26 October 2011

The La Vida Landfill

As has been noted here before, the November 2008 fires that ravaged the Brea side of Carbon Canyon had, among its myriad effects, the result of exposing the historic La Vida Mineral Springs property by burning off the dense growth of weeds, trees, and other plant materials that had hidden much of the area for years.  The old water tank, for example, largely invisible from Carbon Canyon Road, was suddenly easy to spot and became a regular target for graffiti.

Similarly, a former access road from the state highway to the old motel, which followed a bridge (now long gone) over Carbon [Canyon] Creek, has proved to be an enticing area for people (term used somewhat loosely) to dump their trash. 

Yet, this activity has not been as pronounced as it is now, demonstrated by the above photo taken this morning.  While dumping garbage in anything but trash receptacles or actual landfills is bad enough, the creek runs right along where this mound of debris has been deposited.  Not that the water is of any great quality, consisting largely of runoff anyway, but the potential of further pollution from refuse like this is not helping.

The property owner is absentee, residing in Japan, and it will have to be left to some other entity, maybe the city, to come in and remove the latest mess left here. 

19 October 2011

Carbon Canyon Resident Brush Drop-Off Day #2 This Saturday

The second installment of the brush drop-off program for residents of Carbon Canyon on the Chino Hills side only, coordinated by the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council and paid for by the City of Chino Hills, will take place, once again, next to Fire Station #64 and Western Hills Park on Canon Lane and Carbon Canyon Road.

The hours have been shortened to between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., because that's when all of the activity took place at the inaugural date in September, which had an additional hour at each end.  As with last month, residents can bring their brush to the drop-off point and members of the Council will be there to assist.

Those bringing brush should bring proof of residency in the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon, such as a driver's license, utility bill or Carbon Canyon emergency access pass.

For further information, call (909) 902-5280, x. 409.

18 October 2011

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #8352

The latest assault on the much-maligned (well, misaligned) sign at the middle of the S-curve along the eastbound side of Carbon Canyon Road in Chino Hills occurred sometime today.

CalTrans will, obviously, soon have our hard-earned tax dollars at work once again to repair this sign and its cousin further down the road that was unceremoniously mangled a couple of weeks or more ago.

Meantime, between these two points, new skid marks, again eastbound, tell another tale of an errant vehicle rubbing shoulders with the guardrail, despite the earnest pleas of three separate signs requesting a 20-mph passage as the curve turns right.  Alas, said vehicle did not comply . . .

12 October 2011

Circle K Opens in Carbon Kanyon

After almost a year-and-a-half of construction, the Circle K market at the corner of Carbon Canyon Road and Canyon Hills Road on the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon has opened, as of yesterday.  Previous entries and comments to them have expressed views pro and con and these don't need to be rehashed here necessarily, though they can be accessed in the links below.

The Circle K mini-market at the corner of Carbon Canyon Road and Canyon Hills Road in Chino Hills opened as of 11 October.
It will, of course, be interesting to see how well this mini-mart does and what effect its operations will have on the Canyon Market down the road to the west a half-mile or so in Sleepy Hollow.

Now, to see how well the Circle K does and whether the Canyon Market in Sleepy Hollow will survive the competition.
The building also has rented office space, though it is not known here if there are any tenants as of yet.  For the previous blog posts about this project from spring 2010, please see here and here.

11 October 2011

Chino Hills State Park Camp Out (and a little tangential history)

Last weekend, the Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Association, which works to assist the state parks system in developing interpretive and preservation programs for our great local park held a program about owls on Saturday night at the Rolling M Ranch complex and a Camp Out for those who wanted to stay overnight at the nearby group camp.

This blogger and his two kids signed up for the Camp Out and went out late Saturday afternoon.  After setting up camp and making a quick dinner on the camp stove, we joined the others for the walk to Rolling M for the owl program, conducted by a representative from the Starr Ranch, an Audubon Society facility in Trabuco Canyon near Rancho Santa Margarita and Coto de Caza.  The Ranch does an impressive amount of research, preservation, and education work, of which more can be learned here.  The PowerPoint illustrated program might have been a little over the heads of some of the younger children, but, overall, was quite interesting and had great photos of the types of owls encountered in this area (including quite a few out here in Sleepy Hollow.)  The presenter also told some good stories about his thirty-plus years of studying and observing owls, both in his native Connecticut and here at Starr Ranch.

Unfortunately, about 5:30 a.m., a little health issue arose with one of my kids, so we gradually packed up early and left before being able to take a hike in Bane Canyon, which was really going to be a highlight of the visit.  I've had the good fortune to be able to hike most of the park, mainly before the kids came along, and have only been in the park once or twice since the 2008 fires.  With a 9-year old dying to get out and do some hiking, this was an opportunity to get some quality time in at the park, but that will have to wait for some other time.

Meantime, this blog's numerous posts about the history of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino were supposed to include some reference to the history of land within the park that was once owned by the Chino Land and Water Company, proprietors of the ranch from the 1890s.  So, here's an opportunity to cover some of that background.  First, some research was gleaned from the February 1999 Chino Hills State Park General Plan, as well as some good content from a blog called Los Angeles Revisited, maintained by Betty Uyeda, a staff member at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

While much of the area contained within the state park appears to have been used almost exclusively for grazing cattle and sheep when the area was public land under Spanish and Mexican rule (neighboring ranchers at Santa Ana del Chino, the Yorba ranches in north Orange County, the owners of San José in present Pomona, etc., would have common grazing rights to public land set aside for that purpose), little seems to have changed until the later 1800s. 

Fenton Slaughter, who, in 1868, bought a Yorba family adobe that is now a San Bernardino County Museum historic site (see here for more on this interesting site on Pomona-Rincon Road in Chino) used the eastern part of the park for grazing his stock.  By the middle 1890s, the Chino Land and Water Company took over most of the area.  According to the Chino Hills State Park General Plan, a 1902 United States Geological Survey map showed only three structures and one wagon road through the park vicinity.  On the other hand, there were indications that a road through Telegraph Canyon, stretching from Brea for several miles to the east may have been in use from at least 1860.  Still, the use of the park site seems to have been limited and not well documented.

That is, until 1921 when the Chino Land and Water Company sold a significant amount of the state park area to Frank Pellissier.  Pellissier was born in Taix, in the Haute Alps region of France that was the homeland of many French Basques who settled such areas as East Los Angeles, La Puente, Fullerton, and Chino, among others.  In fact, Pellissier's uncle, Germain, migrated from the Basque country of France to Los Angeles in 1867, became a wool grower, and acquired land at Seventh and Olive, where he built a home and a business building and 200 acres to the west of the city.  Later, the latter was developed by his grandson, Henry de Roulet, into Pellissier Square and, in 1931, at the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, de Roulet completed a notable Art Deco structure called the Pellissier Building.  Today, the landmark is best known as the home of the Wiltern Theater.

As for Frank, he migrated to the United States about 1888, and became within a decade a proprietor of the Highland Union Diary in Los Angeles.  In 1900, Pellissier was in Big Pine, a town in Inyo County, where he lived with his wife Marie Valla and their four children.  Pellissier retained interests in animal grazing in that area and out in Mono County, where he tried at one time to build a railroad.  But, by 1905, he had relocated his family to Los Angeles County, specifically Rancho La Puente, where he bought a large tract from Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin, one of the more colorful figures in California during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Pellissier built a home on Workman Mill Road between Whittier and La Puente and gradually he and his namesake son, Frank, amassed over 3,200 acres, on which they ran 2,800 head of cattle.

For years, the Pellissiers operated their enterprise by working to sell raw milk to a Los Angeles dairy, but, in 1930, the younger Frank created the Pellissier Dairy Farms.  After his father's death in 1941, Frank, Jr. expanded and enlarged the family enterprise.  He was a co-founder of the American Dairy Association of Los Angeles, was a director of the Holstein-Friesian Association of America.  The Pellissier name received national publicity in 1952 when Time magazine ran a feature on Hazel, a record-setting milk producer, said to have routinely averaged an astounding 37 quarts of raw milk a day.

The post-World War II era, however, saw suburbanization impeding upon the Pellissier ranch at Whittier.  By 1948, the family developed some houses on their land.  Later, the California Country Club, now owned by City of Industry, was opened on the ranch.  Rio Hondo College was created in 1963 on 115 acres of Pellissier Ranch property that included the old family home, long razed.  Rose Hills Cemetery also expanded by acquiring family land and, by 1970, the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts took over a huge chunk of Pellissier land to open the Puente Hills Landfill, a facility slated to close in fall 2013.  Faced with all of these major transformations, the Pellissier Dairy shut down in 1971.  Frank L. Pellissier, meantime, died in 1969 at his home in San Marino.

As for their holdings at Chino, the Pellissiers ran cattle, built a ranch house, and kept their operation going there for almost three decades.  In 1948, however, the family sold the 1720-acre property to the Mollin Investment Company, hence the new name for the ranch, the Rolling M [cute pun!]  The Mollin Investment Company was headed by Christopher Hendra (1900-1985.)  Hendra had family roots in Cornwall, England, where his grandfather, a minister with the Primitive Methodist Church of America, was born, but the family migrated to America in the late 1840s and settled at Mineral Point, Wisconsin, southwest of the state capital in Madison, where Hendra was born.  His father, John, was a dry goods merchant in Mineral Point.

Hendra was a 1923 graduate of the University of Wisconsin and became a banker, working for a time in Chicago and marrying there.  In 1933, however, he picked up stakes and moved to California.  Hendra eventually became president of the Mollin Investment Company, based in San Marino, and had at least two major development projects of note.  One was in Searchlight, Nevada, the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, where Mollin had an early investment in mining activities.  Another was the 1940 purchase of a project that Mollin Investment called Palm Village and which is now the city of Palm Desert near Palm Springs.

From the 1948 acquisition of the Pellissier holdings until the creation of Chino Hills State Park in the early 1980s, the Rolling M was owned by Mollin Investment Company and run as a cattle ranch.  The existing corrals were expanded and modernized and the ranch house was renovated and enlarged.  The complex included seven structures, four windmills, corrals, stock ponds, water troughs, fencing and other material.

Not long after the sale of the ranch to the state parks department, Hendra, a resident of San Gabriel and Ludington, Michigan (a resort town on the shores of Lake Michigan in the northwest part of the state), died in 1985 at age 85.  He had been a president of the San Gabriel Country Club, a Mason, and director of the Cornish Choir at Huntington Park, and was still president and co-owner of Mollin Investment Company at his death.

10 October 2011

Unique Carbon Canyon Home for Sale

Back in the early days of this blog (A.D. 2008), there was some discussion about some interesting architecture within Carbon Canyon, such as geodisic homes in Sleepy Hollow and Mountain View Estates and postmodern residences in the former and in Western Hills Oaks.
Now there is a house, the Ashley Residence, for sale in Western Hills Oaks that is probably among the most interesting architectural examples in the Canyon and of which more can be seen here.  In fact, the house was featured in the magazine Architectural Record back in 1988

Architect Coy Howard is a faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and more can be learned about him here.  Notably, he is well-known for his interior design work, specifically furniture and his work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, and the Denver Art Museum.

In many ways, this 3,000 square foot architect-designed home on a half-acre lot, much of which is usable, and which has great views is a deal at an offering of $695,000.  Modern architecture may not be to many people's taste, but this is quite a house and should sell quickly.

09 October 2011

Carbon Canyon Road Fatal Accident Update

This photo from Tuesday the 11th shows a simple floral arrangement in a pot along the embankment on the eastbound side of Carbon Canyon Road (SR-142) in Chino Hills that commemorates the death of a cyclist killed in this vicinity by a car on Satursday.  In the distance is Carriage Hills Lane.

UPDATE, 12 OCTOBER:  A roadside memorial started a day or two ago with a simple flower arrangement in a pot that seems to have identified the site of this accident as on Carbon Canyon Road between Fairway Drive/Ginseng Lane and Carriage Hills Drive.  Though the memorial is on the embankment on the shoulder of the eastbound side, it may be that the accident occurred on the westbound side, where the shoulder is very narrow and that the memorial was put where it was because of its safer location. 

By today, the memorial grew to include a couple of votive candles, a decorated cross, and a painted stone.  On the cross is the name of the bicyclist who was killed in this accident, Omar Gómez.  When I stopped there with my sons today, my younger boy noticed that the red candle, closest to the cross, had toppled from the embankment to the pavement and wanted to put it back, showing his respect for Mr. Gómez.

By today, Wednesday the 12th, the memorial had grown to include a painted stone (left, next to the flowers), two votive candles, and a decorated white cross with the name of the deceased, Omar Gómez, 27, a resident of Pomona.

UPDATE, 10 OCTOBER.  With thanks to another commenter, additional information is available about this incident:

This accident was also in the Orange County Register yesterday Oct 9th. Goverment section, news page 10.

The cyclist from Pomona was 27 years old and was struck from behind by a 23 year old unlicened driver from Anaheim. Drugs and alcohol did not appear to be factor but the driver will be charged.

Much could obviously be made of the fact that the driver was unlicensed, but whether there will be other charges related to, say, vehicular homicide or manslaughter, would be another issue.  It is possible in other words that the driver will not be charged for the accident in question, but for the fact that he or she was driving wthout a license.  Perhaps more information will be be forthcoming.

Thanks to a commenter to yesterday's post regarding the closure of Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) yesterday at 11:30 a.m. due to a fatal accident.  This person spoke to a Sheriff's Deputy stationed at the west end of the shuttered section at Fairway Drive/Ginseng Lane and was told that the victim was a bicyclist who was hit by a vehicle somewhere along the S-curve between Fairway/Ginseng and Old Carbon Canyon Road.

Two issues immediately come to mind on this:  first, that stretch of the road is about as dangerous as any along the route and, second, bicycling almost anywhere on the highway is a risky endeavor.  While this may be the only cycling fatality that this blogger is aware of in seven and a half years of living in the Canyon, anyone who drives the highway regularly has had some experience in the potential hazards of sharing the road with bicycle riders. 

It needs to be stated upfront that bicyclists have every right to use the roadway and the drivers of cars, trucks and motorized vehicles need to respect that right, but there is clearly great risk for anyone riding the bikes on a two-lane road with many curves, questionable sight lines, narrow passages, small or non-existent shoulders in many areas and the propensity for people to cut curves by driving too close to the shoulder and those who drive with excessive speed.

Some might suggest that one fatal accident over several or more years is not necessarily indicative of a problem, but others might respond that all it takes is one tragedy like this to highlight the inherent risks of riding a bicycle on Carbon Canyon Road.

As a sidelight, it should be pointed out that this is, at least, the fourth accident of significance on the Chino Hills side in just the last few weeks.  A few Fridays back there was a two-car wreck at Canon Lane.  Last Monday, a red Mustang with a crushed left side was off the road at the bottom of the S-curve on the eastbound side a little west of Old Carbon Canyon Road.  Then, just a few days ago, there was a major accident at Canyon Hills Road, by the soon-to-be-opened Circle K, which required the "Jaws of Life" to literally cut a car in two to extract a person.  Now, the fatality from yesterday is added to the list.

08 October 2011

Carbon Canyon Road Closure Today!

UPDATE, 3:00 P.M.:  Carbon Canyon Road is open again as of 2:30 p.m.  Presumably, there will be information on the fatal accident in the next issue of the Chino Hills Champion.

Carbon Canyon Road (State Route 142) has been closed from the Brea/Chino Hills border on the west because of a fatal traffic accident that has occurred somewhere in the vicnity of Carriage Hills.  For those looking to go west from the Chino Hills side, the road is closed at Chino Hills Parkway and for those coming east from Brea, the closure is at the county line, although posted street signs and message boards warn of the closure from near the 57 Freeway and further east along Lambert.  According to the Chino Hills emergency hotline, the road could be closed as late as 5:00 p.m. while the investigation into the fatality continues.

As of 11:51, the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon only has local resident access for Carriage Hills and Summit Ranch residents, with the former using Old Carbon Canyon Road and the latter using the Feldspar Drive access.  While there was no indication as to access to other portions of the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon (namely, Sleepy Hollow, Mountain View Estates, Western Hills Oaks, Oak Tree Downs/Estates or Western Hills Mobile Home Estates, I was able to get to Sleepy Hollow from the Brea side and, upon driving east on the highway, found that Sheriff's deputies were blocking access only from Fairway Drive/Ginseng Lane, so access from Brea should be available to that point.

However, while the Chino Hills emergency hotline identifies the westbound closure from Chino Hills, the Brea hotline identifies the closure at the county line and DOES NOT specify resident access to the Chino Hills side up to Fairway/Ginseng.  It is suggested to keep checking the two city hotlines.

For recorded information on road conditions, the City of Chino Hills hotline is (909) 364-2828.   The City of Brea hotline is (714) 990-7732.

05 October 2011

Soquel Canyon Shenanigans

As has been noted previously here, Soquel Canyon, a place just moments from "civilization," is a world unto its own.  Aside from an odd assortment of discards, including a trailer or two, and long disused ranching corrals, watering troughs and the like, the only signs of life generally were a few head of cattle raised on leased land by a local whose family has been doing such for many, many years.

A walk down Soquel Canyon Road from the Aerojet facility on the east to Olinda Village to the west, especially with a decent flow of water in the creek, can be a great tonic to settle the mind (or, perhaps, the soul) looking to break away from the everyday and enjoy a little isolation.

Recently, however, this isolation has brought some issues.  The aforementioned lessor running cattle in Soquel, as well as throughout large section of Carbon, Canyon had noticed that there were unwelcome signs of new life down there.  Namely, a resident of the Brea side of Carbon Canyon had purchased a landlocked ten-acre parcel, cut locks above Sleepy Hollow to access his holding, and stocked it with a fifth-wheel travel trailer, ATVs, motorcycles, and guns.  Consequently, weekends became a time to party with ridin' and shootin' being some of the main sources of recreation.  In addition, the owner decided to create his own apiary (regular readers will recall that bee-raising has been conducted in areas in and near Carbon Canyon in recent years.)

The problem was, however, that these activities not only affected the cattle being run in the canyon, and posed a tremendous fire danger, but were just plain illegal, especially the shooting.  Finally, after the situation was made known to concerned community members, code enforcement personnel from the City of Chino Hills looked into the matter and communicated with the property owner, who was given to allowing friends and family to use the spread for their enjoyment.

After letters and personal contact made it clear that the use of the property violated any number of city codes, it has been reported that the property owner has removed virtually everything from the parcel, excepting a tractor and the bees.  Hopefully, the situation will continue to be better and that the owner will confine activities on the land in question to those allowed for under code.

03 October 2011

Arundoing and Other Doings

In the last couple of weeks or so, work has been ongoing between Olinda Village and the old La Vida Mineral Springs property on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon in the removal of dead biomass from the arundo donax that had long been accumulating in Carbon [Canyon] Creek, but has been subject to an intensive eradication program given unintended assistance by the devastation of the November 2008 Freeway Complex fires.

Crews from a Lake Forest habitat restoration company called Nature's Image (see here) have been busily engaged in the tough task of cutting and hauling away of plant material, as the accompanying photographs, taken last week, show.  These efforts will continue, presumably, for some time, even as new stands of arundo have arisen and will have to be treated.

Meantime, on Chino Hills State Park property alongside Carbon Canyon Road east of the new Discovery Center, work details from the Inland Empire division of the California Conservation Corps (see here for more on the local center of this organization, which has served California since 1976) are doing cleanup work with unwanted plant material.

And, in recent weeks, CalTrans has been on the Orange County portion of Carbon Canyon Road, removing dead trees from as far as near the Chino Hills border to the rehabilitated El Rodeo Stables, where the remnants of very tall, but also very dead trees, burned in the 2008 fires, were probably a risk to those driving on the highway.  CalTrans crews have also been very busy over the last week or so putting down ribbons of asphalt to seal cracks that have long been worsening on SR-142.

Finally, workers have also been quite busy along the highway working on power lines and poles, so the amount of maintenance activity recently has been quite impressive.