31 May 2009

Wildfire Awareness Fair Recap

Yesterday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Western Hills Park and Chino Valley Fire Station 64 was the Wildfire Awareness Fair. I was there from about 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and there were probably 80 or more visitors there, in addition to Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council members and volunteers, fire department personnel, and vendors and exhibitors, so it seemed pretty well-attended.

Some of the vendors and exhibitors included the Inland Empire Utilities Agency; Santa Ana Watershed Association; Farmer's Insurance; State Farm Insurance; Fresh 'n Easy markets; The Home Depot; Hills for Everyone; and the fire departments of Chino Valley, Brea, and the State of California (CalFire.)

There were also some firefighting vehicles from Brea, Chino Valley and CalFire for visitors to see and the waterwise garden, featuring many fire-resistant plants, was also highlighted. This latter is a surprisingly large area adjacent to the fire station and Carbon Canyon Road that is worth a look by anyone looking to create or refashion their landscaping to conserve water and mitigate fire risk. It's available to view at any time and visitors could always park at Western Hills Park and cross Canon Lane to access the path just between the station and Carbon Canyon Road. Signs giving the common and scientific names for the plants are there, as well.

Among the vendors of fire-related products were Vulcan Vent, a company that makes a coated expanded aluminum vent to stop embers from entering a home through soffits, gables and eaves; Thermo Technologies, manufacturer of "Thermo-Gel" and "Thermo-Foam," products sprayed onto structures and into fire areas, respectively; TimberSil, a maker of a "glass wood" product, a non-toxic combination of silica harvested from rice and wood that is fire retardant, preventive against rot and decay and is EPA-approved for its non-toxic barrier status; and HCR, Inc., which produces the Bulls-Eye hose nozzle, a solid brass, integrated product that generates 50% more water flow using less water and designed for use fighting wild fires in the home environment.

In all, there was a lot to learn and absorb and, hopefully, those who attended came away with some practical ways to improve their fire protection strategies for their homes. With another year of low rainfall, the fire season is going to start earlier and last longer. Brush clearance, mitigation measures inside and outside the home, an evacuation plan, and other aspects become more and more important in conditions like these in a place like Carbon Canyon.

This leads to the last exhibitor to mention from the fair: a member of the Chino Valley Independent Fire District who was there to discuss a new "vegetation reduction project." This came out of a 2005 grant proposal submitted by the department to FEMA and which was successful. The final step in the project is now nearly completed, this being the mandatory review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which should be nothing more than a formality.

The purpose of the project is to remove "ladder fuels," low-lying vegetation, including tree branches hanging below six feet from ground level, that can cause fire to climb into trees and other taller components within a 400-acre area on the San Bernardino County portion of the Canyon.

In the grant, it was pointed out that there have were eleven "significant" fires from 1978 to 2002 within Carbon Canyon, scorching a total of 44,635 acres. The largest of these were in 1978, 1983 and 1990. Of course, last fall's Freeway Complex Fire must now be added to the list. Of note in this section of the proposal: "Since 1990, the number of homes in Carbon Canyon have increased substantially, greatly increasing the potential loss due to fire."

The removal project was then (2005) slated to cost $540,000 over three years with a seven year "useful life" and a calculation of just shy of $1 million of project benefit from reducing damage incidents in future fires was also given.

Also of interest was the 2003 tax base estimates for improved property, not land, in the several neighborhoods in the project's scope: Carriage Hills at around $45 million; Oak Tree Downs/Estates at $42 million; Western Hills Oaks (off Valley Springs Road south of Carbon Canyon Road) at $18 million; Sleepy Hollow at $10 million; Mountain View Estates (Canon Lane south of Carbon Canyon Road) at $9 million; and the Western Hills Mobile Home Park at $1 million--for a total of $125 million. The estimated population for 477 units was 1,371 persons.

A map of the mitigation area shows that the perimeter runs from the western edge of Oak Tree Downs south and west to Sleepy Hollow and then heading eastward along the southern perimeter of that neighborhood towards and through Mountain View Estates, Western Hills Oaks and at the edge of Vellano. Almost all of the work would be done by hand-cutting with small portions accomplished mechanically.

As the CEQA review is completed and work scheduled and begun, we'll try to post progress here. Meantime, Deputy Fire Marshal Kevin Smith can be reached for questions at ksmith@confire.org.

28 May 2009

Carbon Canyon Brush Clearance and Wildfire Awareness Fair

After an agreement was reached by CalFire, the state fire agency, and CalTrans, a project to remove brush from the easement along the shoulder of Carbon Canyon Road has been ongoing by CalTrans District 8, which deals with the San Bernardino County/Chino Hills side of the highway.

At the moment, it appears that the bulk of the work has been conducted on the portion east of the Summit Ranch housing development to Chino Hills Parkway and primarily on the souther side of the road, where weeds were cut down and oak and other trees trimmed. While the purpose was to mitigate potential fire hazards, the effect also makes the highway look a little cleaner.

This follows on the heels of the clearance of mud debris from the last heavy winter rains, which were in 2004-05, over on the Orange County side by CalTrans District 12.

Obviously, with a fourth consecutive year of low rainfall, the vegetation in the Canyon is drying out sooner and this increases the fire risk. Even though the Brea side burned most heavily in last November's Freeway Complex Fire, there is still fuel there and certainly is plenty on the Chino Hills side, so let's hope the brush clearance program throughout the Canyon makes some difference.

Also, let's not forget that this Saturday, 30 May from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. is the Wildfire Awareness Fare, coordinated by the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council and held at Fire Station 64 and Western Hills Park, located at the intersection of Carbon Canyon Road and Canon Lane.

A gardening workshop, with an eye to promoting fire-safe plants, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., there will be vendors showing fire prevention products, and there will be give-aways and food provided courtesy of Home Depot, Farmers Insurance, the City of Brea Fire Department, Fresh & Easy market, Trader Joes, BevMo, and more. The City of Chino Hills will also have emergency decals for Canyon residents available and residents can sign up for the "e-notify" system for emergency information.

This could be a very challenging fire season ahead, but preparedness has definitely improved and the Fire Safe Council has been instrumental in this process. Let's hope that we are spared anything near what happened last fall!

21 May 2009

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #15

It is nice to break away for something positive after a couple of weeks mostly spent documenting the defacement and disfigurement of Carbon Canyon.

So, here is a real nice example of a 1940s era La Vida Mineral Springs soda bottle. The third post in this series way back in late July featured another La Vida bottle that was not nearly in as good a shape as this beauty.

To recap (!): it appears that soda products were made by the resort starting in 1928 and the actual bottling of the product took place in Placentia, Fullerton and, interestingly enough, Alameda (near Oakland.) In addition to seltzer water (see the 16 February post on CCHA #12), flavored soda, such as was contained in this bottle, was produced.

Incidentally, after the devastation wrought by the Freeway Complex fire in November, I came across portions of a broken bottle just like this on the site (see the photo at the bottom of the main blog page), so who knows what might be buried or hidden out there in terms of artifacts from the resort.

If anyone out there has information about when La Vida stopped producing soda, I'd sure be interested to hear about it. This item is 2009.5.1.1 from the Carbon Canyon Collection and clicking on the images will give you a closer blow-up view.

20 May 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #1732

Hopefully, those of you reading this post are getting as tired as moi of these efforts to document a recent spate of accidents, near-accidents, graffiti and other canyon-marring incidents. I think I'll actually be able now to talk about some history, discuss local businesses, and profile another Carbon Canyon neighborhood. That is, until the next incident comes along. After all, the weekend is only a couple of days away.

So, what you see here are photos taken Monday morning of a set of skid marks of a notable length on the westbound side of Carbon Canyon Road where a tight curve leads toward the La Vida Mineral Springs property (off to the right). As you can see, the marks reflect a slight miscalculation in the direction of the road, with the skid going straight while the road unfairly veers off to the right a little.

Of course, I suppose that the double yellow line in the center of the road, as well as the white line at the shoulder, are intended to assist drivers in following the path of the highway, but . . . then again, perhaps speed and some kind of impairment (maybe of the chemical variety) got in the way. The skid terminates on the shoulder of the eastbound lane (guess it was good no one was coming the other way) and ends right in front of the faux rock that hides some kind of electrical panel.

Once again, there appears to have been no accident here, at least not a serious one. Sooner or later, though, . . .

19 May 2009

Still More Artistic Expression in the Face of Social Injustice

Well, today was a mixed bag when it comes to the recent graffiti offensive launched in Carbon Canyon. As I stated yesterday, after I called the Chino Hills graffiti hotline to report some tagging on a retaining wall below the Carriage Hills subdivision near the S-curve along Carbon Canyon Road, the folks in that city are usually quick to respond to reports of graffiti activity. Sure enough, while the tagging was there at a little after 8 a.m. as I drove my kids to school, it was gone no more than a half-hour later when I returned through on my way to work. It may have been city workers or perhaps a contractor hired by the Carriage Hills Homeowner's Association, but, either way, the response was quick and kudos to whoever did the work!

On the other hand, some of the same people also took the opportunity over the weekend to add their "artistic skills" to the already well-illustrated La Vida Mineral Springs tank, the only major visible presence of the Brea historic site. As the top photo, taken this morning, shows, there was quite a bit of embellishment there, including the same "DES" who marked up the Carriage Hills retaining wall (bottom photo from yesterday for comparison.) "DES" also marked up a new guard rail along the highway in front of the tank.

Given that there has been steady activity over most of the last few weekends, it might be an opportune time for local law enforcement to do a little more patrolling later in the evening on upcoming Fridays and Saturdays.

Just in case.

18 May 2009

Even More Artistic Expression in the Face of Social Injustice

Between the scarred landscape from last fall's fires, the earlier browning of the landscape because of another sub-par year of rainfall, the increasing skid marks and accidents, and the growing amount of graffiti, Carbon Canyon is looking less and less like the scenic place it has been and been valued for and more and more like a devalued, defaced landscape subject to the egregious effects of benign neglect and the petty improvisations of small-time criminals.

The latest iteration? While heading out this morning to take my kids to school and thinking I'd only need my camera to photograph yet another series of skid marks on Carbon Canyon Road over on the Brea side (more on that in tomorrow's ongoing "On the Skids in Carbon Canyon" feature!), I noticed new tagging on the retaining wall below the Carriage Hills residential tract off the eastbound portion of the highway before reaching the S-curve in Chino Hills. Now, the city is pretty good at responding to and effacing graffiti and I (and, hopefully, others) called the city's graffiti hotline, so, it should be gone within a few days.

But, I also remembered that there was more tagging on a CalTrans sign (a new one to replace one burned out in the fire) on the eastbound side of the highway just after the La Vida Mineral Springs site in Brea. I am not sure if the response time from CalTrans District 12 will be as good. The photos above were taken this morning.

At any rate, there is definitely an uptick on graffiti in the Canyon in the last few weeks and let's hope our elected officials (local and state) are (or very soon will be) aware of this, as well as the growing problem with unsafe driving and the attendant accidents and near-accidents that have occurred recently, as well. If there is no official (police or otherwise) presence in the Canyon, these behaviors will continue to the detriment of those who appreciate and respect it.

For graffiti removal, the hotline numbers are:

Chino Hills: (909) 364-2820.

Brea: (714) 671-4465.

17 May 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #1618

That loud screeching of tires that awoke me at 1:20 a.m. Saturday morning wasn't, as I should have given more thought to, knowing the distance, the accident that occurred on the Brea side (Olinda Village) of Carbon Canyon and which was the subject of yesterday's "On the Skids" feature.

Rather, the early morning Saturday incident is the one captured in the set of photos you see above, taken today about a little after Noon. In this case, a car (I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume it was going too fast and that the driver was probably awe-struck by the beauty of a Spring moon!) went off the highway going westbound on Carbon Canyon Road and chewed up some of the embankment destroying a few pieces of state property; namely, some mile-maker signs and a speed limit sign. It also scattered some debris, including pieces of the absorbent material laid along the side of the roadway after last November's Freeway Complex Fires and during the winter rains to prevent mudflow from affecting the highway.

From there, said vehicle then veered off the embankment, back onto to the road and crossed over to the other side on the eastbound side. Finally, it can be assumed the driver collected his/her thoughts, looked down on his/her lap, and then continued along on his/her merry way. No harm, no foul (speaking of which, how about those Lakers, huh?) Just another weekend evening/early morning in Carbon Canyon!

Tomorrow, I'll make yet another post in our ongoing "On the Skids" series with YET ANOTHER fresh set of skid marks from this weekend a little further down the road adjacent to the old La Vida Mineral Springs resort.

I wonder if anyone in Brea or Chino Hills city government would be interested to know how much of this flailing about is going in these parts lately!

"Keep Our Canyon Clean" indeed!

16 May 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #1563

Last night at 1:20 a.m. one of the loudest screeching of tires I've heard in my five plus years in the Canyon occurred. Now, I'm not saying that the latest entry in the ongoing "On the Skids" feature came from this, but the skidmarks and broken glass in the above pictures, taken today at 4:15 p.m., were not there on Friday.

Maybe some folks in Olinda Village could say more accurately when this latest Canyon accident happened, because the scene is about 1/8 of a mile down the road from the Village on the north side of the road with the skidmarks coming from the eastbound lane and running probably around 150 feet or more across the highway to the asphalt curb

. So, to recap, this was either Friday or Saturday night (a weekend), a skidmark at about 150 feet long indicating a pretty high rate of speed, someone who crossed the median into oncoming lanes, and a fair amount of small pieces of glass littering the side of the road. It's not too hard to build a possible scenario for this, but, pending any information, I'll stop there.

Finally, as I was leaving the area to head home this afternoon, two motorcyclists going at a high rate of speed flew by me doing wheelies. If only I'd had my camera ready when that happened!

15 May 2009

Olinda Oil Field Historical Tidbit

The first entity to try and develop the western end of Carbon Canyon was the Olinda Land Company. After Edward Doheny, however, completed the first successful oil well in the area, Olinda Land became an oil company, with most of its operations centered southeast of today's intersection of Carbon Canyon Road and Valencia Avenue, where there are still operating wells today.

While not as big as Santa Fe, Columbia, Puente or some other concerns operating at Olinda, it did have some successes. A 4 March 1913 article in the Los Angeles Times gives some idea of the company's operations:

The Olinda Land Company has just finished well No. 5 at 3000 feet in the light oil division of the property, demonstrated on the Puente lease adjoining. This is the first effot the Olinda has made to derive production from this part of its property, No. 5 being at some distance from the other wells. The company has also adopted the policy which has become rather prevalent in this district of deepening some of its old producers.

The gross income of the Olinda Land Company for the year 1912 was $125.885.19, according to the annual report recently issued to the stockholders. Of this total all but about $11,000 was derived from two sources--the company's own production which brought in approximately $61,297.02, and the royalties from the property leased to the West Coast Oil Company, which returned $53,610.60 according to the report.

The company has paid eighteen dividends, aggregating $195,000, the rate being 3 per cent on par.

During the past year a bonded indebtedness of $200,000 was created, of which $100,000 has been sold, and it is stated that the money accruing from the sale of the bonds has enabled the company to double their drilling from three strings to six strings, and also to increase the regularly quarterly divident from 1/2 to 3/4 cent per share, as a portion of the income can be used for this purpose that previously has gone back into development.

Because Olinda Land started off as a property owner for developing the tract as a subdivision, it was able to generate some income by leasing land out to another oil company.

It also had four wells, though how many were producers or regular ones is not known. Also not known is the company's expense sheet for 1912 to see how profitable it was, though the eighteen dividends do indicate some extended profitability.

Also, deepening of wells reflects the rapid growth in technology, in that in the 1890s and 1900s well depths were not usually beyond 2000 or a little more in feet, but by 1913 techniques had improved dramatically. By the mid-1920s, wells of between 4 and 5,000 feet in depth were being achieved, meaning the deeper pockets or pools in previously proven wells were available to tap.

Finally, the growing use of bonded indebtedness to raise capital for more intensive devleopment, whether it be for a real estate subdivision or oil prospecting, was changing the game for oil companies in that era.

This brief article gives a little idea of oil drilling activity at Olinda almost a century ago. In the 1920s map detail above, the little circles show oil well sites in the general Olinda oil field area, with six dots east of Valencia Ave. (then Olinda Boulevard) and south of Carbon Canyon Rd. likely showing the Olinda Land Company tract. More Olinda oil history is coming soon!

14 May 2009

Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council Newsletter Debuts!

The premiere issue of the quarterly newsletter of the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council is out and anyone who is a resident of the Canyon should be interested and supportive of this group, which has done much to increase awareness about fire dangers and responses.

A key portion of the newsletter concerns the great news that the Brea Fire Department and the community of Olinda Village, including Hollydale Mobile Home Estates, have joined the council which has operated for almost a decade on the Chino Hills side of the Canyon.

There is also more information about the Wildfire Awareness Fair on 30 May from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at both Western Hills Park and Fire Station 64 at the corner of Carbon Canyon Road and Canon Lane. Demonstrations involving fire extinguishers and Thermo-Gel, a product sprayed on structures to deter fire; fire safe products, such as gutter guards and eave vent screens; giveaways, including 200 plants provided by Home Depot, reusable grocery bags and a gift basket from Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market, and fire extinguishers courtesy of the Brea Fire Department; booths staffed by the Air Quality Management District (AQMD), the Chino Hills Auxiliar Radio Team (CHART) concerning emergency communication, Farmers Insurance Company with free child and pet ID registration; and more will be part of the fair's activities. The above image is the flyer that came with the newsletter.

The newsletter also contains an article by Hills for Everyone executive director Claire Schlotterbeck about the project to eradicate the nefarious Arundo donax which has infested and plagued the Canyon, particularly the Brea side, for many a year.

There is also a piece about the mission and vision of the Council and a reminder that meetings are held the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Sleepy Hollow Community Center at Rosemary Lane and Carbon Canyon Road.

Finally, important phone numbers are also provided:

Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council (714) 313-2405

Brea Carbon Canyon Hotline (714) 990-7732

Chino Hills Road Conditions Hotline (909) 364-2828

Chino Valley Fire Department (909) 902-5280

In addition to the Fair flyer, an insert for brush removal on the Chino Hills portion of the Canyon was included with upcoming pick-up days including next Monday the 18th and the 1st, 15th, and 29th (all Mondays) in June. Criteria includes: green waste only; piles limited to 10'W x 10'L x 6'H and accessible to a truck within 15' of, but not on, the roadway; leaves and raked material to be bagged; and arrangements must be made by calling the Council at (714) 313-2405. Piles sitting longer than 10 days and not otherwise meeting the criteria will not be accepted and property owners could be cited and fined for material not otherwise disposed of. In the future, it is hoped that Brea residents of the Canyon can also be included with the expansion of grant applications and funding.

Kudos to the Fire Safe Council for all of the work it does and for getting out a nice first issue of the newsletter!

12 May 2009

117-Home Project Proposed for Carbon Canyon!

Well, it looks as if there is another proposal to build homes on the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon--making this the fourth such project approved or proposed, following the 98-unit Pine Valley Estates (now stalled due to the economic situation); the 76-home Canyon Hills project, which is in the design review stage; and the 28-lot Stonefield development, which went through the environmental impact report phase last fall, but has been silent since.

As reported in this week's Chino Hills Champion, "a plan to build 117 custom homes at Carbon Canyon Road and Canyon Hills Road is on the horizon. A pre-application for the project was submitted to Chino Hills for the gate-guarded community project . . ." Unfortunately, nothing more was said in this tidbit regarding the exact location, the developer, or any other information, other than that there is a proposed traffic signal for this intersection, which had come up with the Stonefield project. In fact, the Champion, in trying to differentiate the new proposal with Stonfield, noted that there would be a signal at Fairway Drive and Carbon Canyon Road, though the public meeting for Stonefield included a statement that there were proposals to erect signals at Canon Lane and Canyon Hills Road, not Fairway Drive, but . . .

The aforementioned "Canyon Hills" project is northwest of the intersection of Carbon Canyon Road and Canyon Hills Road, where the old Ski Villa concrete ski slope now is. On the northwest is the Cowbiz ranch, formerly Ski Villa and Camp Kinder Ring, but it doesn't seem likely that this would be the newly-proposed development.

The only other possibility appears to be the south side of Carbon Canyon Road across from Canyon Hills Road, a site that was proposed some years ago (late 80s/early 90s?) for a housing tract and on which the developer ripped out a couple thousand trees, including native oaks, without approval to do so. The project then died out, but one wonders if this parcel is where the new project is situated. The above photo, taken from Canyon Hills Road looking south towards Carbon Canyon Road and points beyond, shows this area in the background as it appeared after most of the property burned in last fall's fires.

So, a little basic math, assuming that all four projects pan out and are built, means that there are potentially 319 (yes, 319, or some 650 cars and about 1,000 people!) houses that could be built on the Chino Hills side, 174 of which are already approved and some of which are now built. While the Canyon Crest development, planned for 165 units, in Brea has stalled because the developer has not come up with the money for fund further environmental review study called for after the Freeway Complex fire last November, that project would raise the number to 484 houses that could be built someday and about 1,000 cars and some 1,500 or more people.

This, in a canyon that has a two-lane highway not built for this kind of suburban use, a vanishing wildland habitat, an extreme and growing fire risk, in an era when basic infrastructure relating to water, school, refuse disposal, and others are increasingly becoming harder to acquire and maintain. One can only hope that environmental impact reports for any future projects not already approved will demonstrate beyond a doubt that Carbon Canyon simply cannot keep accomodating housing development any longer without radically altering the fundamental nature of the Canyon. The economy notwithstanding, developers are betting that there will be a substantive recovery in the near future and want to get those tract maps approved.

Obviously, particular attention will be paid in this blog to any news that comes out of this, so stay tuned!

10 May 2009

Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council May Meeting

Last Wednesday was the monthly meeting of the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council at the Sleepy Hollow Community Center and, though I missed the first half-hour of the session, the focus came after that.

This is concerning the Wildfire Awareness Day that will be held on Saturday, 30 May from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Western Hills Park, which is at the corner of Carbon Canyon Road and Canon Lane in Chino Hills. With the recent fire catastrophe at Santa Barbara following on year after year of mounting home losses to wildfires and this season portending more of the same after another subpar of rain this winter and the continuation of drought, the importance of events like these cannot be understated. There will be vendors to exhibit and discuss fire prevention materials and programs and local firefighting officials will be present to highlight what has been done in recent years to try and mitigate wildfire occurrences and threats. Hopefully, there will be a good turnout and, more hopefully, we will not experience this year in Carbon Canyon what the folks in the hillsides above Santa Barbara are going through now.

Another component of the meeting consisted of the potential closure of Brea's fire station #4, which is actually a storefront in Olinda Village staffed by one firefighter, who wouldn't, on his/her own, be able to get the one fire truck stationed there operational without assistance. There has been a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Brea fire chief Al Nero (who has probably taken plenty of ribbing over his surname, given what the Roman emperor of that name allegedly did when Rome burned in 64 A.D.) and Chino Valley fire chief Paul Benson that would provide Chino Valley assistance for fires in Brea if and when station 4 is shuttered. What precipitated (hmmm) a long discussion at this meeting was what the stated and actual response times would be if Chino Valley firefighters were called out to a fire on the Brea side of the Canyon and whether either of these would be sufficient and acceptable.

As it is, there is probably not any real sufficiency of personnel and response times to cover a locally-started fire occurring in hot, dry and windy Santa Ana weather conditions. As has been stated here several times, the Freeway Complex fire should not be the standard by which to measure this. As excellent a job our local firefighting departments have done in recent years, if last November's conditions were to be replicated with a locally-ignited blaze, the result would be far worse than what happened in the Fall.

There has, incidentally, been talk of moving Chino Valley's station 4, now at Carbon Canyon Road and Canon Lane over to Eucalyptus Avenue west of Chino Hills Parkway, but fire board member Ray Marquez, a career firefighter, stated that there is no intention to do so for the forseeable future. The prospect of having both fire stations moved out of the Canyon, even if budget and other factors seem increasingly pressing, is not a good sign. While I heard some persons at the Wednesday meeting mention the old Sleepy Hollow volunteer fire department that existed for a few decades, up until, I think, the 1980s, it seems unrealistic to expect a resurrection of such a group providing anywhere near the level of service (if not good intentions) of what we have now.

It was also stated at this meeting that another round of brush removal is coming very soon, perhaps in a week or two, for Chino Hills residents of the Canyon, so a look at the Fire Safe Council website might help for those who are interested in how to have a pickup scheduled. In future years, funding will be sought to extend the program to Brea's Canyon residents, who have been making a fine showing as new partners and members at Fire Safe Council meetings in recent months.

Finally, there was a report on arundo removal and, although I missed that portion of the meeting, Claire Schlotterbeck, executive director of Hills for Everyone and an Olinda Village resident, gave me a brief explanation. There is a goal of raising $100,000 for a five-year program of spraying and removal of the highly invasive and difficult-to-kill plant, with almost two-thirds ($65K) raised right now. Treatment has been applied at several locations throughout the Brea side of the Canyon, where the arundo has been growing for years. All private owners, with the exception of the owner of the old La Vida Mineral Springs property, have given their approval.

Already some results can be seen, as the tips of the plants begin to weaken and die. The five-year program is vital because it takes that long to fully root out the plant. So, it looks like there is an excellent start to ridding the Canyon of a nuisance that is not only invasive, but very flammable.

I believe that covered the highlights of the meeting, though I am sure the next issue of the Chino Hills Championl, issued today for the coming week, will have more (mine comes Tuesday, so we'll see what is there.)

07 May 2009

Chino Hills Champion Carbon Canyon Chronicling, Continued

This week's edition of the Chino Hills Champion included the front page headline article by reporter Marianne Napoles on the legal settlement reached between the Metropolitan Water District and the preservation group Hills for Everyone concerning the MWD's construction of a 1+ mile road for"emergency access and safety purposes" to the Robert B. Diemer water treatment facility (see the above photo taken of construction there in March) atop the hills between Carbon Canyon, Telegraph Canyon and Yorba Linda. As noted by a MWD spokesperson, the Diemer plant (see the profile of this plant in this blog on 15 April) is the only of the five plants in their system that lacks a secondary access.

When the California Department of Parks and Recreation agreed to grant a partial easement to add to the MWD's existing property for the road in exchange for over $1.7 million for park improvements, including providing staff for the now-stalled state park visitor center below the Diemer plant which would share the new road, Hills for Everyone filed suit claiming that the Department "sold out park values in exchange for money" and also objecting to the fact "the the road would climb a 45-degree slope through oak and walnut woodlands that are protected by a Habitat Conservation Plan."

As a result of the settlment, the MWD can now go ahead and solicit bids in June or July and expect a contract award in October for the $10-12 million road. Meantime, the money paid to Hills for Everyone will, according to the organization's executive director, Claire Schlotterbeck, be utilized to acquire walnut woodland habitat within Carbon Canyon to expand the size of the state park.

What is striking to this observer is that any discussion about building the secondary access road on the Yorba Linda side, which would involve less of a steep climb, be more accessible to less impacted arterial roadways than Carbon Canyon Road, and avoid disturbing any wildlife habitat and be at cross purposes with the function of a generally passive-use state park, had, evidently, been stunted and stymied by the residents of relatively new, upscale communities who did not want a secondary road to cross or come near their subdivisions.

If MWD recognized that Diemer, which has been open for over four decades, needed a secondary access road, was there an attempt before the housing developments went in to secure an easement from prior property owners? Did these owners refuse because of potential diminished value for their coveted land?

It just seems like people generally consider open space parkland less important than their own neighborhoods (or potentially developable [is that a word?] property) when it comes to something like this--especially for a road that is stated to be only for "emergency access and safety purposes."

At any rate, this settlement is a "classic" mitigation, in which there seems to be a reasonable compromise and consensus about how to offset the effects of this road on the state park by adding more land to it elsewhere, not unlike the expansion of the state park on the north side of Carbon Canyon above Olinda Village as mitigation for the Olinda Ranch subdivision, if I have my understanding of that situation correct.

On another related note, Ms. Schlotterbeck reported to the Champion that over 400 volunteers turned out on 25 April for an Earth Day cleanup and repair project to plant trees and fix fences that were burned in the Freeway Complex Fire last November. There were about 250 people expected to come, so the response was a pleasant surprise, to be sure. Corporate sponsorship from the Stater Bros. supermarket chain and from Coca-Cola, as well as a significant presence from scouts and the Chino Valley Young Marines were main contributors to the impressive turnout.

Also in that day's issue is another matter that was posted in this blog on 13 April, which was the request of the Chino Hills Neighborhood Services Department for photographs of Sleepy Hollow to copy for use in displays at the Sleepy Hollow Community Building and at City Hall. There is a collection day tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall, but persons can also send CDs to Bonnie Michaels at the Neighborhood Services Department, 14000 City Center Drive, Chino Hills, CA 91709.

06 May 2009

A 1920s Map for A Sunday Drive in Carbon Canyon and Brea Canyon

For a few decades, starting in the 1910s, the Automobile Club of Southern California issued "strip maps," rectangular items that could sit on the dashboard of the car while the driver followed the map to his/her destination. Sometimes these maps came in a series for long distance driving, like the multipart set from Los Angeles to Phoenix or San Francisco, but often they came singly for the local pleasure drive to the beach or local canyons.

The map in this blog was for such a "Sunday drive" from Anaheim to Pomona via Carbon and Brea Canyons. The starting point for the drive was downtown Anaheim, specifically the intersection of Center Street and Los Angeles Street (now Lincoln Avenue and Harbor Boulevard.)

There were two routes outlined: one via Brea Canyon and the other through Carbon Canyon, with the mileage for the former being 21.5 miles and the latter 25.5 to Pomona.

On the Brea Canyon route, the path leads from Los Angeles Street to Spadra Road (Spadra was an 1870s settlement later incorporated into Pomona) as you crossed into Fullerton from Anaheim. After leaving downtown Fullerton, the turnoff from Spadra Road, at mile 3.5, would be to today's Brea Boulevard (formerly Anaheim-to-Spadra Road), which hit downtown Brea at mile 6.5 and then becomes today's Brea Canyon Road, reaching the Orange/Los Angeles county line at mile 9.5. That thoroughfare is now largely covered over by the 57 Freeway, but there are original stretches, including from Brea to Diamond Bar and from about where the 57/60 interchange is until the road's end at Valley Boulevard (also known as Pomona Boulevard in the 1920s) and the 15.2 mile mark. Following Valley Boulevard into Spadra/Pomona, the route followed today's Pomona Boulevard, which branches off from Valley just south of Temple Avenue, and, at about mile 19 reaching the old Louis Phillips Mansion, an 1875 French Second Empire home that is now a Historical Society of Pomona Valley landmark, as is the nearby Spadra Cemetery, also along this route. From there, drivers would head into downtown Pomona via Second Street to the terminus at Second and Garey Avenue.

For the Carbon Canyon route, the route is less clear in the early stages, but appears to have roughly veered off from Center/Lincoln toward what would now be State College Boulevard, but then an extension of today's Placentia Avenue. From there, it seems there would be a right turn onto Palm Street and then, before Yorba Linda Boulevard went that far west, over to Valencia Avenue, once called Olinda Boulevard. After crossing the Pacific Electric Railway streetcar track, the route would lead into Olinda and bear right onto Carbon Canyon Road at the 9.5 mile mark. Another 3.5 miles would take the driver to "La Vida Springs" or La Vida Mineral Springs, which opened in 1924, so, obviously, the map dates to after then. At mile 14, the Orange/San Bernardino county line is reached, but there are no landmarks along the route on the Chino Hills side until mile 21.5, when the George Junior Republic, now Boys Republic, home for delinquent boys was reached. Because this complex is shown on the eastern side of the route, it is assumed that drivers would use what is basically now Peyton Drive to head north until a connection was made with Garey Avenue for the final four miles of the drive. Notably just before (a mile?) the 20.5 mile marker there seems to be a road veering off north and west, which might be roughly where Chino Hills Parkway and then Eucalyptus Avenue head off toward Tonner Canyon and what is now the Tres Hermanos Ranch property (which will be the subject of a future post on this blog.)

As is the case with other pre-1930s maps featured on this blog over the last several months, this one is a fascinating window back to a time when many of the roads we use now were present, though perhaps with different names or slightly altered roadbeds, but in which many aspects of our area has changed.

One wonders, for example, how accurately the path of Carbon Canyon Road was shown. Specifically, there is the S-curve coming down from the summit on the Chino Hills side. It appears that the road was much straighter and the 16.5 mile marker with a nearby indicator for the 1125' summit seems to be about where this area is now, but the road doesn't indicate the hairpin turns as we see now.

This map is reproduced courtesy of the Homestead Museum Collection in the City of Industry. As always, clicking on the photos will give you a magnified view so you can get a better sense of detail from this great map.

05 May 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #1428

As has been stated previously on this blog, maybe these indications of probable reckless driving were always there, but went unnoticed, but there have been quite a number of lengthy skid marks showing up on Carbon Canyon Road in the last few months.

So, here are a couple more photos, taken this morning, of marks on the Brea side that I'm reasonably sure have appeared within the last couple of weeks and in close proximity.

The bottom photo was taken on the westbound side of the highway at the bottom of the decline from Olinda Village. The length is probably close to 90 or 100 feet.

The top photo is just around the bend and almost directly across from the moribund (but perhaps soon-to-be-revived) construction site for the Chino Hills State Park Visitor Center. The tracks are fainter and the mark shorter than the other, but not by much (the view, angle and the shade from roadside trees are a little misleading.)

At any rate, it doesn't appear that collisions resulted from these, but it just seems like the frequency of these marks has been much greater lately. Or, alternatively, my obsession with documenting these is making it appear like it is!

04 May 2009

Carbon Canyon Businesses: Cowbiz

As profiled in this blog last year, Camp Kinder Ring, established and run by the Workmen's Circle, a Jewish organization, was located in Carbon Canyon on Carbon Canyon Road at Canyon Hills Drive from 1928 to 1958, before water access issues led to the camp's closure. Later, in 1966, Ski Villa, the first and only artificial ski slope of its kind opened on the property, with a ski shop and accomodations offered in some of the old camp buildings, while the slope was built on the hillsides across from the old camp. After a year, however, the project was abandoned. In the hippie years of the late 60s and early 70s, the place was known as "Purple Haze" and was, evidently, a magnet for all kinds of counter-culture types

Since 1973, though, the 23-acre parcel has been home to Cowbiz, a boarding and training facility for horses run by Kelly Baker. The facility also sells horses that are ranch-owned and on consignment, saddles and tack, and keeps some cattle to boot. As expressed on the website:

Our horses range from foals to broke/finished trail, ranch and show horses - we have them all. There are cattle on the premises so you can see how our working horses perform on the real thing.

We have extensive experience in Cutting, Reining, Cowhorse, Roping, Ranch Versatility and Extreme Cowboy Trail Challenges.

We offer boarding on our 23 acre facility.We have box stalls, mare motels & covered pipe pens.We have a large pleasure / reining arena, a cutting pen, & roping arena. There is a large open round pen, enclosed bull pen, 4 & 6-horse hot walkers, turn outs, & wash racks. Direct access to trails in the beautiful surrounding hills or there are 2 separate entrances into Chino Hills state park that are within just minutes with your trailer.

In addition to the owners, there are ranch workers and four trainers, all of whom live on site. Given that horse boarding and training facilities are disappearing faster all the time in our increasingly urbanized area, one can only hope that Cowbiz stays put and doesn't fall prey to what must be very enticing and frequent offers from developers who are hungrily eyeing this property. Cowbiz is at 16500 Carbon Canyon Rd. in Chino Hills and the e-mail is kbcowhorse@aol.com.

Let's see if this longstanding part of the history and rural character of Carbon Canyon and Chino Hills can continue to play its role!

The photo above was taken last October and shows some of the buildings on the ranch that were built by the Workmen's Circle for Camp Kinder Ring back in the late 1940s.

03 May 2009

CalTrans Completes Carbon Canyon Cleanup, Part Two

Well, I was a little hasty in my last post about the work District 12 of CalTrans was doing on the Orange County side of Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142). They were back last Thursday to do the same kind of project mentioned before: the scraping of mud and dirt from the shoulder, this time on the north side of the highway from Olinda Village to near Carbon Canyon Regional Park. As much as I appreciate the fact that crews were out to improve the road, I have to say that I could have done without the 20-25 minute wait at Olinda Village while trying to get to work. That just seemed a little too much given that the eastbound lane was open. Still, it's always good to see some work getting done, especially on the OC side, though some slurry sealing and/or repaving is long overdue.

01 May 2009

More Artistic Expression in the Face of Social Injustice

It's pathetic to see how something could have been in one place for decades like this old water tank from the La Vida Mineral Springs property and untouched by human hands, if not by nature, and then, courtesy of the Freeway Complex Fire from last November, exposed to the defacing that has shown up the last couple of weeks.

Sometime about a week or so ago, the original tagging given to the tank was augmented with what is above.

I'm sure to most people who pass by along Carbon Canyon Road and see this sight, this is a completely irrelevant and useless complaint. After all, who cares about some old decrepit, decaying water tank? To this observer, however, it is a part of history, the last intact piece of an aspect of Canyon history that is interesting and worthwhile.

For now, "DTS," whose cowardice, accomplished by skulking about late at night, is intended as an act of bravado, and whose only consideration is for himself, has now left his mark on the world (for whatever it is worth,) and has had the last word.