29 June 2013

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #35: La Vida Mineral Springs Cafe, early 1960s

Here is another Amescolor Publishers chrome postcard of the La Vida Mineral Springs resort in the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon, dating from probably the early 1960s, judging from some of the really cool cars parked in front of the business.

Car buffs can feel free to leave a comment to help date the vehicles, but the powder blue auto on the far right looks like it's from the late 50s, while some of the others appear to be from a few years later.

The restaurant was little changed from its appearance in some of the other postcards that have appeared here, notably views of the café from the 1940s.  The large false front with the business name on it, for example, dates from the earlier periods.  The wrap-around porch looks to have been remodeled, if not added.  Note, too, the large chimney at the eastern end of the building.

The stand of eucalyptus trees at the left go back to the 1920s era and they are visible in real photo cards that have been shown here.  A couple of these trees are still there, having survived the ravages of time, including the devastating fall 2008 fire, so these pinpoint the location, as does the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, portions of which still survive, though heavily damaged.  Finally, the exposed rocky hillside behind the building, which was separated from the hills by Carbon [Canyon] Creek, is still much like that.

To the left, behind the trees, were the older portions of the resort, where 1920s and 1930s images showed small cabins and bathing facilities (and there were picnic tables under the trees, as well.)  Today, the lone physical reminder of the resort, the water tank that still has the La Vida name on it, is off in that direction, at the far western end of the property.

To the right, out of the camera's view, the sidewalk leading eastward from the café, took visitors over a footbridge to the two-story hotel.  The last three entries in this series, showing circa 1940s views, provide good examples of how this section looked.  That hotel lasted until a fire destroyed it in the 1990s.

Meantime, the café and its successor business, the La Vida Roadhouse, continued on until about twelve years ago, when the Roadhouse was finally razed.  This great retro card shows the resort when it was still a successful concern and looking at the rundown condition of the site now, it's hard to believe that anything looking like what we see in this image was actually there.

Click on the image to see it in a larger view in a new window.

22 June 2013

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #12946

Heading into Chino Hills about an hour and a half ago, it was found that a silver car had gone off Carbon Canyon Road on one of the lower sections of the S-curve just east of the upper entrance to the Summit Ranch development.

The vehicle was heading westbound and took out a pole and then lodged deep into a thick stand of trees and bushes.  A Chino Hills Police Department vehicle was parked, crime scene tape was stretched out over about a sixty-foot or so length of the curve and two officers were taking measurements at the Summit Ranch entrance at Azurite Drive.

The presence of crime scene tape and the work the officers were doing leads to the conclusion that the accident involved serious injury or worse.  Just a few moments ago, the car was still in place and the patrol car standing by.

Perhaps some news of this will come to light over the next couple of days.

19 June 2013

Ominous Fire Season Forecast

Two of Carbon Canyon's most active stewards have routed the following link to a report that predicts that this year's fire season could be the worst on record.  Already, there have been several major blazes in southern California, including a very large fire in Ventura County near Camarillo and another major conflagration near Elizabeth Lake in northern Los Angeles County.

Needless to say, local fire authorities, other officials and many residents have tried to do their best to prepare fire-prone areas.  The small amount of rainfall during the winter, only some five inches, which is among the lowest since official tallies were started in 1877, and the fact that a small burst of rain in late January actually exacerbated the problems because of the timing of new growth and extreme dryness that followed, are telling for this year.

Those of us who live in Carbon Canyon, as well as those who travel through it, need to be extra careful and mindful of the conditions that will continue to develop over the course of the summer and, especially, the fall when dry conditions and Santa Ana winds tend to be at their worst.

Click here for the link to the report (note the comment by a Carbon Canyon resident).

17 June 2013

Towers of Terror: Takes Two to Tangle

On returning from vacation this weekend, news was learned, first via the Champion and then other news outlets, about the "Towers of Terror two-fer Tuesday."

That is, 11 June wasn't just the day when the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Administrative Law Judge June Vieth was to issue her finding, albeit it non-binding, about whether the massive 198-foot tall transmission towers for the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) should be continued as started or redirected underground.

There was another event in store:  this being a declaration by CPUC's president Michael Peevey, a former Edison exec no less, about the issue.  This was not something discussed in the local press in its coverage of the pending decision by Judge Vieth, perhaps because it was not known that Peevey would weigh in on the same day.

In any event, Vieth has determined that, while rerouting the lines underground was feasible, it was not warranted and that the towers should be completed in their current configuration.

Peevey, however, took another tack and determined that the towers should be brought down and the lines redirected in the underground configuration fought for by the grassroots community organization, Hope for the Hills, and the City of Chino Hills for several years now.

This dichotomy means that Hope for the Hills has hope still alive and well and the City can continue to fight on another day.

While that day has long been assumed to be the CPUC's 11 July meeting in San Francisco, it turns out that the matter could be pushed back to the following confab on the 25th or perhaps beyond. 

This isn't the first time, as Hope for the Hills president Bob Goodwin has pointed out, that the CPUC's judge and commissioners disagreed about a given issue.  The question, of course, is whether the full commission will side with Judge Vieth's view or adopt Peevey's perspective.

With that, it will be at least three plus weeks and maybe six weeks or so before a final verdict is handed down.  With the polarized positions of Vieth and Peevey, it will be very interesting to see what the deciding ruling will be and why it was made.

For coverage of Tuesday's events, click here for Canan Tasci's coverage in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin as well as here for Molly Peterson's "Pacific Swell" blog on the Web page of KPCC radio.

08 June 2013

Towers of Terror: Tottering Towards the Terminus

On Tuesday, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) administrative judge Jean Vieth will issue her decree on whether Southern California Edison's construction of massive 200-foot tall towers for the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) will be allowed to proceed through Chino Hills or if they will be forced to remove them and build an underground system for the project's lines.

In today's Champion edition, reporter Marianne Napoles wrote that Bob Goodwin, the president of Hope for the Hills, the grassroots organization that has mounted an impressive campaign to fight the construction of the towers, "said he does not expect a decision in favor of burying the lines."  This appears to be the first tacit admission by Goodwin and his organization that Vieth's pending ruling may not go their way.

At the same time, however, Goodwin cautions that there is still hope for Hope for the Hills and opponents of the towers, in that the CPUC will hold public hearings on the matter in San Francisco on 11 July (a Hope for the Hills banner near the Chino Hills Community Park calls for interested parties to join a bus trip the organization is planning for attendance at the hearings.)  Goodwin noted at least one other instance of where Judge Vieth's ruling was overturned by the CPUC at a subsequent hearing and he maintains that it is possible that a reversal could happen with the TRTP Section 8 issue, as well.

There is, however, other news that could very likely have a significant impact on the Section 8 question as well as every other matter relating to electricity supplies in California.  This is Edison's announcement just yesterday (see the Los Angeles Times article here) that it was closing the San Onofre nuclear power plant along the coast near Camp Pendleton.

For those who have been following that matter, the nearly four decade old plant had been shuttered for quite some time after radiation leaked from tubes into the atmosphere, despite the installation of replacement components to the new facility.  Faced with further delays by regulators, Edison decided, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on continued operating costs at the facility and for replacement power to cover what San Onofre used to produce, to shutter the plant.

Because San Onofre, at its peak, generated 9% of all the state's electricity and supplied power to some 1.4 to 1.7 million houses, mainly in San Diego and Orange counties, there is going to be more incentive/pressure to find new sources for energy production in those areas serviced by SCE.  The timely completion of the TRTP would, presumably, be uppermost in the minds of the commissioners of the CPUC as they review the Section 8 matter and any other upcoming projects.

This is especially true because, obviously, the shuttering of San Onofre means that supplies of electricity will be tighter this summer and for the next couple of years in its main service areas.  Among those things proposed to help bolster supply are better efficiency in homes and businesses; more natural gas-fired plants; the use of wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable sources; and, lastly and more relevantly for the Section 8 dustup, "adding new long-distance transmission lines."

With the TRTP well along in construction and the Section 8 controversy being the only hindrance of any significance currently, it can be construed that the CPUC might be more easily disposed to ruling in Edison's favor on the Section 8 case.

For now, we'll see what Judge Vieth determines on Tuesday.

04 June 2013

A Carbon Canyon Grass Fire Yesterday!

No, no, not a brush fire, a grass fire.

As in marijuana.

The blaze at a residence on Old Carbon Canyon Road at the top of the S-curve on the Chino Hills side of Carbon Canyon, which broke out yesterday about 3 p.m. was assumed to be a run-of-the-mill house fire.

Until responding firefighters discovered that the early 1990s 3,700-square foot Cape Cod style house was empty, except for almost 400 pot plants and what the Los Angeles Times earlier today described as a "large amount" of harvested and processed weed.

That's why there were fire department investigators, police officers, and crime scene tape at the scene, which further delayed an already slow late afternoon commute for those heading eastbound on Carbon Canyon Road, as a fire truck and other vehicles were parked right off Carbon Canyon Road.

Hopefully, passersby didn't feel light-headed and extra hungry after moving through the area.

The house, which used to have beautifully maintained landscaping and an attractive interior, sold in July 2012 and a couple of things stand out now, of course in hindsight. 

One was that the emergency gate off Carbon Canyon Road at the west end of Old Carbon Canyon Road and next to the property was open ever since last summer, after being closed almost all the time for years before.

The other is that the landscaping stated looking deteriorated, dry and full of weeds (well, the actual weeds.)

Even though the structure is just above the bustling state highway, oleander bushes and other landscaping shielded it largely from the roadway, while the seclusion of the main entrance from Old Carbon Canyon Road, which can only be found after navigating through the adjacent Carriage Hills subdivision, obviously made it attractive to whoever decided to establish their "grow house" there.

It appears no one was at the house when the fire, suspected to have started because of equipment in one of the rooms used to grow the illicit product, erupted and it will be interesting to see if anything comes out publicly as a result of investigations.  The damage appears to have mainly occurred on the eastern side of the residence, where blown-out windows are visible.

For the short Times article, click here.

The Los Angeles CBS affiliate has a piece as well here.

To see what this once-gorgeous property looked like just a year ago, click here for the Zillow page on it.