29 March 2013

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #32: A 1940s La Vida Mineral Springs Café real photo postcard

This is a 1940s real photo postcard of the La Vida Mineral Springs Café, located between the bath house and the motel, and which was the last surviving element of the resort, the structure being torn down in the early 2000s.  Click on the image for a larger view in a separate window.
This is another great old item connected to the La Vida Mineral Springs, which operated over many decades on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon.

The view is taken from Carbon Canyon Road looking north toward the café.  Note the double entrance doors at the left side just behind the first car on the left.  In fact, the five cars pictured here are one of the ways to date the image, given that these are pretty clearly 1940s-era vehicles.

To the left are several eucalyptus trees and identifying the location of the café is quite easy, because a couple of these trees are still standing, having survived (if scorched) the 2008 fires.  In fact, the cafe building continued on for years and even outlasted the rest of the complex, only being torn down about a decade or so years ago.

The postcard is unuused, but does have an EKC stamp box on the reverse.  The initials stand for "Eastman Kodak Company and the range of use for this kind of box is 1930-1950, which, of course, corresponds with the dating as determined by the automobiles in the parking lot in front of the café.

Today, there are still the remains of a red-tinted sidewalk that runs in this area and which crossed in front of the establishment from the bath house, which was off-camera left, to the motel, which was off to the right on the other side of the creek, which was crossed by a footbridge.

In fact, the next two installments of this series will show real photo postcards that cover the approach to and part of the motel building.

26 March 2013

(Ex) Chino Hills Maternity Hotel Up for Sale

Marianne Napoles of The Champion reported in Saturday's edition that the structure formerly operating as Los Angeles Hermas Hotel, a "maternity hotel" for Chinese women and which overlooks the eastern end of the Carbon Canyon Road corridor is now on the market.

Rowland Heights realty company IRN Realty has the listing and the building is offered at $3.3 million.  The property description (click here for the listing on the California Regional Multiple Listing Service) observes that the structure has "a very unique floor plan." 

Indeed, even though the square footage is given as just under 8,000 square feet, the description states that "according to buyer [that would be the seller], the size of property is around 15,000 Sq.F," which is misleading, as the property is 5.88 acres—the size of the house is said to be 15,000 square feet.  In any case, it is noted that there are "over 10 bedrooms" and "6 detached garages," which latter apears to be another misstated point—the house probably has detached garage space for six cars.

Interestingly, the IRN agent is Xiaoshun Chen, but the e-mail address is under Sabrina Chen, who appears to be the same spokesperson for owner Hai Yong Wu during the recent maternity hotel crisis. 

As noted by Napoles, Wu agreed last month to a court stipulation that he correct nine city building code violations by the end of this year.  These included sewer discharge permits, adding emergency exits for added rooms, and redoing the illegal construction of the ten additional bedrooms and bathrooms.  Moreover, no one was to live in the structure, which has been unoccupied since last December, until all of these issues were handled. 

Not surprisingly, there are only three photographs of the property, one of the front door, another of the driveway coming up the hill toward the house, and the last of the view.  Usually with homes of this price range there are many photos showing the exterior and interior to entice "discriminating" buyers to an unusual property.  The problem here is that this residence is a little too unusual.

So, it will be interesting to know whether the property will be sold before these repairs are completed and, if not, whether a buyer would be prepared to assume the responsibility to do so before occupancy can be certified, which presumably would have to be done under the auspices of the court.

Finally, the listing noted that the prospective buyer "can enjoy your privacy."  Well, that's true to an extent, given that the neighbors will be observing very carefully when someone does eventually inhabit the ex-maternity hotel!

25 March 2013

Towers of Terror: Twists, Tweaks and Turns

The current Hope for the Hills banner at the summit of the S-curve on Carbon Canyon Road in Chino Hills.  The quote is from a stump speech in late October 1964 on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater by Ronald Reagan, soon after elected California governor and, of course, president later.  The quotation concerned the threat of communism and the new war in Vietnam, but how applicable is it now to the TRTP's "towers of terror"?
UPDATE, 29 MARCH 2013Tomorrow's edition of The Champion has an article reporting that the California Public Utilities Commission has requests, within a few days, greater detail from the City of Chino Hills regarding their $76 million contribution towards rerouting the power lines underground.  CPUC administrative judge Jane Vieth asked for a chart denoting the present value of the various elements of the proposal, noting that this would not take much effort beyond what has already been expended.

Meantime, the editorial section of the paper has taken the city to task for putting this proposal out there without having a public meeting at a city council meeting, per the state's Brown Act requirements, or a council vote.  The editorial made sure to express that the question wasn't about the wisdom of the decision to offer the contribution, but the means by which it was done.  Council members and City Manager Fleager argue that the closed-door sessions that generated the proposal were sufficient and that a vote was not necessary.

Related news is that a wind energy association was reported as urging, in a 25 March letter, that the CPUC allow Edison to charge ratepayers for delays caused by the fight over the Chino Hills segment of the TRTP project, noting that wind energy firms affected by the delays have to account for federal tax incentives for projects started in 2013.  The stoppage of segment 8 work affects the ability of these providers to meet the criteria for the incentives, but through no fault of their own, as the argument goes.

Then, a group called The Utility Reform Network (TURN) has asked the CPUC to allow it to be an official party to the proceedings involving the segment 8 dispute.  Its concern is that SCE could raise rates to customers by as much as 36% to cover the costs of redirecting the lines through Chino Hills underground and wants to be able to officially record its views on the matter.  Judge Vieth granted that request.

Also, within a day or two of the above photo being taken and posted, a new banner, considerably less notable and noticeable, appeared on the spot, merely asking for people to support the removal of the massive 198' towers that are the subject of Hope for the Hills' impressive grassroots efforts.

ORIGINAL POST:  This past Saturday's edition of The Champion had an interesting update on the controversy involving the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) and its colossal Segment 8 power poles that were halted mid-construction in much of Chino Hills.

Namely, the City of Chino Hills has announced that it is willing to contribute over $70 million in financial arrangements to have the power lines relocated underground instead of strung along the eighteen massive towers looming (or threatening to so loom) almost 200 feet high along a 3 and 1/2 mile corridor.

After an order from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which approved the project in 2009 and now is reexamining its own decision, which instructed the city to clearly lay out its commitment to help cover the costs associated with burying the lines, City Manager Michael Fleager gave testimony to that effect.

While in other circumstances, Southern California Edison (SCE) would pay for construction costs and then recover them through rate increases, the CPUC order led to Fleager to assert that the city was against having Edison force city ratepayers to directly absorb the costs to relocate the line underground.

In the proposed package, the city would convey land, including any potential revenue in that property, the expense to the city for the loss of the parcels, and the maintenance of the landscape and other aspects in the expanded right-of-way, which includes portions that are city-owned and which would host two proposed transition stations Edison states are required for the buried lines. 

Among the items in the revenue stream lost by the city and picked up by the utility are telecommunications licensing fees on the infrastructure owned by Edison; landscape costs for a 20-foot strip on three miles of the right-of-way on top of the underground cable network to mitigate the emission of electro-magnetic field elements; an estimated $200,000 a year of maintenance costs for this landscape; and abating weeds and the mowing of areas on the right-of-way that are not improved at an estimated cost of over $7,000 per year.  According to city officials, over four decades, these landscape elements would incur costs of over $30,000,000, which would constitute about 45% of the larger $70,000,000 figure given by Fleager.

Council member Ed Graham was quoted as saying that the city would not allow Edison to charge residents of the city for the construction costs directly, "so instead we had to show a long-term commitment on how much the city was willing to invest into the Tehachapi project."  Just how Edison will respond to the package and its 40-year projection, much less the CPUC, which is slated to make a final decision on whether to order the lines relocated underground or to allow Edison to proceed with the towers, will be interesting to observe.

23 March 2013

Chino Hills State Park To Be Open Every Day From 1 April

No kidding.  As reported in today's edition of The Champion, Chino Hills State Park will be open every day, starting on Monday, 1 April.  The park had been open Friday through Monday since fall 2011, but the savings from the closure allowed new rangers to be hired quicker than was anticipated before the conclusion of the fiscal year, so the new schedule came earlier.

However, park superintendent Kelly Elliot cautioned that the every day schedule is dependent on what happens with the 2013-14 budget year, which begins on the first of July. 

Park hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. from April through September and then will go into winter hours from October to March from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Again, if budget conditions dictate, the schedule of days could change from every day to fewer days.

The paper also related that work on the Chino Hills entrance road, which is being paved from Sapphire Drive to the the campgroun facilities has been delayed because of a contractor change.  The $8 million project, funded by grants, had been slated to be finished within a year, but it appears the work will not be completed by August as planned.  Meantime, the Brea entrance off Carbon Canyon Road is the accessibility point for vehicles and the Yorba Linda entrance is also open.

At that location's Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center, the article concluded, there will be a presentation by Grace Clark, a volunteer naturalist, discussing mountain lions on Saturday, 6 April at 1:00 p.m.  Information on that event can be found by calling (951) 780-6222.

19 March 2013

Industry Utility Project in Tonner Canyon?

As reported in Sunday's San Gabriel Valley Tribune (click here for the article,) the City of Industry City Council approved a six-month contract with a La Jolla-based energy developer, who will explore possibilities for a public energy project on Industry-owned land in lower Tonner Canyon in an unincoroporated area of Orange County.

Bill Barkett of Industry Water and Power will focus on a 525-acre section purchased by Industry about a decade ago and, at which time, indicated that the property was bought for open space.  The city's decision to look into to potential development sparked comments from Hills for Everyone executive director Claire Schlotterbeck, who noted that the council vote "certainly blows away their position" on the open space question and from Brea Community Development Director Eric Nicoll, who remrked that "they misrepresented themselves in court" when the parcel was acquired and that the city would be keeping a close eye on future developments..

The Tribune went to some lengths to point out that Barkett and his wife, Lisa, "are major contributors to the state's Democratic candidates," by giving nearly $60,000 in the 2009-10 election season and then averred that this constituted "deep political connections to the state's Democratic party."  Yet, reporter Ben Baeder's piece did not offer any tangible reasons why the Industry deal had any relationship to the Barketts' donation preferences.

In any case, concerns about the future of Tonner Canyon, now almost entirely owned by Industry, which controls 5,700 acres, have existed for years, so this new arrangement will be interesting to follow.

15 March 2013

Carbon Canyon Road and Truck Traffic

A letter to the editor in tomorrow's edition of the Champion raises the issue of the greatly-increased use of Carbon Canyon Road for truck traffic, particular dirt haulers, which ply the route between Orange and San Bernardino counties dozens and dozens of times per day.  He states that has been going on since mid-January.

However, this blogger has seen and heard the increasing tide of truck usage for maybe the last year or two and, frankly, this is a mixed bag.  Letter writer Erik Simonsen makes valid statements about the damage to the roadway, which was clearly not built to handle the daily usage by trucks (or, for that matter, the sheer volume of general use it receives), as well as the growing pollution levels brought by these diesel vehicles.

And, he has a legitimate concern about the blending of these haulers with school buses and cars, not to mention motorcycles and bicycles, all using a two-lane road that, as he reminds, has many sharp curves, as well as blind spots. 

As to Simonsen's statement that the trucks exceed the weight and size limit warning signs on the border of the two counties, that may or may not be the case.

What is problematic, as he tries to get answers from the cities of Brea and Chino Hills, as well as CalTrans, is that Carbon Canyon Road is a state highway.  As such, it is probably impossible to expect that there would be any way to prevent certain vehicles from using the road.  Having said this, however, I've seen 18-wheelers not able to make the abrupt turns on the S-curve on the Chino Hills portion and actually force traffic in opposing lanes, including school buses that have nearly collided with said trucks, to stop or veer into the shoulder to get around these behemoths.

When it comes to the dirt haulers, though, even if some of them go fairly fast through the Canyon, there haven't been any reports of accidents or problems.  These drivers are usually used to navigating many different road environments and appear to be generally very safe navigators as they make their way through.

Finally, with it being very likely that at least 120 new houses on approved tracts within the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon could be built someday, an application for 200 more on that side evidently coming to the city soon, and the Madrona Plan (formerly Canyon Crest), involving over 160 houses, moving towards a city council ruling on an earlier appeal—it doesn't take too much theorizing to determine how an increasingly-impacted Carbon Canyon Road could look, sound, smell, and hear like in about five to ten years.

By that time, this blog will probably be shuttered and its proprietor fled.  Well, we'll see.

10 March 2013

Another 1914 Map Showing the Olinda Oil Field

Here is the second map from the Map Folio that accompanied "Petroleum Industry in California, Bulletin 69 from the California State Mining Bureau, which was published in 1914.  As noted in the previous post showing a geological map from the Folio, the report was an attempt by the state to provide the latest information on the development of the oil industry, which was on the cusp of a huge boom that ensued in the late 1910s and the 1920s.

The map in question spans a wide area well beyond the Olinda oil field, but details here focus on the first of Orange County's fields.  The first detail above shows the short-lived 1880s boomtown of Carlton, laid out on the property of the Olinda Land Company, founded by William H. Bailey.

Though Carlton passed qiuckly into oblivion, what came within a decade was Edward Doheny's first oil well at Olinda in 1897, which turned the area into a major oil field, following Doheny's Los Angeles field (in partnership with Charles Canfield) from five years prior.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, through a subsidiary rail line that was built through Santa Ana Canyon and along Orangethorpe Avenue through the Yorba Linda and Placential areas, had a substantial interest in Olinda.  In fact, the above detail shows a spur line built by the rail powerhouse from its mainline to the field, where two separate termini branched off to service the field.  That spur went up what is now Carbon Canyon Dam and the Carbon Canyon Regional Park.  Not surprisingly, when the Olinda Ranch subdivision opened in recent years, the main road leading into the tract across from the park was called Santa Fe Avenue.

Another interesting detail is the Pacific Electric Railway line, an electric interurban transit line which ran down to Yorba Linda from Los Angeles.  Part of the multiuse paved trail that runs from Rose Drive near Bastanchury Lane down through part of Yorba Linda is on the right-of-way of that line.

With respect to the Olinda field, the detail above shows the many dozens of wells in operation as of 1914 as well as those companies that owned or leased property there.  Each numbered dot is a well site, though it cannot be told from the map whether these wells were successful, dry, or still in construction.

In any case, the major players at the time included the Olinda Land Company, General Petroleum Company, Fullerton Oil Company, Columbia Oil Production Company, and West Coast Oil Company.  As can be readily discerned, the lion's share of the wells followed a geological slip strike running from northwest to southeast, mainly from what is above Carbon Canyon Road today in the Olinda Ranch tract and to the west down through the area to the lower right of the image.  There were, however, other wells to the south, some of which are still in operation today, while the vast majority of wells that existed throughout the field are gone and more are disappearing year-to-year.

In the periphery north and east, especially, were a few other firms trying to find adjacent successful wells.  Companies in these tangential areas included the California Crude Oil Company, the Midway View Oil Company, the Continent Oil Company, and the Soquel Canyon Oil Company.  The first two were north of the geologic belt noted above while the latter two were east toward what is now Olinda Village.  None, however, had much success in these outlying sections.

The last detail does show the property of Edward Gaines, who was a longtime cattle rancher east of the field in what became, in the imd-1960s, the Olinda Village subdivision.  Clearly, the areas just east of what is now Carbon Canyon Regional Park did not yield much activity, even though the geologic "hotspot" of what became the La Vida Mineral Springs did generate some interest for oil potential before it was realized that the hot mineral water there could be a commercial venture.  La Vida would basically be located in section 11 of the above map.

There are many other posts on this blog dealing with elements of the history of the Olinda oil field, including specific companies drilling for crude, owners of property in and around the field, and the origins of the name "Olinda."  This map adds another dimension to the developing history of a field that made important contributions to the petroleum industry in Orange County and the Los Angeles metropolitan region broadly.  Almost a century after this map was issued, however, the visible attributes of the field, including the few working wells, are gradually and inexorably fading into history.

The map images come from an original in the collection of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in the City of Industry.

07 March 2013

Carbon Canyon Candidate Convincingly/Clearly Clinches City Council Contest

The all-mail-in election this week for the Chino Hills City Council seat vacated last fall by Bill Kruger was contested by four candidates with Carbon Canyon resident Ray Marquez emerging the clear winner.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported (see here and here) that Marquez won a convincing 45% of the vote, besting Rossana Mitchell, a former school board member and, briefly, council member whose tenures some years ago were, well, complicated, and who has been the face of the Not in Chino Hills organization which fought the Chinese "maternity hotel" that was recently shuttered in town; Debra Hernandez, a city public works commissioner; and Jesse Singh, an attorney whose family owns the Circle K market in Carbon Canyon and who, incidentally, did not register to vote until just before the fall 2012 elections and immediately ran for council.

Marquez, a retired firefighter and a realtor, has been a mainstay with the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council for several years and has been a board member of the Chino Valley Independent Fire District, as well as holding posts with other area organizations and agencies.  He was previously on the city's planning and parks and recreation commissions and will likely be sworn in at next Tuesday's city council meeting.

While, obviously, Chino Hills council members serve at-large for the entire city, there are now two members who reside in Carbon Canyon, the other being Peter Rogers.  Marquez has been particularly active with issues and activities in the Canyon, so it might portend well for this part of town to have him on the council.

06 March 2013

Carbon [Canyon] Creek Cleanup Grant Issued!

The Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council, a group of residents from the Brea and Chino Hills sides of the canyon along with fire district personnel from the local and state levels and other interested parties, has done important, meaningful and significant work in bringing issues of awareness and preventive measures dealing with the wildfires, which (as shown in recent posts here on fire history) have occasionally ravaged the canyon.  These include the annual Wildfire Awareness Fair, the twice yearly brush dropoff and disposal program, signage in the canyon to remind residents to remove brush from their properties, and more.

To carry out this work, however, requires assistance from the cities, counties and other agencies, as well as corporate involvement.  To that end, a project has been initiated to remove brush and plant material from the Chino Hills portion of Carbon [Canyon] Creek in Sleepy Hollow to help minimize the risk of fire, following on the heels of the still-continuing, but so far successful, effort to rid the Brea portion of the creek of the dreaded arundo donax.

At tonight's regular monthly meeting of the council, Olinda Village resident and State Farm Insurance agent Luz Thompson presented fire agency representatives and council members with a check for over $7,000 to help with this important work.  It was also announced that the office of San Bernardino County supervisor Gary Ovitt may be able to commit further funding (earlier allotments having been made for other council projects) to the creek cleanup work.

Crews from the Santa Ana Watershed Authority, which has supervised the arundo removal in Brea, have been examining an area of the creek in which there is a stand of several palm trees, which are highly flammable, that need to be killed and removed.  For the last few days, SAWA personnel have been out surveying these trees, looking especially for any nesting or other activity in them by owls or bats. 

The stand of highly flammable palm trees along Carbon [Canyon] Creek roughly halfway between the Sleepy Hollow Community Center and the closed Canyon Market.
Once the trees have been determined to be clear of use by these animals, then the injection of an herbicide will be conducted.  Over a few months, the poison will work to kill off the fronds of these quite old and tall trees.  After the fronds fall, they will be gathered and carted off for disposal.  Then, the trunks can be cut down.

It is also intended to remove brush, plant and tree material and other debris that can not only catch fire in a blaze, but also force the creek's water to flow toward Carbon Canyon Road, serving to erode the areas adjacent to and adjoining the highway, threatening its stability (this, in fact, is what happened in the winter of 2004-05 when heavy rains caused a creek rise that, abetted by abundant debris, caused a collapse of the roadway.)

As Thompson presented the check to the council and fire representatives, she made sure to thank Olinda Village resident and council stalwart Eric Johnson for his extraordinary efforts in doing the leg work to get the grant proposal together.  This is another shining example of how community efforts can go a long way toward dealing with problems that exist in the canyon and the council is to be commended for its proactive approach to working with these issues.

For those who live in either the Brea or Chino Hills sides of the canyon, are concerned about fire prevention, and want to be informed about or involved with the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council, meetings are the first Wednesday of the month at the Sleepy Hollow Community Center.

05 March 2013

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #11111

Here's another new example at an old site.  This is at the entrance to the La Vida Mineral Springs hotel on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon.

A vehicle going westbound likely took the turn just east of this too quickly and skidded across the eastbound lane and into the bottom of the hillside.

The flattened reflector to the left of the skid marks is from an earlier incident.  Just to the right of the white line in the foreground is where several cars have gone off the road and either into Carbon Creek or damaged/destroyed parts of the guardrail there. 

Accumulated examples noted on this blog over the past five years indicate this to be most prone spot to errant driving on the highway, along with the S-curve turn noted in the last two "On the Skids" entries.

04 March 2013

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #11023

Well, why not?  The most recent installment of the "On the Skids" series, a little more than a week back on 26 February, showed another instance of an eastbound driver taking the middle level of the S-curve on the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon too fast and obliterating an arrow sign there, it is hardly surprising that the other sign of that type (visible at the far left of the photo taken at that time and reproduced below) would follow.

Now you see it . . . the little arrow sign at the left was there on 25 February.
And, so it has.  Over the weekend, the second sign, on a steel support, was pummeled and left battered on the shoulder, only to be, along with its wooden legged cousin, removed today, presumably for refashioning.

Then, these two signs will be put back, only at some point in the not-too-distant future, if recent history is any guide, to be unceremoniously be the targets of further indiscretions by errant drivers.

Now you don't . . . gone as of 4 March.  A rear view mirror is one of several pieces of debris to mark the occasion.
Not that these signs are really needed, are they?  There is the much larger diamond-shaped one that clearly and amply warns of the curve and recommends an unrealistic 15 mph to boot—and this sign, too, has been dislodged and dismembered on a number of occasions over recent years.  Plus, there are the double yellow center line with reflectors and the white shoulder lines. 

But for speeders or those chemically impaired (or both), these devices are truly irrelevant.  The only way to mitigate the behavior is actual human enforcement, but this simply doesn't happen.  So, CalTrans does what it can to repair and replace and we taxpayers continue to pony up the funds for the ongoing cycle of damage and destruction. 

It really is amazing that more injury and worse doesn't happen given the frequency of off-the-highway maneuverings that take place every day and night on Carbon Canyon Road--this is probably why playing the percentages is how officialdom chooses to (not) deal with the dangerous driving.