30 March 2014

Puente Hills Thrust Fault: Worse than The Big One?

Today's Los Angeles Times has a front-page article titled "Fault Could Spell Trouble" which has direct relevance to those who live in and near Carbon Canyon.

While much attention has been focused on The Big One, an 8.0 or greater earthquake expected to hit along the San Andreas Fault, the most recent local example coming in 1857, the article suggests that the lesser-known Puente Hills system could, with a 7.5 magnitude quake, do far more damage to the Los Angeles basin than a shaker on the San Andreas, which runs north of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has done preliminary analysis and found that Friday night's moderate 5.1 temblor emanated from the Puente Hills thrust fault system, the same one that, in 1987, erupted through the 5.9 Whittier Narrows quake that led to $350 million in damage (including the destruction of 100 houses and 1,000 apartments) and the deaths of eight persons.

USGS seismologist Lucy Jones, the go-to person for information on local quake activity, noted that a half-second of slipping along the fault led to the short ten second tremors.  If a 7.5 earthquake were to develop along the fault, the slippage would be for 20 second and the shaking would, of course, be far longer, even causing heavy objects like grand pianos to lift into the air and topple over.  The softer soil of much of the basin would contribute to the greater shaking effect of such a temblor.

Because the Puente Hills fault is horizontal, not vertical (like the Newport-Inglewood or the Hollywood faults) the shaking would be felt through a much wider area.  The USGS and the Southern California Earthquake Center estimate that a major quake on the fault could kill up to 18,000 people and lead to as much as $250 billion in damage, because of the heavy concentration of people in Los Angeles and its suburbs and the older buildings found along the path of the fault, especially in Los Angeles and Hollywood.  A Big One on the San Andreas might cause only one-tenth of the deaths because of that massive fault's distance from populated areas.

Strikingly, this fault system wasn't found until fifteen years ago, five years after the 6.7 Northridge quake occurred on another previously undiscovered fault.  Seismologists and others embarked on a study looking for other faults and learned of the Puente Hills, which happens to go right under downtown Los Angeles.

In fact, simulations show that a quake on the system could send massive amounts of generated energy west and south into heavily populated areas, in contrast to the 1994 Northridge shaker which moved to the north into lightly settled areas.

Friday's 5.1 main event and the 4.1 aftershock which hit Saturday at about 2 p.m. both came from the Puente Hills thrust fault system, as did the 5.5 Chino Hills quake, which was centered within Chino Hills State Park, just a short distance south of Carbon Canyon.

It bears remembering that each point higher on the Richter scale represents shaking 10 times greater.  So, a 7.5 would be 25 times stronger than the 5.1 experienced on Friday night.

The relatively minor damage, including the breaking of some water mains; damage to houses, apartments and businesses; and the rock slide along the still-closed Carbon Canyon Road, are just small preludes to the much greater devastation that would result.  With leaking or severed gas lines and broken power lines would come fire and the disruption in water, phone or other services would be significant. 

The bottom line is people have to be prepared to provide for themselves for up to several days before emergency and support services would be available.  A home earthquake kit and backpack kits for every car are fundamental to preparation for a major event.

To see the article, click here.

28 March 2014

Carbon Canyon Rock Slide from Quake

UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 2 APRIL 10:00 A.M.  Don't forget, as noted in the alert below, that Carbon Canyon Road will be closed from 9 p.m. on Friday the 4th through 4 a.m. on Monday the 7th as work continues on areas where rock slides occurred from the recent earthquake.  It is possible the schedule could change, but this is the plan to date.

UPDATE: MONDAY, 9:15 P.M.  The latest from the City of Chino Hills came this evening just before 6 and is this:

Caltrans has been working on the roadway and hillside in Carbon Canyon.  The road is tentatively scheduled to open in the morning on Tuesday, April 1st.  Unpredictable events, such as rain and aftershocks, could change the plan.  The City of Chino Hills will make every effort to provide an update by 6:00 am with the current status of the road.  
Carbon Canyon Road will be CLOSED AGAIN on Friday, April 4th at 9pm and will remain closed all weekend with a scheduled opening of Monday, April 7th at 4am. This second closure will allow Caltrans to complete necessary road and hillside repairs.  Again, the schedule is subject to change.  Encourage others to subscribe to receive notifications at www.chinohills.org/enotify.
So, if work is not affected by weather or further seismic activity, the busy commutes return in the morning.  The weekend will bring additional work to the affected areas with a full reopening to take place next Monday.

Please note the disclaimer that plans could change.

UPDATE:  SUNDAY, 4:00 P.M.  The City of Chino Hills sent an announcement today concerning the continued closure of Carbon Canyon Road.  Here's the important news:

Carbon Canyon Road is blocked west of Olinda Village due to a landslide.  It is closed indefinitely.  It will NOT BE OPEN for the Monday morning commute.  Caltrans estimates that it may be closed through Wednesday and they will notify City officials when conditions are safe to resume travel through the Canyon.  

While it is spring break for Chino Hills and other schools and traffic could be lessened this week, commutes might still be pretty heavy for nearby routes, especially the 91 and 57 freeways, as well as for Grand Avenue, so allow extra time to get to and from the OC if the closure lasts through the first three workdays of the upcoming week.

UPDATE:  SATURDAY, 8:30 P.M.  It is being reported that CalTrans hopes to have one lane only of Carbon Canyon Road opened by Tuesday and that a contractor hired to work on the rock slide problem is looking to Wednesday, though whether this is for a total or partial reopening was not stated.

A photo and brief description of the minor injury accident involving a car that was overturned by last night's rock slide, following the 5.1 earthquake centered near Brea and La Habra can be found here.

More photos of the Carbon Canyon Road rock slide and accident in a gallery of over 40 images of last night's quake aftermath in the OC Register can be found here.

UPDATE: SATURDAY, 12:20 P.M.  New developments on the slide area west of Olinda Village along Carbon Canyon Road, include that CalTrans is awaiting a geologist to look at the steep slopes in the area between Olinda Village and the Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center and determine that it is safe before removing slide material and getting the road prepared for reopening.

It is also being reported that a total of three slide area have been found in this vicinity.

An update from the City of Chino Hills is due at 6 p.m. and any other information will be posted. 

Those who use Carbon Canyon Road, however, should be prepared for the possibility of at least a few days of closure, including some of the upcoming work week--tempered, though, by the fact that some schools (including in Chino Hills) are on spring break.

CalTrans crews, including one scaling the hillside at upper left, inspecting the area where a rock slide, caused by the 5.1 earthquake centered in northwest Brea on Friday night, caused a car to overturn leading to minor injuries and forced the closure of Carbon Canyon Road.  As of Saturday night, the highway remains closed.  Photo supplied by Glenn Parker.
UPDATE: SATURDAY, 9:20 A.M.  A new alert from the City of Chino Hills has been issued that Carbon Canyon Road will be closed today and probably overnight because of the rock slide that took place just west of Olinda Village, in an area where netting was installed a few years back on a sensitive slope.

It is being said that the road could actually be closed for several days, meaning that morning commutes during the upcoming week could be very interesting on other east-to-west routes.

Finally, it was reported that there was an overturned car in the slide area, likely a vehicle hit by the slide.  Hopefully, those inside were not badly hurt.

UPDATE:  11:05 P.M.  From the Chino Hills emergency notification service sent about 20 minutes ago:

Carbon Canyon Road is closed at the County line, west of Sleepy Hollow, due to rockslides west of Olinda Village. Caltrans estimates an extended closure.  An update will be prepared at 9:00 a.m. Saturday.

Some sources have indicated a slight downgrade in intensity to 5.1 on the quake.  This begs the question of what would happen to steep slopes within the canyon and on future development sites like Madrona, where unstable areas are known to exist, if there was a much stronger quake like the 8.0 plus we expect given that one hasn't happened in this region since 1857?  Recall that each point higher on the Richter scale represents an intensity 10 times greater.

UPDATE, 10:18 P.M.  Carbon Canyon Road is closed on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon, confirmed by a relative who was in Fullerton and had to go around via the 57 and 60 to get to the Chino Hills side of the Canyon. 

The earthquake, measuring about 5.3 centered a mile east of La Habra and near Brea and which occurred at about 10 after 9 p.m., has apparently generated a rock slide within Carbon Canyon, most likely the steep slopes west of Olinda Village.

A fire engine just rolled by heading west on Carbon Canyon Road towards that area and traffic has been light so far.

No alerts have been received by e-mail or text--so will keep checking to see what develops.

26 March 2014

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #15555

And the onslaught continues . . .

These poor defenseless signs don't have a chance, really.

This is on the S-curve along Carbon Canyon Road in Chino Hills between Carriage Hills and Summit Ranch heading eastbound.

This last incident appears to have happened Monday sometime, in which a sign was clipped at the lower part of the left "leg" and left barely standing on the right.  Note the bottom left and the bent and partially upended metal barrier protecting the power pole--this has been a gradual process of attempted removal over time.

Despite the newly-completing restriping of the center and shoulder lines, which, theoretically, should assist drivers on the straight and narrow, this driver headed straight instead of bearing left down the hairpin turn.  And, probably going slightly faster than 15 mph.

18 March 2014

Madrona Hearing Tonight Was One-Sided


YHB showed up at about 9:00, expecting to be in time for the applicant's rebuttal of the appellant's rebuttal to the previous hearing statements made by the developers of the Madrona project.

From the admittedly anti-Madrona contingent, the earlier presentations this evening by Anne Summers, who spoke with great authority and conviction about the issues of supplying water in a cost-effective manner as well as about the enormous levels of use projected for the development, and former Brea council member Bev Perry, who summarized the multi-varied positions against the project, continued the level of professionalism, striking visuals, attention to factual detail, and well-reasoned argument that has marked the appellant's case all along.

As YHB walked up from the parking lot and stopped at the TV monitor in the plaza outside the council chambers, it was observed that Mayor Brett Murdock was polling his fellow council members about adjourning the hearing to the 1st of April (an auspicious date, maybe?).

Well, what happened to the hearing?

Moments later, after the meeting adjourned and folks streamed out of the chambers into the cool evening air, the surprise was revealed.  The applicant's attorney merely walked to the podium and curtly offered that there was no further rebuttal, effectively ending the public hearing and leaving it to the council to move on to the next stage.

Was this a concession to defeat or a simple acknowledgement that the applicant, Old Standard Life Insurance Company, simply had nothing further to say, having made its case, but, more importantly, laid the groundwork for its arguments in the inevitable lawsuit that would follow the council's decision either way?

Obviously, the applicants did not have a prepared rebuttal only to slink away from it in the face of what was a strong showing by the appellants.  They never intended to offer anything, but not necessarily in supreme confidence of prevailing in the appeal.  More likely, the assertions that older city general and Carbon Canyon Specific plans were sufficient for approval, as well as the argument that the project was exempt from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (at least two ways, that is, that the applicant could make a case in court) provided the strategy in the event that the council was disposed to uphold the appeal.

Not that tonight implies that a victory for Perry, et. al., is assured either.  Whatever might have been read into facial expressions, body language, note taking, whispered comments and so forth by council members, there really is no reason to assume that there is a clear-cut path staked out either direction.

Now, come April Fools' Day, the kinds of questions asked by council may give some clues, or not, regarding leanings.   It is also not likely that the questions will be few and the answers short and that, therefore, a decision is forthcoming on that date.  There will probably be at least one more meeting for that to take place.

And, a lot can happen during that time, as the council works to understand the issues, process the arguments by both sides and so on.

Still, there's no denying that it was a bit of a shock to many observers present at tonight's meeting and, perhaps, to most of the council, that the applicant decided to rest their case without further rebuttal. 

What was not surprising, though, was another stellar presentation by the appellants, who have relied on the issues, rather than emotion; concentrated on broader issues relating to Brea, rather than specifically the canyon; and used an array of compelling visual images and equally evocative statements, rather than broad generalities and misleading graphics, such as the applicant's flawed representations of the project site.

Whatever people may think or say about the applicants regarding NIMBYism, anyone looking at this in a reasonable way would have to admit that the argument on the issues of water, fire, traffic and loss of walnut and oak woodland habitat is not NIMBYism, at all, but simply a recognition that there are valid arguments that this project is bad for the Canyon and for Brea. 

The applicants have presented themselves in about as responsible and professional a manner as anyone could expect and, hopefully, the Council recognizes this and is appreciative of just how important this is.  It's easy to scream and yell, wave banners, blow whistles, shout, jeer or boo at meetings and rely on theatrics, political spectacle and raw emotion.  That happens in lots of cities. 

Here, though, the appellants have been very reasonable.  And, in truth, the applicants have done their jobs as would be expected and have been cordial to the opposing side (and vice-versa.)  No one can blame receiver Jackie Muro for doing what she is mandated by court order to do--improve the value of an asset for a bankrupt firm (one that drove itself there, however) seeking to satisfy creditors to the extent that it can.

Both sides have made their respective cases--it's now up to the council to ask questions, take in answers, process what has been argued and use their discretion to make the decision they feel is in the best interests of their city.

Sometime in April, it may be April Fools' Day or it may be Tax Day (either has its ironies) or maybe some other, that decision will come down.  Whatever the ruling is, this blogger can sincerely say that the appellants have mounted a masterful defense, no small achievement from a group that is doing this from community activism, not as a professional obligation or duty.

To them, a salute for a job extremely well done!

17 March 2014

Madrona Hearing Continues Tomorrow Night

The next phase of the hearing by the Brea City Council on the appeal of the Madrona (formerly known as Canyon Crest) housing project of 162 houses on the north side of Carbon Canyon between Olinda Village and Sleepy Hollow continues tomorrow evening, 18 March at 7:00 p.m. at the council chambers in the civic center at the corner of Birch and Randolph streets.

The hearing tomorrow night will consist of rebuttals offered by the appellant, former mayor and council member Bev Perry, and her team of those rebuttals given by the applicant, the bankrupt firm Old Standard Life Insurance Company of Spokane, Washington, now under court-mandated receivership in Idaho. 

While it is quite obvious the OSL has no intention or ability to follow through with an actual project, what it really desires, but cannot express publicly, is an entitled tract map that will increase the value of the property so that it can be sold to satisfy the company's many creditors.  Still, it has to go through the motions of pretending that it is going to work with a developer to build the project and promise all manner of benefits to the community.

The appellants, meanwhile, argue that those benefits are overstated and do not outweigh the risks and negatives of building a large-scale development in a wildland interface that has a long history of devastation by fire; that adds to already heavy traffic on an overburdened Carbon Canyon Road; consumes far more water than is wise in our drought-stricken region; among other reasons.

The council will, once rebuttals are completed, begin their deliberations on the fate of the appeal and of the project.  While it is generally believed that the vote may go 3-2 either way, who knows what effects the arguments by both sides could have?  Moreover, a public presence at these meetings does have the potential to affect the outcome.

So, those concerned about the potential addition of 162 houses to the canyon, which already has 100 approved units on the Chino Hills side and a pending application for over 100 more there, should turn out tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. at the Brea Civic Center.

11 March 2014

Carbon Creek Palm Tree Removal Underway--Updated!

Work crews engaged in cutting down the stand of highly-flammable palm trees next to Carbon [Canyon] Creek on Monday.  Photo courtesy of Jim Powderly, Chino Valley Fire District.
With the urging of Sleepy Hollow residents on the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council and in cooperation with the Chino Valley Fire District, the City of Chino Hills and, importantly, $20,000 in grants from San Bernardino County supervisor Gary Ovitt, a significant project to remove highly flammable palm trees from Carbon [Canyon] Creek in Sleepy Hollow is nearing completion.

A view of the palm tree removal work zone from across Carbon Canyon Road earlier today, as crews began work removing the material from the trees, which were cut yesterday.
Last year, the first phase consisted of injecting chemicals to kill the cluster of trees, after which another related round of work involved the removal of a large amount of plant material that posed both fire and flood risks.  Supervisor Ovitt's first disbursement of funds covered much of this work.

A detail showing palm fronds ready for removal.
Another infusion of monies from the supervisor, to the tune of $10,000, has allowed the next stage to proceed, this being the chopping down and hauling off of the dead trees.  This segment of activity began yesterday and continued today and maybe completed tomorrow.

It's staggering to actually see the creek and its adjacent area after many years of benign neglect.
The Fire Safe Council was told at a recent meeting that the City of Chino Hills, which owns the land along the creek within its borders, stands ready to commit to regular, ongoing maintenance of the watercourse and its adjacent areas so that this burst of activity, which was long overdue, is not in vain. 

Let's hope this is the case.

UPDATE: 13 March 2014.  Chino Valley Fire District inspector Jim Powderly, who did a great deal to bring this project to completion, reported that the City of Chino Hills coordinated the removal of 27 tons, from four 40-yard roll-off and a low-boy roll-off bins, exclusive of the material that was mulched and left on site.  In all, a staggering 43 tons of flammable material was hauled off during the entirety of the cleanup project, just in that one area along the creek in Sleepy Hollow.

As Jim reminded people in an e-mail today, this two-phase project was an important component to the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) developed by the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council, with a lot of work done by Olinda Village residents George Ullrich and Eric Johnson.  And, again, local residents pushed this item forward for the Council to pursue.  It was a true team endeavor and good to see the City of Chino Hills step up on the removal of the material and a commitment to maintain the area in the future.

Here are more photos of the project from Chino Valley Fire District inspector Jim Powderly.  Those ducks found the creek once it emerged from the morass of plant material that accumulated over the years.  The ducks have even found their way into some Sleepy Hollow yards.


10 March 2014

Still Another Carbon Canyon Road Closure

UPDATE, 4:20 P.M.  Traffic appears to be moving smoothly through the area and it appears the semi-truck blockage of Carbon Canyon Road has been rectified.

We are on a roll . . .

Coming in from the Chino Hills side a half hour or so ago, it was observed that a Sheriff's Department vehicle at Summit Ranch was allowing local traffic through but turning away others because a semi was stuck on the S-curve a little further ahead.

Navigating through Carriage Hills and exiting to Carbon Canyon Road, it was noted that there is a long line of cars to and now beyond Sleepy Hollow.

And, it's only gonna get better until they clear the semi.

An e-mail notification from the City of Chino Hills arrived at 1:40 p.m., nearing two hours ago, about the fact that the semi "did not navigate the switchbacks correctly," whatever "correctly" is deemed to be according to local officialdom.   A 2:00 p.m. notification chose not to use the term "correctly" and merely observed that the semi got stuck.

The notifications also suggested alternate routes--which heading eastbound are the 91 Freeway, the 57/60 and Grand Avenue, all of which are probably now loaded up with the usual array of commuters.

A growing line of eastbound travelers waits for the towing of a semi truck that, according to a City of Chino Hills e-mail alert, "did not navigate the switchbacks correctly" on Carbon Canyon Road earlier this afternoon.
Which leads to an old complaint on this blog--why are big rigs of a certain size of larger allowed on Carbon Canyon Road in the first place?  This blogger has witnessed a few examples of semis and larger trucks that had difficulty in the S-curve and only made it through because cars heading the other direction, usually westbound, had to stop to give these vehicles the ability to maneuver through both lanes of traffic to navigate the curve.

In one instance, it was observed that a semi came inches to shearing off the side of a school bus.

If the answer is:  because it is a state highway and there is an obligation to accommodate any vehicle that can (or believes it can) make it through the S-curve, then another question arises, which has been asked here before, as well, which is:  why is Carbon Canyon Road still a state highway?

If, theoretically of course, Carbon Canyon was a local roadway, like Lambert Road (its western continuation) in Brea, then it could be established, as on Lambert, that vehicles bigger than 30' in length or weighing more than 5 tons, or whatever it is, are banned.

This, obviously, won't happen.  The cities of Brea and Chino Hills almost certainly do not want to take further responsibility for a roadway that they are supposed (operative word) to patrol, but would also have to maintain.

The state may not want to give up control of the highway because it sees it as a regional linkage of importance between the inland and coastal areas.

But, the recent spate of closures caused by accidents and this blockage and further reminders, if they were needed, of the problem of a sheer lack of oversight.

Meantime, let's add hundreds more houses as proposed with Madrona (of which the next hearing is next week the 18th) and the 100+ that will be applied for on the Chino Hills side across from Circle K--just to make matters more interesting.

08 March 2014

Another Carbon Canyon Road Closure

There was an alert last night that Carbon Canyon Road was down to one lane because of an accident near Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The time was around 5:00 p.m. and the road was fully reopened by about 7:00 p.m. Maybe someone out there has further details about this incident?

In any case, there has been quite a rash of incidents along the road during the last several weeks. Might this be an issue of concern for our local officials?

06 March 2014

Carbon Canyon Road Closure

Well, here we go again . . . Carbon Canyon Road is closed in both directions near the Orange/San Bernardino counties line, due to a major injury accident. 

Traffic is heavy right now in Sleepy Hollow as cars are heading westbound only to be turned around and redirected eastward towards Chino Hills.

Will try to update as notifications are sent out.

UPDATE: Looks like Chino Hills sheriff's officials are turning back traffic further east--perhaps at Chino Hills Parkway as traffic is much lighter.  Other deputies are stationed at the county line to turn drivers around and the accident is somewhere on the Brea side of the Canyon.

Indications are that the road will be closed for "several hours."

To sign up for notifications from the City of Chino Hills, click here.

UPDATE, 9:45 A.M.:  The road was reopened as of 9:30, so Brea police were able to get on the clearance quickly.  The accident occurred just east of the Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center about a mile or so west of Olinda Village.  Courtesy of Duane Thompson of Olinda Village, the photo below shows the accident scene, where another wreck occurred within the last several weeks.

The latest in a spate of crashes, collisions and wrecks along Carbon Canyon Road.  This took place this morning west of Olinda Village and just east of the Chino Hills State Park Discovery Center.  Courtesy of Duane Thompson.

04 March 2014

Madrona Plan Appeal: A Cynical Take on the Applicant's Rebuttal

Returning just now from Brea, where the city council heard rebuttals from both the appellant and the applicant in the matter of Madrona Plan appeal for a proposed Carbon Canyon residential project, it was apt, perhaps, that, while heading downhill eastbound from Olinda Village on Carbon Canyon Road, this blogger was passed by a large white F-series Ford pickup.  The crime?  Driving only eight miles over the speed limit, at 11:30 at night, on a canyon road, near housing.

Apt, perhaps, because tonight's rebuttal by the applicant in the Madrona hearing made a point, repeated throughout of selectively offering commentary that might have addressed an argument advanced by the appellant, superficially did so, completely misrepresented such, or, often as not, failed to so rebut.

At least it was consistent with the applicant's opening statement, which similarly lacked substance, heft, weight and other synonyms for having a "there there."

Among the highlights:  applicant John Erskine showing a photograph of the project entrance north of Carbon Canyon Road, east of the La Vida Mineral Springs site, and then opining (as opposed to rebutting) that the spot didn't look "beautiful."  So much for the "eye of the beholder."  Alas, when an imaginative rendering of the project entrance with its wide stone bridge, Mediterranean-style guard house and profusion of trees and plant material (and, where was the fire management?) appeared, well, then, man-made beauty in all its glory manifested itself in full flower.

Another beauty was the traffic engineer, who contributed another mind-numbing presentation thick with industry terminology and references which, to his credit, did seek to rebut statements made by a traffic engineer hired by the appellant.  He was also not nearly as long, and, therefore, as ponderous as his last appearance.  Then, again, he spoke later.  Tellingly, Erskine rose from his seat and gently made his way closer to said engineer--an obvious indication that said engineer needed to wrap it up because it was clear the discussion was not what was needed or desired.

What said engineer did not repeat was his memorable statement from January, when he observed that the 19 car trips over the threshold of a significant unavoidable adverse impact under the California Environmental Quality Act, which then required a statement of overriding consideration as mitigation for an approved project, was not really that many trips.  As if 19 more than lousy ain't still lousy.

Also notable in tonight's presentation was another applicant attorney who made the point that statements about current average water use in Brea were low by about 30-40% and that "conservative" estimates from the Environmental Impact Report that Madrona's homes would use up to 6 times the average were actually overstated by about one-third.  Fine, except that her revised "conservative" figures still came out to this.  The average water use of Brea homes is something like 16-20 units and the average use at Madrona would be 38.6.

Well, that looks like double--and is that really a rebuttal that makes Madrona look better?  The kicker is that attorney Erskine produced a screen shot of a New York Times article (which he then attempted to qualify by stating that, being the New York Times, it couldn't be accused of being conservative, which begged the question--who exactly was accusing?) that contained a single statement by a single scientist at Columbia University that climate change might actually lead to California being wetter or drier over time.  What the article didn't say was--what part of California and where would the water be coming from?

The applicant claims that water use and supply is not a major issue and this article purported to be evidentiary of that, but most of Brea's water comes from a local consortium and another major source is the Metropolitan Water District, which draws much of its water from the Colorado River, which, in turn, draws its sources not from California but from points east.  The other major source:  the State Water Project, which announced this year for the first time in its 54 year history that it could not guarantee delivery of water short term to its customers. 

Another high point came when a civil engineer, who admitted he was not prepared to speak, came to the podium and, well, sounded like he was not ready to speak.  He did opine that the project was well considered from the geotechnical side, but did not actually have much in the way of rebuttal, to which the evening was devoted.

Meantime, the economic analyst, from a Los Angeles firm, spent his time talking about how Brea's retail sales situation was so much superior to neighboring cities, but then failed to connect that to Madrona specifically, even admitting that his numbers were regional in nature.  Meaning, essentially, that the Brea Mall draws revenue from a regional perspective, but there was actually very little said about just how Madrona residents would spend their money, because how can you?

Besides all the figures purporting to show excess of revenues over expenses don't account for what will happen with the next major fire, which the fire consultants (who did not speak tonight) openly acknowledged, as they had to, will be coming, and what the costs to the city will be for that.

To end matters perfectly, "community relations" consultant John Koos, a planning commissioner who voted in 2008 for the Canyon Crest iteration that is now being appealed and which was the precursor to Madrona, finished the "rebuttal" with a short statement that was simply this:  Brea needs Madrona because people who need (want?) luxury executive homes are being forced to buy in Yorba Linda, La Habra Heights, and nicer areas of Fullerton.  Koos cited the examples of his lawyer and doctor (or some such) and other people of the "class" Brea needs, he submitted, to rise to the upper echelons of Orange County's elite enclaves, typically found down south.

Yes, Breans, you are being told by one of your former city officials that your city just isn't good enough when it comes the housing stock and, by logical extension, the human stock found in your poor, benighted city.  Madrona is necessary, Koos concluded, because we need biotech, tech industry, medical and other business executives to rescue and uplift the city from its riff-raff plebeian associations.

Just like the business person, obviously recruited by Koos, who spoke in January and stated, in public mind you, that he was forced to build his custom home in Yorba Linda because there was nothing of like quality in Brea.  As if he was required to build a large custom house (with its attendant higher usages of water, gas, electricity and so on.)  Except that Madrona would only be "semi-custom," so what would said business person do in that case?

The evening concluded with a fanciful bit of 3-D imaging that attempted to show what the applicants are trying to convince everyone Madrona will look like.  Major impressions here:  the sheer amount of landscape along Carbon Canyon Road and the entrance, as well as around the houses.  Yet, fire management would seem to dictate toning that down just a tad.  Plus, no real indication of what the single entrance would look like relative to ingress and egress from Carbon Canyon Road, which winds in tight curves through the area.  Also, one swimming pool among 162 luxury executive houses.  And, to this viewer anyway, a flattening of the landscape and a clever attempt to make it seem that nearby Olinda Village and Madrona were more or less of similar elevations and landscapes, which is largely not true.  Madrona sits mainly atop ridgelines, whereas most of Olinda Village is below that.

Now, it is late, so this is a bit of a stream-of-consciousness, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, glib and irreverent, as well as subjective, summary, to be sure.  Moreover, there is no implication here that all development in Carbon Canyon is bad (smaller projects and single ones seem reasonable for the amount of development the canyon has absorbed in recent decades) or that Madrona is the only project of concern--in fact, there are already two approved projects of over 100 units on the Chino Hills side and a pending application for over 100 more, in addition to Madrona.  In any case, there will be no shortage of larger (if not, luxury executive homes to meet Mr. Koos' high and stringent standards) homes for prospective buyers to peruse in the future.

The problem is that conditions have changed, the fire risk is serious, the water situation is tenuous, the traffic on Carbon Canyon Road is often very poor--the canyon can only absorb so many more homes.

Again, Old Standard Life Insurance Company, despite putting up the necessary appearances, and its development partner are not going to build a single house.  They simply seek an entitled tract map to increase the value of the land for sale to increase revenues to pay off creditors of a company that drove itself into the ground. 

The City of Brea has no legal obligation to approve this project, though Erskine was quite clear in setting the table for litigation should a denial of Madrona be forthcoming from the city council.  Even staff recommendations for approval, constantly put forward by the applicant, is not a mandate for the council.  It can choose to uphold the appeal and, hopefully, city attorney Jim Markman will make that point when the council comes to a vote.

This blogger arrived at the break, having missed what was said to have been a well-coordinated and finely-executed rebuttal by the appellants, but what the applicants offered just seemed lacking in substance almost all the way around.  In fact, compared to the others, the traffic engineer seemed to be the most on-task.  Which highlighted the problem with the presentation as a whole.  Like its project, there just isn't much substantive to it. 

As has been said before, if Madrona and Canyon Crest were such great projects, something would have built on the site by now. 

03 March 2014

Madrona Appeal Continues Tomorrow Night

The appeal before the Brea City Council of the Madrona project, the previous iteration of which (Canyon Crest) was approved by the city's planning commission in Fall 2008, continues at the regular meeting of the city council tomorrow Tuesday, 4 March at 7:00 p.m. at the city hall council chambers, corner of Birch and Randolph streets.

Each side has made their opening statements and public comment has also been taken.  Now, the developer and the appellant teams will be presenting their rebuttals.  With other council business on the docket, it is not clear whether both teams will be able to complete their rebuttals tonight or if there will be a continuation to the next council meeting on the 18th.

In any case, anyone concerned about the potential of having 162 houses on the north end of Carbon Canyon between Olinda Village and Sleepy Hollow should seriously consider attending and letting the city know by your presence that this is a matter of great importance.

02 March 2014

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #15419

This one took place within the last day or so (sometime since Friday afternoon) at a familiar spot, on the eastbound side of Carbon Canyon Road across from the old entrance to the La Vida Mineral Springs hotel on the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon.

The latest traffic mishap on Carbon Canyon Road, across from the old La Vida Mineral Springs hotel entrance in Brea, took place Friday or Saturday.  The road was rain-slicked, but experience indicates there might have been some other factor (speed, chemical impairment?)

The particular location and its immediate vicinity are especially vulnerable to dangerous driving and this guardrail has been similarly mutilated, mangled, mashed, manipulated, manhandled and mistreated previously.

Naturally, this was the rain's fault (cynic's tongue in cheek,) though maybe someone has some details of what took place here?