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.

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