16 November 2010

Carbon Canyon Horse Ranch For Sale Again . . . Plus a Bonus

The horse ranch, once known as "Manely Friends," that is on several acres on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon just past the former La Vida Mineral Springs site, is evidently up for sale again, as new signs went up recently there.

There had been larger for-sale signs up for several months but were down not long ago.  While looking for more on the listing by Seven Gables Real Estate (nothing found so far, but this is not surprising for a brand-new listing), however, a late July 2010 article from Lou Ponzi of the Orange County Register popped up.

UPDATE: 6 DECEMBER 2010.  The listing from Seven Gables is up.  The 10.2 acre parcel, which has been a horse ranch for over 60 years, is listed for $1.8 million.  While the description benignly states that "the house has been removed," it doesn't mention why--see below.  The property is zoned Hillside Residential, allowing for up to 2 homes per acre with a minimum lot size of 10,000 sq. ft., which seems to suggest that five homes could conceivably be built on the parcel.

The listing link is: 


In it, the paper noted that the owners of the property, Darrell and Kerry Kamm, were suing BreitBurn Energy Partners, owners of over seventy oil wells in the Olinda field, for $12 million.  The Kamms filed suit because a smaller fire that erupted on BreitBurn [there's an ironic name!] property near the Olinda Landfill spread west as far as Brea-Olinda High School and eastward to join the massive Freeway Complex fire which came from the Corona-Yorba Linda area and then led to the destruction of their home, stables and other portions of their ten-acre spread.

Indeed, in early January 2009 preliminary findings released by the Brea Police Department showed that the landfill-area fire was caused by improperly maintained power lines on the BreitBurn property and that an electrical discharge was to blame.  The Orange County Fire Authority seems to have either been part of that initial investigation or concurred in a separate finding.  The Kamm lawsuit, however, alleges that the problem had to do with contact made between two loose conductors on a power pole, which then led to molten metal spilling onto tinder-dry brush, thus sparking the blaze.

Notably, the Register carried a quote from one of the Kamms attorneys, Jason Cohn, who stated that "it's more than just negligence.  They [BreitBurn] knew that fires were highly likely ... if you have power poles and you are in this kind of industry, then you have an obligation to have brush and vegetation cleared." 

It might be pointed out, in a corollary to this, that when the recent lightning strike which hit a tree in a corner of Carbon Canyon Regional Park, which then felled some power lines along the south side of Carbon Canyon Road, the matter was fundamentally the same.  Improper maintenance--in this latter case, someone (county parks, Edison?) did not keep tree limbs and vegetation away from power lines. 

Homeowners in Carbon Canyon, at least on the Chino Hills side, can be cited and forced to pay for costs of removing dangerous brush and vegetation.  Yet, there are property owners, including the absentee owner of the La Vida Mineral Springs property, the county, and BreitBurn, who have not been kept to the same standards and the results are now well-documented.  Inadequate brush clearance fuels fires and helps them spread, doing more damage and costing more money for everyone.

According to the Register, when the Orange County District Attorney's office, though, reviewed the matter, it determined that there would be no criminal charges filed against BreitBurn "because there was insufficient evidence to prove criminal negligence, a DA's spokesperson said."

The Kamm lawsuit, filed 9 June 2010, seeks $2 million to cover losses to the property and another $10 million in punitive damages.  Whether the matter has been moved along further in Orange County Superior Court or not remains to be seen.

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