10 May 2015

Hidden Oaks Project More Visible

As reported in the Champion in yesterday's edition, the Hidden Oaks housing project, proposing 107 houses, a nearly four-acre park, a clubhouse, and trails on 110 of 537 acres south of Carbon Canyon Road at Canyon Hills Road and across from the in-process Canyon Hills development of 76 units, is moving forward many years after a predecessor project, which removed some 2,000 oak and other trees on the site, failed.

This coming Tuesday, the Chino Hills City Council is likely to vote for an environmental impact report (EIR) from PCR Services Corporation costing just over $400,000, which is to be reimbursed by the developer.

During the course of the EIR, a public meeting and accumulation of written comments will be included.

It is a certainty that the EIR will find that the project creates significant unavoidable adverse impacts on the environment by the criteria of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  This is an environment that has changed greatly since CEQA was enacted in the early 1970s, so the criteria are actually outdated.  Therefore, the responses will be, as well.

Then, as a matter of course, the City will then do all it can in its power to issue Statements of Overriding Consideration (SOCs) as the developer promises benefits that will (presumably) accrue to the city as a whole, regardless of the fact that those significant unavoidable adverse impacts remain in effect in the canyon.

Here's the scorecard for approved developments within Carbon Canyon:

Canyon Hills (Chino Hills)          76 homes
Stonefield (Chino Hills)               24
Madrona (Brea)                          162

Total                                           262 homes

Hidden Oaks (if approved)        107

Presumed total                           369 homes

This means:

  • some 1,600 or more additional residents 
  • thousands of daily car trips 
  • more traffic on Carbon Canyon Road, which cannot be widened beyond its two-lane status 
  • more difficulty in arranging emergency evacuations for the wildfires that will strike again 
  • fires that are more quickly spread on exposed hilltops like the ones these developments will largely occupy 
  • more water for these larger-sized homes and lots when we're being asked to cut consumption dramatically during an unprecedented drought 
  • more removal and pollution affecting our diminished oak-and-walnut woodland habitat

So, those who find the above problematic might want to attend the public meeting, submit written comments and then let their voices be heard at the planning commission and city council meetings when the project comes up for approval.

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