23 March 2011

The Carbon Canyon and Tonner Canyon Connection, Part 6

Another connection tying together Carbon and Tonner canyons is literal.  The barest of references was made in a 15 April 2009 post on the blog about the Diemer water treatment facility that sits atop a hill overlooking the south side of Carbon Canyon in Yorba Linda and the fact that a feeder line comes down to the plant from the a Metropolitan Water District water line to the north.  Now is the time for a little more detail on that feeder.

First, in following up from part 5 of this series, it bears noting that little had changed in Tonner Canyon and the Tres Hermanos Ranch area from the 1930s onward.  The area continued to be a gentleman's ranch for the surviving member of the "three brothers," Harry Chandler and the son of another, William Keith Scott.  At some point, it appears that the interest of the final "sibling," William R. Rowland was sold to one or both of the other partners and heirs.  Eventually, the ranch was put under the direct ownership of Chandis (Chandler/Otis) Securities Company, the real estate holding company of the Chandler family's many properties.  Even as the post-World War II era brought suburbia further east into the San Gabriel Valley, following older railroad lines and newer freeway construction, especially Interstate 10 in the 1950s and the California Route 60 in the later 1960s, Tonner Canyon remained in its fundamentally bucolic state.  At some point, yet to be located, the Los Angeles district of the Boy Scouts of America purchased a few thousand acres in lower Tonner Canyon for an extensive recreational facility for their organization and below that, close to Brea, oil operations that began in the late 19th and early 20th century continued.

The value of Tonner Canyon and Tres Hermanos Ranch, however, changed dramatically with the planning of the California Aqueduct project.  Planning from around 1960 called for the construction of a half-billion dollar Foothill Feeder on the aqueduct's east branch, which had a capacity of some two million acre-feet [an acre of area to a depth of one foot] and that would bring water from the Delta through tunnels, pipelines and siphons to the southern California area via the Tehachapi Mountains at the south end of the Central Valley and then eastward along the extreme edge of northern and eastern Los Angeles County and into San Bernardino Copunty terminating at a dam at Silverwood Lake above San Bernardino in the national forest.  From there, about 1965, the decision was made to run a pipeline to tap into the feeder and carry it west to near La Verne and then south into Tonner Canyon via Tres Hermanos Ranch. 

The pipeline to Diemer is a eye-opening 10-foot wide pipe that handles about 600 cubic feet of water every second and the Metropolitan Water District paid Chandis Securities handsomely for the right-of-way and easement rights.  The California Aqueduct project was started in 1966 and took some six years to build with the deal for the Yorba Linda pipeline being consummated in 1966 and construction starting in 1972.  Notably, negotiations between the MWD and Chandis continued during the construction period with a final settlement occuring in 1976.

Once the project became a reality, interest in acquiring Tonner Canyon land became intensified.   Indeed, by 1970, the first serious effort was being mounted by the Pomona Valley Municipal Water District, a member of the MWD's governing body.  In 1972, the agency put together a feasilbity report on a "Tonner Canyon Water Project" in anticipation of serving future development within its service area, including around the general Chino Hills region.  The report mentioned the possibility of placing a dam in the canyon and constructing a reservoir with a capacity of 4,500 acre-feet from the MWD's line to Diemer.  In 1975, the water district put the matter of acquiring the ranch to voters on a $35 million bond issue, but the measure was defeated.  Chastened, the agency watered down the proposal and resubmitted it to the electorate two years later, but, again, the measure failed to garner enough support.

This September 1925 snapshot shows a young female guest languidly reclining on a hammock on the porch of the ranch house at Tres Hermanos Ranch.  The house stood on a plateau about a mile or so south of what is now Grand Avenue and appears to have been razed.  Courtesy of Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum.

Chandis actually looked to solidify its water rights on the ranch, using the 1918 reservoir built by Chandler, Scott and Rowland and known in later years as the Arnold Reservoir as a sort of grandfathered holding that would allow for a bypassing of environmental review.  In fact, Keith Scott, even had the idea of using the water value of the ranch as a means for future planned development, evidently meaning residential home construction within the ranch.  Meanwhile, Harold Arnold, whose father leased some or all of the Tres Hermanos Ranch from the 1940s until his death in the mid-1960s, and who assumed the lease, then sublet the property to the mayor of City of Industry.  It appears that it was through this connection that negotiations opened between Industry and Chandis.

In its planning, Industry laid out ideas for a city-run utility that would expand existing reservoir uses that collected runoff from rain and reclaimed sewage water from the county's sanitation district.  In addition, Industry agreed to pursue Keith Scott's request for Chandis to get its fast-tracked water rights application approved.  As the city prepared its offer of a little over $10 million, using its redevelopment agency as the mechanism for providing the necessary cash, other suitors appeared.

These Bill Bright, president of the Campus Crusade for Christ, who made a $12.1 million oral offer and Howard Goldstein of Watt Industries who called in an offer of $11.8 million.  With these late-comers into the game, Industry decisively moved to top the highest offer.  Its mayor and his son, also on the council, had to abstain from voting, but approval was quick and, in 1978, Tres Hermanos became a City of Industry landholding through its Urban Development Agency.

One of the more controversial issues regarding the city's acquisition of Tres Hermanos was that the land was not contiguous, a point confronted by its city attorney who observed that the City of Los Angeles had done the same in its project to bring water from the Owens Valley earlier in the century.  Another was that the property did not, to critics, appear to look anything like the "blighted" landscape that was the means for creating redevelopment areas, although it has been commonplace for municipalities throughout California to broadly expand the meaning of that concept--an issue that has come up within the last few months as the state's governor, Jerry Brown, has raised the idea of redefining redevelopment. 

Next is more on the connection between the canyons with respect to regional planning from the 1970s and 1980s.  Much of the material covered in this post comes from a recent book by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo professor, Victor Valle, on Industry.

1 comment:

Octavio Colon said...

The land should be left as is.