been visited by God with the "Directions that He knows man needs to follow, so that one day our Souls will be with Him in Heaven," as the St. Joseph's website states it. As a "true mystic," Mrs. Klug or Mother Frances has, as she expresses it, received the "Miracle of St. Joseph" and has compiled nearly 50 volumes of revelations over the last four decades.

On examining the St. Joseph's website, it is not particularly clear what the "Miracle of St. Joseph" is, in terms of where the namesake of the miracle comes in. What you do see is Mother Frances' elaborations on the Ten Commandments, as well as what appear to be her own "Seven Heresies," including Pentecostalism; Homosexuality, Lesbianism, and Abortion; Promiscuity; Communism; Organized Crime; Satanic Movement; and Hypocrisy.

There is also a section on the website devoted to the revelations given by Mother Frances with the note that "all Revelations are delivered spontaneously and continuously as witnessed by all those present at the time."

Evidently, Mother Frances was a devoted Catholic who broke from the church to form the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope congregation. A 1972 article in Time magazine states that Mother Frances channeled St. Joseph in her revelations to her congregation and that these visitations are the "Miracle of St. Joseph". Fifty-one at the time, Mother Frances is now in her late 80s and it will be very interesting to see what happens to the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope and the Miracle of St. Joseph when she passes away.

At any rate, here is the link for the magazine article:

I'm going to post the link to the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope website with the other links for those who are curious.

02 July 2008

A Little Historical Tidbit

OK, I don't know if we can say this happened exactly in Carbon Canyon or right near, but I think it's close enough. Besides, it's a pretty interesting little part of the region's history.

In September 1854, an El Monte farmer named James Ellington was killed on the lower road from Los Angeles to San Bernardino (now known as Valley Boulevard) in what is today the Bassett neighborhood between El Monte and La Puente. Because some of his clothing was missing, a manhunt focused on potential suspects with those articles.

After about a week or so, Ygnacio Palomares, co-owner of the Rancho San Jose, encompassing the Pomona area (in fact, a 1930s reconstruction of Palomares' 1850s adobe house, as well as earlier and original 1837 adobe home, are museums in Pomona) was grazing his cattle in the Chino Hills, which was then public land set aside under Spanish and Mexican rule for ranchers in neighboring properties to graze their animals. Palomares, aware that their was a hunt for the murderer of Ellington and equally knowledgeable about the value of hilly areas for criminals to "lay low," noticed an indication of an encampment. With the aid of some of his vaqueros (cowboys), Palomares approached the site and captured a young man named Felipe Alvitre.

Alvitre's family dated back to among the first Spanish soldiers to be stationed in California and were longtime residents of the area known as Misión Vieja (not be confused with the gramatically incorrect Mission Viejo in Orange County.) Translated as Old Mission, the community where Alvitre was raised was the site of the original Mission San Gabriel and later a small community of Latinos, Americans, and others alongside the Rio Hondo (the old channel of the San Gabriel River). This area is now unincorporated flood control land governed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and adjacent to Montebello and South El Monte. The Alvitre family were no strangers to problems with the law, as we'll see in a moment.

At any rate, Felipe was turned in by Palomares to law enforcement and housed in the county jail in Los Angeles. After a trial, he was adjudged guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to hang in January 1855. It turned out that another man, David Brown, was also arrested, tried for murder, and sentenced to die on the same day as Alvitre. Brown, however, had been the subject of a public meeting at a Los Angeles hotel with threats of lynching before the mayor of the town, Stephen C. Foster, arrived and promised to resign his office and lead the lynching party if justice was not secured in the courts. Sure enough, Brown was convicted.
Naturally, Brown's defense attorneys found this curious circumstance adequate ground for an appeal to the California Supreme Court and filed an affidavit requesting a hearing. The Court received the request and ordered a stay of execution pending further review.
In the meantime, according to District Court Judge Benjamin I. Hayes, who presided over the Alvitre and Brown trials, Alvitre's attorneys also filed a request for a stay for their client. Unfortunately for Alvitre, this was lost and didn't reach the Supreme Court in time. When Alvitre's date with the executioner arrived, he was marched out to the yard next to the jail and hanged.
Enraged citizens, remembering Mayor Foster's promise, insisted that Brown ascend the gallows, as well. Foster duly appeared, resigned as mayor, and led the lynching party to the jail. After a brief struggle with the sheriff and jailer, Brown was seized and, as they used to say in those days, "launched into eternity." There's positive spin for you! A third convicted murderer, another El Monte resident (what was it about El Monte anyway?) named William B. Lee, cowered in the jail expecting to be dragged into the lynching party, but was spared. Lee's conviction was also appealed to the state Supreme Court and overturned and he lived a long life.

There is a variation of the story that suggests that it was the Spanish-speaking community that called for Brown's death as revenge for the execution of Alvitre. It is certainly possible that many Latinos in town were upset about why Alvitre was hanged when Brown, an American, appeared to be spared and were perfectly content to see Brown strung up. It is worth noting, however, that when Brown was arrested and that public meeting held, it was called for and attended by Americans and Europeans. Moreover, Mayor Foster had taken the lead for the future lynching by his offer to resign. Another interesting sidenote: when the special election was held for mayor, Foster threw his hat in the ring and was reelected! Probably on his position of being tough on crime!
One notable resident, a merchant named Harris Newmark, later claimed in his memoir that a local newspaper, The Southern Californian, wanted to cover the proceedings but had to get their papers aboard the steamer for San Francisco before the appointed time for Alvitre's execution (and, therefore, for Brown's lynching.) According to Newmark, the paper's "printer's devil", a young man named William H. Workman, went ahead and wrote a full article describing the details of the executions before they took place, so the paper could be printed and copied for the steamer. It turns out that Newmark's story is almost certainly just that, but it adds a little grim humor to the proceedings. Incidentally, young Workman became a Los Angeles mayor and city treasurer in subsequent decades.
Felipe Alvitre was one of three members of his family to be involved in corporal punishment. Almost exactly a year prior to Felipe's crime, his cousin, Ramon, was captured after an attempted rape of a prominent Old Mission resident, Antonia Margarita Workman de Temple. Ramon was tried by a citizen's jury, outside the operations of the courts, found guilty and sentenced to a whipping and banishment from the county. Within a year or two, Ramon died, possibly from the injuries incurred in the punishment. Then, in 1861, Felipe's uncle, Jose Claudio, murdered his wife in a drunken rage, was seized by locals in the Old Mission area (or perhaps from El Monte, known for its lynching proclivities), placed on a horse with a noose around his neck, and executed.

Back to the Chino Hills and, possibly, the Carbon Canyon connection: Alvitre, after his arrest, was said to have not only casually admitted to killing Ellington, asking his captors what the life was worth so that he could pay for it, but that he also killed another man in Los Nietos (today's Santa Fe Springs area) after fleeing. This suggests that Alvitre headed south from the Ellington murder scene, then cut across through northern Orange County before seeking refuge in the Chino Hills. Given the Carbon Canyon is a prominent passage through the hills from north Orange County it seems quite possible that Alvitre traveled what must have been first an Indian trail and then later a dirt road to locate his hiding place. Then again, he might have ventured up Brea Canyon, Tonner Canyon, or even Soquel Canyon. We'll never know for sure, but it seems like his capture in the Chino Hills by Palomares is of a close enough proximity to make the incident part of Carbon Canyon's general, if not specific, history.

Sources for this little exercise: Harris Newmark's biography, Sixty Years in Southern California (1916 and several reprintings); the Southern Californian and Los Angeles Star newspapers; Robert Blew's early 1970s article on lynching in the journal Southern California Quarterly; among others. Obviously, any errors are mine.

"Canyon Crest" Project Narrowly Approved!

I learned today that, by a 3-2 vote (kind of parallel to 5-4 votes on controversial Supreme Court decisions, huh?) the Brea Planning Commission voted to certify the Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report (RDEIR) for the 165-home "Canyon Crest" project.
I suppose there might a silver lining in that there was some dissension among commission members. This could give a little boost to what I would assume would be an impending appeal by one or more of the MANY, MANY persons and organizations opposed to the project.
The "Canyon Crest" proposal would then move on to the Brea City Council and we'll see when there will be time for public comment on this.

One matter that came to mind this evening is that developers often have no intention to complete the building of a project, but instead wait for such things as the approval of an EIR and the certification of a tract map, which will boost the value of the property for sale. So, don't be the least bit surprised if the Shopoff Group tries to shop off (I know, ouch!) this project to someone (or something) else.
Meantime, let's hope that there is an appeal, that the City Council does give thoughtful and serious consideration to such, mindful of the 3-2 split among its appointed Planning Commission members and the lack of a split among the many Brea residents and others who've voiced an especially clear, unequivocal and pointed opposition to "Canyon Crest, and that, the appeal failing, that legal action keeps this unsustainable and outmoded method of development from becoming anywhere near a reality (Was that one of the longest sentences you've ever read? Sorry!)
More on this later . . .

01 July 2008

It's Only 166 (oops, 165) Homes, Redux

All right, I erred once more--there is actually one less home in the luxury tract home development called Canyon Crest on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon. There's your errata for the day.
Onto the update: I spent a good part of today reviewing over 500 pages of documents (sometimes you wonder if the mass of paper is a tool to discourage citizen involvement in the planning process!) relating to staff reports on the project. I know, I know--couldn't I have spent my time on something FUN?

When it comes down to brass tacks (I love these metaphors, especially the ones of which I know nothing as to how they came to be used), though, this project has gotten as far as it has because the City of Brea wants it to happen, not because the majority of its citizens (the people who elect the council and for whom the staff and planning commission ostensibly work) want it.
The sheer fact is that the Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report (RDEIR) gave three reasons, that is, unavoidable, significant adverse environmental impacts, why the city could reject the project without, unless someone can explain otherwise, legal recrimination by the developer. YET, the staff went ahead and recommended that the city issue a "Statement of Overriding Considerations" that would trump these three impacts because the city believed that the project was, thereby, beneficial and valuable.

What are these considerations? Well, let's quote, shall we, from the "City of Brea Planning Commission Staff Report, DR 08-01, TT 15956, and EIR 02-01," at page 8:
"These include considerations such as the project's contribution of a new Type 1 Fire Engine to the City, its conservation of approximately 280 acres of open space land, funding for trails and park master plan implementation, funding for City revenues via payment of one-time fees and recurring annual revenues, as well as assistance with meeting affordable housing goals (most likely through housing fund in-lieu fee contributions."

In other words, these benefits outweight the unavoidable significant adverse impacts of airborne particulate matter pollution from one year [quite possible more!] of grading, the loss of already nearly-vanished oak and walnut woodland habitat, and the increase of traffic on Carbon Canyon Road.

To go back to my earlier point, however, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) allows for projects to be rejected for any single unavoidable significant adverse impact. At the same time, the law gives local governments the proverbial "easy out" loophole in the form of the "State of Overriding Considerations." There was an article on this in the Los Angeles Times just a few weeks ago (try an online search at www.latimes.com)

Oh, there is one other consideration that is being overriden: the will of the citizens for whom city staff, the planning commission, and the city council ostensibly (love that word!) work. I'll go back to what I said in an earlier post: there were dozens of citizens who spoke about Canyon Crest at the 22 April Planning Commission meeting, all of which loudly and vehemently registered their complete and total opposition of this project, excepting one half-hearted, "sort of" endorsement. Staff reports, available from the City of Brea website (use the link in this blog to get you started) include a total of 50+ written responses, most from citizens of Brea and Chino Hills, NONE (I repeat, NONE) of which offered any support for this project. There was one couple who said they didn't care what Canyon Crest did as long as they didn't run construction traffic through Olinda Village.
But, for page after mind-numbing page, city staff carefully dissected the arguments (some technical, some artful, some neither but hearfelt) and dismantled every one of them in a fabulously legalistic and formalistic defense of this project. It was all about why the developer meets city standards, rather than, say, why they're so deeply, passionately and personally invested in the long-term viability and health of the community.
Again, the city makes the claim that this is a good project for the reasons elucidated above from the Planning Commission Staff Report. What isn't spoken (often as telling or more so than what is) is that the city is bending over backwards (thereby, avoiding the gaze of its citizenry) to assist the developer. I suppose another unspoken reason is that the city hungrily eyes these homes, planned to be sold for between $1.4 million and $4 million, because it would make Brea more like its neighbors in Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills or to aspire to be more like Coto de Caza, Rancho Santa Margarita, Newport Coast, ad infinitum, among the creme de la creme of the O.C.'s elite residential enclaves.
As I said before, if there is a legal reason why the "Statement of Overriding Considerations" is not just necessary, but imperative, well, that's something that'll have to be explained by the City Council, assuming that the Planning Commission has approved the RDEIR. Otherwise, to put the developer's ambitions and the city's expressed list of benefits derived from the project OVER AND ABOVE the will, desire, and feelings of its citizens seems nothing less than a contradiction of the highest order.

When (not if, I would guess) this moves on to the City Council, I would hope the focus of the discussion will be precisely about why the city issued the "Statement of Overriding Considerations" when it didn't have to; why it chose this project over protecting a rare natural resource; and why it seems blithely unaware that projections of traffic, water, pollution and other real issues in a very local project should be measured against the greater reality of the challenges we face with those and other issues in California, the West, the US and, yes, the planet.

Then again, that's not for Brea to worry about, is it? City staff, the planning commission, and the City Council are not legally charged with the duty to worry about the "wider world," right? Of course, no one really is. We'd have to choose to make that decision, which involves a certain amount of fortitude and, I suppose, courage.

The question speakers at a future City Council might want to ask its elected representatives is: do you have the courage to reject the "Statement of Overriding Considerations" and, therefore, the Canyon Crest project because it fails the CEQA test; fails to inspire the slightest support of the vast majority of Brea residents; guts a significant portion of some of the last remaining natural environment of our region; creates unacceptable levels of airborne particulate matter; and increases (even what seems a paltry 5% of 2005 numbers, now three years old and increasingly outdated) traffic levels on a greatly overcrowded road not built for its current uses.
By the way, that fancy new message board the developer will help pay for is aimed to tell motorists what other options there are for heading east at rush hour. Ummm, that would be the 91 Freeway, a fantastic alternative, the 57/60 route, which is only slightly better, and Grand Avenue through Diamond Bar and Chino Hills, which ain't so grand either.

On top of this, these massive homes, their landscaping, and community landscaping will gobble up many times more water than the typical Brea household in an era where water resources are declining and more thinly spread from competing interests.
AND, because of drought conditions, there is a very real fire risk that would imperil these homes and their residents, as well as every one else in the canyon (know that, historically, most fires have started on the Brea side and raced eastward). Not to get hysterical about this, but escape routes for residents and ingress for emergency vehicles could get a lot more difficult in the west end of the canyon (unlike the Chino Hills side, where there are now two new escape routes). That shiny new red fire engine could compete with morning or evening commuter traffic.
Disaster scenarios (oh, what about earthquake, plague, locusts?) aside, this project is just irresponsible as we confront the confounding contradictions of our hellbent development paradigm which has run largely unstopped for at least eighty years. Like fossil fuels, unbridled development has run into the problem of being increasingly unsustainable. A stand has got to be made somwhere.
If Brea is going to be sued anyway, by project opponents or by the developer, why not support its citizens, take the position that this project should be rejected because of CEQA impacts, and bite the bullet? Otherwise, is loading the gun for the developer the way to face the future?

Until next time . . .

Lights Out for Summer

My post from the 29th on "Motorcycles in the canyon, Part One" now seems like a hazy distant memory after last night's shenanigans and hijinks.

Last night, after picking up my kids from daycare, I turned onto Carbon Canyon Road and saw a CalTrans or city portable message board saying that the road was closed until 4 a.m. this morning. It could only be one thing! That's right, kids, another serious accident on ol' SH 142!

When I rolled up to Canyon Hills Drive, just before entering Sleepy Hollow, I was greeted with a phalanx of volunteer patrol persons for the Sheriff's Department preventing anyone from going past Rosemary Lane, which just happens to be my turnoff to get home. As I went past, I casually asked (what else do you do when you live in the canyon?) if it was a car accident. Did I even need to ask?

Actually, the road was blocked at Oak Way Lane, with cars not permitted to enter or exit that street. A patrol car was there and there was some crime tape and a rope stretched across the road to prevent access. From there, I couldn't see just exactly where the pole was, but it was somewhere near the Rosemary Lane intersection closest to the county line. I took a few photos and have posted them accordingly.

Talking to a sheriff's department rep, we found out that a SUV driven by a 30-something male took out the pole about 3 p.m. Wires were still attached and functioning for a little while before the power went out. The SUV appeared to be totaled or at least heavily damaged and the driver was taken to the hospital but said to not have major injuries. Southern California Edison, meanwhile, was delayed because of a life-threatening situation in Corona involving a woman who electrocuted herself at her home's circuit panel, so crews didn't arrive until later in the evening.

After working all night, though, SCE personnel were able to replace the pole, reconnect the wires, and get power up again at little after 6 this morning, after about 14 hours plus or minus. Let me just say that all the credit in the world should go to these workers who pushed on through the night on this emergency job and got our power back on. That can also be really dangerous work sometimes, so MANY THANKS to the SCE workers for their efforts.

There were two benefits actually, maybe three: One--we got to experience a little drawdown of normal power-driven life. We lit some candles, sat outside and enjoyed the dusk, the kids played at the front of the house. It was relaxing. Two--we got to talk to many of our neighbors as they walked down to see what all the fuss was about and we don't see some of them all that often. Finally, this was a rare phenomena of an extremely quiet evening, the kind where the crickets and frogs make more noise than cars, trucks, and motorcycles. For those of us who live right next to the road, it makes for a better night's sleep. Naturally, a motorcyclist came through at 5:15 a.m., not realizing the road was closed, but felt it his patriotic duty and/or entitlement and right as an American to let out his throttle as he rolled through the neighborhood. I know, I know, one bad apple and all that. Plus, wasn't I talking about benefits?

Well, now it's time to make a little phone call to a Chino Hills city official and see if he thinks this something worth being concerned about, especially given that this is now three accidents in five days in the canyon (or maybe just another normal week in Carbon Canyon.)