29 September 2011

Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center Open House This Saturday

This Saturday, 1 October from 9 to 11:30 a.m., there will be an open house at the new Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center at 4500 Carbon Canyon Road, adjacent to Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea.  Though there was a "soft opening" a few months back, this is the official kick-off for those portions of the building that are finished.  The exhibit galleries are awaiting completion, but other sections will be available for viewing and there is a self-guided nature trail to explore, as well.

Also of note is an event the weekend of 8-9 October over at the Rolling M Ranch section of the park in Chino Hills in which there will be an evening program on owls at 7 p.m. on Saturday night as well as an overnight camping outing at the group camp on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.  While the owl program is free (with a $4 parking fee to enter the park), the camping outing is $10 per person or $8 for groups of four or more. 

Meantime, remember that anyone wanting to hike, bike, or run in the state park can park on the site and use the restrooms during the normal operating hours of the park.

For the Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Association Web page concerning this event, please click here.  For the owl program and camping opportunity, please click here.

28 September 2011

Canyon Crest Public Hearing Next Tuesday

Received just today in the mail is a "Notice of Public Hearing" from the City of Brea concerning the long-running saga of Canyon Crest, a 165-unit housing development proposed for 367 acres in the northeastern corner of the city within Carbon Canyon north of Carbon Canyon Road (State Route 142) between Olinda Village and the Orange/San Bernardino counties line.

Last heard from in 2008 when the city's Planning Commission narrowly approved the project on a 3-2 vote, just days before the economic collapse in which we are still mired and a few months before the disastrous Freeway Complex fires that roared through the area, Canyon Crest also was stunted by the loss of the property by developers, The Shopoff Group.  New owners, Old Standard Life Insurance Company, which loaned money to Shopoff, however, announced its intention to pursue the project back in 2009.

Now comes the public hearing next Tuesday, 4 October at 7:00 p.m. before the City Council.  The technical description of the process involved is Appeal of Development Review (CCSP) No. DR 08-01, Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. TT 15956 and Final Environmental Impact Report No. EIR 02-01.

Also noted in the notice was that:

it is anticipated that the City Council will receive a report from staff, updating them on the status of the appeal application, informing them that the development applicant is now prepared to complete the appeal hearing process, and that the Council will be providing staff its desired direction regarding the entitlement-CEQA processing options.

This desire of the developer to continue the approval process, however, is being appealed by former Mayor and Council member Bev Perry and others from the Planning Commission decision.  This matter was to come before the Council in 2008 before the Shopoff Group lost the property.

The italicized paragraph above, though, makes it appear that little of consequence will happen at next Tuesday's meeting aside from a staff report and then a Council motion for direction to city staff on the "entitlement-CEQA processing options," which seems technicaleze (is that a word?) for how the city could approve the project based on mitigation for unavoidable environmental impacts.

Not that the city has any legal (or moral, if that is relevant) obligation to seek for or approve such mitigation, but  . . .

More on this after the meeting.

27 September 2011

The Rebirth of El Rodeo Stables

Next year will mark 75 years since El Rodeo Stables opened at its location on Carbon Canyon Road in Brea, east of the Olinda Ranch subdivision and north of Carbon Canyon Regional Park.  It was looking rundown and poorly maintained until the last several months when the horse owners association, El Rodeo Riding Club, that owns the site brought in new management and has engaged in a thorough revamping of much of the site's facilities.

For example, two sets of stalls at either end of the riding areas have been rebuilt and are now lighted.  Horses fill the stalls and there are trailers lined up along the side facing the road.  It is great to see riders again, as well.

Local horse owners looking for a place to board (these are becoming fewer all the time) would be glad to know about the renovations at El Rodeo, which looks like it has rebounded considerably from just a year ago.

The association Web site hasn't had much to say so far about the new work, but interested persons might want to check out the site at later date (see the link here) to find out if more has been posted.

26 September 2011

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #s 8132 & 8278

It's been a quiet last couple of months in the Canyon concerning accidents, which is always good.  That's not to say there haven't been any incidents, just none that seemed to be major enough to bother to mention or which were not indicative of dangerous driving.  For example, last Friday late afternoon there was a two-car collision at Canon Lane and Carbon Canyon Road that looked like a miscalculation rather than blatant speeding or illegal passing.

In the last several days or so, though, there were a couple of examples of errant traveling that indicate too much speed, especially on the notorious S-curve near Carriage Hills and Summit Ranch on the Chino Hills side.  In one case, an eastbound vehicle took the curve about half-way down the stretch with enough force to nearly topple a directional sign while embedding a piece of the car's body in the guardrail.  Just a few feet to the right, the end of the rail, which often bears the brunt of someone who cannot manage to take the curve but insists on going straight, is getting pushed back further and further.  Meanwhile, more recently (as in, this weekend), down at the bottom of the curve across from the intersection of SR-142 and Old Carbon Canyon Road, another eastbound car crossed the opposing lane and took out a 25mph sign.

Let's hope that people are, indeed, driving more carefully, rather than the relative silence being circumstantial.

21 September 2011

1924 Map of Olinda Oil Field and Surrounding Areas, Part 2

In the 1924 map discussed first a few days back, the focus was on oil production in the Fullerton field, but which was mainly developed in the Olinda area.  Eventually, attention will be paid to the Olinda section of the map, but there are outlying areas of interest.

The detail [click the maps for closer views] below, for instance, shows the area known as Tres Hermanos Ranch, controlled by the "three brothers," Harry Chandler, longtime publisher of the Los Angeles Times and powerful real estate mogul; William R. Rowland, son of early San Gabriel Valley rancher John Rowland (owner of half of the massive Rancho La Puente), two-time sheriff of Los Angeles County, and part-owner of the Puente Oil Company, which first began operations on Rowland's share of La Puente ranch in 1885; and William Benjamin Scott, another oil operator, whose connections to Olinda were substantial, and who also owned the historic Soto-Sanchez Adobe in Montebello.  As shown below, the trio owned section 12 and a good chunk of section 1, with the dotted lines indicating the county boundaries between Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.  Note, too, that the lands of F. E. Lewis, creator of the Diamond Bar Ranch in the 1910s is to the west, while properties owned by the heirs of Louis Phillips at the top and top right are within the City of Pomona.  

This detail of a 1924 map of oil lands in the Fullerton district also embraces outlying areas, such as Tonner Canyon and the Tres Hermanos Ranch, shown here in sections 1 and 12 with the names of its owners, Harry Chandler, William B. Scott, and William R. Rowland, and Diamond Bar Ranch (owner: F. E. Lewis).  Courtesy: Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry.

Phillips, born in Poland, migrated to America in the late 1840s and soon found his way to Gold Rush-era Los Angeles.  After ranching near the San Gabriel River, he moved to Rancho San Jose to serve as manager for the interests of the new owners of the southern half of the ranch, Tischler and Schlessinger, but quickly acquired the parcel.  After residing for about a decade in the ranch house of the original owner, Ricardo Vejar, who lost the lower San Jose to Tischler and Schlessinger during the drought years of the early 1860s, Phillips built a French Second Empire brick residence in 1875 that survives as the Phillips Mansion in Pomona.  The structure is partly restored and occasionally opened by the Historical Society of the Pomona Valley, which manages the site for the City of Pomona.  The area shown on this map is partly within the Phillips Ranch neighborhood within Pomona.

Meanwhile, another section of the map just to the east of the above example, shows the northeast extremity of the range of territory covered in the document.  As can be seen, most of the land on the San Bernardino County side of the boundary fell within the ownership of the Chino Land and Water Company.  As discussed in many postings on this blog concerning the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, this firm was formed in 1900 after the ranch was lost by Richard Gird, owner of the ranch from 1881 and founder of the City of Chino.  Led by Edwin Marshall, the Chino Land and Water Company revamped the town, which incorporated in 1910, and rededicated itself to the management of its large acreage in Chino and what became Chino Hills.  In fact, section 7 of the map is essentially the area in and around Grand Avenue as it today's moves east from Tres Hermanos Ranch and downslope toward Chino Hills Park and back up another hill and down toward Peyton Drive.  To the south all of the sections in the detail (13, 16-17, 19-20, 23-24) were Chino Land and Water Company property.

A broader view of the above image showing portions of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino as mainly owned by the Chino Land and Water Company, but with two sections held by Valentine Peyton, a railroad president, mining executive, citrus grower and rancher, for whom Peyton Drive in Chino Hills and Peyton Road in La Verne are named.  Courtesy: Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry.

But, there is an interesting area within section 8 involving land owned by the man who became the namesake of the only major arterial roadway in today's Chino Hills named for a person.  While residents of the city, of course, know Peyton Drive very well, few likely have any idea of where the name comes from.  The story is fascinating and worth a little diversion here.

Valentine Peyton was born in April 1845 near Danville, Illinois, close to the Indiana border and east of Champaign.  His mother hailed from Clinton County, Ohio, northeast of Cincinnati, and his father was born in the wonderfully-named Apple Pie Ridge, Virginia, northwest of Washington, D. C.  He was one of ten children born to Joseph Peyton and Priscilla Cass and his father was a farmer who made shoes off-season and who served as Vermillion County Sheriff.  Valentine remained in Danville until his late twenties, working first as a sewing machine store clerk and then as a merchant, achieving some wealth in his hometown before moving to Chetopa, Kansas, in the southeast part of the state west of Joplin, Missouri, where he married and had a daughter.  He had moved there, following his older brother, Isaac, who was a successful real estate agent in Danville before going to Kansas and then relocated to Saguache, Colorado, west of Pueblo in the south-central part of the state, where he was a newspaper publisher, hotel proprietor and salesman and was elected to the state legislature.  By 1880, Valentine, whose wife had died, trailed Isaac to Saguache with his child and went into the cattle dealing business.

Issac Peyton, meantime, had a nasty little issue when he experienced financial problems and was the subject of an arrest warrant that may have been connected to the monetary difficulties.  Escaping Saguache with his wife, Isaac hightailed it to St. Louis and then suddenly abandoned his wife and skipped town.  Only when Valentine wrote to the wife in his brother's stead did she learn she was being abandoned.  Issac then surfaced in Washington Territory, specifically the eastern city of Spokane.  By the mid-1880s, Isaac had gotten involved in local banks and became a major player in town, except that he had taken an alias, Colonel G. H. Morgan.  When he tried to remarry, however, he had to reveal his actual name, which was published in the paper.  His earlier wife found out, however, and brought some unwanted publicity that led to Isaac's arrest for bigamy.  The matter was eventually settled with a cash payment and a legal divorce from the first wife, while Isaac resumed his role as a leading citizen of Spokane, bulding a prominent downtown commercial building in 1898 that still stands.  In fact, his son was a prominent investment banker there and a grandson, president of the Spokane School Board for many years, died in 2010.  Astute readers of the blog will note that the current owner of the moribund, but not dead, Canyon Crest housing project in the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon, is an insurance company, Old Standard, based in Spokane.

Isaac Peyton, then, became, in fall 1890, a major investor in a gold mining venture at the LeRoi Mine in Rossland, British Columbia, Canada, north of Spokane and just over the international boundary line, but solicited his younger brother, Valentine, who had moved back to Danville and earned a good income as a wholesale grocer, to purchase a large share of the stock, totaling $25,000, in the project.  Consequently, Valentine was, for a time, president of the mining company.  In 1898, however, a British mining conglomerate made a princely offer on the LeRoi mine, which was sold for about $4 million.  As a major partner, who gradually accumulated over 71.000 shares sold for $6 each, Valentine made a substantial profit and decided to pull up stakes and leave Danville for Los Angeles.

The reason he migrated west is because of an offer that arose to buy one of the most unusual railroads in the world, the Mount Lowe Railway.  The funicular rail, operated by cable up very steep grades in the San Gabriel Mountains above Altadena near Pasadena, was the brainchild of Thaddeus Lowe, best known before as the creator of the ballooning corps for the Union Army during the Civil War.  In 1893, Lowe conceived of the Mount Lowe project and, against staggering odds in terms of geography and financing, got the line built, open and operating as part of a resort that featured hotels, dance pavilions and other elements.  After several years, however, he was no longer able to maintain control of the railroad and it went into foreclosure.  Notably, the assignee who handled the sale was Jared Sidney Torrance, a major player at Rancho Santa Ana del Chino.  Valentine Peyton had an agent work to buy the Mount Lowe Railroad in May 1899 for $190,000 and then migrated out to run the business, renamed the Pasadena and Mount Lowe Railroad.

Peyton bought a house in a fashionable upscale neighborhood near Westlake (now MacArthur) Park, with his second wife and three children, and was listed in the 1900 federal census as a railroad president.  He was given brief mention in the 1916 memoir of prominent Los Angeles merchant, Harris Newmark, who in his Sixty Years in Southern California, a major resource of the 1850s through 1910s in Los Angeles, referred to Peyton as "my agreeable neighbor and friend."  Unfortunately, the cost of running the Mount Lowe resort and railroad line was staggering and a major fire in early February 1900 took out the Echo Mountain House hotel.  Consequently, within two years of buying the business, in June 1901, Peyton sold it to Henry E. Huntington, railroad titan and founder of the museum in San Marino that bears his name.

In the meantime, it would appear that Peyton's connection to Jared S. Torrance led to his purchase of land on the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino's northwest corner, from about where the 60 and 71 freeways meet southward.  Given that he remained a resident in Los Angeles, it might be that Peyton ran cattle or sheep on his ranch, but another notable project came his way.  By 1901, Peyton had become a director of the McKinley Home for Boys, a school for delinquent youth.  Within  a few years, in early 1907, he was named Chairman of the Board of Directors of the George Junior Republic, a new facility for troubled boys that had just acquired land on the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino immediately south of Peyton's portion of the ranch.  This institution is now Boys Republic.

It is not yet known how long Peyton held onto his Chino ranch property, but, in fall 1906, he acquired 200 acres of ranch land in the town of Lordsburg, now La Verne, and expandeded the pre-existing Evergreen Ranch, which was started by Chicago manufacturer J.A. Packard, who bought 160 acres from the Soto family and started the ranch in 1884. Peyton raised oranges on the property in conjunction with his son, Robert, who had been an automobile agency owner in Los Angeles.  He continued to maintain his permanent residence in Los Angeles and made shrewd real estate deals in downtown, such as a 1909 purchase of the Los Angeles Trust Company building there.

In La Verne, Peyton became a prominent person, building the La Verne Orange Packing House, a concrete structure finished in 1910, that still stands at the southeast corner of 1st and D streets, though the building was sold within a few years to a lemon-growing cooperative.  It is now used by the Art Department of the University of La Verne.  He continued to own the Evergreen Ranch for many years and, late in life, moved out to the ranch at D Street north of Bonita Avenue.  Years later, when housing tracts replaced the orange trees a street called Peyton Road was built running east to west through the old ranch property.

Peyton's second wife died in 1925 and the aged rancher and capitalist was listed in the 1930 federal census as a resident of Evergreen Ranch on D St., but, at age 85, described as "mentally incapacitated," likely a reference to senility or dementia (what we would call Alzheimer's Disease.)  He died in 1932 and is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, known mainly for its many film stars and other celebrities interred there. 

More soon about other portions of this great map.

20 September 2011

Carbon Canyon Resident Brush Drop Off Day This Saturday

Though grant funding recently expired for a long-term project concerning a fuel reduction program, which allowed the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council to arrange for brush pick-ups for residents on the Chino Hills side of the Canyon, a new arrangement has been made by the Council with the City of Chino Hills.

This Saturday, the 24th, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Canyon residents will be able to bring cut brush to a drop-off location at Western Hills Park on Canon Lane, across from Fire Station 64, just north of Carbon Canyon Road.  There, a green waste dumpster provided by Chino Hills Disposal and paid for by the city will be available for off-loading the material.

It is important to note that all contents MUST BE BUNDLED and that those dropping off brush are to be prepared to do their own unloading.  For persons with special needs, there will be Fire Safe Council volunteers to assist.

Because this is a free service offered to Canyon residents, it is also essential that those taking part provde residency by bringing their driver's license, utility bill or Canyon emergency access pass.

With the fall coming and Santa Ana winds fueling the potential for dangerous fires within the Canyon and in adjacent areas, keeping up on the removal of brush assists greatly in mitigating some of the risk.

For those who cannot get their brush to the collection date this weekend, there'll be another time to do so next month, specifically Saturday, 22 October.

More information can be obtained by calling (909) 902-5280, extension 409.

15 September 2011

1924 Oil Map of Olinda Oil Field and Surrounding Areas, Part One

This 1924 map shows a wide area from La Puente, Walnut, Diamond Bar and Pomona on the north to Anaheim, Placentia and Fullerton to the south and from La Habra on the west to Chino on the east.  Among its many details are roads, railroad lines, historic rancho boundaries, property owners and, the core of the object, oil wells.

This detail of a 1924 map of the Fullerton oil field shows an area to the north including portions of Walnut, City of Industry, and Diamond Bar.  Courtesy: Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry.

This first post looks at some of the details of the very large map, starting from the northern sections.  The view above shows the area from Walnut and Diamond Bar at the top down into Tonner Canyon and towards Brea Canyon at the bottom.  At the top left is a portion of Rancho La Puente, including a subdivision created by William R. Rowland, son of the ranch's original co-owner, John Rowland.  In fact, a small adobe house built by Rowland as a residence for ranch workers survives in Lemon Creek Park in Walnut, within the subdivision. 

Just below that, between the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific rail lines is "Swan's Subdivision."  Henry A. Swan has been mentioned before in this blog concerning property he owned further south within lower Tonner Canyon.  The Swan tract appears to be west of Brea Canyon Road within Walnut and City of Industry. 

Sections four, nine and sixteen, meanwhile, were ranch lands of Alvin T. Currier, a Los Angeles County sheriff and state senator, who bought his property in 1869.  About forty years later, he built a large home that was moved, several years ago and at great expense, by the City of Industry to the Phillips Mansion historic site in Pomona as Industry was developing the old Currier Ranch between Valley Boulevard, the 57 Freeway, Grand Avenue and the 60 Freeway. 

But, the biggest landowner shown on the map, in parts or all of ten sections, was Frederick E. Lewis, who created the Diamond Bar Ranch.  Note on sections 16 and 20 that two oil companies were leasing from Lewis, including Gold Seal Petroleum Company and Copa de Oro.  There is an Olinda Village street by that name, though it is not known if there was a direct connection between the firm and the naming of the street four decades later. 

Another curious detail is in sections three and ten, where a rectangular parcel set at an angle was used as the "Pomona City Sewer Farm"!  This appeared to have been somewhere just east of today's 57 Freeway near Grand Avenue.

There are only a few oil well sites in this portion of the map.  One is referred to as the Currier well at the lower left of section nine.  Another, at the lower right of section sixteen, is a Gold Seal site.  The third, at the upper right of section seventeen, is labeled "Fundenberg Well."  This refers to W. F. Fundenberg, a Pennsylvania man who owned most of Tonner Canyon at one time (an earlier blog post discusses him in some detail) before it was sold and became Tres Hermanos.

Next another close-up or two (including more on Tonner Canyon) of this fascinating and richly detailed map from nearly eighty years ago.

14 September 2011

Artistic Expression in the Face of . . . Religious Fervor . . . Coda?

The philosophical debate between the true believer who expressed a whimsical platitude on a k-rail on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road on the downslope west of Olinda Village a while back, to which a confirmed atheist bluntly sprayed the symbolic "A" over the word "faith" not long after, has been firmly and decisively ended, it appears, by a work crew from CalTrans District 12.

Sometime in recent days, a coat of gray paint was applied to the k-rail, which has resumed its mundane appearance as it does its routine job of, presumably, keeping people from exiting the road to dump trash or do whatever else they would at the turn out.

Whether this is the end or if there'll be a resumption of the theological "tilting at windmills" remains to be seen (or not.)

13 September 2011

Towers of Terror in Chino Hills: The Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project

UPDATE, 10 November:  This is really old news, because the decision was made about mid-October by the California Public Utilities Commission to halt the Tehachapi project within Chino Hills on two grounds.  The first was to address concerns about the height of the towers and their proximity to Chino Airport so that the design can be amended to protect aircraft.  The other, however, is of greater significance because the ruling seeks to limit the activation of any part of the project that has towers less than 1000 feet from residences--a condition that involves a great many houses in Chino Hills.  This latter point has been cheered by local opponents of the project, who have either sought to have the lines moved to largely run through Chino Hills State Park or be rerouted underground.  It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the project in light of this recent decision, especially when the same CPUC approved the project and construction has been ongoing.

UPDATE, 16 September:  An e-mail was received yesterday from Assembly member Curt Hagman, in which he noted that, regarding the battle over the Tehachapi project, "this has been a long and frustrating process, but we will continue to fight for the safety and beauty of our community. We cannot give up!"  Hagman continued by writing, "I urge you to contact Governor Brown to express your concerns and outrage. Let your voice be heard!"  A sample letter was attached for concerned citizens to use in writing to the governor.

In the letter, it is claimed that, "a projected amount of up to $2.5 billion of home values will be lost in Chino Hills."  Reference was also made to recent statements by the National Transportation Safety Board criticizing the California Public Utilities Commission, the agency oveseeing the Tehachapi project from a regulatory standpoint, for its role in last year's horrific gas pipe line explosion at San Bruno.  The NTSB did assign the "probable cause" to Pacific Gas and Electric for not meeting existing standards during that line's 1956 construction and for poor maintenance since, while identifying the CPUC and the federal Department of Transportation as "contributing" to the disaster by exempting the line from later maintenance standards, such as pressure testing, that could have prevented the exploosion.  Moreover, a blanket statement about the CPUC having a "'buddy' relationship with utility companies" was added to the mix.

Also of note is the statement that, "the City of Chino Hills has spent $2.4 million to identify and design a viable alternative route that had the support of environmentalists. That route was through Chino Hills State Park, Alternate 4CM."  It should be noted that some of those funds have been expended in paying for litigation, as well as for the alternative design process.

The core message of the letter is, "what are we to do when a big monopolistic corporation and our own state government ignore our pleas, and disregard the safety of our families and property values for their own profit?"  It asks the governor to visit Chino Hills and "tour the devastation . . . forced upon our community" and concludes, "we desperately need your immediate help."

For more from Assembly member Hagman's Web site, see here.
ORIGINAL POST:  This has been a battle years in the making, but, because the issue was not (seemingly) specifically about Carbon Canyon, it has been kept off this blog.  In the last several days, however, a banner has appeared at the top of the S-curve along Carbon Canyon Road in Chino Hills.  Because drivers might see it and have no idea what it refers to (the banner not mentioning the actual dispute in question), however, here's an attempt to examine the matter, hopefully fairly.

After years of planning, Southern California Edison (SCE) proposed a project (see here) known as the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP), a massive endeavor that, as the company's Web site explains, "is the first major transmission project in California being constructed specifically to access multiple renewable generators in a remote renewable-rich resource area."  In plain English, this means that wind energy generators in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area of Kern County are generating renewable energy that will be trasmitted some 175 miles on new lines strung between massive towers.  In spring 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the first segments of the project and there are now a total of eleven of these segments stretching from eastern Kern County to San Bernardino County, specifically the Mira Loma substation in Ontario.  CPUC approval came in fall 2009 for the project affecting this area.  For more on the CPUC's views on the TRTP, see here.  There is also an undated (likely before the 2007 initial CPUC decision) two-page fact sheet here.

The impetus for this project comes from the state's call for having a fifth of California's energy come from renewable sources by 2010.  This mandate represents one of the most ambitious efforts in the United States regarding renewable energy development, but has, naturally, stirred controversy up and down the political spectrum.

Notably, the current project of segments 4-11 that is dealt with here affects three cities in San Bernardino County (Chino, Chino Hills and Ontario), three in Kern County, and about 25 in Los Angeles County.  Chino Hills, however, has been the focus of some of the most heated debates, protests, and challenges about and to the project, as the expansion brings 200-foot tall "monster" towers on 150 foot wide easements that come very close to homes in several tracts and subdivisions within the city.

Over the last few years, though, the City of Chino Hills has sought legal remedies for its efforts to halt the project (see here for the City's Web site page dedicated to the TRTP).  It has repeatedly lost cases in the courts, as it seeks to have alternate routes chosen for the TRTP, with a favored route redirecting the line through Chino Hills State Park to keep effects on residential communities to a minimum.  Even though construction has been continuing from west to east, with towers recently completed between Chino Hills Parkway and Peyton Drive as the project moves into Chino, the city continues to fight, to the tune of some $2.5 million.

Just today, city leaders, joined by concerned community members and state Assembly representative Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills) and Senator Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) had a press conference/protest next to one of the "monster" towers. 

A few months ago, a citizens' group, formerly known as C.A.R.E. and now going by the moniker of "Hope for the Hills" (not to be confused with the Hill of Hope religious facility in Carbon Canyon at the Chino Hills/Brea border!), rededicated its grass-roots efforts to fight the TRTP.  Hence the banner appearing recently along Carbon Canyon Road.  Care for the Hills has a Web site (see here) that lays out its position.

This is an issue loaded with all kinds of views and opinions.  It is entirely understandable that those residents whose homes are adjacent and close to these "monster" towers are upset.  Some people believe there are health risks associated with electro-magnetic field levels.  Others worry about the potential for tower collapses and exposed wires.  There are people concerned about the noise that would be generated by the electrical current traveling along the lines.  Still more question the legitimacy of "green energy" and the benefits of wind power relative to conventional energy sources.  Some are unhappy with the jurisdiction given legislatively to the CPUC (a position so far upheld by state courts).  Others claim that there are overly cozy relations between the Commission and SCE.  Many feel that an alternative route through Chino Hills State Park is reasonable, while the state parks department and park supporters point out that the open space purpose of CHSP is completely incompatible with such an alternative (especally given the fact that the removal of old decomissioned Edison towers, mandated in the 1982 park creation agreement, only just finally happened after years of wrangling.)

Pragmatically, the project has been underway for a significant period and the towers through Chino Hills are gradually approaching completion, although the installation of power lines and the firing up of the transmission system is a way off. The 4th District of the state Court of Appeals has, again, affirmed the CPUC's jurisdiction in dealing with project and it seems highly unlikely that the state Supreme Court would rule any differently if the City of Chino Hills, which has already spent $2.5 million, were to continue to press its claim.  It just seems a virtual impossibility that anything can be done at this late stage to halt and redirect the project.

In a matter as contested as this one, laden with all kinds of politicized viewpoints, it will indeed be interesting to see how far the City and the Hope for the Hills organization carry their campaign and how the project will be viewed a few years and longer down the road.

12 September 2011

Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center Opens (Partially)

UPDATE, 13 September:  Here are some important clarifying comments from Hills for Everyone regarding the new Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center:

The parking lot and restrooms are now open during the day but the hours will be reduced starting October 1st. Staff will be on site Friday through Monday (when most people visit). The whole park will be closed Tuesdays through Thursdays due to budget cuts. As you may know, 70 state parks are experiencing full closures and all remaining state parks are reducing services.

There will be an Open House at the Center on October 1st from 9:00- 11:30 to explain park passes and future exhibits.

The parking lot will not ever be paved – it is a permeable surface that allows recharge of the water table.

These last two sections are good to know; first, that there'll be an Open House for visitors to learn more about the Center, its operations and its future; and, second, that the parking lot was not meant to be paved, but has the important environmental feature of water collection and recharge.

Thanks to Hills for Everyone for providing the clarification.


The new summer issue of the Hills for Everyone newsletter, among several interesting items of note, reports that "at long last the Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center . . . has opened its parking lot and restrooms for business."

Though the project began several years ago with funding from a state bond issue and was to have been completed long before now, the structure is finished and a new concrete sign is up, though the parking lot is still mostly unpaved and the interior exhibits are not done.

According to the HFE periodical, the parking area and restrooms "will generally be open Tuesday-Friday through September 30th," though that seems to indicate that it could be closed at any given time.  Because of budget issues, however, access to these areas will be limited to Friday through Monday. 

The unpaved parking area and partially available (that is, opened restrooms) building of the Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center in Brea, as viewed this morning.

Beyond that, there is no indication so far of whether the lot will be paved soon, when exhibits might be installed and opened, or whether there is any idea whether the park could be shut down entirely if the budget worsens.

Another question involves parking on Carbon Canyon Road, which many persons have done to avoid paying the $5.00 entry fee into Carbon Canyon Regional Park, which was the previous official entry point into the park from the Brea side.  It had been stated that, once the Discovery Center opened, parking tickets would be issued to those who conitnued to park on the highway.  Whether this is true now is not clear.

At any rate, when the park is opened, parking will be available for several dozen cars, more than can squeeze onto the road's shoulder (or block the emergency phone at a pullout on the eastbound side of the highway) and it is free. 

Given the state's dire fiscal situation and all the news about state park closures and budget cuts, it seems somewhat incongruous to see a newly-built structure partially open and, in a few weeks time, at a reduced schedule.  Such is the nature of bond funding (with all the accrued interest that will, somehow, have to be paid off in the future.)

10 September 2011

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #24

On the face of it, it is not a particularly striking item, but it's still part of the canyon's history.  This is a matchbook from La Vida Mineral Springs, possibly from as early as the 1960s, but maybe from the following decade.

Actually, the silver lettering on the royal blue background is somewhat eye-catching.  On the front flap is the name of the resort and the listing of its offerings, including the old cottages that sat on the west side of the property, the hotel that was on the east side across a footbridge that spanned Carbon [Canyon] Creek and the cafe that was attached to the hotel.  Interestingly, the text includes a notation that the Springs was "7 miles east of Brea, Calif.," even though it is and has been for decades within the City of Brea, but the reference was obviously to the old downtown on Brea Boulevard north of Imperial Highway.

The back cover, to which the strike is attached, notes that "For General Health[,] Try Our Natural Hot Soda Mineral Baths" and that the resort also offered "Complete Physio-Therapy Dept."  Finally, on the top edge is the addition that the facility had an "Olympic Size Heated Swimming Pool."  It appears that this pool was added to the resort in the late 1950s.

So, it's a small, perhaps insignificant item, but there were probably many of these handed out and used in the cottages, hotel, cafe and out by the pool over some years at La Vida.  Sometime soon, there'll be a few more items to post from the resort.