31 May 2014

Graffiti Good Samaritan on the Chino Hills Side of Carbon Canyon

A while back, a short post was uploaded about some graffiti on an old incinerator located just west of Canyon Hills Road on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road.  Sure, it was an old rusty relic from a home long gone, but what did it do to deserve defacing?

Well, it turns out there's a graffiti-fighting good samaritan over on this side of the Canyon, in addition to the one who has several times painted over tagging of another old relic--the La Vida Mineral Springs water tank over in Brea.

The graffiti is hardly a major incident, but it was still unsightly, so, kudos to whoever it is that took the time to cover over the markings on the incinerator.

30 May 2014

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #44: "Map of the Whittier-Olinda Oil Field," 1912

The portion of a 1912 map of the "Whittier-Olinda Oil Field" focusing on the Olinda section at the center and nearby areas, including Carbon Canyon to the upper right.
This is another great map, supervised by Paul W. Prutzman and issued by the California State Mining Bureau and corrected to June 1912, showing a wide-ranging area of oil-producing fields from Whittier to Olinda.  Of particular interest for Carbon Canyon s the section at the lower right section of the map showing the very busy Olinda field fifteen years after its first well came in.

Shown snaking its way up from the mainline (off the map) is the spur line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, which went from Atwood to the Olinda field, emerging through what is now Carbon Canyon Regional Park and splitting into a "Y" in today's Olinda Ranch subdivision.  The map clearly shows the terminus as within the "A.T. & S. Fe. R.R.G."

A closer look from the map at the Olinda field showing major oil producers of the time, including Columbia, Graham-Loftus, Puente Oil, Olinda Land Company, Industrial Oil and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.  The railroad's spur line from Atwood is showing coming up the center and splitting off into a "Y"
To the east of that, in section 9 (of 3S9W of the San Bernardino Meridian) are the leases of the Olinda Land Company, Fullerton Oil Company and the Puente Oil Company.  The Olinda concern was the brainchild of William H. Bailey, who bought several hundred acres in the late 1880s and created the Olinda Ranch, named after his family's sugarcane plantation on Mau'i and Hawai'i.  The Puente Oil Company, meanwhile, was organized by William R. Rowland, former Los Angeles County sheriff and scion of the family that owned half of the massive Rancho La Puente, shown at the top center of the map and the Puente's 1885 field is dotted with oil wells on land Rowland owned.

Further east, in section 10, are the holdings of Olinda Land, Continental Oil, Soquel Canyon Oil and Edward Gaines.  Some small amount of oil prospecting took place in this vicinity, though without success.  Gaines, however, was the recent owner of property in what is now the Olinda Village community and a creek ran through his property, emptying into Carbon [Canyon] Creek, which also ran through the southern end of his ranch. 

With very little oil prospecting activity, the Carbon Canyon area east of Olinda does show a wagon road (the dotted line) wending its way along Carbon [Canyon] Creek and passing the Orange/San Bernardino County line at the top right, where the thick black line coming from the center and then turning to the right center is the divide between San Bernardino County and the counties of Los Angeles and Orange as well as the western boundary of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino.  The line heading left of the Chino boundary is the dividing line between Orange and Los Angeles counties  At the bottom left are the properties of the Soquel Canyon Oil Company, the Olinda Land Company and the ranch of Edward Gaines, where Olinda Village is located.
Northeast of that and well into Carbon Canyon at the lower left corner of section 2 is the lone well of the Carbon Canyon Oil Company, which about a decade before the map, drilled without striking oil.

To the west of the Santa Fe spur, in section 8, is a very crowded area of development with firms like Graham-Loftus, one of the early players at Olinda starting in 1898, the Santa Fe itself, Olinda Land, Industrial Oil Company, and Columbia Oil Production Company, whose part-owner William B. Scott, along with William Rowland and Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler, constituted the "Tres Hermanos [Three Brothers]" who owned the ranch of that name in Tonner Canyon to the north of Olinda.

Actually, as shown on earlier maps, this one again shows Brea Canyon as being what is now called Tonner Canyon, while today's Brea Canyon is listed as "Canada del Rodeo."

Another detail of the map shows the Olinda field at the right and areas to the west and south.  The thick line moving from the bottom right to the left center is the line of the Pacific Electric Railway streetcar--this right-of-way still runs through Brea and part of it in Yorba Linda is a multi-purpose trail.  At the top is "Brea Cañon", which is today's Tonner Canyon and at the top left is "Canada del Rodeo," now Brea Canyon.  The black lines at the top from just left of center to the top left corner, within sections 1, 6 and a little of section 5 are the southern boundaries of the Rancho Rincon de la Brea.
By 1912, a little activity was found in what is known now as Tonner Hills between Olinda and Brea Canyon, this being on land held by the Union Oil Company.  The Brea Canyon field was represented by Graham-Loftus, Fullerton, Puente and the Pico Oil Company, Orange Oil Company and Brea Canyon Oil Company.

Other transportation routes denoted on the map include the line of the Pacific Electric Railway, which ran from Los Angeles and on through was called East Whittier, the future Brea (a year off from incorporation) and Yorba Linda.  Part of the right-of-way still exists in Brea with plans for recreational use, a concept long ago incorporated for some of that easement in Yorba Linda.

Carbon Canyon Road did not really exist yet as we know it, but the term "wagon road" is used for a route that passed through the Olinda field and into Carbon Canyon.  Notably, there were no such roads in either Soquel and Telegraph canyons, though a wagon road moved through "Brea Canyon" now Tonner, and into the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino.  Another such road went into the "Canada del Rodeo, or modern Brea Canyon as it wended its way into the Diamond Bar and Walnut areas.

This map is a great snapshot of the Olinda area a little over a hundred years ago when the oil industry was in full swing and has enough familiar landmarks to be relatable even today.

29 May 2014

Sleepy Hollow Home in Small Cool Contest

A Sleepy Hollow house, built in the 1930s as one of many cabins in what was then a rural resort for Los Angeles-area residents, has been entered into a contest on a Web site called Apartment Therapy touting a concept called "small cool."

The Small Cool Contest is in its tenth year and the site describes it as a way of "showing the world that small homes are among the smartest and most stylish around."  People can submit their residence, if it is under 1000 square feet, with an encouragement to "show off your own brand of compact coolness with photos of your home along with real-life tips for living well in your small space."

At a little over 900 square feet, the house owned by Lena and Jason Sekine, who live there with their two young children, on Rosemary Lane fits the bill, and this is after the living space was expanded by some 60% less than a decade ago by the previous owners, who added a second floor bedroom and made many other changes. 

The Sekines have maximized the space, while employing a personalized sense of style due largely (oops, pardon the pun) to the inspiration of Lena, who is an artist, utilizing her talents in and out of the home, including an otherwise drab fence along Carbon Canyon Road that she livened up with whimsical artistic designs.

In describing the house, Lena wrote for her submission that,
What I love most about our home is that it feels cozy like a cabin in the woods. Although we live in the suburbs, our little historic area called Sleepy Hollow is nestled in the canyons surrounded by nature. Our home has many windows and glass doors that let in natural light and the view of our green surroundings.
With regards to her tips for living in a small space, she offered these helpful hints:
1. Have pieces of furniture that can be moved around easily. That gives us the flexibility to use our space as we see fit. For example, when we have a dinner party, we bring up the lounge chairs from our sitting room to the living area to create a conversation space.
2. Clean and declutter constantly. We try to only keep what we really need. Since we have children, we go through their clothes and toys often and give away things they have out grown.
3. We use colorful rugs to create breaks between areas. It is a great way to section off space.
 Submissions end on Monday, with voting for favorites continuing until 13 June and voting for the grand prize winners announced on the 17th and 18th of that month.

To see the Sekine's submission and others and to vote for your favorite, please click here.

24 May 2014

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #16023

The latest example of errancy on Carbon Canyon Road happened within the last few days as an eastbound driver, just crossing over the county line into Sleepy Hollow, crossed over the shoulder line and skidded into a power pole shattering the plastic insulation for some wiring.

Undoubtedly, this was another matter of driving at excessive speed and this was more of a close call, because it appears the vehicle skidded by and clipped the pole before continuing the skid pattern eastward and then moving along on his (or her--but probably his) merry way.

21 May 2014

Madrona Appeal Hearing Delayed Two Weeks

The appeal hearing before the Brea City Council for the proposed 162-home Madrona project between Olinda Village and the Orange/San Bernardino counties line on the north side of Carbon Canyon has been delayed once again.

A proposed set of "Conditions of Approval" offered by council members Brett Murdock and Christine Marick, nine of eleven of which were agreed to by property owner Old Standard Life Insurance Company via its owner in receivership, The State of Idaho, were reviewed and further suggestions made by members of the appellant team.

Old Standard has requested two weeks to review the latest iteration of the COAs, meaning that the matter will rematerialize before the council at its meeting on Tuesday, 3 June at 7 p.m., pending any further delays.

With Old Standard accepting most of the conditions suggested by Murdock and Marick, it appears that the two of them, who are true swing votes here with Marty Simonoff signaling his intention to uphold the appeal while Ron Garcia and Roy Moore have been on the record as voting to deny the appeal, stand ready to vote against the appeal and for Madrona.

However, the further suggestions by the appellants regarding these COAs could have an impact on what Old Standard will agree to and how Murdock and Marick, who, not incidentally, are far younger than their colleagues, symbolizing, perhaps, Brea's future, will vote.

Speaking of the future, it bears remembering that, in addition to legitimate issues concerning fire risk (especially given the recent blazes in San Diego County, including the destruction of a home seemingly built to withstand fire with its concrete and steel construction), future water supply, traffic and others, the prospect of the council approving, for the first time for a housing development, a project requiring three (3) statements of overriding consideration for unavoidable significant adverse impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act is very significant for precedent.

In other words, if the council were to issue the 3 SOCs for Madrona on approval of the project, the precedent would be set so that anything else proposed in the city in the future would basically have to be given like consideration. 

The only available land for major homebuilding left in the city is on Olinda oil field properties that are slowly being phased out (removal of wells has been ongoing in the vicinity of Lambert Road and Valencia Avenue) and in the hills at the north end of town.

Among these is the Shell-Aera parcel (click here and here for more), about which the city has, in the past, expressed concern.  A minority, about 10% of the proposed developable area, is within Brea's sphere of influence in the Orange County section and the remaining 90% is in Los Angeles County within the Diamond Bar sphere of influence.

Yet, if Madrona was to be approved with 3 SOCs, how would Brea be able to maintain that level of concern with Shell-Aera?  Or, any future projects proposed within Brea's city limits and/or sphere of influence?

At any rate, it remains to be seen what is done at the 3 June Brea city council meeting and if Madrona will be approved and a new precedent set.

15 May 2014

San Diego County Fires, Madrona and Carbon Canyon

Added to both ends of the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon along Carbon Canyon Road by CalTrans District 12, these signs are unambiguous about the real threat posed by wildfires in Carbon Canyon.  This is what future buyers of 162 houses in the proposed Madrona subdivision will drive by on their way to the site, if it is approved (as early as next Tuesday) and if it is actually built.  Why should the Brea City Council take the chance of approving something that could be at the flashpoint of a catastrophic wildfire?
Given the continuing drought and the increasing frequency lately of hot, dry, Santa Ana conditions, the fires raging through northern San Diego County, which has been hit with major blazes several times in the last decade or so, are another reminder, if any were needed, of the danger that Carbon Canyon, and like areas, faces.

This remains an essential issue as the deliberations over the proposed 162-unit Madrona housing development in the Brea portion of the canyon comes closer to a deciding point—perhaps as early as next Tuesday, the 20th when the Brea City Council takes up the matter again.

Old Standard Life Insurance Company, the owner of the Madrona property, has indicated that it will accept 9 of the 11 Conditions of Approval offered by council members Brett Murdock and Christine Marick as a way to wring further concessions from the OSLIC.  This would, presumably, sway enough of the council to vote for the project and deny its appeal, filed back in 2008 just before the Freeway Complex Fire burned the Madrona site and most of the Brea side of Carbon Canyon.

The San Diego County conflagrations, however, should be another obvious indication that all of the promises of fire mitigation and all of the projections of abundant water supply, orderly evacuation strategies, and other aspects, may just not be sufficient to counter the devastation that can be wrought by a wildfire of the proportions that we're seeing in that county and which we witnessed here 5 1/2 years ago--and will again.

The portion of the canyon where Madrona is proposed has steep canyon walls and wind-swept ridgelines that are, according to any expert analysis such as the US Geological Survey's new video, "Living With Fire," flashpoints for developing and moving fire rapidly through those areas.  The mitigation efforts proposed for the development look fine on paper, or on computer screens via 3-D simulations and other modeling, but the unpredictability of fire and human emotions and reactions in real time is an entirely different matter.

Madrona is just a microcosm of a bigger issue--the continuing encroachment and intrusion of development in wildland areas, as we are coming to terms (well, some people) with the effects of climate change, enduring drought, dwindling water supply, and other factors.

Madrona is emblematic of outdated and timeworn thinking, at a time when we need innovation, adaptation and forward-thinking leadership and management.

Madrona is symptomatic of a broad problem of not coming to terms with a changing world, but this isn't just theoretical posturing.  The prospect of having 162 houses in the middle of a raging wildfire--which even the fire consultants for the project admit will happen again (and again)--takes this beyond the conceptual into the real (or the realistic, in terms of probability.)

Does the Brea City Council (or those that may still be around when and if such an event occurs) really want to be responsible for that probability?

SATURDAY, 17 MAY: Today's front page of the "LATEXTRA" section of the Los Angeles Times has a photo of an Escondido home that, despite being built of concrete and steel, was destroyed by the intense heat of one of the many San Diego County fires.  It is worth noting that, as with the Madrona site, the location was on a hilltop, prone to high winds.

12 May 2014

Meeting on Trucks Using Carbon Canyon Road This Wednesday

A group of citizens in and around Carbon Canyon is convening this Wednesday, 14 May @ 6:30 p.m. to discuss the issue of large trucks utilizing Carbon Canyon Road.

The meeting will take place at the clubhouse of the Summit Ranch housing development at 2450 Sandstone Court (click here for its Google Map location) in Chino Hills.

A list of topics that might be covered at the confab include the creation of a grassroots organization and selection of officers, determining public outreach strategies, such as a Web site, and more.  Anyone interested is encouraged to bring photographs or other documentation about the use of the state highway by large vehicles.

This topic has been broached on this blog before and it bears noting that CalTrans has posted signs that advise drivers of vehicles longer than 30 feet against using the roadway, but this purely a recommendation.  Because of Carbon Canyon Road's status as a state highway connecting inland and coastal areas between San Bernardino and Orange counties, it is questionable whether the department will change its policy on large vehicles driving the road.

On the other hand, as noted here before, portions of State Highway 39 in La Habra Heights were decommissioned some years back and the roadway, known there as Hacienda Road (between Whittier Boulevard and Hacienda Heights), is under the jurisdiction of the city.  This, of course, means that its maintenance, as well as policing and policy-setting, are also the responsibility of La Habra Heights.

Whether the cities of Brea and Chino Hills would even consider the idea of seeking the decommissioning of Carbon Canyon Road as a state highway so that they can assume more direct control of its use is the question, because it is not likely desirable for them to also be responsible for its maintenance.

Nonetheless, those interested in the question of large vehicles on Carbon Canyon Road are encouraged to attend this meeting and offer their opinions, help and support.