30 September 2013

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #38: La Vida Mineral Springs Pools, 1960s

This is a similar view of the large heated mineral water pool, with a flowing fountain at the center, and a smaller pool in the background at La Vida Mineral Springs, taken sometime in the 1960s, to one that was previously posted here.

The location is a graded and elevated piece of the resort above where the historic bath house, hotel and restaurant had been.  Newspaper references in the late 1950s mention a new pool constructed and this quite likely was it or at least to one of these.

Note the varied color umbrellas, the bright yellow lawn chairs, the wide cement walks around the pool and the lawns at the edge of the site.  Also of interest are the chaparral-covered hills to the south and east across Carbon Canyon Road.  A few small structures, one certainly containing pumps, filters and related equipment, are also partially in view.

On the reverse of the postally-unused card, printed by Amescolor Publishers of Escondido, is the brief caption, "Hot mineral water pools at / LA VIDA MINERAL SPRINGS / CARBON CANYON / BREA, CALIFORNIA."

As has been mentioned here many times with respect to views of La Vida from the 1920s onward, it is really hard to look at the ravaged landscape there today and imagine anything like this having existed there in the not-too-distant past.  It only goes to show how quickly decay sets in when properties are abandoned or razed and left, more or less, to the elements.

There was a time, though, when the La Vida Mineral Springs resort was, for several decades, a thriving operation catering to clientele interested in an experience redolent of the great European mineral bath resorts.  Today, the property is strewn with weeds, partially enclosed by a decaying chain-link fence, and containing fragments of some of the hardscape (like sidewalk and bridge support remnants), some of the few remaining trees, and a water tank that still bears the resort's logo.  Long owned by a Japanese businessman, who once talked of reestablishing a mineral springs resort there, the La Vida property appears to have no immediately-viable future, which is a shame given that there is so much history there.

26 September 2013

Carbon Canyon Brush Drop Off This Saturday

The Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council will be holding its biannual brush clearance drop off day this Saturday, the 28th from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Canon Lane, just north of Fire Station 64.

Representatives of the Council will be assisting residents of the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon in offloading brush from their vehicles into a roll-off bin provided by Chino Hills Disposal by arrangement with the City of Chino Hills, which is covering the costs of the program.

Chino Hills residents of the canyon can bring down their cut brush at any time between the hours listed and multiple drop-offs are welcome.

With another subpar winter rainy season in 2012-13 and upcoming fall Santa Ana winds and dry conditions, as well as the reality that fire season is now year-round, it is important for property owners to make comprehensive brush clearance a priority to reduce fire risk.

The brush drop-off program is another important project of the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council and its partners in Chino Hills Disposal and the City of Chino Hills.  For any questions about the program, please call the Chino Valley Fire District at (909) 902-5280, extension 409 or e-mail jpowderly@chofire.org.

22 September 2013

Even More Carbon Canyon History from The Champion

The third installment of Carbon Canyon history in the "Rolltop Roundup" column from Allen McCombs, publisher emeritus of The Champion has two aspects of the canyon's past that have been featured on this blog before.  One, however, has far greater detail in McCombs' column, this being the founding of Western Hills Country Club and the story of its founder, Shelly [Shelley] Martin Stoody, who made his money in manufacturing materials out of metal alloys, but was also a patent holder for items dealing with cattle and other animals.

McCombs related that Stoody created his "Double S" (Shelley Stoody, presumably) in the early 1950s to breed Hereford cattle and made it a success in short order.  Stoody, it was noted, looked down upon his domain "from his house atop the summit," which might well mean the house which sits surrounded by a few dozen palm trees that is on the hill directly east of Western Hills.

The "Double S" had a show ring, but also an air strip for his private plane.  Unfortunately for Stoody and his passengers, an attempt to land the plane on the ranch in late June 1961 was altered by a gust of wind and the Beechcraft plowed into the hillside a short distance from the strip, which was below his home.  Stoody and two passengers died instantly and the third passenger died later in the hospital.

After Stoody's death, the ranch was sold to a syndicate of physicians from Orange County, who paid $600,000 for the property and, in 1966, opened Western Hills.

A little research about Stoody yielded some interesting information about him.  He was born 20 March 1899 in Union, Ohio, just northwest of Dayton, and his father Charles was a carpenter and then a machinist and blacksmith who specialized in repair work.   By the time young Shelley registered for the draft in 1918 during the First World War, the Stoodys had relocated to Huntington, West Virginia, near the borders with Ohio and Kentucky, and Shelley and his older brother Winston worked as machinists for their father.

In 1921, Shelley Stoody, recently relocated to Whittier, opened up a welding company called Stoody-Rice, but soon took in as partners his father and brother and renamed the firm the Stoody Welding Company.   By 1926, the company was simply known as the Stoody Company, but Winston had become president, Charles served as vice-president and Shelley was the secretary and treasurer.  The elder Stoody soon retired but his sons continued to run the business with Shelley assuming the role of vice-president when his father stepped down. 

Initially, the business was built to supply farm and tractor repair services, but the developing oil boom in Whittier and surrounding areas led to a quick refocusing of the repair of drill bits for oil prospecting.  The firm operated for decades on Slauson Avenue near Sorensen in the southwest part of town and Shelley lived in comfortable homes in northwest Whittier and then on a hillside behind Whittier College.  By 1940, however, he had a $75,000 residence in the hills of what was then called North Whittier Heights, later Hacienda Heights.  After World War II, he relocated to a Palos Verdes Estates hilltop home, built in 1931, of almost 8,000 square feet on an acre lot.

In 1948, Stoody achieved some notoriety for buying a $25,000 helicopter for his commute from the peninsula to Whittier (cutting his travel time down from 1 1/2 hours by car to only 20 minutes by copter.)  He was, in fact, a longtime pilot, having been an early aviator in Whittier, where he began his flying career in 1926, and he had a private plane at the airport in Torrance when he moved to the PV Estates.  A Los Angeles Times article reported that he planned to build a helipad and hangar at his residence as well as at his business.

The increased wealth that allowed Stoody to live in Palos Verdes came from a patented process for more durable drill bits called "hardfacing," essentially creating an overlay coating of abrasion-resistant alloys welded onto the bits.  Two products, "Stoodite," which was the first cast hardfacing rods and "Borium" the first use of tungsten carbide (the Stoody Company had a tungsten mine in the Mojave Desert from the late 1920s) for hardfacing, were innovations by the firm, which also was a pioneer the "submerged arc welding" process, in which the molten weld and arc zone have a compound of manganese oxide, silica, lime, calcium fluoride and other materials to protect the product from contamination.  The financial windfall from his business allowed the entrepreneur to buy the 426-acre spread in Carbon Canyon that he called the "Double S" and Stoody also owned a cattle ranch in Nevada.

A Times article from 27 June 1961 provided further details of the crash, including the sad fact that his wife witnessed the tragedy from a window in their hillside ranch house.  Evidently, the plane circled the private landing strip several times, came in for a landing and then Stoody abruptly tried to pull the plane up before nosing into the hillside.  In addition to Stoody, who was then 61, the other passengers were Tom Leroy Brown, a 31-year old ranch employee who left behind seven children; 21-year old Arkansas cattle rancher John Starr; and 56-year old Melvin Kibbler of Norwalk, who died of his injuries several days after the accident.   Stoody left behind his wife, daughter and son and it is assumed that they sold the ranch to the developers of Western Hills.

As to the Stoody Company, it continued on with Stoody's brother Winston dying in 1967 and the firm relocating to the City of Industry in the mid-1970s.  There were three purchases of the company in the late 1970s through late 1980s, the last by Thermadyne, which moved the subsidiary to Bowling Green, Kentucky, a little more than 20 years ago and where it still operates (naturally, Thermadyne was acquired in 2010 by a private equity firm.)  Notably, in 2005, Stoody and the federal Environmental Protection Agency came to a $413,000 settlement over releases on degreasing solvents from its City of Industry plant, which was in a very large Superfund site within the city and surrounding areas.

The other anecdote shared in the column was one that was given extensive coverage here back in 2008, this being the strange story of the February 1958 manhunt and capture of Lester Dean Bonds, who killed an Ontario police detective at an isolated cabin in Soquel Canyon, near, McCombs wrote, the Aeroject munitions testing facility where the Vellano gated housing community and country club are now.  The detective was looking to search the cabin on the belief that stolen goods were concealed there.  Bonds, a Mississippi-born drifter who had been released from Patton State Hospital, a mental health facility still in San Bernardino, had broken into the cabin because he was homeless.  When the detective, named Grower, knocked on the door, Bonds grabbed a gun left behind and fired upon opening the door, killing the officer.  He then escaped heading north into Carbon Canyon, where the gun belt was found.

The version given by McCombs is not much different from that related on this blog, though the family that was startled to find Bonds lying on their sofa in his skivvies and smoking cigarettes he casually took from the house were spending their first night after having moved to Sleepy Hollow from Fresno.

As noted before, the head of the household Bill Squires calmly confronted the wanted killer, served him some coffee and offered to get him a beer from a local store, this being the old tavern and store where there are some apartments today at the eastern end of Sleepy Hollow on the south side of Carbon Canyon Road (this establishment had been opened by David Tidwell back in the 1920s.)  Once Squires got to the store, he had the owner call the police, returned home with the beer, threw Bonds' gun outside and, with his wife, engaged the murderer in conversation until authorities arrived.

Bonds was arrested without incident, was determined to be insane upon examination and was sent back to the Patton facility instead of standing trial.

Presumably, McCombs has more to tell of Carbon Canyon's history when the next issue of the paper comes out on Saturday.

20 September 2013

Carbon Canyon Road Fatal Accident Roadside Memorial

A few days after a young man died in a car crash on Carbon Canyon Road in front of the old La Vida Mineral Springs property in Brea, a roadside memorial has been created.

The accident led to the death of Abel Preciado, a resident of Chino who was a few weeks shy of his 21st birthday and whose family and friends left farewell comments on a poster board taped to a power pole a short distance east of the accident site and who also spelled out his name on rocks on the ground nearby.

There have been several such memorials along the state highway in recent years, including one for a young man on the eastern end of the roadway, another for a motorcyclist killed in a crash at Old Carbon Canyon Road, and a third for the bicyclist who was hit on Carbon Canyon Road just east of Fairway Drive.

Each time one of these is placed it serves as a reminder that, regardless of the circumstances of the passing, there are those friends and family members who are left to grieve an untimely end of someone they cared about.

Usually, these memorials stay in place for several weeks or months and are tended to, but inevitably this changes and they either are removed or left to gradually waste away. 

Anyone who takes the time to stop and look at these heartfelt remembrances can easily understand the loss felt by those who put them up.

Unfortunately, almost all of these tragedies were preventable.  Split second bad decisions generally account for them.

17 September 2013

More Carbon Canyon History From The Champion: The Chino Hills Airport Plan

Allen McCombs, publisher emeritus of The Champion, offered up two more tidbits of Carbon Canyon history in last Saturday's edition of his "Rolltop Roundup."  One concerned a 1967 bus accident on the infamous S-curve along Carbon Canyon Road near today's Summit Ranch and Carriage Hills subdivisions.  The other detailed a proposal in the early 1970s for a massive airport within the Telegraph Canyon area of the Chino Hills just south of Carbon Canyon.

McCombs observed that an Orange County developer teamed up with a former Los Angeles International Airport executive and a retired colonel from the Marines to propose taking 25,000 acres, with less than 40% of it earmarked for the airport and support facilities, for the project, which would have leveled Gilman Peak and San Juan Hill, the two highest points in the vicinity, and filling in the canyon. 

He further noted that there were two 12,000-foot runways for commercial and private use in the works and that nearly $400 million was "lined up" for the land and the building of the airport.  There was an idea of extending the Century Freeway (Interstate 105, which was not actually built until the 1990s, and is very likely the last major freeway that will be constructed in the region) to the project site and on to Ontario International Airport.

McCombs also stated that a joint powers authority including Anaheim, Chino, Garden Grove, Stanton and Santa Ana promoted the project along with its developers, while opposition (a predecessor, it was claimed, of Hope for the Hills) included a group called PATCH (Prevent Airport Traffic in Chino Hills) was formed to fight the airport plan.

More detail about this remarkable plan can be added, thanks to articles from the Los Angeles Times between late 1971 and early 1980.  Firstly, the big push for the project came from Anaheim's mayor Jack Dutton, who was able to get enough votes from the city council to align the city with the developer for the joint powers authority.  Anaheim's weight convinced, it appears, Chino and the abovementioned cities to come aboard, though for quite some time it was just the first two municipalities who were the mainstays of the authority.

Among the quirkier aspects of the project?  One proposed name, presumably from the folks in Anaheim, was to name the airport after Walt Disney.  Then again, look at the name change bestowed upon the Orange County Airport.  Another wacky idea was a proposal floated in summer 1973 by Dutton, allegedly raised by a Chamber of Commerce member whose name the mayor supposedly couldn't remember, to take silt from the Prado Dam area along the Santa Ana River and use it as fill for Telegraph Canyon via a five-mile long conveyor belt.

The big question was whether supporters of the airport concept could get Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval, conditionally or otherwise, for the plan and whether the FAA would deem the project worthy of receiving the critical federal funding that would give the airport plan a chance.

Although original plans were actually for FOUR long runways oriented east-west and some 500,000 annual commercial and private flights, which raised considerable hackles on the part of many people, but also every city near the project, EXCEPT Chino, the promoters scaled back the proposal significantly to the two runways at a southeast/northwest configuration and 120,000 flights per year.  Consequently, in June 1972, the FAA actually gave conditional approval to the project, pending, however, the completion of a satisfactory environmental impact report.  A June 1973 report by the state Department of Aeronautics envisioned that there would be over 19 million passengers by 1995 and nearly 22 million by 2000, though it was stated that 60% of those would be for short-haul flights.

Stirred to action, an interesting mix of environmentalist, Republican lawmakers, city officials, and nearby residents sought a number of ways to fight the airport plan.  Yorba Linda, looking to hold off Anaheim's ambitions to potentially annex the airport site and exercise more control over the property began to look into its own annexation plans, which were realized by 1978.  Elected state representatives were able to secure a report in 1973 criticizing the plan for many reasons, including its location on a major active earthquake fault (indeed, moderate size quakes have been rather common in the area in recent years.)  One was able to get, in 1974, passage of a bill to put the airport question on the state election ballot. 

Notably, a movement was galvanized, as early as spring 1972, by the airport project proposal to set aside land in the Chino Hills for some form of preservation, including the important work of Claire Schlotterbeck and the Hills for Everyone organization among others.  Initial discussions involved a staggering 68,000 acres of land, later pared down to 35,0000 acres and then again to about a third of that, as the worsening state economy in the 1970s tempered hopes for a huge land acquisition.  Still, by the early 1980s, the state legislature earmarked almost $13 million for acquisition of land (the state's parks department identified Chino Hills, Tonner Canyon and Aliso Canyon as key local areas for purchase, but decided that the first was the best option) and Chino Hills State Park was soon created.

There were some significant changes to the aims and ambitions of the airport's allies when voters in Anaheim turned out Mayor Dutton and two council members in the 1974 election and the incoming members of that body quickly reversed the city's support of the project.  Though Chino and other cities hung on with the joint powers authority, an FAA ruling, also in 1974, that federal funding would not be applicable to the proposed project was likely the death knell for the idea.  Yet, the specter of reviving the airport concept did linger for a bit longer.

It's easy to look back now, four decades or so later, and snicker at what seems like a ridiculous proposal.  However, there was still that air of unimpeded progress that animated and drove some people's thoughts when it came to urban planning. 

It's worth remembering that there were serious proposals made to build a Route 39 Freeway along Beach Boulevard from Huntington Beach and right through the Puente Hills into the San Gabriel Valley to a terminus just short of the San Gabriel Mountains.  Other considerations for a regional airport included off-site locations at San Clemente or San Pedro, as well as the El Toro Marine Corps facility, a site at Rancho California near Temecula, and others.  Look at how much effort has been (and, likely, will again be) directed towards trying to extend the 241 toll road to San Clemente through state park land from its current terminus in Mission Viejo.

Finally, look at what could still be in store for Carbon Canyon with proposals for hundreds more homes coming to both Brea (an appeal for the Madrona/Canyon Crest development of 165 houses) and Chino Hills (a pending application for some 200 units south of Carbon Canyon Road at Canyon Hills Road.)

Development pressures will be a fact of life for those in and around Carbon Canyon.  What seemed fantastic and, perhaps, absurd four decades ago seems like a relic of a bygone era, but whatever enlightenment has set upon us since is still subject to those pressures.  The spirit of the movements to create Chino Hills State Park, fight the TRTP Towers of Terror, and shut down the Chinese maternity home are going to be needed for other battles to come.

Quaint as the Chino Hills Airport proposal seems today, there's a different level of audacity still at work in a Carbon Canyon that remains vulnerable to unsuitable and unsustainable development.

15 September 2013

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #13023: Fatal Crash in Brea Early This A.M.

Sometime overnight sleep was disturbed by sirens as a police car raced down Carbon Canyon Road heading westbound.

Whether that involved an accident or not, there was one at about 3:00 this morning involving a fatal crash, the first in quite some time, on the westbound side of the highway just in front of the old La Vida Mineral Springs resort.

According to On Scene Video, an online news source (click here to see video of the crash scene), the driver, a Chino Hills resident and college student, was killed and a passenger survived.

A power pole hangs precariously over Carbon Canyon Road after a car clipped it and crashed, killing the driver and leaving a passenger to survive the accident, which occurred early this morning on the Brea side of the Canyon, in front of the old La Vida Mineral Springs resort, a water tank from which is at the far right. 
Presumably, the cause of the crash was excessive speeding on the sharp curves that predominate on that section of the roadway.  Judging from the position of the vehicle, it appears the Chevy Camaro was heading east.

Although there have been few posts lately concerning errant negotiating of Carbon Canyon Road, there have been several long stretches of skid marks observed lately, mainly on the Brea side, as well as a pushed in barrier at the S-curve in Chino Hills to protect the kind of power pole that was toppled in this morning's crash.

An alert came through before 10 a.m. stating that the road was closed to westbound traffic at the Orange/San Bernardino and Brea/Chino Hills line while Southern California Edison worked to replace the downed pole and lines.

Dangerous driving is still very much alive . . . unfortunately, this morning's driver isn't.

11 September 2013

Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council Wildfire Awareness Fair This Saturday

The Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council hosts its annual Wildfire Awareness Fair this Saturday, 14 September from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Western Hills Park, located at the corner of Canon Lane and Carbon Canyon Road in Chino Hills.

The event features vendors and exhibitors selling and demonstrating fire protection products, activities held by such sponsors as Home Depot, a drawing for a variety of prizes offered by local businesses, refreshments and more.

With the drought in our region continuing after a second consecutive low-precipitation winter, dry and combustible plant material, the eruption of major wildfires throughout the American West, and the likelihood of fall Santa Ana conditions looming, as well as a commemoration coming soon for the fifth anniversary of the devastating Freeway Complex Fire, this fair takes on more meaning and resonance than ever.

This is an opportunity for canyon residents and anyone living in or near wildfire-prone areas to learn more about what can be done to provide protection for homes and property.  The Fire Safe Council will be following this event with a brush pickup day held just across Canon Lane from the park in two weeks, on Saturday, 28 September from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., as another key element in its mission to provide for fire awareness and protection advocacy in Carbon Canyon.

07 September 2013

Towers of Terror: Time for Tallying the Toll?

It is now certainly over, but a 10:00 "Chino Hills Towers Town Meeting" was held at Chino Hills City Hall and sponsored by Representative Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) to discuss the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project (TRTP) and the aftermath of the decision of the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) to force Southern California Edison to dismantle the massive 198-foot towers built within Chino Hills as part of that project and direct the transmission lines underground.

Royce, as has been the case before, issued a four-color mailer, at taxpayer expense, which begins with a "Dear Friends" letter, stating, "We did it.  The fight to stop the monster electrical towers that would have had a devastating impact on the community is close to over and it looks like the towers are coming down." 

The expressed intent of the meeting was to "update you on everything involving the tower fight, and discuss what's next as we work to protect the community," based on the fact that "the PUC's order to remove the towers is being appealed."  While Royce opined that "I do not believe the appeal will succeed, we need to remain vigilant to the end of the process."

In a longer statement on the reverse of the card, Royce reprinted his statement welcoming the CPUC's reversal and, in a way he had not done previously, thanking state Assembly member Curt Hagman, Chino Hills mayor Peter Rogers, and the grassroots group Hope for the Hills for their work in fighting the towers.  Photos show Royce on a tour of the towers and in a meeting, the latter of which is captioned that "Rep. Royce met with anti-tower leaders to discuss his strategy before their successful trip to the Public Utilities Commission meeting in San Francisco."

Whatever role Royce may have played in some advisory capacity, whether or not the staged photo really did include "his strategy," which went unexplained in any case, there is still the question of why a federal elected official, including his colleague Rep. Gary Miller, who was soon on his way to moving out of the district Royce was going to win to another one in the Fontana area, became so involved in something that was truly a state matter. 

As noted here previously, the much-touted congressional field hearing, purportedly about the applicability of Federal Housing Administration loan guarantees in the areas adjacent to the tower right-of-way, was essentially a pretense, without actual foundation as testimony at that hearing as well as existing FHA policies cited in previous posts showed, for making the involvement of Reps. Royce and Miller an actual "federal issue."

As a political independent who registered in the 1980s as a "decline to state" voter and who maintains what is hopefully a healthy distrust of posturing and action across the political spectrum, the irony here is that these conservative Republicans often make a point of calling for limited federal intrusion in local affairs--that is, until they don't.  This kind of thing can (and does) certainly happen with Democrats, too!

Regarding Royce's call for vigilance on the appeal of the CPUC reversal, it does not appear that there is any reason to believe that the appeal is anything other than a pure formality and The Champion has reported this week that Southern California Edison is moving quickly on the preliminary work for the three-year project to reroute the TRTP underground.  Reporter Marianne Napoles stated that Edison "is acquiring at total of 85 parcels" that are in the right-of-way held for several decades by the utility giant.  Of these, 42 are residential and another ten are commercial.  The remainder are primarily owned by the City of Chino Hills.

An article generated by The Champion and found online earlier this week highlighted the fact that, of the residential land that will be picked up by Edison, a number involve the taking of substantial portions of rear yards of houses, including some on Yellowstone Circle in a small wedge of Chino that is in the path of the underground portion of the project.  In one instance, a homeowner will have virtually all of their yard taken because the right-of-way extends to within inches of a room addition built by a previous resident.  There are other houses that are affected, if not quite in that dramatic a fashion, by the proceedings. 

In another irony, while the opponents of the above-ground towers talked mainly about potential threats and effects of the behemoths, now that they are coming down, the actual and real consequences of the underground work are starting to reveal themselves (this being the tempered triumph referred to in the last post here.)  There will also be commercial property that will have to be vacated as a result of the change in the project.

The Napoles piece goes into some detail about the nature of the underground work.  The three years of construction will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays (in Chino it will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday), but all subject to change involving extended hours and Sunday work; involve significant boring and trenching; the construction of massive vaults and equipment; two transfer stations that will guide the lines from above to below ground and back again at the west and east ends of the affected areas and these stations will be on three-acre parcels with elements that are going to be 133 feet high.  These appear to involve what are described in the article as "a lattice steel transmission structure [that] will be built adjacent to each transition station to feed the overhead wires into the stations."

The eastern station will be constructed at the former Chino Hills city yard on Pipeline Avenue next to the 71 Freeway, adjacent to which are two Montessori preschools.  Presumably, the health and safety of the children and adults at the facilities will not be compromised--note that very generalized health and safety concerns had been raised by the opponents of the towers. 

As for the westernmost station, the paper identified the location as near the end of Eucalyptus Avenue in the Gordon Ranch area, though the proximity of the three-acre site to houses was not specified.  What was stated by Edison engineering staff was that the station would involve "extensive terracing and leveling of the hillside."

West of that point, the massive towers will remain, including in the vicinity of the Oak Tree Downs exclusive gated community, a constituency that, like the folks on Yellowstone Circle had little say in the process of determining the fate of the TRTP towers.

Meantime, The Champion article also noted that there was to be a "commemoration" of the revamped TRTP project at Coral Ridge Park yesterday afternoon with CPUC chairperson Michael Peevey, a former Edison executive, the current SCE president, Ronald Litzinger, and Mayor Rogers. 

To reiterate--there is every sympathy to those who faced having to live in the shadows of 198-foot tall towers and no one would want to do so.  Hope for the Hills conducted a highly successful campaign for reasons that were mainly relatable and understandable, but largely based on speculative concerns, including disaster scenarios of falling towers, exposure to high levels of EMF radiation, and declining home property values, which even then was an arguable point, as found in the field hearing conducted by Reps. Miller and Royce.  Recall that a major point was made of declining home values and sales in the early stages of the towers' construction, which was certainly more a reflection of the fallout from the economic collapse of 2008, given that values and sales have risen in the last few years.

And, the CPUC bears the lion's share of the blame for this fiasco by first approving and then, while construction was well underway, reversing itself. 

But now, revelations are coming out that show that there will be actual and real impacts on other residents and businesses of both Chino Hills and Chino now that the project is going underground for 3.5 miles for three years.  In this battle of wills, as opposed to a fight for "truth", there are clear winners and losers, but, in the latter category, joining Edison are local residential and commercial residents and property owners.

The question, ultimately, is whether the reversal will, on balance, have been worth it.  And that is almost entire a subjective question, which can't be quantified but qualified according to whose vested interest is examined.

Finally, regarding that "commemoration" held yesterday, presumably, there wasn't room for it in the backyard of the woman on Yellowstone Circle who soon won't have a backyard or any value to her house should she try to sell it.

06 September 2013

Carbon Canyon History from The Champion

Allen McCombs, the publisher emeritus of The Champion, the community newspaper serving Chino and Chino Hills and which has managed to survive for over 125 years, likely knows far more about local history than anyone.  He frequently dedicates his "Rolltop Roundup" feature in the paper's editorial page, which he still edits, to aspects of the area's history and tomorrow's edition is devoted to a general review of the history of Carbon Canyon.

McCombs notes, for example, that the canyon's name came from natural oil seepages from the surrounding hills and that, geologically, it consists of two parts separated from the hill section where the S-curve is near where the Carriage Hills subdivision and from which two branches of what is called either Carbon Creek or Carbon Canyon Creek flow east and west, the former to Chino Creek and the other towards Carbon Canyon Dam.

There is also some good information on Sleepy Hollow and its founders Cleve and Elizabeth Purington, whose work was carried on by their son David, who died some twenty-two years ago after his ranch burned in the 1990 fire that ravaged the canyon.  Also of interest is the statement about Carbon Canyon Road being connected completely through the canyon in 1928, after segments were built from either end previously, but lacking the final connection.  Five years later, the road was incorporated into the newly-revamped California state highway system.

McCombs briefly noted the existence of the camp started just east of Sleepy Hollow by the Workmen's Circle--this being "Camp Kinder Ring," which was opened in 1928 and survived for thirty years before the left-leaning organization sold it, because of water supply problems among other issues, to a buyer, who then saw the property affected by a major fire in 1958.

He also makes reference to a mineral springs resort opened in Sleepy Hollow, a couple miles east of the more-established and somewhat famous La Vida resort, referred to in McCombs's piece as "La Vida Hot Springs," though, officially, it was the "La Vida Mineral Springs."  Though the statement that it closed in 1933 is not correct, what may have happened is that the earlier Hiltscher Mineral Springs, located just west of Rosemary Lane/Hillside Drive on the south side of the highway shut down as stated, but there are 1938 photos, as shown in this blog, of the Carbon Canyon Mineral Springs on the same spot.   As noted here, the current owner of the property actually has remnants of the some of the concrete tubs still on site.

The more recent history is capsulized briefly with quick references to the Western Hills Country Club (and the interesting information that its owner was killed in a plane crash on that site); the Ski Villa facility, on part of the old Camp Kinder Ring complex, and which had a short and bizarre chapter in canyon and skiing history with its plastic needle surface and of which the concrete base remains until an approved housing development comes soon to eradicate that residue; the "hippie retreat" known as the Purple Haze, after the classic Jimi Hendrix song from the Summer of Love in 1967, and which was also on the old Camp Kinder Ring; the horse stables now on that same site; and the several residential communities which have been built since the 1960s.

Other points covered deal with the volunteer fire department in Sleepy Hollow; the regular explosions from the Aerojet weapons testing facility in adjacent Soquel Canyon, a relic of the Cold War-era where the exclusive Vellano gated golf course community now is located; the intriguing St. Joseph's Hill of Hope religious facility just northwest of Sleepy Hollow; the strange attempt to build an airport in the Chino Hills south of the Canyon in the early 1970s and the later successful effort by Claire Schlotterbeck and others with the Hills for Everyone grassroots organization to save that land as Chino Hills State Park, which was created in the early 1980s.

As for very recent history, McCombs touches upon the important work of the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council and the very recent and very much ongoing history surrounding the TRTP renewable energy project, which has some new elements to be discussed here tomorrow.  He also notes, however, that for all of its charm and historical associations "western Carbon Canyon . . . is getting crowded."  Indeed it is and it could get much worse and that's where learning from history in future planning, especially when it comes to wildfires, water, and traffic, could have provided valuable lessons in responsible planning.

Finally, McCombs concludes by promising that, "in future Rolltop columns I will relate some of the stories that add to the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, some that may be remembered by only a handful of oldtimers who have long called Carbon Canyon home."  These will certainly be looked forward to and included here, as McCombs is one of the few real authorities on local history.

Although many of the aforementioned subjects have been covered here and, in some cases, the information might be somewhat different, it is great to see the history of Carbon Canyon presented in the pages of The Champion by someone who knows it as well as, if not better than, anyone.  Thanks to Allen McCombs for keeping that history alive and it will be great to see what more he will relate about the canyon's history in upcoming "Rolltop Roundup" editions.