04 January 2015

Still Another Ramble in the Hills Above Carbon Canyon

Carbon Creek as it runs through a recently cleared area in Sleepy Hollow just east of the former Canyon Market property.
It was a gorgeous day with temperatures warmer than the recent cold spell, but the blood still ran cold when the (de)grading of the Canyon Hills development, undertaken by its current owner Forestar (which, evidently, intends to sell the property once basic utilities and grading are done) was visited on a hike today in and around Sleepy Hollow.

The walk, with a longtime resident of the community, started by descending into the recently-cleared area along Carbon Creek at the center of Sleepy Hollow.  Among interesting tidbits mentioned by my companion was that there used to be something of a park in the area just east of the former Canyon Market, including a swimming pool.  Today, however, there is only the cleared area, the small flow of the creek, but also two remnants of earlier days.

The inscription on the cement plug, probably for an old well just below Carbon Canyon Road and next to Carbon Creek in Sleepy Hollow reads, "8 FT. DEEP / PLUG."
The first is a cement plug for what must have been a well--etched into the cement is the lettering "8 Ft. Deep Plug" at the site located immediately below Carbon Canyon Road.  A few feet to the west is what is left of a gate and stairs that led to the site.

Emerging from the creek near the shuttered store, the walk led eastward leaving Sleepy Hollow and climbing a steep trail up the hill to the top of the old Ski Villa cement ski slope.  From there, it was a stark visit to the (de)grading for the Canyon Hills project of 76 houses.

A view on a trail from Sleepy Hollow to Canyon Hills.
So far, graders have mainly focused on areas with oak trees, brush and other plant material, though some razing of sidewalks and structures built for the Camp Kinder Ring facility, sometime between the late 1920s and late 1950s, has been taking place.  Other remnants of buildings will, however, soon be razed, leaving little or no physical traces of the Jewish recreational facility, operated by the leftist Workmen's Circle for thirty years.

What is striking is that there was evidently no interest whatsoever by San Bernardino County or the City of Chino Hills in documenting the history of the site, whether from Camp Kinder Ring, its successor recreational entities, or Ski Villa.

One section of the (de)grading of Canyon Hills, begun in late December, as part of the development for the future 76-home project just north of Carbon Canyon Road and east of Sleepy Hollow.
As noted here previously, there is one particularly interesting relic:  the handprint, name and date of someone associated with Camp Kinder Ring.  On a rock-faced pillar to one of the buildings is etched into the cement cap the first name of "Miriam", the surname, which might be "Posner", and the date 19 July 1946.  The hand print appears to be that of a small child, perhaps seven or so years of age.

Otherwise, there are a few other remnants, broken ceramic, floor tiles (some made by the longtime firm of Gladding McBean, which operated in Los Angeles and Glendale), red bricks, and other little items--all soon to be plowed over or carted away to a landfill.

Panoramic views abound on the Canyon Hills site, including this one taken from the largest structure once part of the Camp Kinder Ring facility and looking eastward.
Sadder, though, is the immense of amount of destruction to the oak and walnut woodland habitat, which is being diminished increasingly in our region.  As discussed here before, this site is one of the few in the canyon not disturbed in recent decades by cattle grazing, so the relative lushness of the landscape was notable--until now.

Again, many of the remains of Camp Kinder Ring structures are still in place, but it can't be very long, perhaps within a week or two, before all of it is gone.  There is even the rusted remnants of what appears to be a 1970s model Ford Mustang, which has, however, been adaptively reused as the site of a wood rat's nest.

One of dozens of piles of razed oak trees and other plant material dislodged by the (de)grading of the Canyon Hills site.
The jaunt continued to the summit of the Canyon Hills development site, where the 360-degree views of the canyon, surrounding areas, and, to the north and northeast, the San Gabriel Mountains are something to behold.

It was also a reminder, however, that the windswept hilltops of the canyon are exactly those places where occasional wildfires burn the quickest, drawing flames up the canyons and gullies and then fanned by those strong gusts.  Developers promise that fire-resistant planning will protect homes, though.  Ask the folks whose homes were lost in Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills in the 2008 Freeway Complex fire whether these promises always hold up.

A view from the highest point on the Canyon Hills project site taking in part of the beautiful views found in all directions.
Speaking of fire planning, the walk then headed back towards Sleepy Hollow and, specifically, the area about Hillside Drive and Sunset Way, two of the narrow roads in the 1920s-developed community that lead up to the fringes of Canyon Hills.  My companion pointed out Hillside Drive could be linked up as an emergency access road to the future tract, allowing residents of the north side of Sleepy Hollow or those of Canyon Hills a secondary escape route when future fires take place.  Whether this will be amenable to local officials, however, is another matter.

The walk concluded by descending down Sunset Way, at the extreme northwest of Sleepy Hollow and where, indeed, the sunsets are probably spectacular.  There was a beautiful little spot in that general area where, for many years, the son of Sleepy Hollow's founders, Cleve and Elizabeth Purington, lived.  It is pretty isolated and generally open, giving a sense of what the community was like in the years before development came in a big way to the canyon.

A pretty spot within the Sleepy Hollow community, highlighting some of the oak trees that are a significant part of the Carbon Canyon landscape.
That development is now manifesting itself in one of the biggest projects to come to Carbon Canyon in about 25 years, though the Pine Valley project above Western Hills Country Club may be viewed in a way as a canyon development, though access is from the north.

The (de)grading of the project site is only a portent of what may be coming, provided the 162-unit Madrona project's approval by the City of Brea is upheld in court (more on this soon) and that the 100-plus unit Hidden Oaks project, soon to come before the City of Chino Hills, is given approval on its site just east of Sleepy Hollow and directly across Carbon Canyon Road from Canyon Hills.  The smaller 24-unit Stonefield development, east of Western Hills Country Club, has been approved, as well.

Looking southeast from the top of Hillside Drive over Sleepy Hollow and towards the proposed Hidden Oaks site.
A little simple math means that, potentially, the canyon could see in upcoming years over 360 new houses--of larger-than-average size in homes and lots and meaning more-than-usual water use.  These approximately 1,500 new residents will bring thousands more daily car trips on a two-lane state highway that cannot be widened or improved (new signals will only assist those residents trying to access an increasingly-congested Carbon Canyon Road.)  And, those homes and people add a further burden for fire protection and fire fighting, as we deal with long-term drought, decreasing water supply and the challenges of dealing with that many homes on windy hilltop sites prone to frequent burning in wildfires.

This looks from the western edge of Canyon Hills across Lions Canyon and to the Madrona project site in Brea.

No comments: