31 August 2014

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

At the close of the 1930s, an oil well was drilled somewhere in the vicinity of either what is now the Western Hills Oaks subdivision or closer to the Mountain View tract off Canon Lane, south of Carbon Canyon Road.

The project was initiated by the John Hokom Oil and Gas Company, Ltd., a firm created by its namesake, a successful plumbing and hearing contractor born to Swedish emigrants (his father's name had been Hokansson] in the town of Galva in west-central Illinois in 1876.  After 1900, Hokom relocated to Los Angeles and opened his business which proved to be quite successful. 

Hokom was an active member of the state Master Plumbers' Association, an organization to promote professional practices in the rapidly-growing industry and served as its president in 1917.  Two years later, a trade journal noted that Hokom was "one of the most successful master plumbers in Los Angeles Cal." and that "at the present he is employing 25 mechanics; business is good and prospects are very bright for it to remain so."  This was especially true as the 1920s proved to be a significant decade for building in the Los Angeles area.

Hokom was in his early 60s  when he formed the John Hokom Oil and Gasoline Company, Limited, based at the Hollywood office of his plumbing and heating business, though it appears that his well in Carbon Canyon might have been his only project.  On 8 June 1939, Hokom filed his "Notice of Intention to Drill New Well" with the state Division of Oil and Gas on a lease of 40 acres.  It was estimated that gas would be found "at a depth of about 3500 feet" as noted on the form and some specifics were given in terms of the size of the casing, strings and so on.

Work began on 15 June as the hole was spudded.  By 11 July, the well was down to 2941 feet, but with nothing evidently found, it was decided the following day "to abandon hole from 2941' to 1395'."  On the 13th, 750 sacks of cement were poured into the hole and following days consisted of raising the plug and filling the hole with more cement and then it was decided to revise the project.

On the 18th, a supplementary proposal was submitted that called for redrilling at around 1300', because, it was stated, drillers "encountered two fairly good looking oil sands from 1110'-1252' and 1293'-1375' with thin shale partings and wet sands in between."  It was proposed to start back at 1295' and run a 7" string down to the 80 feet of the bottom of the lower sands.

By the 19th, the hole was "drilled out to 1298" at which time water testing was done and the well was pumped with 200 barrels of water and 34 grains of chloride per gallon through to 9 August.  It was reported that the hole "showed gas and colors of oil." 

But, in 17 August a well report was submitted to the Division of Oil and Gas that proposed "to circulate the hole full of heavy mud, pull all 7" casing possible, cap the 13" casing at the surface with a vented, welded cap and abandon the location."

A report of February 1940, noted that nearly a month passed before, instead of abandoning the well, Hokom went back, presumably with state permission, and, on the 14th, "put well to pumping at 1197'."  Fresh water was used and there were "slight showings of heavy oil and gas."  Yet, by 20 September, the drillers "pulled and paid town tubing and rods, abandoned hole from 1235'"  Cement was poured in and a plug placed at 1103' along with a vented plug in the casing, so that the "well [is] standing."  This meant that the well was not yet abandoned.

In May, Hokom submitted a letter to the state's Oil and Gas Supervisor, informing the agency that, concerning the bond obtained as insurance for drilling the well, Hokom wished to inform the bonding company, "that we have no further need of the above bond, as the well above mentioned was abandoned and capped in September 1939."  This was, as noted above, not true, as the well was left standing with plugs at a depth far below the surface.

Nearly eight years later, on 1 April 1948, a "Notice of Intention to Abandon Well" was filed with the Division of Oil and Gas, stating that the well was cemented to 1103' and that the proposed work to date and to "shoot and pull all 7" casing possible, place cemt. plug" to 266 feet and then "cap at surface and abandon."

A 26 April "Special Report to Operations Witnessed" from the state noted that work conducted on 18-19 April was for work that included "that the 7" casing was shot at 836' and was pulled from that depth," that "plugging operations were started by dumping cement in the hole on a wooden plug at 272'," and that "18 sacks of cement was [were] dumped in the hole beginning at 272'."  Once the cement plug was verified at 231', the abandonment was considered complete.

However, in mid-July 1948, a new well history was filed, showing that, on the 13th, "4 sacks of cement was [were] dumped on wood plug hanging at 10' placing of plug."  Consequently, this last action allowed the Oil and Gas Division to send a letter to Hokom's agent, informing him that the abandonment of the well was finally completed, nearly nine years after it was supposed to have been.

John Hokom lived for another seventeen years, dying in Los Angeles at 89 years of age in July 1965.

26 August 2014

Madrona Lawsuit's Two New Plaintiffs Announced!

A press release issued by Hills for Everyone, the main plaintiff in the July lawsuit filed with the Orange County Superior Court against the Madrona project, approved by the City of Brea's council in early June for 152 luxury houses on exposed hilltop terrain on the north side of Carbon Canyon, announces that there are two new additional plaintiffs (along with HFE and Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, an Orange County support organization for the county department, joining the suit.

The public interest groups signing on to the suit are the Sierra Club and the California Native Plant Society.  Eric Johnson, a Brea resident and Chair of the Sierra Club's Puente Hills Task Force, commented that, "when dangerous land use decisions are made that will destroy natural lands, waste our precious drinking water, and put people at risk, those decisions must be challenged."

Celia Kutcher, who serves as the California Native Plant Society's Orange County chapter chair, expressed dismay over the loss of 1,400 oak and walnut trees and the habitat that exists with them by noting that, "we've found that pursuit of this lawsuit is necessary and proper in order to protect the legal rights of its [the Society's] members" which are tied to the organization's mission and goals.

This blog has often discussed the myriad problems raised by this terrible project, which was nearly fifteen years in the pipeline and only remained there because of an inadvisable legal agreement signed by a skittish city afraid of being sued by the developer.  In fact, the project wouldn't even get past the application stage under current codes.

Impacts of traffic on an already heavily-traveled Carbon Canyon Road, which cannot be widened; public safety concerns with a property that has burned four times in thirty years; massive grading; five times the water usage of an average Brea home at a time of increasing water scarcity; and the loss of rapidly-diminishing oak and walnut woodland habitat are the main concerns.

Though the matter now goes to the courts, there is much support interested citizens can make—mainly, by supporting the lawsuit with donations offered to Hills for Everyone.  For more information on the project and how to help fight it, log on here.

16 August 2014

Canyon Hills Tract's Bacteria-Infected Water Line!

UPDATE, 6 September:  A new article in the Champion this past weekend reported that several further water and chlorine tests of the main line at the Canyon Hills tract reveals continued bacteria levels beyond acceptable levels.  Chino Hills Public Works Director Nadeem Majaj was quoted as saying that the next step was to hook up the main line to the city's water system and resume testing.  One wonders how common this kind of situation is and why it has taken several tests (and lots of wasted water--although the numbers of gallons used on recent tests was less than the 750,000 gallons from early August) to get to the point of moving on to the hookup with the city's lines.

As reported by Marianne Napoles in tomorrow's (well, today's since it just passed midnight) edition of The Champion, Forestar Homes, developer of the 76-unit Canyon Hills tract just east of Sleepy Hollow on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road, has been trying to flush chlorinated water through its new water main line because of a bacterial infestation from an unknown source.

A 5 August test conducted at the site revealed the infection and, while the news was out at the local Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council meeting the next day that there had been a flushing of the lines totaling 750,000 gallons of water, it was not then known that the problem was bacterial in nature.

The flushing of the line was in preparation for connection to the local domestic water supply, but this is now delayed because health standards required for the linkage have obviously not been met. 

As reported by Napoles, there have been five flushes of the line took place between 28 July and 5 August, with all resulting in positive tests for bacteria, and a sixth one was being readied, for as early as this coming Monday the 18th, that would involve, "a heavier dose of chlorine" with the aftermath necessitating the move to "keep the pipe sealed over the weekend to strive to achieve 100 percent pathogenic-bacteria kill."  Further, as part of the effort, the article continued, "sodium thiosulfate is being used to neutralize the chlorine." 

According to Nadeem Majaj, public works director for the City of Chino Hills, the discharge of the de-chlorinated water was to be conducted using a permit held by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Even though water was being released toward Carbon [Canyon] Creek, the piece went on to say that "a permit is not required from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife," which has jurisdiction over the creek, "because there will be no physical alteration to the receiving stream."  Well, the creek gets so much runoff from pesticide-saturated sources like Western Hills Country Club and nearby homes that water with chlorine, sodium thiosulfate and/or bacteria is probably not going to make much difference in the quality of the creek!

UPDATE, 2 OCTOBER 2014:  Well, this is embarrassing!  It's been pointed out that City Engineer Steve Nix has stated that the highest cost charged in Tier 3, where the most water usage is calculated at $3.75 per ccf.  This blogger stated below that the highest cost was $11.50, which is a gross misstatement based on a poor reading of a simply-worded city water bill.  That figure was actually that there was 11.5 ccf used in Tier 2 for a total per ccf cost of $2.81.  As seen below, Forestar was being charged at $3 per ccf.

Now, what has happened in the six weeks since this post is that further flushing of the lines has been conducted, so that a little over 2 million gallons has been used, far greater than the 750,000 gallons that was flushed up until two months ago.  A Carbon Canyon resident has raised important concerns about the amount of water essentially being dumped into Carbon [Canyon] Creek during an increasingly worsening drought, as well as wondering if any damage is being done due to the chlorine content in the water.

So, the material below is being crossed out as inaccurate, though retained to show what was originally said, as well as being a reminder to this blogger to be more careful!

The total cost to Forestar for the use of 750,000 gallons of water is $3,009 at the "non-residential rate" of $3 per ccf (748 gallons.)  By way of illustration, residential charges can be as high as $11.50 per ccf for consumption over 13 ccfs, as shown on this blogger's current water bill.  This flushing involved just over 1,000 ccfs.  If a resident was to, theoretically, utilize 750,000 gallons of water at the prevailing residential rate that is three times higher, the cost would be just in excess of $11,500.

Speaking of excess, given our increasingly-worsening drought and the growing need for conservation, this "non-residential rate" seems awfully low as a volume discount, though there would undoubtedly be arguments that there is an economic benefit to this project that compensated for the reduced rate, but that's another story for another day.  Maybe one that can be coupled with the recent revelations that the City of Chino Hills charges nearly $200 for a permit in a residence to install a water heater.

12 August 2014

CalTrans Guardrail Work on Carbon Canyon Road

This morning, CalTrans crews are out working on the guardrails along the S-curve on Carbon Canyon Road on the Chino Hills side of the canyon near Summit Ranch and Carriage Hills.

They're doing this work because of regular damage caused to the rails by drivers.

Drivers are mainly causing this damage because they're driving too fast along the roadway at the S-curve.

Drivers go too fast for a variety of reasons, including the thrills and fun of testing the curves.

Drivers can test the curves because there's no one in officialdom consistently patrolling the highway, despite all the warning signs . . . and guardrails.

No one's consistently patrolling Carbon Canyon Road, because . . . [fill in the blank here]

08 August 2014

Carbon Canyon Road Acccident and Closure

UPDATE, 9:45 A.M. SATURDAY:  Either it took an extra six hours or the automated notice system was delayed, but as of 9 a.m. Carbon Canyon Road was reopened.

UPDATE, 6:00 p.m.  The accident looks to have taken place near Olinda Village on the Brea side of the canyon.

The latest notification is:
Friday August 8th - Carbon Canyon is Closed at the County Line - 3:00 pm Update 
Traffic accident and downed power lines near Olinda Village.
SCE is on scene and estimates closure will be in effect for 12 hours.
UPDATE, 4:00 P.M.  A check with the automated hotline from the City of Chino Hills shows that the closure of Carbon Canyon Road at the county line between that city and Brea is now EXTENDED to 3:00 a.m. tomorrow morning as Edison seeks to work on the downed power pole.

Again, Carbon Canyon Road is now closed until 3 a.m. Saturday.

This notice was sent via the City of Chino Hills e-notification service:
Friday, August 8th 2:00 pm - The Brea Police Dept. has advised that there is a sig alert in effect on Carbon Canyon Road until 4:00 pm due to a traffic collision and downed power lines.  Vehicles traveling west from Chino Hills toward Brea will be turned around at the County line until the road is reopened. 
It appears this accident took place in Sleepy Hollow, where downed power lines have taken place several times in recent years.

The information could change, but anyone looking to drive through the Canyon over at least the next hour should be aware that they may not be allowed to go through either side.

An update will be offered after 4:00 to see if matters have changed. 

01 August 2014

Carbon Canyon Lots for Sale

Following on the heels of the last post about the Sleepy Hollow home and adjacent 4-acre parcel for sale, there are quite a few other undeveloped parcels in Carbon Canyon for sale, though the ability of a prospective buyer to build on some may be suspect or, at least, quite costly, while others appear to have more possibilities.  In some cases, the prices are questionable.  Obviously, these listings are for informational purposes and, as in any instance, an interested party needs to research these very carefully.

The first listing is for an unusual shaped parcel off Brandon Circle, a small cul-de-sac accessed from Old Carbon Canyon Road, just south of Carbon Canyon Road and adjacent to the Carriage Hills subdivision. But, the 2/3 acre lot is being sold for $799,000! 

Anyway, for the Redfin link, click here

Just a short distance down Old Carbon Canyon Road and at its end, there are several parcels totaling 16 acres being offered for about the same price as the Brandon Circle lot.  There are likely differences in terms of available infrastructure, but, still . . .

For this link, click here.

To the west and across from Western Hills Country Club and evidently near Western Hills Oaks (the Google map shows it as near Carriage Hills but the photos indicate otherwise) is a half-acre property for $145,000, including custom home plans and soil test reports.

Click here for more.

In Western Hills Oaks, there are three unbuilt parcels currently for sale.  One on Fox Hunt at the higher, southern side of the community is over 1.5 acres and a pad is there, but no current blueprints, and the offering price is $399,000, which seems much steeper than the lot.

Here's the link.

Down lower on Valley Springs is a half-acre parcel on a bend in the road listed for $178,000 and for which there are plans for a 5,000 square foot home—well, the listing says "The lot comes with a preliminary 5,000+ square feet custom home."  Maybe you could negotiate for the house with the lot for $178K?

To check this out, click here.

Nearby on Valley Springs is another 1/2 acre lot for $329,900.  How different is the available infrastructure for this lot compared to the one above is another matter when the price difference is so much.

Anyway, here's the link.

In Mountain View Estates on Observation Lane off Canon Lane is a 1/3 acre lot that is a more advanced stage of development that most others listed.  The agent says the architectural plans for a 4,000 square foot house and the grading plan are approved and a geotechnical report and perc test (percolation testing for a septic system based on soil absorption characteristics) are done.  The listed price is $219,900.

To see this lot, click here.

On Canon Lane at a sharp turn before you climb uphill, there are two lots totaling just over 9,000 square feet with which are architectural plans and perc reports and the asking price is $100,000.

Here's the listing.

In Oak Tree Downs there is one lot and in the adjacent Oak Tree Estates there are three parcels for sale with prices ranging from $400,000 to 558,000. 

On Greens Court in the Downs, home construction barely started before the owner moved out of state--the 1/2 acre property is priced at $399,000 and can be seen here.

At the end of Berkeley Court in the Estates is a hilltop 1.5 acre lot with utilities and the listing mentions a 5,500sf house, but doesn't say whether there are plans or not.  Anyway, you can see the property here.

On the corner of Village Drive and Oak Tree Crossing is a 2.43 acre parcel with no indication of any reports or plans and offered for $558,000.  Here is the info.

There is a 1.25 acre lot on Esquilime Drive that also appears to be without plans or reports and is priced at $450,000.  More here.

Adjacent to Sleepy Hollow on the south side of Carbon Canyon Road is a parcel that is 2/3 of an acre and listed for $130,000, including home plans, soil reports and surveys, though potential buyers are advised to note the location carefully. 

For the link, click here.

In Sleepy Hollow's north side, off Hillside Road, is a 1/3 acre lot that appears to have no plans or reports and is offered at $40,000.

To check this property out, click here.

On the Brea side of the Canyon, there is a .9 acre lot right off the south side of Carbon Canyon Road with a gas meter that is offered for $40,000. 

Here's the link.

Just east of this last listing, there is a sign from the same realtor for a 36-acre property that climbs the steep hill to the summit above the Canyon to the south.  There isn't, however, a Redfin listing for this, but an interested party could drive to the site and get the contact info from the sign. 

This post was created largely to show that there are smaller parcels in Carbon Canyon that could potentially be built on—above and beyond the much larger housing developments like Madrona, Canyon Hills, Stonecrest and Hidden Oaks that either are approved or are likely to because of entitlements and which total over 350 units.

The Canyon can only handle so much more traffic, loss of increasingly diminishing wild habitat, fire risk, use of water in a long-term drought and so on.  It's one thing to have someone buy a lot for a single residence or even a few, as all of the above are, but quite another to have hundreds of homes potentially be built in a place that cannot handle the influx.