31 January 2012

Carbon Canyon Hilltop Estate for Sale!

A 35-acre hilltop estate on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon is now for sale!

Listed at the end of December for just under $4 million, the expansive property, including a 3,800+ square foot main house, a 2-bedroom, 2-bath caretaker's residence, large pool and spa, event area with seating for 200 persons, a helicopter pad, and more, was reduced about a half million dollars on 18 January to $3,499,900.

The property is on the south end of the Canyon, directly across from the former Manely Friends stable (which was burned down in the November 2008 fire and which has been for sale for quite some time.)  There is an ornate entrance with wrought-iron gates and a paved road leading up the steep hills to the complex at the summit.   Portions of the main house and grounds are visible from nearby Olinda Village and the views are, obviously, incredible.

This is the listing description provided by the realtor, Jules Hawkins of Gold Shield Realty Group:

35+ Acres Overlooking the entire Valley. 4 parcels make up this private retreat. APN's 312-011-06, 05, 04, 15 and 16. This property is all about the location, the value in not having neighbors & being King of YOUR Mountain. There are Walking/Horse Trails throughout the entire property. The 5 bedroom 3 1/2 bath home with Pool & Spa has a breathtaking 360 degree view. 3 Fireplaces, 1 in Master that also has an office or sitting room attached. Large Kitchen w/ center island & Sub Zero Fridge. 4 car garage with another 1/4/ bath with pool access. 5 year old roof, rain gutter & Fire Sprinkler System. Central Vac. This rolling property has several flat areas to build a barn with a full size arena if so desired. A 2bed/2bth Caretakers Ranch House ( not factored into the square footage) is located where horse facilities once were. Beautiful Bluff where many weddings have been held. Bench seating for 200 guests overlooking the Valley below. Family Fruit Trees. Rifle and Archery site against the hills. Room for a personal Helicopter Landing Pad. View Disneyland Fireworks! Has been a Private site for World Renowned Freestyle Motorcross Riders to master their stunts. High Ranking Brea Schools Close to town. Endless Possibilities. Your own Private Oasis.

For more on the listing, including photos, see here.

26 January 2012

City of Industry To Acquire More Tonner Canyon Property

Today's San Gabriel Valley Tribune has a front-page feature by Ben Baeder reporting that, at a time when cities and towns in the state are struggling with the new post-redevelopment agency age, the City of Industry was expected today to purchase thirty-acres of land to add to the nearly 3,000 it has acquired in Tonner Canyon over the last decade or so.  Of this about 20% is in Orange County just north of Carbon Canyon.  The sale would be for $400,000 from a Scottsdale, Arizona resident, Jack Harding, for the hilly parcel adjacent to the Olinda Alpha Landfill.

Quotes from local figures including a county supervisor, Brea officials and Hills for Everyone executive director Claire Schlotterbeck range from nonplussed to curious to questioning.  While environmentalist Schlotterbeck indicated that her organization would have wanted an opportunity to acquire the land and wondered why Industry was interested in adding to its Tonner Canyon holdings, the former use of the acreage as an oil field might have been an inhibitor because of the potential costs of cleanup, though the purchase agreement stated there was no issue of contamination.  Strangely, the article's headline refers to the parcel as "wilderness," when it is anything but that, though it is certainly vacant.

Notably, Republican Assembly member Chris Norby of Fullerton, whose district encompasses the area, sounded a note of skepticism about Industry's plans.  Although the city had discussed building a reservoir to provide water for a city-owned power plant when land there was first acquired, but has publicly announced otherwise in recent years, Norby questioned whether this was really the case.  Moreover, he expressed concern about the city being able to buy land outside the county in which it is situated, though there is historical precedent for this going back to the City of Los Angeles buying non-contiguous land for the fabled Los Angeles Aqueduct project that brought water from the Owens Valley starting a century ago next year.  Norby was quoted as suggesting that Industry was "essentially a land-speculation company" and that "we're keeping an eye on it."  These sentiments seem a little surprising coming from an Orange County Republican.

Meantime, City of Industry mayor David Perez stated that the city was "going to keep it open space, just like we've been doing with the rest of our property" in Tonner Canyon and, to date, the acreage there has been used for recreational purposes via programs with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Boy Scouts of America, the latter of which sold most of the Tonner Canyon land to the city several years ago.

24 January 2012

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #s 8627-30

There have been a rash of collisions on Carbon Canyon Road within the last few days.  The first seems to have been an eastbound miscalculation on the Brea side just west of the Chino Hills border in which a car veered off the roadway and crumpled a guardrail.  A bumper seems to have been retrieved, but other debris remains.  This took place likely on Friday and before the rain came in.

Yesterday afternoon about 4 p.m., after the heavier showers had dissipated, but with the highway possibly still a little slick, another wreck took place at the summit of the S-curve in Chino Hills, where a few accidents have occurred lately.  There is a Nissan hood grille and other fragments left there. 

Then, today, a lightpole was plowed over on the north side of the highway just west of Chino Hills Parkway. 

Meantime, a couple of slightly older incidents happened on the Brea side--one mentioned previously was at the old La Vida Mineral Springs property, where a fender lies under a dead bush on the north side of the highway.

Finally, a likely near miss occcurred in which a car heading westbound east of the burned out Manely Friends stable and west of the first mentioned accident above skidded across the opposing lane and into the south side shoulder.  There isn't any remaining wreckage, suggesting the vehicle made its cross-highway excursion without any intrusion from travelers coming the opposite way.  Skid marks remain to show what took place.

And, it may be worth noting that, in the Sleepy Hollow area, there are some young motorcyclists who have taken to riding on Carbon Canyon Road, as well as the neighborhood's one-way curving lanes, at high speeds and/or without helmets and/or passing other vehicles and/or standing while doing the first two (or maybe all three) of the above.  At that age, most of us believe we're invincible--let's hope these young 'uns don't find out the hard way.

23 January 2012

More Mail Theft in Carbon Canyon

UPDATE: 25 January 2012:  A simply-worded e-mail to the general Chino Hills City Council mailbox has yielded a response from a council member who lives in the Canyon, the Sheriff's Department captain (who lives in the city), and the department's Community Services Officer--the latter asking for more information about the rash of mail thefts as recent as last Sunday night and going back to just before Christmas.  Anyone with information to report on the incidents can contact the CSO at the Sheriff's office in Chino Hills. 

As recently as last night and going back to just prior to Christmas, a new rash of mail theft has been taking place throughout Carbon Canyon.  A neighbor had a credit card account hacked into and a few thousand dollars worth of charges put onto it.  At least one of the charges was for an Anaheim business.  Another neighbor reported that there was a local resident's bank account accessed by the thieves, as well.

In talking to the mail carrier in this area, the only advice the postmaster can give is to pick up each day's mail as soon after delivery as possible (in Sleepy Hollow, this generally means mid-afternoon during the week and about Noon on Saturday); not to leave Friday or Saturday's mail in the box over the weekend; and to get, if possible, a locking mailbox (which this blogger has had for several years now.)  Some existing clusters are so narrowly situated, though, that the larger locking boxes may not be feasible.

Otherwise, there would have to be very regular patrols of the area during the evenings by law enforcement, which may or may not be instituted.  Even if this were done, though, patrols can only take place at certain times and thieves could still operate around whatever schedule was developed.  Still, it seems reasonable to expect some attempt to patrol the area more often to give some effort to head off further trouble.

Ironically, about seven or so years ago, the postal service installed a clustered mailbox unit with locking compartments for individual households at both the Canyon Market and Sleepy Hollow Community Center parking areas.  While the former has remained, the latter was quickly removed because it was placed on city-owned property.  Why the City and USPS were not able to find a suitable location for the unit would be important to know, especially because mail theft continues to be a problem.

22 January 2012

Towers of Terror's Twisted Tangled Travels/Travails

Yesterday's Chino Hills Champion continued its coverage of the saga of the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project's Section 8 fisaco with the latest reporting by Marianne Napoles on the status of the review of the stalled work on massive transmission towers through Chino Hills and just north of Carbon Canyon.

Napoles noted that the California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge Jean Vieth has now given Southern California Edison two weeks to come up with a feasibility and cost analysis on yet another alternative.  This one, suggested by Edison's own alternative to change the composition of the lines from double to single circuit carrying 400 kV of power, rather than 500 kV, was recommended by a Chino Hills attorney to take these components and include them in an underground system.  Edison did propose the reconfigured schema for above-ground towers, while identifying below-ground alternatives using the old configuration.  While previous underground alternatives were claimed by the company to be of far greater cost and time to install, the city's attorney points out that the new configuration would be less expensive and faster to install.  It remains to be seen what Edison claims and what the CPUC will rule.

Meantime, Napoles also reported that the judge ordered that Edison and the City of Chino Hills are to being mediation in which Edison's alternatives will be discussed and that this process is to start in about three weeks, or about a week after the analysis of the new underground alternative is to be submitted by the utility.

A sidebar article by the same reporter also discussed the intention of the California State Parks Foundation to seek compensation for an estimated $44,000 that the Foundation calculates that it will use in fees and expenses for representation at CPUC hearings on this latest iteration of the Section 8 portion of the TRTP project.  Funds collected from utility ratepayers throughout the state can be used to reimburse non-profit entities who are involved in hearing of this nature, although the CSPF had spent almost $125,000 previously when fighting a City of Chino Hills proposal to get the lines run through Chino Hills State Park in the last go-round.  The Foundation reiterates that the purpose of the park, like most passive-use state parks, is to preserve land and allow recreational opportunities for Californians seeking a respite or escape from the heavily urbanized environment in which most state residents live, and that putting power lines through the park (especially when inactive ones came down just recently thirty years after they were supposed to be removed when the park was created) defies that mission and purpose.

This conflict between continued growth and development and the movement to preserve dwindling open space and recreational areas has been an ongoing battle and it can also be carried over into places like Carbon Canyon, where more housing and other forms of development, whether completed, approved or proposed, threaten the very nature of the place.  Another corollary has to do with wind farms proposed in desert areas that, contrary to common views of these areas as "wastelands", are, actually, highly diversified, vulnerable and sensitive environments for animal and plant habitates.

These questions are also enormously complex and not easily simplified into categorical "either/or" scenarios.  More than likely, Edison will submit that the underground alternative will still be too expensive and time-consuming, but whether the CPUC finds otherwise will be interesting to see.  Meantime, city officials, Assembly representative Curt Hagman, and Hope for the Hills representatives continue to claim important victories and milestones, as the political momentum locally is taken to Sacramento and San Francisco (where the CPUC hearings have taken place.)

18 January 2012

More Early La Vida Mineral Springs History

Early on in this blog, it was noted that an Orange County history timeline stated that William Newton Miller opened La Vida Mineral Springs in 1924.  However, there was an earlier operation at the site, going back at least a decade.

This was noted in a February 1915 issue of Junior Republic Magazine, the in-house campus publication of what was then called the George Junior Republic and is now Boys Republic, the facility for troubled youth that has been in Chino Hills since 1907.  The reference in the magazine, which was produced at a print shop that still exists today (although obviously using more modern printing methods--though some of the old typesetting machines are still there), was that, among the many print jobs done by the facility was one for "La Vida Springs."

Then, while research was being conducted on the 1920 federal census in the Olinda oil field area, there was a notable listing for the manager of "La Vida Springs," 36-year old Allen R. Abbott, residing with this wife Florence.  There were no other persons associated with the facility at that time, so it was clearly a small operation.  But, how did the "La Vida Springs" come into being?

First, work was done on Abbott's past, starting with his World War I registration information, which showed "Allen Roscoe Abbott", born in August 1884, living as a farmer in Buena Park.  Then a check of the California Death Index for 1940-1997 found a listing for Abbott as dying in July 1959, but, more importantly, that his mother's maiden name was Gaines.

Well, the neighboring household to Abbott's at La Vida in 1920 was rancher Edward F. Gaines (discussed previously in the 1920 and 1930 census posts for Olinda.)  Another look back at the 1900 census found Allen Abbott residing at Gardena in the South Bay area of Los Angeles with a younger brother, his father, Lucius P. Abbott, a farmer, and mother Sarah E., who was born in California with a father from Kentucky and a mother from New York, just like Edward Gaines, who was living in Downey in 1900.

The Abbott family goes back to the 1850s to Russellville, Ohio, a small farming town southeast of Cincinnati and near the Kentucky border, where Lucius was born.  Then, the family moved to Ross, Illinois in the central eastern part of the state, very close to Indiana.  Finally, during the 1870s, the Abbotts relocated to Wilmington, the town where the Port of Los Angeles is now located, and engaged in farming.  After Lucius Abbott died, his mother, the former Sarah Gaines, remained in Gardena until the 1920s and then moved to Highland Park, northeast of downtown Los Angeles.  She lived until age 96, dying in 1960.  As to Allen Abbott, he relocated to Edwards, Montana to resume farming, but returned to Los Angeles where he died in July 1959 at the age of 74.

So, it seems possible that it was Edward Gaines who first developed "La Vida Springs," assuming that he had left his Downey farm for Carbon Canyon between 1910 and 1915, when the Boys Republic magazine mentions the Springs and then hired his nephew to run it for him.

By 1925, there was still some reference to "La Vida Springs," specifically a North Orange County directory listing for a restaurant waitress named Verna Swift.  The next year's directory, however, shows a name change to "La Vida Mineral Springs" for a chauffeur there named Harold Brennan.  In addition, articles of incorporation were filed on 27 March 1924 in Sacramento for the "La Vida Mineral Springs Company," though no information about the incorporators was found for the now long-dissolved company.  Presumably, this would have been when William Newton Miller established his resort.

In 1927, there were additional persons associated with the Mineral Springs, specifically Harold's father, Peter, listed as a masseur, and Fred J. Cline, the manager.  While Brennan resided on the property, Cline and his wife, Nellie, were living on Main Street in Placentia.  Cline was also listed as manager of the resort in 1928 and at the same Placentia residence.

By 1930, both in the North Orange County Directory and the federal census, there was a change in personnel.  Cline was no longer shown at the Springs, but Brennan, a 51-year old native of Ohio, continued to reside there and work as a masseur, while his 42-year old wife, Laura, born in Kansas, was a masseuse.  Their son, Harold, noted above and a native of Nebraska, also resided with them and was listed as an "odd jobs laborer," though whether at the Springs or elsewhere is not known.

There was also the "bath man" in 52-year old Minnesotan, Dan Mangan, and his wife Nellie, 41, originally from Illinois, who was listed as "Proprietor Hotel," meaning, obviously, the new hotel at the Springs.  The couple's 18-year old son, Howard, a Canadian native, also resided with them.  Mangan is also listed as an employee at La Vida, though not a specific occupation, in the 1930 North Orange County Directory.

This left "cafe operator" Archie Rosenbaum, born to a Jewish family at the end of December 1882 in Russia, who emigrated to the United States as a boy in the early 1890s.  Rosenbaum's wife, Mary, a 45-year old from Iowa, was in the household, as was a 17-year old Californian of Austrian ancestry, Anna Szettere, listed as a "waitress."

Rosenbaum has, in a few sources, been identified as the owner of La Vida, although references found so far, whether they be from Orange County voter registration or North Orange County Directory listings uniformly list him as a "cafe operator" or a "cafe man."  The earliest date for Rosenbaum in the area is 1926, when he and his wife are shown in the directory as residing in Rural Free Delivery (a postal delivery term) District #1 in Placentia, which did include La Vida, though there is no occupation given.  There was also an obscure newspaper reference from October 1928 about Rosenbaum, of Placentia, having his car license plates stolen and used on stolen vehicles in robberies in central California.  Then, there are the 1930 references noted above.

Rosenbaum can be traced in southern California to between 1900 and 1910 when he and his wife Abbie Hall, resided on Grand Avenue and 5th Street in downtown Los Angeles and where Archie was a hotel waiter.  In the 1910s, the couple had relocated to the Florence district of south Los Angeles, and Archie was working as a shipyard foreman for the Bagley Southwestern Shipyard Company at San Pedro during the height of the World War I military buildup when he registered for the draft in September 1918.  

After the war ended, Rosenbaum went back to the restaurant business and, enumerated at Florence in the 1920 census, his occupation was given as manager of a cafe and the Rosenbaums remained in that area until at least 1922.  Clearly, his years of restaurant experience brought him, by at least 1926, to run what was likely a new restaurant at the recently reconstituted La Vida Mineral Springs.  As some oral histories of Olinda oil field workers revealed (noted in early posts to this blog,) Rosenbaum was able to develop a customer base with Los Angeles Jews who patronized La Vida.  The opening in 1928 of the Camp Kinder Ring facility by the Arbeter Ring, a liberal Jewish organization from Los Angeles, on the San Bernardino side of Carbon Canyon, where a horse ranch now occupies the site with some of its original buildings, probably also facilitated the growth of the Jewish clientele at La Vida.

Rosenbaum remained at La Vida until at least 1940, when the biennial voter registration record shows him still as a cafe owner.  By 1944, however, he and his wife were back at Florence working in the restautant business and listings for him continue into the 1950s.  Archie died in early 1966 in Los Angeles at age 83.

Another notable development in the early years of the history of La Vida was the formation of the La Vida Mineral Water Company, which appears to go back as far as 1929.  This may also have been a brainchild of Rosenbaum, although no incorporators of the separate company have been located so far.  By early 1931, though, advertisements for La Vida Mineral Water showed up in downtown Los Angeles and as far afield as Prescott, Arizona.  Radio and print advertisements and a listing of copyright entries with the federal government soon followed in 1932 and there was even a San Francisco office listed in that city's directories starting in 1932.  By 1934, there was a Los Angeles office on West 2nd Street and a name finally associated with the mineral water firm:  An H. Schugt appears in the 1935 North Orange County Directory as the manager at the same post office box adddress as for Rosenbaum.

As mentioned in the 1930 census post for Olinda, this year should bring the release of the 1940 federal census (these are made public after 72 years.)  While it is known that Rosenbaum was at La Vida to at least that year, it will be interesting to see who else was counted in that enumeration at the Springs as the history continues into the World War II years and beyond.

15 January 2012

New Olinda Elementary School Opens

After $30 million for the acquisition of the land ($8 million) from Chevron and construction ($22 million,) which began in October 2010, Olinda Elementary School has opened at its new site on Birch Avenue next to the Brea Sports Park after almost a half-century at its Olinda Village location in Carbon Canyon.

Classes began in the new facility last Monday, the 9th for 400 students, faculty and staff, although there is still further construction to do within the next couple of years and the expected peak occupancy looks to be about 450 students.

The first Olinda School, described as a prototypical one-room schoolhouse, opened in 1898 to serve children of men working in the newly-opened Olinda Oil Field.  As the community grew, a new school was opened in 1909 and operated for several decades until the diminishing oil field production and population led to its closure.

With the creation of the Olinda Village housing subdivision on the ranch formerly owned by Edward F. Gaines, a reconstituted Olinda Elementary School opened in 1964 and was a high-performing and close-knit campus.  Because of new housing in the area, such as at Olinda Ranch and the newly opened Blackstone subdivision, the Brea-Olinda Unified School District decided to relocate the school to a larger campus on former oil property.

For an article by the Orange County Register on the opening last week, click here.

As to the future of the shuttered school at Olinda Village, it is considered surplus property and the district can either readapt it to a compatible educational use, lease it or sell it.  A 7 November public hearing was conducted for public comment about the property, but, given its "remote" location, it seems unlikely to be used by the district for educational purposes and it also seems unlikely that there would be a lease opportunity, especially because the age of the campus would be an issue in either of the above cases.  More likely, the district will look to sell the property for the obvious reason of needed funds.  What also seems certain is that developers will be more than slightly interested in the land for housing.  Certainly, there will be news at some point of what the district's plans are regarding the site. 

Here is the flyer announcing the meeting with some information about the district's process in dealing with the property.

More information and photos concerning the new campus is available here on the district's Web site.

13 January 2012

Chino Hills Champion Carbon Canyon Chronicling Continued

Last week's edition of the Chino Hills Champion, the weekly paper that has, amazingly, been continuously published since 1887 and which is a great local newspaper, had a notable piece by Marianne Napoles on the Circle K convenience store, which opened several months ago at Carbon Canyon Road and Canyon Hills Road, just east of Sleepy Hollow.

It was interesting to note, for example, that the store and associated building constituted the sole commercial construction project in all of Chino Hills during the last year.  The family of Jasbir, Kamal and Shawn Singh, who have resided in the city for about two decades, spent some $2 million to develop the property.  After a late 2007 approval, work started almost two years ago in Spring 2010 with the store opening this past October.  While there was a significant sum ($200K) invested in soil and engineering reports as well as a wastewater treatment system (sewers not existing in the area), there was also $170,000 assessed to the family for the construction of a traffic signal at the intersection, as a "fair share" of mitigating for traffic.  As has been noted here previously, this signal is on the city's priority list, so the day is coming.

Also reported is the fact that the store, open all day every day, has six employees, five of which are from Chino Hills (how many are family members?) and one from Chino, and the Singhs were said to have stated that "business has been pretty good so far."  There are four additional suites (one for retail and the others for offices) adjacent to and below the store (the structure is built on a slope so that the three lower level spaces are not visible from Carbon Canyon Road) and the family was quoted as saying that negotiations are ongoing regarding the retail space, while a passerby inquired about an office unit.

Finally, sometime early next month, the Singhs are planning a grand opening, including vendors and giveaways.  At least one canyon resident will not be there, having opined here previously that the development is completely out of character in the canyon. 

The rural atmosphere that defines Carbon Canyon and which has, it is assumed, been the inspiration for people to move here, is slowly and methodically being eroded by this and other incompatible uses.  This includes suburban "amenities" like a convenience store with its glaring parking lot lights on all night and the claims of new jobs (at what rate per hour?) ring hollow. 

Then, there'll be the traffic signal there, ostensibly to "alleviate traffic," but only really serving the interests of the very few residents who will be accessing Carbon Canyon Road from Canyon Hills Road.  And, let's not forget the approved housing project that is slated for the hills to the west of Canyon Hills Road in and around the old Ski Villa slope.  All of this will continue the onslaught, emasculate the rural nature of the canyon, and turn the area into more of what has already consumed too much of our region.  For now, the moribund economy, ironically enough, provides a respite from the inevitable. 

But, enough here--these views have been expressed before and others have countered them in comments, all of which can be located via a sidebar search tool.

Meanwhile, in news from tomorrow's paper, another article by Napoles concerns the 10 January deadline for Southern California Edison to submit alternative routes to the California Public Utilities Commission on the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project's Segment 8 through Chino Hills, passing just north of Carbon Canyon.

Not surprisingly, the route preferred by the opponents of the project and the City of Chino Hills, which would go through Chino Hills State Park (which was only recently the site of a long-delayed requirement upon SCE to remove old transmission towers and lines!) and include a special switching station at the old Aerojet munitions testing facility adjacent to the upscale golf course community at Vellano, is estimated by SCE to be a mind-numbing $600 million or so. 

Moreover, the company claims that this route is technically not practical due to unstable slope conditions at the Aerojet site and that, even if the route was workable, the project would not be completed for another decade.  In addition, the company asserts that the grading and soil removal at Aerojet would be enormous and that, because the Aerojet facility, which had all kinds of toxic materials from decades of weapons testing, is under the auspices of the Department of Toxic Substance Control (the early days of the Chronicle had some entries on Aerojet--accessed via the search tool at the right sidebar), delays would, naturally, ensue.

The existing route, including sections that come very close to houses, is largely complete, with twelve of eighteen massive 198-foot towers completed and the remaining in various stages of work.  The cost there is said by Edison to be about $166 million (more than a third of which, nearly $60 mil, has been spent) and completion could be had in a few months, including finishing the last six towers and stringing the lines.

In all, the submitted report, spanning close to a hundred pages, detailed fifteen routes, including nine completely new ones.  Of these latter, four involve shorter towers at increased costs of between $8 and $25 million dollars from the $166 million mentioned above.  The other five routes deal with underground construction and the estimates are also staggering: from about $600 mil to $1 billion.  Completion dates for these nine new routes vary from 2014 to 2017 and Edison was sure to point out that the hurried nature of the reporting process, mandated by the 10 January date, meant that a full, detailed analysis was not included.

City Manager Michael Fleager was quoted by Napoles as saying that the state park and underground options are "viable options," but Edison and, perhaps the CPUC (or even the DTSC), might beg to differ. 

This whole project is enormously complicated, far more than many of those deeply invested have been willing to admit, at least publicly.  While those who live adjacent to and close to the right-of-way are understandably upset and concerned about many elements, including property values, noise, and others, assertions of astronomical property value losses involving the entire city are more than slightly disingenuous. 

So, too, is the admittedly clever and creative claim by congressional representative Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), running in this fall's elections for the newly-reconstituted district seat now held by longtime incumbent Gary Miller (who, incidentally, announced just this week that he is moving to a Rancho Cucamonga home he owns so he can run, against another Republican, Bob Dutton, for the redesigned district seat there--so much for the beloved hometown of Diamond Bar!) 

Royce avers that federal housing loan rules apply to the homes next to SCE's right-of-way, so that government-funded loans would not be available to them in the future.  A look, however, at those rules shows quite clearly that any prohibition only involves homes that are actually within the right-of-way.  What's the old saying about "the devil is in the details?"

In sum, the towers are massive, unattractive, too close to a significant number of houses, and may well generate a significant amount of unwanted noise.  As to whether these behemoths would fall and inflict enormous damage in a massive earthquake, Edison claims the design prevents the likelihood, but we really can't know, since we haven't had a true "big one" (that is, an 8.0 or higher quake) since January 1857 (boy, are we overdue!).

The merits and pitfalls concerning wind power and renewable energy also have led to statements that are politically charged (!) and motivated and, therefore, are as likely to contain somewhat plausible-sounding manipulations as legitimate critiques or reasonable claims of benefit.

Between the polarized talk at the ends of the political spectrum, the reality (let's not use the word "truth," hmm?) is that the impacts of these "towers of terror" are probably somewhere tending to the middle between benign and disastrous.  More likely, their existence would be along the lines (!) of a significant inconvenience for those living close and not much at all for most anyone else.  If there was a quake big enough to topple the suckers, it would almost certainly be so big that we'd have a whole lot else to be worried about, like leveled freeways, buckled and collapsed bridges, burst and snapped gas, electric and water lines, and a bunch of other life-changing crises, including many injured and a lot of lost lives.  It's easy with these highly emotional issues to, as the cliche goes, not see "the forest for the trees."

Having said all this, the folks at Hope for the Hills deserve great credit for mobilizing an impressive level of community activism and power (!) at its most potent and effective form.  Not that there haven't been exaggerations and dramatizations and not that their work will lead to the (full) accomplishment of their goals.  But, it does show that grass-roots activism is alive and well and can lead to political success, if not a total victory.

The latter, though, remains to be seen.  A pre-conference hearing comes up later this coming week and there is still much at play.

08 January 2012

The 1930 Federal Census and Olinda

The increasing affordability of the automobile and the growth of suburbs contributed to a change in the "company town" concept, in which manufacturers had provided housing for workers on the site of the business.  Some local company towns, such as the Simons Brick Company yard in Montebello, as well as the many oil company leases that existed in the region, were affected by the changes in transportation and housing, because workers could live in towns and cities and enjoy the amenities there without having to live at a work site, with the noise, smells and isolation.

This appears to have been the case with the Olinda oil field, as noticeably observed in comparing the 1920 and 1930 federal censuses.  The 1920 enumeration, discussed last entry, counted nearly 1,000 persons within the area from Valencia Avenue east (with a few people on the west in those leases that straddled both sides of the road.  By 1930, however, the entire area designated as the Olinda precinct within the Fullerton township, had less than half the population.

There were 462 persons listed in Olinda in 1930, most, obviously living within oil leases, thought there were 64 persons who were outside of the oil field, in Carbon Canyon and also to the south along Valencia Avenue and Rose Drive.  For the 398 residents of the fields, here is the breakdown by company (CCMO is the Chanslor Canfield Midway Oil Company, successor to the Petroleum Development Company on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad lease):

CCMO:  222
Olinda:  77
West Coast:  56
Shell Oil:  21
General Petroleum:  19
Fullerton Oil:  3

On gender, the percentage of men in the Olinda area was 53% and women 47%.  Adults 21 and over amounted to 57% of the population and those under 21, 43%.  The white population was still overwhelmingly dominant at almost 97%, with 12 Latinos, from two families named Reyes {and likely related) and the same Japanese family, the Fujimotos, residing on the West Coast lease as they had ten years before, although the head of the family was now a "roustabout," or general laborer, and not a boilermaker as before.  Finally, as to home ownership, there was a slight change in home ownership, as 16 of 119 househoulds consisted of families who owned their residence, about 13% of the total.  One residence in particular stood out in terms of its value.  Most owned residences in the oil fields were small, plain wooden dwellings at low value, but on Rose Drive, citrus rancher Michael Harmon, owned a home worth $60,000, a pretty substantial sum at the time.

The same general run of oil field occupations existed in 1930 as a decade previous, including drillers, rotary helpers, rodmen, several types of engineers, machinists, firemen, watchmen, electricians, and others.  A few men held position of authority as superintendents, chief clerks, shop foreman and the like.  Also, where there were several Santa Fe Railroad workers in 1920, there was only a field inspector in 1930, residing on the Olinda lease.  There seemed, however, to have been more variety of jobs held by members of households in which the male head was an oil field worker, including more work done by women.  This seems to be a consequence of the automobile, which allowed oil field residents to find jobs further away from their homes.  What is also notable is that, while in 1920, there were a number of men who lived in bunk houses on a few of the leases, there weren't any who did so ten years later.

On the CCMO lease, there was a barber, dentist, dental assistant,, glass factory worker, nursery bookkeeper, boarding house cook, store clerk, bus driver and real estate salesman.  At West Coast, one wife of an oil worker worked in a beauty shop and there was also an airplane mechanic and citrus workers. On the Olinda lease, there was a garage mechanic and citrus house packers.

There were also oil field-sited jobs that were not directly tied to the business.  Along or near Valencia Avenue, at the CCMO, Fullerton and Shell lease areas were three teachers, presumably at the Olinda School, including Alexander Barnes, a 47-year old from Ohio, Gladys Payton, 31, from Tennessee, and Ethel Overton, 39, born in Illinois.  Overton's husband, Job, also 39 and from Indiana, was the bus driver.  On Valencia Avenue, there was a gas station, run by 67-year old Iowan Omar Waitz.  The CCMO had a company store, whose keeper was George Cullen, a 60-year old Indiana native who was one of the few homeowners in Olinda and he had a manager, 22-year old Clarence Perrin, a native of California.  A teacher, perhaps also in Olinda, lived there, too, Mary Lemke, whose husband had a citrus ranch on the lease property.  There was a bus driver on the lease, too, Walt Cullen (son of the store keeper), but his occupation specifically said "high school," which probably meant that he drove Olinda teens to the only local high school, Fullerton Union.

Of the 64 persons not enumerated directly on oil lease land, a few of them worked in the fields, but there were a few farmers in Carbon Canyon, such as Ramon Reyes, Edward Gaines, who, as in 1920, ran stock where Olinda Village and the Hollydale Mobile Home Estates are located, and Adolph Friend, a West Virginia native in his early 70s who ran cattle in the Canyon, as well.  Down on Valencia Avenue and Rose Drive, there was citrus grower Harmon, another Reyes family, a building contractor, and a moulder for a brass factory.

The 1930 census was taken in April, about seven months after the stock market crash of October 1929 that signaled the beginning of the Great Depression.  By 1932, when banks failed en masse, the Depression worsened.  The 1940 census is due to be released this year, so there will be an opportunity soon to examine that enumeration and see what further changes came to Olinda.

02 January 2012

The 1920 Federal Census and Olinda

As a companion of sorts to the series of recent posts concerning the 1924 map of the Olinda oil field and surrounding areas, this entry examines the 1920 federal census for the oil field area, specific to the somewhat arbitrary definition this blog takes of Carbon Canyon.  Namely, the discussion here covers the areas mainly east of Valencia Avenue, also the historic dividing line between the Rancho Cajon San Juan de Santa Ana to the west and public lands to the east.  There are a couple of examples, however, where oil lease properties existed on both sides of the subjectively defined boundary--these being the Columbia and General Petroleum leases.

The tallying of twenty-one sheets on the census for the Brea township yields some interesting (and, possibly, useful) information on the nearly 1,000 people who occupied the heart of the Olinda oil field a little over ninety years ago.  The research done deals with gender, age, race and ethnicity, and home ownership and is also broken down into population for the several existing leases.  On this latter point, here's what was revealed:

Graham and Loftus [excluding company lands west of Valencia]:  29 persons
General Petroleum Company: 43 persons
Fullerton Oil Company:  65 persons
Olinda Land and Oil Company: 97 persons
Columbia Oil:  121 persons
Petroleum Development Company: Santa Fe Railroad lease: 275 persons
West Coast Oil:  316 persons

There were also a grand total of 14 persons counted in Carbon Canyon, east of Olinda and up to the San Bernardino County line (a future post will cover that county's portion of the Canyon).

There was an expectation that, because of the male-dominated nature of the oil industry, the gender imbalance would be significant, but, by 1920, there was certainly a difference in who lived in oil field communities compared to in previous years.  Much of this was likely attributable to the availability of the automobile to more working and middle-class families.  So, at Olinda, males amounted to 54% of residents with females, obviously, being 46%. 

With more families residing at Olinda than were likely found earlier, the comparison of adults to children worked out to about 61% of persons above 21 years of age and, of course, 39% under 21.

What was not surprising was the segregated nature of the Olinda community.  Simply put, ethnic and racial minorities were not welcomed at these work sites.  98% of all residents in the Olinda area were American, Canadian or European--94% of them being natives of the United States.  Also to be expected were the large proportion of people who came from oil-producing states in the east, specifically, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Texas and the like.

There were only 17 persons of Latino or other ethnic groups.  Of these, six were from a Mexican farm laborer family on the Graham-Loftus lease, who were not affiliated with oil production; and five were from a Mexican family that consisted of laborers who worked on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad spur line that came into Olinda from Atwood in Placentia.   In fact, the only people of color who worked on oil properties was a Japanese boilerman on the West Coast lease named Fujimoto (who resided with his wife and two daughters--the children being California natives) and a Hawaiian named Richard Kahalulio, who worked on the Olinda Oil Company property as a teamster.  Kahalulio, however, had a personal connection with Olinda's founder, William Hervey Bailey--he was from the Maui community where the Bailey families were Congregationalist missionaries.

As to residential status, there were about 240 separate households in the covered area.  Of these, only 14 owned their homes with the remainder renting their dwellings, almost certainly, in most cases, from the oil companies.  There were 5 persons whose status was listed as "unknown," though what this might have meant will have to go unexplained.  It should also be pointed out the 50 single men resided in bunkhouses on four different leases (West Coast [17], Petroleum Development/Santa Fe [17], Columbia [9] and Fullerton [7].)  It would seem probable that more single men in bunkhouses would have been found in earlier days.

It was also interesting noting the various listed occupations for oil workers on these leases.  Standard job types would include pumpers, drillers, boilermakers/boilermen, tool dressers, well pullers, machinists, electricians, carpenters, engineers, truck drivers/teamsters, rotary helpers, rodmen, and roustabouts.

Some of these terms needed definition, so here they are.  A roustabout was a general unskilled laborer, doing whatever odd jobs were needed, and were usually more temporary than the skilled employees.  A rotary helper would assist with the use of the rotary drill, a recent innovation in drilling technology.  The tool dresser helped the driller by sharpening the drill bits.  A well puller cleaned and serviced wells and their equipment.  A rodman was a surveyor working on siting potential or chosen well locations.

A couple of men had the intriguing vocation of "gang pusher."  Creative modern thinking aside, these were the guys who supervised the roustabouts and were, basically, foremen for unskilled general labor. 

Above them all, of course, were the field superintendents or foremen, who often had assistants.  In some cases, there were clerks, watchmen [security officers], painters, car loaders, and other field-related workers.  Perhaps the most notable of the first-named was William J. Graham, brother of Smauel C. Graham, founder of the Graham-Loftus Oil Company, one of the oldest at Olinda.  William Graham, a 60-year old veteran of the Pennsylvania oil fields, earliest in America, listed himself as an "oil overseer," meaning, evidently, that was superintending his brother's enterprise at Olinda.  Though not listed on this research, because the fields were further west than the area covered here, was L. A. Hardison, the brother of one of the Union Oil Company's three founders, Wallace Hardison (the others being Lyman Stewart and Thomas Bard.)  Hardison, a 66-year old Maine native, was merely listed as a "laborer."  Samuel Graham's wife, Mamie, was the daughter of Ida Hardison, sister of Wallace and L.A.  There were also a couple of stores on two leases (Santa Fe and West Coast) and a boarding house on the West Coast lease that had a keeper, cook and two waitresses--these being a widow and her son and two daughters.  The Columbia lease also had a boarding house keeper and assistant, both women.

Then, there were those residents whose jobs were outside of the field.  On the Olinda Land and Oil Company lease was the Olinda School and its two teachers were listed as Maud Crane, a 28-year old from Minnesota and Myrtle Harris, 23, from Wyoming.  Also at Olinda was an apiarist, or bee-keeper.  At the Columbia lease, there was a partner in a transfer (trucking) company and his wife, a music teacher.  Their two daughters were an orange house packer (there were a few packing house workers in Olinda) and a house servant.  At the West Coast lease, straddling Valencia Avenue, was a Baptist church, presided over by a minister, Wilfred Kent, who lived at the house of worship with his wife and two children.  There was also a noteworthy listing, the son of a West Coast blacksmith, 23-year old John Woods, was attending law school.  The West Coast also had a worker's son who worked as a bank bookkeeper and two hotel waitresses.

Finally, there were the few folks who resided in Carbon Canyon east of the Olinda oil field settlements.  Two of these have already been discussed in a post related to the 1924 map, these being farmer Edward F. Gaines and his wife, who owned and lived on land encompassed now by the Olinda Village subdivision and the Hollydale Mobile Home Estates on the south side of the village.  There were two others, however, who will be covered in a future post.