31 October 2015

Happy Sleepy Holloween 2015

A neighbor here in Sleepy Hollow has been, during recent holidays, putting up great displays on a chain link fence along Carbon Canyon Road.

Here is the latest one--and have a safe and happy Sleepy Holloween out there.

To quote one of the greatest lines in cinematic history: Human sacrifice!  Dogs and cats living together!  Mass hysteria!

29 October 2015

A Carbon Canyon Dam/Reservoir Proposal from 1930-31

As the Boulder (now, Hoover) Dam project was being constructed in the early years of the Great Depression, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) was scouting locations for a reservoir to store the immense amounts of water brought into the Los Angeles region from the east, specifically from Banning near Palm Springs to the Chino area.

As reported in the Chino Champion's edition of 9 May 1930, one potential site was Carbon Canyon.  The article began by observing that, "Carbon Canyon residents south of the summit may find themselves under many feet of water if . . . the proposal to construct a high dam at the county line is ultimately approved."

That's right--there was talk of actually flooding the canyon from where the summit is near today's Carriage Hills subdivision all the way to the Orange/San Bernardino counties line.  That meant that parts, or perhaps all, of the existing Mountain View Estates, off Canon Lane south of Carbon Canyon Road and Sleepy Hollow would have to have been condemned, while ranch lands elsewhere in what is now the Chino Hills side of the canyon would have been inundated.

An article from the Chino Champion discussing reported surveys for a dam and reservoir in the San Bernardino County portion of Catbon Canyon for water brought in to the Los Angeles metropolitan area from the impending Boulder Dam project.
Canyon residents reported seeing surveyors and engineers scouring the area to do their investigative work and it was claimed that, "the present plan, which is reported as being the most feasible advanced by engineers to date" would involve a dam fifty feet higher than one previously suggested for the lower end of the canyon.  This "lower end" would probably have been in close proximity to where the La Vida Mineral Springs resort was then thriving just east of today's Olinda Village.

However, the piece continued, "by bringing the dam site further to the north, just inside the San Bernardino county line, engineers state that a greater reservoir will be provided with the hills at [the] summit end providing the enclosure."  Moreover, the article went on, "thus all lands between [the] summit and the southern edge of Sleepy Hollow would be used in the formation of a huge lake to supply water to the cities of the metropolitan area."

The northern end of the body of water would have been on the ranch of Peter Chilobolast--this is what later became the ranch of Shelly Stoody, whose 1950s home is still on top of the hill just to the north of the summit, and, after Stoody's untimely death in a plane crash, Western Hills Country Club.  At the southern limit, the dam would have been built "just below the Tidwell store in Sleepy Hollow at the concrete bridge."  That store is now the building fronting Carbon Canyon Road at the east end of the neighborhood and south of the highway.  By concrete bridge, it is assumed this is where Carbon [Canyon] Creek crosses the road where the former liquor store building now stands.

After counseling the few readers who were living in the very sparsely-populated canyon not too worry any time soon because the Boulder/Hoover Dam project was years from being completed (1936 was when the dam was formally turned over to the federal government), the paper half-jokingly ended by stating, "we just pass the word along so that those who like to fish, swim and boat can dream about what may be in the years to come."

A 30 January 1931 piece in the Champion detailed competing proposals for a reservoir in Carbon Canyon and at Puddingstone near Pomona and San Dimas.
Months later, at the end of January 1931, another Champion article reported that there were two competing locations for the Boulder Dam reservoir, Carbon Canyon and Puddingstone reservoir near Pomona and San Dimas.  Surveyors were said to have been busily at work on both locations, with the Carbon Canyon crew following a route from Banning to Temescal Canyon and Corona.  Reiterating that the plan earlier on was to site the dam further down in the Orange County portion of the canyon, the article observed that the narrowness of the Brea section made anchoring the dam much more difficult.

Noting that the projected cost of the reservoir was just under $18 million, the paper stated that, "the cost of dam construction and purchase of properties in the canyon, which are now populated to a considerable extent" might make the cost at Carbon Canyon about the same as that at Puddingstone.  The Champion went on to suggest that, "from this discussion we gather that [the] final decision . . . is some time distant" and that "the project is of such magnitude that it will require years for completion."

Of course, there was no dam and reservoir built at Carbon Canyon, while Puddingstone's 250-acre reservoir, completed in 1928, still exists.  In recent years, the City of Industry was actively exploring a reservoir project for Tonner Canyon just to the north, an idea that had been investigated by the City of Pomona long before that.  Water, however, from Hoover Dam is piped down from the Inland Empire through Tonner and Carbon canyons before being treated at the Diemer plant on the hill overlooking the far west end of Chino Hills State Park and Yorba Linda.

Now, as we are in the midst of a prolonged drought that appears to be the worse in this region for several centuries, the movement to capture and store water is becoming a bigger issue.  It is interesting, though, to imagine what might have been if the dam and reservoir had been built in Carbon Canyon, especially as the 2008 earthquake centered just a short distance to the south revealed a new active fault previously unknown.

22 October 2015

Chino Hills State Park Native Plant Restoration Project

A great opportunity to volunteer at Chino Hills State Park is coming up on Saturday, 14 November from 8 a.m. to Noon.

A native plant trail restoration project at the Rolling M Ranch, involving new plantings, the pruning and trimming of existing plants, and the spreading of mulch and seeds are among the components.

Participants are asked to wear comfortable outdoor work clothes, including what will work for light rain, during which the project will still occur (though heavy rain or red flag conditions denoting an extreme fire risk will call for a postponement.)  Lunch is provided, as well.

The project is limited to the first 25 persons who respond, so send an email to: eric@ChinoHillsStatePark.org or call 714.524.0757 to sign up.

Access to the work site is from the state park entrance in Chino Hills off Sapphire Road near Soquel Canyon Parkway and then via the recently-reopened and improved Bane Canyon Road.  Rolling M Ranch is at the end of the road.

This event is sponsored by California State Parks and Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Association and funding is made available by Toyota Motor Corporation through the National Environmental Educational Foundation.

18 October 2015

Carbon Canyon Horse Ranch Property For Sale Again

Devastated by the November 2008 fire that consumed much of Carbon Canyon, the former Manely Friends horse property in the Brea portion of the canyon is back on the market again.

The accompanying flyer shows several drone-taken photographs of the 10-acre parcel, noting that it has 24 stables, which were, to some extent, rehabbed after the fire; a variety of fruit trees; and the bridge built to replace the one burned out by the conflagration seven years ago.

Notably, the listing states that "per the sellers" the property is zoned as recreational, commercial, and hillside residential and that "sellers have been told be the City that they can build 2.2 houses/acre, and 5 acres of this property is buildable."  Whether it is actually feasible to build up to 11 houses on the property is another matter.

It is also observed, "per the sellers," that "the grant deed shows the property going to the center of [the] road, and the state has a 20 foot easrment on each side of Carbon Canyon."  This must reflect the fact that the original Carbon Canyon Road, dating back to the 1910s, was much narrower and that an easement had to be obtained with property owners to widen what became a state highway in the early 1930s.

Five years ago, the property was marketed for sale at $1.8 million, but now there is no price listed on the flyer, only a statement to "please call for pricing."

14 October 2015

Hidden Oaks Environmental Impact Report Notice Commentary

The Hidden Oaks housing development site in Carbon Canyon, proposed for 107 luxury custom home lots.
Here is a submitted comment of a local resident to the City of Chino Hills concerning the Notice of Preparation for the Environmental Impact Report with the Hidden Oaks project, proposing 107 custom lots in Carbon Canyon, south of Carbon Canyon Road at Canyon Hills Road:

           The first concern has to do with the city staff’s request for clustering, ostensibly intended to protect more ridgelines and natural features within the project site.  Unfortunately, while clustering may work very well in certain types of developments and environments, it is entirely another matter with Hidden Oaks.  A review of the maps presented at last month’s scoping meeting indicate that the clusters actually serve to divide up “open space” (put in brackets because it is unclear how much natural vs. manufactured open space there will actually be] that limits the effectiveness of the clustering arrangement.  This is particularly so in regards to animal movement as well as general aesthetics for the Carbon Canyon area, such as visibility from nearby areas including Chino Hills State Park and the clustering of high concentrations of artificial ambient light.
Clustering, in this project, also serves to further complicate emergency evacuations in case of fire, which is a serious risk to this property, having been burned several times in recent decades, most notably in November 2008. This is especially so considering the one main route in and out of the proposed development and what appears to be a significantly under-considered emergency access road out through the Vellano community, given existing local fire department standards for such roads.  The alternative emergency access road not only would, along with an unneeded public park added as a sweetener to the project, decimate an excellent mature oak grove, but would only be a few hundred yards west of the main entrance and deposit fleeing residents onto a congested Carbon Canyon Road.
Finally, in order to accommodate the desires of the developer (rather than the concerns of the community in which the project is located), the city, which has no legal obligation to do so, proposes a zoning change for clustering.  Chino Hills citizens in 1999 passed Measure U precisely in response to excessive zoning changes granted by accommodating city councils to developers to the detriment of local and broader communities and, especially, to the sensitivities of places such as Carbon Canyon, which has unique characteristics.  This property should be developed under existing zoning, which were developed for entirely valid reasons and which are far better for the site in terms of aesthetics, emergency evacuation, animal movement and other aspects. 
                Secondly, the fire risk is greatly increased by the siting of houses along ridge tops and hillsides leading to ridges.  Ridge tops and other higher elevation areas are not only exposed to stronger wind gusts, but the canyons and gullies that lead to them are natural funnels for fire.  Even with so-called “fuel modification zones,” walls of flame that can reach several dozen feet or more in heights and, importantly, embers that can travel up to a mile, can breach these sites.  Anyone conducting EIRs in areas like this, that are actually, on the Orange County/Brea portion of the canyon, signed by CalTrans as a “Hazardous Fire Area”, should carefully watch and review Living With Fire, a 22-minute film released in June 2013 by the United States Geological Survey through its Southern California Wildfire Risk Project.  This film can be downloaded online at: http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/620.  As increasingly larger portions of our state burn from year-to-year, it is imperative that abundant caution be utilized by local governments when considering housing projects in wildland or wildland-adjacent areas.
                With regards to air quality, while it is obvious that any large-scale housing development project will generate particles that exceed CEQA mitigation standards, there is always the fallback of using a Statement of Overriding Consideration (SOC).  The question for the city becomes: what form of mitigation through an SOC will actually have any meaning for the canyon, as opposed to what might be done more broadly within the city?  It is also relevant here to note that there are new climate change statutes that should be considered with respect to how housing projects are planned with regard to this and other issues, preeminently water, as well as traffic with respect to emissions.
                Concerning traffic, here is another mitigation problem.  The city would undoubtedly invoke another SOC on this point, but if the thought is that a traffic signal at the project entrance at Carbon Canyon Road and Canyon Hills Road constitutes a meaningful mitigation, the city would do well to reconsider that assumption.  All a signal will do is slow down the vast majority of commuters on Carbon Canyon Road to allow Hidden Oaks residents to turn on to what has become in the last two years, a notably more congested state highway.  It should be further noted that more idling traffic means worse air quality for people, animals and plant life within Carbon Canyon. 
                Finally, there is water.  Obviously, California is in a drought of historic proportions and mandated cuts by the state and local water agencies are in effect.  Yet, as news outlets are increasingly reporting, the grossest users of water are those who live in larger homes on bigger lots in exclusive communities.  This is precisely the type of development embodied by Hidden Oaks.   Hopefully, the EIR will take into account the fact that one of greatest environmental impacts of any development project during this era of unprecedented water scarcity is the amount of water to be consumed by luxury homes on large lots. 
                Hidden Oaks is exactly the kind of project that should be avoided in this and many other contexts.

Another shot of the Hidden Oaks site, taken in early September.

07 October 2015

Boys Republic History Presented Next Monday

A circa 1960s chrome postcard of the Boys Republic campus.
The Chino Hills Historical Society continues its series of presentations on local history next Monday, 12 October at 7:00 p.m. in the Chino Hills Community Center on Peyton Drive across from Ayala High School with a talk by Max Scott, retired executive director of Boys Republic, on the history of that institution.

Scott, who arrived to work on the campus in 1965 and was at the helm leading the school from 1976 until 2010.  Utilizing photographs from the extensive archives held by Boys Republic, as well as a short video presentation made for the school's centennial, Scott will detail the remarkable work conducted by the private, non-profit, non-sectarian educational facility, which has worked with 30,000 students since its inception in 1907 at its Chino Hills location.

Max Scott, executive director of Boys Republic from 1976 to 2010.
Founded on the principles of individual responsibility and self-respect, the nationally-regarded Boys Republic program gives its students a formal high school education, broad-based vocational training, extensive professional guidance and — very significantly — meaningful work that lets them learn the demands and enjoy the rewards of earning part of their own way.

For more information on this program, call (909) 597-6449 or send an email to chhistory@aol.com.

05 October 2015

Carbon Canyon Road Closure Ended

UPDATE, 10:30 A.M.  Actually, the closure was  because of the obliteration of this pole.   Clearly, someone heading westbound mishandled the curve coming down from Carriage Hills and there may have been some light rain at the time, as well.

Notably, Brea's hotline had information about this incident, but there was nothing found with the Chino Hills emergency notification system, though the wreck happened in the latter.

Additionally, a regular reader sent on advisories given to members of Western Hills Country Club, which is just west of the accident site.

Driving from Chino Hills Parkway to Carbon Canyon Road this morning, there is an electronic message board stating that Carbon Canyon Road is closed, but a check of the Brea emergency hotline a few minutes ago revealed that the road was opened as of about 7:15 a.m.

There was, by the way, a wooden power pole flattened on westbound Carbon Canyon between Carriage Hills and Fairway Drive, but the full road closure was somewhere on the Brea side.

The road, again, is open.