31 July 2012

Circle K Grand Opening . . . Ten Months Later?

The Circle K market at the corner of Carbon Canyon Road and Canyon Hills Road (which it was learned recently had been the site of an engineering design business at one time--the concrete foundation slab for the prior structure remained until the store was constructed) opened in October, nearly ten months ago.

Nonetheless, a banner now hangs from the convenience store, announcing a "grand opening."  Sometime back, in the Spring, there had been an article in the Chino Hills Champion discussing the store and its prospects with the owner mentioning that a grand opening was in the works.

After some delay, this now appears to be true.  As the photograph was snapped, a man walking from his vehicle to the store gave a prolonged and protracted curious stare to the paparazzi.  Makes sense.  Why would anyone stop to take a photograph of a Circle K and/or its banner?

28 July 2012

On the Skids (Well, Nearly) in Carbon Canyon #9424

Fortunately, it has been a good while since a major accident on Carbon Canyon Road has been noted by YHB (not that there haven't been any, mind you.)

Which is not to say that dangerous (really, dangerous) driving has ceased of late, either.

For example, Monday of last week at 8:30 a.m. a glance out the kitchen window onto the road caught the picture of a motorcyclist, with passenger, passing cars heading westbound on the roadway just after and just before two major curves in Sleepy Hollow.  Putting yourself, a passenger and other drivers at risk . . . for what?  An extra 30 or 45 second to get through the Canyon?

Today, my wife confessed that earlier today she was motoring at a cool 60 mph eastbound on the road as she was passing the Summit Ranch subdivision.  But . . . . wait for it . . .

As she cruised along, though, a motorcyclist turned out from Summit Ranch into the collector lane while my wife went by and cranked it up, passing her along the double yellow center lane at perhaps 70 mph.

Just because a major crash has eluded us for a time does not mean that there should be any complacency.  Whether it's motorcyclists or cars that pass others on the highway, that is extremely dangerous for everyone.  The fact that such maneuvers are successful most of the time is no reason to disregard the risk.

Officialdom and other drivers may not be concerned (after all, it is the Canyon and it is to be expected, right?), but I'm watching my mirrors all the time for these and other questionable behaviors.

Let's hope the major accidents are avoided for as long as possible, but not get complacent about what could happen.

26 July 2012

Why We Live in Carbon Canyon #482

Just a few minutes ago, while returning home to Sleepy Hollow from the Brea side of Carbon Canyon and passing the entrance to the St. Joseph's Hill of Hope entrance, an unusual sight came suddenly into view.

Six deer, two adult does and four fawns, were casually grazing on some of the plant material right at the fence next to Carbon Canyon Road.  Generally, you might come across a single animal or maybe a few, but to see a half-dozen together at once was pretty cool!

A quick u-turn at Rosemary/Hillside was made and then parking at the turnout just beyond the entrance--and there they were, maybe thirty feet away, and primed for a great few shots with the camera.

The old, beat-up Canon, though, has a fussy shutter and so the first, and best, shots from the nearest vantage point were wasted.  When the shutter finally got open, the deer were already beating a retreat up Lions Canyon Road (the dirt road that leads back to the Hill of Hope). 

A hurried few shots captured them making their way to the northwest, where they found a spot to the west of the dirt road and headed up into the hills.

So, not the best photos, but still captures one of the many reasons why living in Carbon Canyon is special. 

Now, if more homes get built here, especially the Canyon Crest development slated for that very area where the deer were heading when they left the scene, how many deer are going to be around for these kinds of amazing experiences?

Anyway, a nice little surprise for a summer evening in Carbon Canyon (and let's hope the little ones and their mothers stay away from the road!)

25 July 2012

New Weather Station in Carbon Canyon is Funded

Thanks to the hard work of Olinda Village resident and Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council member Eric Johnson, a grant from Southern California Edison was secured to assist with the purchase and installation of a weather station at the Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center in Brea.

The station will allow for the measurement of humidity, temperature, wind, and rainfall so that public agencies, emergency response teams and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitor conditions in the Canyon area and have access to the information recorded by the station in real-time through the Internet.

Emergency preparedness, fire prevention and disaster recovery efforts have come a long way in the Canyon since the devastating fires of 1990 and the weather station is another tool that assists in the process.

SCE will present the check to Fire Safe Council members on Friday afternoon at the Discovery Center as the next step in this important landmark for the Canyon.

07 July 2012

The 1910 Federal Census and Olinda

As noted in the previous post on the 1900 federal census at the newly-opened Olinda field, the development of oil there was just starting to come into prominence and so only 123 persons were counted at that location.

A decade later, however, there had been an enormous increase in activity, with many new companies engaging in operations at Olinda.  Consequently, when census taker John L. Nichols came into what he called the "Olinda precinct" (which, however, he had to cross out and replace with "Fullerton Township," the official designation), it took him about two weeks, from 28 April to 14 May, to complete his task.

Nichols counted 1,436 persons in Olinda during that period.  Of these, a little over 800, or 56%, of the residents were males.  Just a tick under 60% of the denizens were adults over the age of twenty-one.  Almost 88% of those listed were caucasians and the only reason it wasn't quite a bit higher is that, of the 114 Latinos tallied, almost half of them were temporary residents composed of a construction crew brought in by contractors Palmer, McBride and Quayle of San Francisco to build a spur railroad line for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (a.k.a., Santa Fe) Railroad Company from the main line running parallel to Orangethorpe Avenue from the Richfield oil field northwest to Olinda.  Curiously, sixteen of the men were found to have "unknown" ages, a telling sidenote about their "transient" status as contracted migrant workers.  There will be a post sometime about that spur line.  Of the Latinos, nine were from Spain, three from Portugal, and the remainder from Mexico, California and Texas.  A few households from one family made up 14 of the Latino community and there was a family of four from the Peraltas who were early settlers of Santa Ana Canyon during the pre-American era of California.

There were also 64 other foreign-born residents in Olinda that year, including two dozen Canadians, three dozen Europeans (from such countries as Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, and Sweden.)  There was also one caucasian born in Barbados in the West Indies.  Finally, there was one Japanese male, two Chinese males who were a cook and waiter for the aforementioned railroad construction crew, and a Hawaiian.  This latter was Richard Kalelio, who was from Maui in Hawaii and who was associated with the Bailey family which established the Olinda Ranch in 1887 (named for their Olinda sugar plantation in Maui.)

Other interesting tidbits of note:  The Palmer, McBride and Quayle Company had a construction crew at the end of 1910 building a railroad line from Hollywood to Van Nuys for the Los Angeles and Pacific Railroad and it seems possible that many of the men counted in the census at Olinda wound up at the other project later in the year.  In addition to the contracted workers, there were several men listed at Olinda as employees of the Santa Fe Railroad as it was completing its spur line.

On five of the enumeration sheets were boarding houses operated by several of the oil companies working the fields, though the names of the firms were not given, as would be the case in the 1920 census.  In 1900, there were no company-owned boarding houses in the nascent field.

As in 1900, there was one president of an Olinda-affiliated oil company who resided on the field, this being William Loftus of the Graham-Loftus concern, one of the first to drill at Olinda.

Another interesting note was the birthplace of fifty-five year old Mary C. Davis, who resided with her family, while her husband George's occupation was given as "miner Mexico."  She was listed as being born "on the overland trail to California."  That would have been in 1854 or 1855 amidst the great migrations of wagon trains taking the Oregon and California trails west--maybe, in her case, she had gold-seeking relations going to the Golden State.

A toddler counted at Olinda in 1910 was Trent H. Steele, whose father James was an oil pumper.  The Steeles had just come to California from the original oil-producing state in America, Pennsylvania.  Later, the family would migrate to a new regional oil field at Montebello.  In 1930, Trent Steele produced a college paper about the community in and around the Montebello oil field.

Finally, there was a young oil driller residing at Olinda in 1910 who was from Illinois and who bore the name Walter Wrigley.  It would be highly coincidental if he was  not related to chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Junior, soon to be owner within a decade of Santa Catalina Island and builder of the minor league baseball stadium named from him at Los Angeles.

06 July 2012

TRTP Towers of Terror Tilting Towards Twenty Thirteen

Tomorrow's edition of the Chino Hills Champion has a feature article concerning an order by the chairperson of the California Public Utilities Commission requiring Southern California Edison to provide a detailed preliminary engineering plan for proposed underground alignment of the notorious Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP), which work through the segment passing through Chino Hills was halted as enormous 198-foot tall towers were being installed on narrow 40-foot rights-of-way.

A spirited grassroots effort spearheaded by the community-based organization, Hope for the Hills, along with legal efforts put forth by the City of Chino Hills led the CPUC to reconsider the project that agency approved a few years ago.  Although Edison offered cost estimates for a couple of options to reroute the project underground and then CPUC chairperson Michael Peevey ordered Edison and the city to assume private negotiations, the new order takes the project to another level of planning specificity that Edison certainly did not want to pursue, though the decision does not exactly satisfy Hope for the Hills, while the city took a cautious approach in addressing the latest result.  The two options to be explored are a single circuit with two lines and the individual circuit with three lines.

Further, Marianne Napoles' article indicates that an option to route the TRTP lines through Chino Hills State Park has no chance of being seriously considered, because Peevey observed that none of the parties involved were actively pursuing that alternative any longer.

A major reason why community activists were less than enthused about Peevey's order was that the detailed engineering plans are not due until the end of February 2013.  Hope for the Hills chairperson Bob Goodwin stated that "it appears that Edison . . . has not engaged in a good faith negotiation because there is no good reason why this shouldn't be concluded at this time."  Nor, however, were good reasons offered as to why the issue should have been ended by now, either. 

Interestingly, Goodwin went on to offer that residents in areas adjacent or near the existing towers were not able to make the decision to stay in their houses, sell before completion of the towers if they remain, or "walk away" from their homes because a decision on the situation is at least a year away.  Given the continuing slump in the housing market, it seems that many people wouldn't want to sell anyway, particularly if they bought their houses after, say, 2003 or 2004 and that "walking away" would be far more likely when people are already financially underwater on their residences regardless of the status of the towers.  Given the economic situation, one wonders if waiting another year would really make that much of a difference.

Actually, Hope for the Hills should take some comfort in the fact that their extraordinary (this is meant in as neutral a sense as possible; namely, that the level of organization and execution is impressive for a grassroots community movement like this) efforts, as well as those exerted by the city (to the tune of $3 million) have pushed the CPUC to this newest level of reconsideration.  Undoubtedly, SCE wants to build this project at the lowest possible cost to maximize its profit, but it was the CPUC which approved the work and then looked slightly more than credible when it backtracked after the considerable pressure applied to its by the city and Hope for the Hills began to snowball.

At the same time, the CPUC could be engaging in deferred due diligence by making SCE "jump through hoops" with "secret negotiations" with the city (a strange concept for something so public, but all-too-often utilized by governments these days) and then requiring a significant preliminary engineering plan to better quantify what will still, in any case, be an enormously expensive endeavor in rerouting the TRTP underground through a city as hilly as its name indicates.

Simply put, it seems highly unlikely that the CPUC will actually order SCE to absorb those extraordinary costs all by its lonesome, given that chairperson Peevey has also required the city to "quantify any financial commitment it is willing to make to lessen the costs of burying the lines."  What amount this would or could be will be interesting to see.

Meantime, after the end of February deadline for submission of the preliminary studies, the city has until 25 March to reply.  Any other interested parties, including environmental groups, renewable energy firms, or others, have until tax day, 15 April, to offer their views.  Two weeks beyond that, Edison can provide its rebuttal to any and all of the above with an evidentiary hearing scheduled at the CPUC offices in San Francisco on 20 May.  After that, briefs are filed and then a final decision to  be made.

At the top of the S-curve in Carbon Canyon, a Hope for the Hills banner implores passers-by to do what they can do to support their position on the project.  Well, for a good nine months or so, there is very little that can be done, at least tangibly, though the group can continue promoting awareness and keeping their views on the front burner as they have done consistently.  On the other hand, a banner elsewhere in the city, begs readers to "Save Our Children," and maybe Hope for the Hills could do more to amplify (pardon the pun) on what exactly that means relative to the TRTP.

Finally, if initial Edison estimates of underground options of $375-475 million are even reasonably close to the preliminary study findings, it will be curious to see what Chino Hills could bring to the table and whether or not the CPUC would mandate the options at the great cost that is still likely to be involved and what specific responses Hope for the Hills would have as to how a rerouting of such major expense is feasible, for everyone involved.