31 July 2014

Sleepy Hollow Home and Lots for Sale

A new listing is up for a ca. 1920s cabin, which has been extensively remodeled and added on to, at the very end of Oak Way Lane on the north end of Sleepy Hollow.  The 3 bedroom, 3 bath home includes a studio apartment in a converted basement and a 2 bedroom 2 bath main house totaling 1,520 square feet. The lot size is 5,000 square feet.  

But, in the description that studio is listed as 800 square feet and the main unit as 1,600 square feet, so the overall size could be considered 2,400.  Another portion of the description states the dwelling to be 700 square feet, which is likely the original size before all of the additions.

Additionally, the owner is selling 4 acres adjacent to the house higher up the steep slopes of the hillside, with, in fact, a Hillside Road address, so this is an unusual listing because of the raw land, though how usable it could be is uncertain.  There is also no price for that property given in this listing.

Funnily, the listing agent refers to Sleepy Hollow as the "Inland Valley version of Laurel Canyon," whereas some of us think of Laurel Canyon as the "Westside version of Sleepy Hollow."

The listing states the construction date as 1920, but the subdivision map (shown on this blog previously) is dated October 1923.  In any case, the original portion of this house appears to go back to the Twenties.  On that map, the parcel is shown as Lot 49 of Block 6 and its measurements are 50'W x 100'L, or the 5,000 square feet that is on the listing.

Also of note are the fluctuations of sale prices over the years.  In 1989, the property sold for $172.500.  After the real estate boom collapsed just after that, foreclosure ensued in 1995 and it went for just over $125,000.  In 2006, at the crest of another boom, it sold for $500,000, followed by another foreclosure in October 2007 at a sale price of $306,000.  Then, just before the Great Recession officially hit in September 2008, the rock bottom price of $165,000 was reached.

Now, the owner seeks $450,000.  This, folks, is a microcosm of what real estate has increasingly become in recent decades.

For the listing on Redfin, click here.

30 July 2014

Oil Drilling in Carbon Canyon's Chino Hills Portion, Part Three

There was a bit of excitement in October 1941 when it was reported in newspapers like the San Bernardino Sun that a young Yorba Linda oil prospector named Homer May claimed to bring in the only producing oil well then operating in San Bernardino County, right here in Carbon Canyon. 

According to the 28-year old May, who said he had ten years experience working in oil fields and that his father was a long-time oil worker, the gravity of the oil he found was much higher than that nearby and that the small volume of other wells would pale in comparison with the heavy flow that he asserted would come from his well "without pumping."

Notably, May stated that he had to drill his well in spurts on account of an inconsistent flow of funds, so that $5,000 had been expended over five months of work and claimed he would be working on drilling wells for other producers to raise the money to continue work on his wildcat well in Carbon Canyon.  He also identified the four partners in his Homer May Oil Company venture: H.H. Holloway, a pilot for TWA and three men said to be civil engineers hired by Los Angeles County, Allison Wallace, L.M. Hitchcock and Fred Jacobs.

Jacobs, born in Arizona in 1874 was a horse shoer as a young man in Los Angeles around the turn of the century, but, by 1910, was a city street inspector.  A decade later, he was a chief inspector and retained that position for many years with the civil engineering department.  Jacobs died at age 80 in 1954.  Louis M. Hitchcock was born in Fillmore, Minnesota in 1893 and resided in Alhambra by 1910 where he, his father and other siblings worked in the Alhambra Felt Factory, on the former plant property of the San Gabriel Wine Company at the west end of the city.  He became a City of Los Angeles public works inspector and died in 1968 and age 74.  Allison Wallace was born in 1877 in Canada and migrated to America at age 13, coming to Los Angeles soon after.  For years he was a clothing salesman with well-known stores like Mullen and Bluett and Desmond's before becoming an inspector with the City of Los Angeles by the mid-1920s.  He died in August 1962 at age 85.

Finally, there was Halbert Harold Holloway, born in 1896 in Bakersfield.  Joining the military in the First World War, he earned his brevet (license) in an air training program in France.  Returning home, he briefly operated his own airplane service near Bakersfield and then a charter service to and from Catalina Island for chewing gum magnate William Wrigley.  By 1928, he joined Western Air Express, a Los Angeles airline, which soon merged with Transcontinental Transport-Maddux, and became Transcontinental and Western Air (T&WA, later simply TWA.)  In 1930, he was the first American pilot to fly a four-engine airliner, a Fokker F-32.  In World War II, he served as a pilot in Europe ferrying soldiers and supplies in the theater of operations.  With war's end, he was appointed by TWA as the first manager of Ethiopian Airlines and was known to have many conversations with that nation's emperor Haile Selassie, an aviation enthusiast.  After two years in that job, Holloway returned to TWA until his mandatory retirement in 1956 at age 60.  For a quarter century afterward he followed his passion for gold prospecting in Nevada and then lived his last years in a nursing home in Ventura.

Clearly, Homer May's investors did not contribute large sums of money, if the total expenditure was a mere $5,000, however!

A map showing a "Portion of the 116 Acre Tract of Land" owned by Oasis Country Club, Ltd. and on which Homer May, Jr., a Yorba Linda resident, drilled a well that he claimed, in October 1941, struck oil, which would have been San Bernardino County's only producing oil well of the era.  Unfortunately, state Oil and Gas Division records show the well had "no showings of importance" and May failed to comply with state regulations on his project and on abandoning the well, which was done by an indemnity company five years later.  Click on the image to see it enlarged in a new window.
May claimed that he had drilled 1,000 feet to date and found oil sands that indicated a structure identical to that of wells in Orange County, presumably in the Whittier to Olinda belt, and that he had recorded the well to the state mining bureau.  The well was capped, but May indicated the drilling work would begin anew in ten days.

The problem with all of this was that it was almost entirely false.  May did submit an application with the state Oil and Gas Division to drill his well on 25 April and, despite not having all required information from May about the program for the operation, it gave him permission on 4 August to drill, subject to conditions based on good practices for drilling and preventing blowouts and the like.  The division was also to be notified if any oil was found and to be present for testing and examination for water shut-offs, cores and so on.

Despite May's statement that he notified the state of his operations, he did not report anything to them after approval was given and follow-up letters were sent to him by the Oil and Gas Division in May and June 1942.

Without any answer from May, the division contacted the landowner, Oasis Country Club, Ltd., in September 1943, nearly two years after May's claim of a successful producing well on the 116-acre Oasis property located south of Carbon Canyon Road in what appears to be today's Western Hills Oaks housing tract, developed in the mid-1960s.  The division's Carl Bloom called the Oasis Country Club, Ltd.'s secretary and treasurer, Major W. Driver and received a letter that stated:
I am furnishing you with the date of the Quit Claim Deed recording by Louise Rinehart and C.E. Brown, former Lessees on the Oasis Country Club property in Carbon Canyon, San Bernardino County, California, the date of recording was February 19 1942, in book 1526, page 59 of official records.  We understand that Homer May, Jr., had a Sub Lease from Rinehart and Brown for a portion of the property, but, so far as we have been able to determine, this Sub Lease was never recorded at San Bernardino.
A letter from Major W. Driver, secretary and treasurer of Oasis Country Club, Ltd., owner of the Carbon Canyon property where Homer May, Jr. drilled his allegedly-producing oil well in 1941.  The club's domain now appears to be where the Western Hills Oaks housing subdivision was created in the mid-1960s.  Click on the image to see it enlarged in a new window.
Finally, in August 1945, just as World War II was coming to an end, a "Notice of Intention to Abandon Well" was filed with the Oil and Gas Division by Royal Indemnity Company, which evidently insured the property for Oasis Country Club.  A report dated the 10th noted a rig was put up on the property on 30 November 1940 and that the well was drilled to 970 feet, at which point the cores fractured.  Notably, the report said there were "no showings of importance."  The state division gave permission to abandon the well per state law.

This work was finally conducted on 21 February 1946 as four workers, one from Chino, another from Puente and two from Pomona went in and cut the surface pipe, put in a 20-foot cement plug and welded a steel cap over that to seal the abandoned well.  On 4 March, the Oil and Gas Division sent a letter to Royal Indemnity to certify that all terms had been met for proper abandonment and the matter was, literally, closed.

May's parents owned a ranch on Citrus Street in Yorba Linda where his "Homer May Oil Company" address was given.  If Homer, Sr. had any oil experience, it doesn't show on census or other vital records—instead he is listed as a farmer and rancher from the time he moved to north Orange County in the 1910s. 

As for Junior, he was listed as an oil driller in the 1940 census, living on Valley View Street in Yorba Linda with his wife and two young children, but voter register information for 1934, 1936, 1938, 1940 and 1942 showed him as a truck driver living on Park Place in Yorba Linda, just a stone's throw from the boyhood home of President Richard M. Nixon, now the home of his presidential library and museum.

May lived in Huntington Beach for a time in the 1950s and then appears to have inherited his parents' ranch in Yorba Linda as he was shown there on voter records from the 1960s.  Evidently, he sold out and retired to Pismo Beach where he died at age 73 in 1986.  The Citrus Street ranch is now a cul-de-sac with tidy two-story tract homes on it—selling that property may well have been where Homer May, Jr. actually struck it rich.

Concerning the Oasis Country Club—more on that in a future post.

29 July 2014

Oil Drilling in Carbon Canyon's Chino Hills Portion, Part Two

After the failed 1955 attempt by John Q. Tannehill to bring in oil on his 200-acre lease with Shelley Stoody on the latter's Double S Ranch, where today's Western Hills Country Club is located, another shot was taken at hitting black gold.

Albercalif [evidently, a combination of Alberta, the oil producing province in Canada and California] Petroleums, Ltd., with a local office established by Samuel M. Brooks in Long Beach in September 1952, was a foreign stock company based in Ontario, Canada. It had oil operations in Hanford in Kern Clounty and Whittier, Newport Beach and and Huntington Beach locally, and it appears to have drilled the well on the Double S for a Utah-based firm, Columbus-Rexall, which also had an office in Long Beach.  Consequently, the well was known as the Columbus-Rexall Stoody 30-4.

Sam Brooks was born in Cherokee Territory in Oklahoma about 1900 and was an oil driller in Long Beach before establishing his drilling contracting firm and then making connections with the Canadian investors in Albercalif.  His son, Robert, graduated from the University of Southern California School of Engineering in 1951 and had a classmate, Jack Crawford, son of an oilman, who hit it big in Huntington Beach and Sunset Beach while still in his early twenties and a USC student. 

Crawford hired the Brookses and Albercalif to drill his wells and evidently promised them a share in proceeds, though a lawsuit was filed in Fall 1955 by Brooks and his partners, Sol Marks and Morrie Morgan, alleging that Crawford failed to meet the terms of their agreement.  While the results of this suit haven't been found, it is an interesting sidelight that the young Crawford evidently kept plenty of his wealth, at least for a while, as he went on in the early Sixties to be an "pioneer" of ski partiers at the tony Colorado skiing mecca of Aspen.

Meantime, the Columbus-Rexall Oil Company was the result of a merger between two separate companies of those names operating in the precious metals business in Utah, meaning they mined for gold, silver and copper, and that firm's decision to become an oil company in 1957, just after the Stoody lease was being executed and a wildcat (meaning, in geologically unproven territory) well planned.

On 7 December 1956, Robert Brooks, as vice-president of Albercalif, filed a "Notice of Intention to Drill New Well" with the state Oil and Gas Divison with the well site being determined as within a short distance of the Tannehill well.  Receiving quick approval, Albercalif began operations the following day, spudding in the well in the morning and drilling down to over 350 feet.  For the next 24 days, the project continued, with the well casing cemented to about 415 feet and the hole deepened down to 3750 feet by the first of the new year.

A letter from 14 January 1957 by Shelley and Corrine Stoody informing the state Division of Oil and Gas that the dry wildcat oil well drilled on their Double S Ranch by Albercalif Petroleums for the Columbus Rexall Oil Company was to be converted to a water well.  Whether this was done or not, the well was never properly abandoned and, decades later, housing developer Meritage Homes had to make an attempt to complete the abandonment, but was physically unable to do so, so the well site remains as an undeveloped part of the tract finished by Warmington Homes and now known as Elements at Pine Valley Estates.  Click on the image to see it enlarged in a new window.
Finally, on 2 January 1957, it was decided to give up, though the approved application permitted a drilling depth up to 5,000 feet.  As was the case with the Tannehill well, Stoody arranged to have the well converted to a water well and sent a letter, this time signed by his wife Corinne as well, to the Division of Oil and Gas, to confirm the conversion.

Notably, a little problem developed with Samuel Brooks and his involvement with the Columbus-Rexall Oil Company.  Namely, in June 1957, that firm hired a Miami-based commodities trader and conducted an exchange of stock that purchased a Cuban oil firm, United Caribbean Oil Company--this was at the tail end of the notoriously-corrupt regime in that island nation just before the revolution of 1959 spearheaded by Fidel Castro.  Stock that was transferred was assigned values for sale to investors that failed to reflect the fact that Columbus Rexall had essentially no value and the scheme of manipulation of stock value was designed to provide profit for company executives.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) then filed charges in federal court against twenty-one individuals, including Sam Brooks, for their role in the fraud.  It took a few years to process the case against many of those involved, but a number of convictions and guilty pleas were obtained by 1963.  Several of the defendants received two-year sentences, some suspended and changed to probation, and fines of generally around $15-20,000.  Brooks was found guilty, according to an SEC publication, but his sentence was not given.  In any case, this is a tangent to the Columbus Rexall Stoody well in Carbon Canyon that has some interest.

As to that well, the collapse of Columbus Rexall meant that the state's legal requirements for properly abandoning the well were not met and it can't be determined whether the well was converted to water use by Stoody or left partially closed.  Within a few years, Stoody died in a 1961 plane crash on the Double S Ranch and the property sold by his widow to investors known as Carbon Canyon Properties, Inc., who then developed the Western Hills Golf Course, as well as maintained undeveloped land, on which was the well.

Fast forward about a half century from the original drilling of that well and part of the Double S Ranch is sold for a housing tract developed by Meritage Homes called Pine Valley Estates and then sold to a new developer, Warmington Homes, and refashioned as Elements at Pine Valley Estates.  This subdivision sits on the hillside to the north and west of Western Hills, but there was the little matter of the improperly abandoned well site.  Consequently, in 2006-07, Meritage had to go through the official process through the state of having the well properly abandoned—except that there was no way to actually fully close the well because of the incompleteness of the work back in 1957.  So, the provision for Meritage to build on the parcel was that the well site had to be left undeveloped and so it remains somewhere within the gated Elements community today.

28 July 2014

Oil Drilling in Carbon Canyon's Chino Hills Portion, Part One

With the acquisition of some 400 acres in Carbon Canyon completed in 1952, industrialist and inventory Shelley M. Stoody established his Double S [get it?] Ranch as a base for raising purebred Polled Holstein bulls.  Stoody, however, also added a landing strip to indulge another passion, flying, which he had indulged in since he was a young man in Whittier in the 1920s. 

He and his wife Corinne also built themselves a single-story home atop the summit that gave a commanding view of the ranch and the canyon, a structure that still stands today.  As noted in an earlier post, after almost a decade of owning the ranch, Stoody was killed in 1961 when the twin-engine plane he was piloting was caught in a strong wind gust and driven into a hill, with Stoody and two other passengers dying and one other passenger surviving with serious injuries.

A side endeavor, however, for Stoody was the leasing of some of his property for oil prospecting and two wells were drilled on the ranch.  The first was drilled by John Q. Tannehill in a two-week period in late April and the first part of May 1955.  Tannehill came from an oil prospecting background.  His father, Lisle, was a cattleman, hardware merchant and insurance company co-owner from Roswell, New Mexico (yes, the UFO capital of the USA) who followed a brother and bought a second home in Hollywood in 1909 (and even dabbled a little in film production.)

The Tannehill Oil Company was formed in 1909 with $250,000 in stock and the bulk of the company's work was in the famed Midway-Sunset oil field near Bakersfield in Kern County.   The Tanehills also had oil operations in the Texas panhandle near Amarillo, where their father had settled, and then dabbled in wildcatting, which basically entails searching for oil in fields that had not been proved geologically through analysis and study, but are generally areas near existing successful fields.  For example, the Tannehill firm tried drilling near Corona, under the belief that a belt of untapped oil must have existed in somewhat of a line with the string of fields ranging from Montebello to Whittier to Brea and Olinda.

As for John, he was born in 1910 and raised in Roswell and graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1930.  A few years later, he was working as a salesman in the family hardware business and appears to have had a hand in the Tannehill oil enterprise, as well.  In the mid-1950s, in his mid-forties, Tannehill went in with a partner, Robert A. Pierce in the "Li-Jo Oil Company," based out of an office on Spring Street in Los Angeles and which had at lease one other oil drilling project near Bakersfield, with his lease of 200 acres on Stoody's Double S Ranch.

This plat map accompanied the paperwork concerning the drilling of an oil well by John Q. Tannehill on the Double S Ranch, owned by Shelley M. Stoody, at what is now the Western Hills Country Club on the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon.  Carbon Canyon Road runs from the lower left to upper right, between the numbers 36 and 31 [these being section numbers] with the summit appearing to be just above where it reads "Parcel No. 4" and the well was located above that in a square to the left of where it says "No. 1" for the parcel of that number.  This would be at the far north portion of the golf course, the lake of which is fed from springs that this well, converted for water use, would tap.  Click on the image to see it enlarged in a new window.
He filed a "Notice of Intention to Drill New Well" form with the state's Division of Oil and Gas on 13 April, received approval, and within a couple of days work began.  The well was spudded (started) on the 16th and the first 150 feet were drilled that day.  After cementing the casing to that depth, drilling continued on the 18th down to 1070 feet.  Over another week the work got down as far as 2150 feet, the intended depth approved for on the application.

What was found was shale at the shallow level, water and sand down to 1400 feet, sandy shale at 1800 feet, and hard sandy shale below that.  Once Tannehill had gone as far as he was approved to go, there was no choice but to give up when no deposits of oil were found.  That's the inherent risk of any drilling, but especially wildcatting.

So, on 5 May, Tannehill filed a "Notice of Intention to Abandon Well," and submitted a letter dated the previous day on Stoody's Double S. Ranch letterhead (address: "Summit Carbon Canyon, Route 3, Box 61, Chino, California") that stated:
I, S.M. Stoody, owner of property leased by Mr. John Q. Tannehill, request the well be left in condition to make a water well.  I will accept responsibility of developing or abandoning said well according to the rules of the State of California, Division of Oil & Gas."
It is evident from a plat map (shown here) that went along with the paperwork for the well drilling project that the dry well was dug somewhere in the vicinity of the upper portion of today's Western Hills Golf Course.

As for the Tannehill family's larger oil firm, it still existed until 1996 when its many assets were sold to the Berry Petroleum Company for $25.2 million, including 600 acres in Kern County producing 1400 barrels of oil per day and reserves of some 7.1 million barrels, as well as a power plant--all located near the oil town of Taft.

A little sidenote on this is that the Tannehills bought, in the 1910s, a portion of the Topo Ranch in San Benito County.  This ranch had been purchased in 1860 by Patrick Breen and his son Edward, survivors of the tragic Donner Party that had been trapped by blizzards in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near today's Truckee in 1846.  Breen died in 1868 and his descendants owned the ranch for decades afterward until losing the last of it in the Great Depression of the 1930s.  In the 1940 census, Lisle, his wife Lillian and their son John resided on the ranch.  Incidentally, there is a clothing line, run out of Venice Beach here in Los Angeles, that draws its inspiration from the Topo Ranch.

Next up, the second of the two oil wells drilled on Shelley Stoody's Double S Ranch . . .

22 July 2014

A Ramble in the Hills Above Carbon Canyon

Taken from the hills behind the southern section of Sleepy Hollow, this view looks northeast toward the former Camp Kinder Ring/Ski Villa/Purple Haze property, now a cattle and horse ranch, and the Oak Tree Estates/Downs community and beyond.  The photo was taken on Sunday morning, as were the others shown here.  Click on this or any photo to see them in an enlarged view in a separate window.
Opportunities to get out and about in the hills around Sleepy Hollow have been too far and between in recent years.  So, the chance to take a decent walk in the area south of the community last weekend with a neighbor was more than welcome.

Fortunately, we had a period of cooler, if slightly more humid than usual, weather, so the mid-morning hike was pretty comfortable, even accounting for the steep climb up the dirt road from the top of the neighborhood to the ridge separating Carbon Canyon from Soquel Canyon.  Grazing cattle were everywhere on the ridgetop areas and vehicles were parked to the west--these being used by the lessees of the land for supervising the movement of the animals.

This photo looks northwest towards Sleepy Hollow and the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon.  On the ridgelines of the hills in the distance is where the Madrona project, consisting of 152 houses, which was approved in early June by the Brea City Council would go, if built.
From there, the jaunt headed east through some of the table lands earmarked for the 102-unit Hidden Oaks development that will soon be processed by the City of Chino Hills and, because it has a long-standing recorded tract map and is, therefore, entitled, then approved. 

The name Hidden Oaks is more than ironic, because a predecessor project years ago involved the removal of some two thousand (yep, 2000) oak trees before the developer went belly-up (leading to a too-obvious question, as my neighbor asked, concerning why a developer can remove anything from a building site before a building permit is issued.)  Some of the photos here show the cleared landscape where those trees, now protected, once stood.

If the project is constructed, hopefully there will be trail access from Sleepy Hollow to Chino Hills State Park, which is beyond Soquel Canyon to the south, as well as protection for important drainages such as Rock Creek and Rock Canyon at the east end of the Hidden Oaks project site, these having three spectacular sandstone waterfalls that are targeted for project runoff access.

This is the drainage cut almost completely clear by FEMA grant-funded work crews who were supposed to limit their work to 100' wide firebreaks, one of which is visible just in front of the houses at the center of the photo.  If any heavy rainfall were to come this winter, it could pose problems for the folks in the houses below.
Another strange and more recent issue has to do with the FEMA grant-funded work to create a 100' wide fire break on the Chino Hills side of the canyon--an important project to provide some extra protection for local communities against wildfires. 

Yet, it was pointed out by my neighbor that there were areas that were cleared by work crews that were beyond the designated break locations.  One of these was, as shown in another photo here, in a drainage in which almost all plant material was leveled.

This is one section of the area earmarked for the 102-unit Hidden Oaks housing project, which has an entitled tract map from years ago and is likely to get quick approval from the City of Chino Hills.  If the project is built, this area will be filled with houses, streets and so forth.  In the distance beyond Soquel Canyon is the North Ridge Trail in Chino Hills State Park.
So, provided there is any decent rainfall this winter (and the latest NOAA estimates suggest another below-average year, which, if true, has all kinds of consequences for water availability and restrictions in 2015), runoff could race down the desiccated drainage and straight into Sleepy Hollow's southern sections and cause some significant problems.  Again, this assumes meaningful precipitation occurs in coming months.

Another question:  why was this landscape removal, clearly beyond the scope of the project, done and who was tasked with inspecting the work?

Another view of open table lands, stripped of their oak trees years ago, that will be covered with streets, houses and other elements of the Hidden Oaks development, if approved and built.
On the positive side, as noted above, it was a nice morning and gradually clearing by the end of the ramble, so the views were great and another reminder of why the canyon, threatened as it is by over-development, drought, fire and so on, is such a special place.

Before the canyon changes too much and homes take over the ridgetop areas that provide oak and walnut woodland habitat, such spectacular vistas and a sense of openness, more hikes like this will, hopefully, happen, so that a fuller appreciation of the beauty of the canyon can be had before the transformations, whenever they happen, do occur.

This was a surprise located toward the end of the walk, an approximately 25' high dry waterfall following a gully that runs northward from the hills above Sleepy Hollow and empties through the eastern edge of the community, under Carbon Canyon Road, and into Carbon [Canyon] Creek.  This must have been spectacular in the recent wet winters of 2004-05 and 2007-08.

16 July 2014

Madrona Lawsuit Fundraiser This Saturday

It's still remarkable how far Brea's city council, excepting the lone dissenter Marty Simonoff, was wiling to accomodate and approve, in early June, the Madrona project, which would't even be allowed to be processed now under current city ordinances.

Even more flummoxing (love that word) is that, with the news filled with drought-related items concerning low reservoir levels, farmland drying up and going unplanted, a $2.2 billion loss on agriculture for this year, and now a first-ever statewide mandatory water rationing plan being implemented and likely to be more stringent in 2015--is how local governments like Brea can even approve water-wasting projects like Madrona, which will use several times the average water level of current city residences.

However, despite the council approval a little more than a month ago, the fight is far from over.  Changes were introduced to the Madrona project that were not fully disclosed to the appellants and which can very well require an amended environmental impact report.  Hills for Everyone, along with the Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, a support group for public county recreational facilities, has filed suit in Orange County Superior Court, challenging the approval on those and other grounds.

To date, Hills for Everyone has raised tens of thousands of dollars from grassroots support to use toward the litigation.  Part of the fundraising program is an event Saturday evening, 19 July, at an Olinda Village residence that will include a silent auction, as well as food, drink and great conversation with a lot of dedicated, organized and forward-thinking folks.  Held from 4-6 p.m. at 275 Verbena Lane, Brea, the event is $30 per person of $50 for two by advance sales and $10 more for each set at the door.

You don't have to live in Olinda Village or Carbon Canyon to go out and lend your support.  If you care about the direction of development in our region, about the issues of water, traffic, loss of vanishing habitat, and others that are involved in the Madrona project, and about the preservation of the little remaining hillside land left in this area, go out, support the cause, and have a great time.

For more information on Saturday's event, please click here.

14 July 2014

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #46: Olinda Oil Field postcard

A postcard with a colored photograph of "Oil Fields near Fullerton, Calif.," published by M. Kashower Company of Los Angeles and showing the Santa Fe lease at Olinda.  The date is circa 1910.   Click on the image to see it in an enlarged view in a separate window.
In 1897, the discovery of oil by Edward Doheny on land leased on the Olinda Ranch by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad ushered in the Olinda field, the first oil-producing area of Orange County and, at the time, one of the major fields in California.

Yet, for years, this area was known instead as the "Fullerton Oil Field," almost certainly because of the fact that the nearest town to the site was Fullerton.  This unused postcard, probably dating to around 1910, reflects that through its title of "2.  Oil Fields Near Fullerton, Calif." as well as the short description on the reverse, which slightly amends the title to "2.  VIEW OF A SECTION OF THE FULLERTON OIL DISTRICT,' and adds the observation that "the wells of which have returned untold millions to their owners."

Why these riches had to be "untold" is an interesting semantic question, but the fact is that the earlier producers did quite well, including Doheny, the Santa Fe railroad, and other players like Graham and Loftus, the Fullerton Oil Company and the Bailey family, whose Olinda Ranch was considered a failure as a subdivision project until black gold was located a decade after they bought the land.

In any case, the card shows the hillside location north of Carbon Canyon Road and east of Valencia Avenue where the Santa Fe-held area, much of which was known for years as the C.C.M.O. (Chanslor-Canfield Midway Organization) lease, was located.  Wooden derricks, sheds, storage tanks, what may be homes as well as outbuildings, and power lines are in view.

Once the wells were basically played-out and operations shuttered, the site, which underwent an extensive cleaning operation, became the Olinda Ranch subdivision.  The original Olinda oil well, brought in by Doheny nearly 120 years ago, is still operating and the Olinda Oil Museum exists to tell the story of the field.

06 July 2014

Madrona Lawsuit Filed

A few days ago, Hills for Everyone, which has actively campaigned against the Madrona housing project, approved a month ago by the Brea City Council, proposing 152 homes on 367 acres in Carbon Canyon from Olinda Village east to the Orange/San Bernardino counties line, and Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, a volunteer support group for county recreational facilities, filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court challenging the council's decision.

A press release announcing the suit quoted former Brea council member and mayor Bev Perry, who is also secretary/treasurer of Hills for Everyone, as observing that, "we had four City Council members sell out the people they were elected to represent, and they threw out Brea's long-standing values of good planning and hillside protection."  Noting the prolonged severe drought that has wracked the region, Perry criticized the council decision "to approve a project that uses five times the amount of drinking water of an average Brea household in order to permanently irrigate huge fire fuel modification zones."

Specifically, the suit alleges that the approved Madrona project violates "state planning laws mandating consistency between general and specific plans and the California Environmental Quality Act for failing to disclose the project's true impacts on traffic and environment in the EIR."

Seeking donations for their cause, Hills for Everyone has already received some $20,000 in the last few weeks and the organization is hosting an upcoming fundraiser.

The Wine and Cheese Fundraiser to fight Madrona is being held Saturday, 19 July from 4 to 6 p.m. at the home of Duane and Luz Thompson in Olinda Village.  A silent auction is being offered as part of the festivities, which cost $30 per person or $50 for a pair, with the at-the-door price $10 higher.  For more information, including advance ticket information, please click here for the StopMadrona.org Web site and direct links to the event.

It will be interesting to see what the lawsuit will entail and what it can do to bring attention to some of the irregularities involved in the decision-making process, especially some last-minute changes and invitations to the applicants to present additional information without prior notification to the appellants and changes to required documents (such as the approved tract map and amendments to the Environmental Impact Report.)

Stay tuned here for more!