23 December 2016

Another Carbon Canyon Road Closure + A Bonus

It was brief, but about 6 a.m. today, Carbon Canyon Road was completely closed near Canyon Hills Road just east of Sleepy Hollow on the Chino Hills side of the canyon because a car, presumably traveling westbound, went over the side of the state highway.

There was no rain at the time, so who knows what caused the wreck.  It was early and dark, though.

Meantime, a familiar site/sight over on the Brea portion finds yet another crash into a guardrail at the former entrance to the La Vida Mineral Springs hotel.  The rail was just replaced a couple of months ago after yet another wreck, but a westbound car skidded into this replacement.

This one could be rain related, but there have been so many accidents here, it could also just be speed and inattention.

21 December 2016

Carbon Canyon Road Closed Until Midnight

A City of Chino Hills alert posted a little after 4 p.m. states that Carbon Canyon Road is closed until about midnight due to a downed power pole near Olinda Village on the Brea portion of the canyon.

SigAlert shows a reported crash at 2:11 p.m.  Brea's telephone hotline notification was at 3:30.

Olinda Village residents can only access their neighborhood by going all the way around to the Chino Hills side, with the state highway open only to that point.

Updates will be posted as they are made available.

12:18  a.m., Thursday, 22 December:

Carbon Canyon Road is still closed and there are no new updates from either Brea or Chino Hills about when repairs to the power pole will be completed.

Meanwhile, the Orange County Register reports that the accident was a DUI that took place at 10:40 yesterday morning.

To read the article, click here.

17 December 2016

Sleepy Hollow Artist: Hillary Miller (Plus Special Guest Kelly Tuggle and Zen Aardvark)

One of the many great aspects about living in Carbon Canyon and in the Sleepy Hollow community in particular is the tremendous variety of people who live here.

For many, the special attributes of the canyon are deeply meaningful and this is represented by the many artists who not only reside in the area, but are inspired by and responsive to our canyon.

Another Sleepy Hollow neighbor who expresses this sense of meaning in Carbon Canyon in her work is artist Hillary Miller.  She and her husband Dave, a mechanical engineering professor at Cal Poly Pomona, have lived in Sleepy Hollow for some thirty years and raised their two sons here.

Hillary studied at Cal State Fullerton, where she received her bachelor's degree in art, with emphases in drawing, painting and illustration. in 1984, followed four years later with her master's in drawing and painting.

Most of her work has been in oil, watercolor and pastel, though for the last fifteen years or so she has taken up silk painting, specifically with shawls, banners, scarves and tallitot, the latter being Jewish prayer scarves.

In addition to the tallitot, Hillary's expressions in Judaica include the ketubot, the Jewish marriage contract, and she indicates that her main works also include "landscapes, still lifes, the occasional portrait."

At the Miller home, Hillary has a remarkable studio that she and her husband added to their home, within several years of buying their beautiful property.  She not only works in the media mentioned above, but also has teamed up with her next-door neighbor,  Kelly Tuggle, who does her own work as well, in a cooperative venture they call Zen Aardvark.

Painting and decoration on furniture and found objects, home and garden pieces jewelry and other works are part of the Zen Aardvark enterprise and include many whimsical and remarkable productions described as "colorful, playful, earthy, zen-like."

A couple of weeks ago, Hillary hosted an Open Studio Holiday Sale to showcase her works, as well as those by Kelly and by the pair as Zen Aardvark.

It was not only a chance to view some remarkable works of art, but to purchase some as holiday gifts (to others as well as to self!), enjoy time chatting with Hillary and Kelly, not to mention friends and neighbors, and to see the studio.

The photos here show some of what was displayed and available--except the last image, which was an impromptu drawing that day by her father!

For more on Hillary and Zan Aardvark, check out Hillary's blog here and the Zen Aardvark Facebook page here.

16 December 2016

Carbon Canyon Road Full Closure This Morning

There was a full closure of Carbon Canyon Road this morning as a westbound drive through the canyon about an hour ago showed Chino Hills sheriff's department personnel routing traffic through a detour at Summit Ranch.  An accident occurred at 10:30 at the intersection with Old Carbon Canyon Road or the lower part of the S-curve.

Going westward into Brea, there were police units stopping eastbound traffic at Olinda Drive and having them turn around.

At 11:30 a.m., the all-clear went out and the road was fully reopened.

30 November 2016

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #19541

A neighbor on Monday passed along the news that there was a wreck on Sunday on the Brea side of Carbon Canyon.

Sure enough, the eastbound lane of Carbon Canyon Road shows residue on the road and scraping along the hillside at the scene directly across from the La Vida Mineral Springs property.  It did rain on Sunday, but whether this was a factor is not known, nor are other details known.

26 November 2016

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #s19371 and 19426

There has been less activity on this blog than in the past and that means that some of the attention paid to errant drivers and their mishaps along Carbon Canyon Road has been lacking.

Still, it does appear that there have been fewer crashes along the state highway recently.

However, there are two recent examples that show that dangerous driving still takes place and that anyone navigating the road should beware of their brethren racing along.

One spot is a common one for crashes:  this is at the mid-point of the S-curve in the Chino Hills portion of the canyon, where metal barriers are placed to protect a light pole.  Invariably, these barriers get hit, plowed down, and repositioned.  Even an old tree stump used as further protection was shoved back from its previous position.

Over on the Brea side of the canyon near the old La Vida Mineral Springs resort site, a vehicle left the roadway in recent days and took out the end of a guardrail on the southern side of the highway.

More dangerously, this vehicle was clearly traveling westbound and crossed lanes before plowing into the rail.  This is also an area that experiences regular instances of miscalculation along Carbon Canyon Road.

It may well be that persons celebrating Thanksgiving were a little too impaired when driving through the canyon.  As the Christmas and New Year's holidays approach, it may well be that other examples will follow.  We'll see . . .

13 November 2016

Western Carbon Canyon and Brea Area Map, 1964

Following the recent post that highlighted a United States Geological Map from 1967 showing the eastern portion of the Carbon Canyon Road corridor and the future City of Chino Hills, this entry takes us to the west and the portion of the newly numbered state highway (142) in a 1964 edition of the Yorba Linda Quadrangle.

The map basically covers, from west to east, eastern Fullerton, western Placentia and eastern Brea to Yorba Linda and much of the Chino Hills range and, from north to south, a section of City of Industry, southern Diamond Bar and Tres Hermanos ranch to downtown Placentia and southern Yorba Linda.

Being over half a century ago, there is not much development in Diamond Bar, which was then about a half dozen years old.  Yorba Linda only went as far east as about Fairmont Boulevard and Yorba Linda Boulevard.  The portion of Brea shown, essentially from Placentia Avenue east had no residences at all--everything in this section consisted of oil fields.  Much of Placentia was either oil fields, orange groves, or housing tracts that were plotted out, but not yet built.

This 1964 United States Geological Survey map of the Yorba Linda Quadrangle includes the Carbon Canyon area from the S-curve in what is now Chino Hills west to Olinda and Brea (and a lot more.)  Click on any image to see them enlarged in a separate window.
In the Carbon Canyon area, the dam was about six years old and the regional park was a decade or so from opening.  Olinda Village, which was developed from 1964, is not shown on the map.  La Vida Mineral Springs was still very much in operation.

Sleepy Hollow and the Mountain View Park tract just over the San Bernardino County line were well established, but Western Hills Country Club was still in development and the Western Hills Oaks housing tract was a couple years off yet.

In fact, the Shelly Stoody Ranch, where the golf course would soon be developed is still shown with its airplane hangar about where the clubhouse is today and Stoody's residence, which still stands, up on the hill overlooking the hangar site.  Stoody and passengers were killed when his airplane crashed into a hillside on his ranch a few years before the publication of the map.

This detail shows the area from La Vida Mineral Springs to the S-curve and up to  portions of Tonner Canyon.
As far as Carbon Canyon Road is concerned, it extended from Valencia Avenue north past the junction of Rose Drive and what was then Brea-Olinda Boulevard (now Birch Street) and then went at an angle to the northeast and curved toward the east.  The remnant of this old roadway is still visible to the east of the current Valencia Avenue path before Lambert Road, which not exist at the time.

Once Carbon Canyon Road properly began after this curve, its pathway is almost completely the same as today, except for one little jog on the San Bernardino County portion where it took a sharp curve before ascending the summit where the Carriage Hills tract is now.  That jog also still exists as Ginseng Road, just south of today's road path.

At the S-curve, the current roadway is shown, but so, too, is the Old Carbon Canyon Road, which veered sharply to the right and then ascended down and curved left. This old roadway is also in existence and goes just between the modern road and the Carriage Hills tract before abruptly ending before Old Carbon Canyon Road, which then intersected with today's highway.

A closer detail of the map covers the area from La Vida to Sleepy Hollow and the coming together of the three counties of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino.
Also of interest given recent activity is the area encompassing the Tres Hermanos Ranch in Tonner Canyon north of Carbon Canyon.  The Firestone Boy Scout Reservation is shown at the lower portion of the ranch and the Arnold Reservoir is shown towards the upper end.

In 1964, the heirs of Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler, one of the tres hermanos (three brothers, who actually weren't siblings, but friends) including William Rowland and William B. Scott who bought the ranch in the 1910s, were still owners of Tres Hermanos.  They were leasing the property, however, to Hal Arnold, who grazed cattle on the ranch.

In 1978, the Chandlers sold Tres Hermanos to the City of Industry, which allowed Arnold to continue the lease until it went to others.  Cattle are, for now, still roaming the ranch pending its future transformation, whatever that entails.

Brea canyon at the left and upper left and Tonner Canyon, including the Firestone Boy Scout Reservation, running from lower left to upper right are notable in this detail.
There are other notable elements, including the old Brea Canyon Road being the only access between Brea and Diamond Bar, several years before the construction of the 57 Freeway.  The old Pacific Electric Railway streetcar line parallels Imperial Highway.

The former Anaheim Union Water Company canal, an irrigation channel that ran from the company's reservoir where Tri-City Park is today off Kraemer Avenue (then Carolina Avenue), ran southeast--this pathway is largely a multiuse trail within the City of Yorba Linda running from about the intersection of Rose Drive and Bastanchury Road (which didn't exist westward past that point and east it was Citrus Avenue) down into the outskirts of downtown and beyond.

In the early 1970s, Frances Klug, who was dismayed by the direction taken by the Roman Catholic Church after the Vatican II transformation, bought some ranch land adjacent to Sleepy Hollow and established St. Joseph's Hill of Hope, but, of course, the only indication of what would be there on this map is an access road to what an earlier ranch.

The upper portion of Tonner Canyon includes the area where Tres Hermanos Ranch is located in and around Arnold Reservoir, which is now just south of Grand Avenue (that roadway did not appear until years later.)  The future of this large ranch of about 2,500 acres is uncertain.
Then there are vast stretches of the Chino Hills that were still largely used as ranch land, including the Rolling M Ranch, which was owned by Christopher Hendra and his Mollin Investment Company until the 1720-acre property was sold to the state for the development of Chino Hills State Park.  There was also the McDermont Ranch, which was discussed in the recent post concerning the 1967 map.

This map and its sister 1967 edition for land to the east allow us to see what the Carbon Canyon area and surrounding regions were like in the transitional period between oil production, citrus growing and cattle raising and spreading suburban development that ramped up increasingly in the decades following the publication of these valuable documents.

05 November 2016

Carbon Canyon Traffic Study Underway

This blog once had a post that cited a 1969 (yes, 47 years ago) article about concerns of traffic on Carbon Canyon Road.  So, this is hardly a new issue, yet little, really, has been done about planning for the future of a road that is no wider and has no more built capacity today than it did a half-century ago.  But . . .

Today's Champion has an article by Marianne Napoles on a traffic study for Carbon Canyon Road that is, evidently, in the planning stages and being coordinated by the City of Chino Hills in partnership with the City of Brea and CalTrans, of which two districts (8 in San Bernardino County and 12 in Orange County) have jurisdictions in the canyon.

According to Chino Hills city manager Rad Bartlam, proposals were sought from give traffic engineering consulting companies with one so far received, about two weeks ago.  The estimate for the length of the study is about six months once the contract is signed.  Details on what the study would involve were not given, but, presumably, would be once the announcement of selection is made.

Interestingly, Bartlam told the city council about ten days ago, that previous conversations with Brea and CalTrans did not lead anywhere, but now they "have become fruitful and have shed light onthe 'monumental challenges' ahead."  According to the city manager, road capacity, traffic operations and truck traffic are the "three major factors."

What's curious is that missing among the "major factors" is basic urban planning principles relating to residential and commercial development and transportation networks.  Is it really believed that these are unrelated to the factors Bartlam identified?

Given the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's astounding editorial conclusion that the "best of all solutions" for regional traffic is a "mature" economy bringing jobs closer to Inland Empire residents, whatever that means, this is a central issue that planners and leaders need to be asked.

A prime opportunity to do this would be at dedicated public meetings/workshops, if these are going to be offered either during or after the traffic study.

A late August grind up the S-curve heading west on Carbon Canyon Road towards Orange County.  Lines have gotten very noticeably longer in and outside of the canyon in recent months.

Notably, the article identified where the worse problems are along the state highway on the Brea side, principally at the intersection with Santa Fe Road, and also pointed out that there is some reconsideration of the signals placed at Olinda Village several years back in terms of having them "modified to make it [sic--them] better."

Nothing, however, was said about the Chino Hills side.  This observer has noted two major periods of increased volume.  The first was in 2013 and the other within the last several months.  In recent weeks and months, lines of cars waiting to enter the canyon, which were very common on west/north-bound Chino Hills Parkway coming from the 71 Freeway, now include a caravan of vehicles backing up to Eucayptus Avenue and even a little beyond on Chino Hills Parkway and on Eucalyptus, as well.

A Carbon Canyon resident was quoted in the article as suggesting that "the signals [at Olinda] cause daily havoc and are the primary reason the afternoon traffic gridlock in Brea is so bad."

Without disagreeing that the signals did not help traffic flow at all, though their implementation is routinely cited in planning documents and in testimony and statements before commissions and councils as reflecting "traffic improvements" and as "traffic mitigation," it seems that the local focus belies the regional scale and scope of this problem.

Again, the biggest contributor to local traffic tie-ups and gridlock is not the signals, nor is it the volume of trucks, or road capacity, or traffic operations (which, by the way, went undefined).

Simply put, it is volume.

Huge numbers of new homes are being (and will be) built in south Chino, in south Ontario, in Eastvale, in Corona and in other places inland.  Many of the workers living in these places, because they are more affordable, are driving west.  Until that glorious era comes as the IE's economy "matures" (whatever that means), this will continue.

The second biggest factor is that this volume is overwhelmingly driven (literally) be single-passenger commuting.  That is, people are driving themselves to work, school and wherever they're going.

It's not just Carbon Canyon Road, obviously--this is Grand Avenue during a morning commute in October.

As has been said here before, this has got to change.  Period.  We can't accommodate 15 million or so people in the metropolitan area with all of the cars driven and occupied by one person, spewing all of the pollution (which is on the rise despite efforts to drive it down), and wasting all of that key productive time.

We can't expect there to be realistic, productive and transformative solutions without confronting this basic problem.

Yet, here again is a lack of recognition by planners, staff and elected officials that the only way to have the population we have in this region and then to responsibly transport them to where they need to go is to recalibrate our thinking about single-passenger commuting and the vastly pollutive internal combusion engine powered by fossil fuels.

Mass transit, be it large-scale carpooling, a wider and more coordinate network of buses (think dedicated roads solely for buses), as well as trains and subways has to be the major effort undertaken to deal with this problem.

The article indicated that, among the cited components of the study, are: limiting truck access and volume, roadway capacity (which is, actually, fixed and that's been known for decades already), collision history (which this blog used to focus heavily on), side street access and delay, and . . . wait for it . . . "potential traffic signals at some intersections".

So, yes, look forward to those signals going in at Fairway Drive and Canyon Hills Road, because this will be a traffic improvement and mitigation solution coming soon.

But, to beat a dead car (seems a better metaphor than the poor equines), where's the mention of regional planning for development, for the way people drive themselves around solo, for mass transit, and other related components that, if left out, make these studies largely irrelevant.

The Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon has 76 in-process homes here at Hillcrest, 28 more appoved at Stonecrest, and 100+ pending in an application at Hidden Oaks across from Hillcrest.  The larger problem are the tens of thousands of homes in the Inland Empire feeding much of the volume on Carbon Canyon Road.

A article-cited victory was the placing of signs along and near Carbon Canyon Road "advising" vehicles over 50 feet in length not to use the road.  Not to belittle those who took the time from their busy lives to work for that, but this observer has seen very little actual effect of this.  Big rigs and longer vehicles still routinely make use of Carbon Canyon Road.

The one publicized and concerted effort a few months ago by Chino Hills sheriff's deputies to ticket truckers for crossing the double-yellow line yielded a number of citations, but it has not stopped the problem and it won't.  As long as Carbon Canyon Road is State Highway 142, trucks cannot be prevented from using the road.

This blog had a post almost 6 years ago asking the question "Why is Carbon Canyon Road Still a State Highway?"  The same resident quoted above about the biggest factor in slow traffic on the Brea side of that road mentioned that "its classification as a state highway may not longer be appropriate."

Indeed, in this blog's post of 17 January 2011, the example was given of State Highway 39 on Hacienda Road through La Habra Heights.  The designation was, in fact, removed, and no longer applies to that two-lane winding road that goes through small canyons and ascends to a summit (sound familiar?).

Finally, the article concluded by noting that both Chino Hills and Brea are working to increase police patrolling, more frequently enforce traffic laws, and use electronic message boards as part of their efforts to deal with the problem.  There's nothing wrong with these and, if they could be done, when most dangerous driving and accidents occur, which is actually outside of commute times during late weekend hours (Friday and Saturday nights, for example,) that would be welcomed.

But, as Chino Hills is poised to approve another large housing project--the 100+ unit Hidden Oaks, across from the in-process 76-unit Hillcrest (and down the street from the approved 28-unit Stonecrest) and then claim that these volumes of residences (over 200, meaning probably 800-1000 people and many car trips from them) are insignficant because most traffic in Carbon Canyon is from outside the canyon, therein lies the rub, right?

A traffic study is fine and is probably needed.  But, if the expectation is that installing more traffic signals, targeting truck traffic, and implementing more acceleration/deacceleration lanes is going to do anything but replace the pinky with the ring finger as the hole in the dike widens because the water behind the dike represents massive traffic volume from unabated inland development--well, then what?

The big, big picture (the one that looks at climate change, population volume, outdated transportation methods, etc.) would seem to dictate that we have to fundamentally change many aspects of how we live if sustainability is achievable.

It is understandable, to a degree, that local analysis looks at the immediate situation in and around that area.  The problem, though, is that solutions really have to be bigger and broader than that.  Otherwise, whatever is done is either marginal, distractive, or insufficient.

We can't afford any of those.

For a society that put humans on the moon, mobilized an all-out war effort on two massive fronts during World War II, built the great educational system in the world, completed a huge interstate highway network, and so much more, the ability to improve regional planning for residential and commercial uses and for transportation to serve those is not impossible, though it's difficult.

As said here recently, it's a matter, fundamentally and substantially, of political, social and economic will.

31 October 2016

Sleepy Holloween 2016

The kids in this household aren't kids anymore, so trick or treating in Sleepy Hollow is done.

A few little ones from the neighborhood have made their way over, but it looks to be a "dead" night here on Halloween.

Check out the Sleepy Hollow Daycare display!

Still, some of the folks on this street have done their usual stellar job of decorating.

So, here are a few examples of some of what has been for the holiday.

Meanwhile, we usually think of Halloween as the scariest, most frightening, terrifying, blood-curdling, bone-chilling and horrifying day of the year.

But, in 2016, that distinction may well be reserved for a week from tomorrow.

Happy Sleepy Holloween 2016!

30 October 2016

Eastern Carbon Canyon and Chino Hills Map, 1967

For map geeks, the United States Geological Survey quadrangle maps provide fascinating detail about an area and the historical development of those locations are a notable part of these documents.

One titled "Prado Dam Quadrangle" and issued in 1967 (hard to believe that is a half century for those of a certain age [like a half century]), but with elements dating to 1927, 1933 and 1949, covers the eastern part of the Carbon Canyon Road corridor and a significant area of what became Chino Hills.

What is really obvious in looking at the map as a whole is how sparsely populated the area from Prado Dam up to Boys Republic and from Carbon Canyon over to Grove Avenue really was.  Virtually everything east of Highway 71 (listed as the Corona Freeway, though it was a two-lane oad then) was either dairy lands with houses here and there, the massive Prado Flood Control Basin, and the two prison facilities—the California Institution for Men and the California Institution for Women.  The Chino Airport also is shown at the upper left of the map.

In what is now the Chino Hills State Park area, the section of map from Rolling M Ranch (park headquarters) on the right to McDermont Spring, which is near the Four Corners rest area, at the left, is highlighted in this 1967 U.S. Geological Survey map of the "Prado Dam Quadrangle."  Click on any image to see the set in larger views in separate windows.

As to the areas west of the 71, most of what is shown are the sections of the Chino Hills range, much of which became Chino Hills State Park, at the bottom half of the map.  Fifty years ago, there were two identified ranches in and just adjacent to the future park.  One was Rolling M Ranch, of which over 1,200 acres were purchased for about $5.7 million in 1981 for the park. Some of the history of that ranch has been provided on this blog before.

The other ranch was the McDermont, which bordered the future park at its northern extremity and of which 278 acres was added to the park in 1983 at a cost of just under $1.4 million.  The rest of the McDermont Ranch, which was established in the early 1920s, wound up being purchased by Aerojet Corporation for its weapons testing facility now where the Vellano Country Club and high-end residential community is located.  Meanwhile, regular users of the state park may know of McDermont Spring, which is next to the popular Four Corners rest stop.  More on McDermont Ranch in a forthcoming post.

There are also lots of notations on the map for springs, drill holes for wells (presumed water and oil), oil wells, and existing trails and dirt roads.  A couple notable elements in what became south Chino Hills adjacent to S.R. 71 is "Chino Downs" and  the "Claypit."

Below Los Serranos was the Higgins brick factory, labeled "Claypit", and Chino Downs, a horse tracks operated by the DrVries family.  The latter is near today's Chino Hills High School.

Chino Downs, opened by the DeVries family about 1960, was a horse racing track that later, after that family sold the place, hosted events, including concerts by such diverse performers as country legend Merle Haggard, who died earlier this year, and the rock band Great White, best known for being the headliner at the terrible Station club fire in Rhode Island in 2003.  The Chino Downs location looks to be just about where Chino Hills High School is today.

The Claypit refers to the Higgins brick factory, which sat along a road that extended into the Chino Hills where a gravel pit was situated just a short distance away from the factory (other gravel pits were found near where today's Butterfield Ranch Road and Pine Avenue meet further south).  James Higgins (1879-1937), a native of Illinois, learned the brickmaking trade in his home state and then came to Los Angeles in 1909.

He opened his first factory in 1927 in Gardena.  After his death, his widow and children kept the business going.  In the 1940s, they opened yards in Santa Monica and Monterey Park.  After buying 100 acres in Chino in 1958, they opened the facility there five years later.  The factory closed for good in 2011 and the Higgins Ranch subdivision carries the family name.  Click here for lots of info on the Higgins brick factory.

Boys Republic, which moved from San Fernando to Chino in 1907, and the English Road horse-breeding area are shown in this detail.  The Chino Hills government center, Ayala High School, the community center and community park are all within the area included here.

At the upper left of the map is Boys Republic, which moved to Chino from San Fernando in 1907, a year after the facility for troubled teens opened and directly west is the English Road area of horse breeding facilities.  It is striking that the map identifies these hills as part of the Puente Hills range, not the Chino Hills.  Also, in a little fold of the hills south of English Road is a indication of "mines," though of what kind is not stated.

Moving south there are a few scattered houses and more horse properties and small ranches along Peyton Drive and along Eucalyptus Avenue until Peyton until Carbon Canyon Road was reached.  East of that intersection was the brand new subdivision of Glenmeade, which opened in 1966, and which was between Carbon Canyon, Pipeline Avenue, Rolling Ridge Drive and Glen Ridge Drive in the early stages.

Across Pipeline Avenue and southeast was the main residential district of the future Chino Hills and that was Los Serranos, developed in the mid 1920s along with the country club of that name.  Lake Los Serranos is also shown, but the mobile home park was a few years off from creation.  Off Bird Farm Road, so named because the State of California established a bird farm in the late 1920s, was the state fishing hatchery, where Chaparral Elementary opened a decade ago.

The two existing neighborhoods in the future Chino Hills are shown here.  Los Serranos, developed in the mid-1920s in conjunction with the country club, and Glenmeade, which was a new community southwest of today's Chino Hills Parkway and Pipeline Avenue, contained the majority of the sparse population.

Another notable detail is that Central Avenue coming south from downtown Chino turned and followed the route of today's El Prado Road ending near the City of Chino's sewage ponds at Pine Avenue.  A turnoff from Central crossed Chino Creek and then the 71  and that was Los Serranos Road, where an old store was at the corner of Pomona Rincon Road.  Los Serranos Road was cut off when the 71 Freeway was completed and some of the portion of it east of the freeway is Red Barn Court, for all the old red-colored barn that used to sit at the intersection of today's Fairfield Ranch Road.  This was all rerouted when Soquel Canyon Road was created in the 1990s.

Carbon Canyon Road technically ended at Pipeline Avenue in 1967, with the portion east known as Merrill Avenue and leading to the men's prison.  Merrill does still exist east of Euclid Avenue today, while Carbon Canyon, now Chino Hills Parkway, terminates at Central and the highway designation of 142 ends at the 71 Freeway.

Finally, the area west of Glenmeade and Los Serranos was undeveloped hilllands leading west along Carbon Canyon Road to about where the base of the S-curve climbs to the summit where Carbon Canyon geologically began.  The area where it says "Little Chino [Creek]" is today's Gordon Ranch area of Chino Hills.

This map shows a portion of Carbon Canyon heading west into the hills and curving southwest past a dirt road that led into the Gordon Ranch (discussed in this blog previously.)  That dirt road is the extension of Chino Hills Parkway north towards the 60 Freeway.  It appears that the western edge of the map shows Carbon Canyon Road just as it gets to the bottom of the S-curve where Old Carbon Canyon Road is today.

Maps like this Prado Dam Quadrangle can be very useful for those who like to compare how areas are laid out and used today to how they were in the past, especially somewhere like Chino Hills which has developed relatively recently and changed dramatically within the last several decades.

29 October 2016

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's "Best of All Solutions" on Traffic

On Thursday, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's editorial board offered its endorsement of incumbents Art Bennett and Cynthia Moran for the upcoming election, recommending readers choose them rather than challengers Paul Molinaro, James Gallagher and Roseanna Mitchell-Arrieta.

This post is not to address the merits of the board's recommendations, but, rather, its interesting statements concerning a major campaign issue raised by the challengers.  Actually, there are two that are intertwined--these being development and traffic.

On the first point, the paper stated that Molinaro, Gallagher and Mitchell-Arrieta were arguing "for pulling up the drawbridge and saying, 'I got to town before you did, so sorry, you can't come in.'"  The board then opined that "youn gamilies—our children—[have] to be able to establish themselves in our cities, not to have to move 'way out' somewhere while Inland Valley cities get grayer and grayer."

This seems to be conflating several separate development issues in one argument.  First, it is true that Molinaro and Mitchell-Arrieta, both practicing attorneys, actually suggested in the sole candidate debate that the city deliberately delay development project process to slow down building.  This is, as Bennett and Moran both quickly replied, extraordinarily problematic from an ethical, if not a legal, standpoint.

However, there is the question of what cities can reasonably do within their discretion to halt development if the effects on the environment are such that the projects do more harm than good.  In Carbon Canyon, for example, the risk of wildfire exposure, as an upcoming post will address, is growing; traffic is becoming a greater problem, and our long-term drought involves water scarcity.  These matters aren't going away and to ignore them is not prudent public policy.

The "I got to town before you did, so sorry, you can't come in" canard is an old one.  I don't know if any of the challengers have said or suggested that, so to toss that one out as if they did is questionable, at best.  Limiting development in sensitive areas is definitely not a matter of keeping people out just because.  It's because of the long-term effects such development has, given changing conditions.  Carbon Canyon, as an example, is not the same place it was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago, but to keep applying the same development philosophy as existed then is something that needs to be questioned and challenged.

As to encouraging "young families—our children—to be able to establish themselves in our cities" rather than in Moreno Valley, Hesperia or Menifee, that's hardly a matter of city policy so much as it is basic market forces.   Unless you've got a very healthy six-figure income and higher, affording to buy in Chino Hills is just not going to be feasible.  How many "young families" can pay market rates for homes is the real question, not whether current residents want them to live in Chino Hills.

The "graying" of our society is another matter, but, again, doesn't seem, to this observer, to be connected to the argument about limiting development in sensitive areas.  This is especially, again, if the effects on the environement, not to mention the long-term net expense of maintaining residential neighborhoods which don't pay for themselves, are serious issues.

Where the editorial board's logic gets really interesting, though, is with traffic matters.  Firstly, the piece actually offers that "when 'Hills' is part of your city's name, it means there are limited routes of egress and ingress—that's what hills do."  First off, from a purely grammatical perspective, hills actually don't do anything, people do.  Secondly, to act as if traffic matters are determined purely by geography and topography is astoundingly illogical.

Why not offer the argument that, if the hills area prohibits ingress and egress then you limit development so that the residences built there are appropriate for the geography and topography?

But, here's another befuddling logical exercise:
too many residents work in Orange County or L.A. County, and there are too few ways to get to and back from those places.  We're not saying some improvements can't be made, but the best of all solutions is for the Inland Empire's economy to mature to the point that more people find good jobs close to home, so that fewer people have to drive south or west to get to work.
The line of reasoning is that a "mature" economy in the Inland Valley will bring jobs there from Orange and Los Angeles counties.  But, how is "mature" defined in that context?  That goes unexplained.  And, then, how would companies be drawn to the "mature" Inland Valley economy exactly?  Finally, how would housing affordability factor into this?  Again, not explained.

Beyond this, though, is the highly troubling lack of consideration for the nature of traffic congestion, which is the badly outmoded concept of the single passenger vehicle and the equally outdated dinosaur (literally, in terms of fossil fuel consumption) of the internal combustion engine.

We had electric and natural gas vehicles in the 1920s and a Model T that got 25 miles to the gallon.  Admittedly, the first two were inefficient, but innovation and increased technological advancement could have brought better quality to them decades ago.  Fuel economy could have been dramatically increased decades ago.  Mass transit options, used in many places because of physical space limitations, have successfully operated, but not in enough places and could have decades ago.

The reason we took the path of wasteful consumption of fossil fuels for cars, trucks and other vehicles is because we could.  No one thought about the long-term supply, much less the environmental effects until relatively recently and, even now, the concern is half-hearted for way too many people.

For the Daily Bulletin to suggest that "the best of all solutions" is to have jobs closer to home leaves out the growing problem of traffic congestion on weekends when most people are not working.  How does this "best of all solutions" deal with that?  Finally, fundamental congestion of too many people in a given area driving themselves around solo too often is not addressed by this "best of all solutions."

This post hasn't even touched rising pollution levels in recent years when we should be radically reducing it; the continuing strength of the climate change deniers; the financial and environmental costs of maintaining an aging and inefficient car-based transportation network; and more.

We cannot continue to add to our regional population of roughly 10 million people, consuming resources at rates far higher than other parts of the world and emitting pollution at rates far higher than other parts of the world, without a dramatic change in how we live.  This includes water use, pollution creation, disposing of waste, processing waste, funding schools and public works, repairing and replacing aging infrastructure.

And, it includes transportation.  The single passenger vehicle model is not only extremely wasteful, it is destructive in the aggregate.  For a nation that sent astronauts to the moon, built the world's greatest educational system, and, yes, built a comprehensive national highway system, coming up with mass transit solutions that address our transportation problems should not be anywhere near impossible.

It wouldn't, certainly, be easy, but we don't really have many choices here.  Mass transit (buses, trains, streetcars, larger group ridesharing) is basically the "best of all solutions," especially if incentivized.  That means stringent "use fees" on people who choose more polluting methods and financially rewarding those who go the route of reducing carbon footprints.

Speaking of carbon, Carbon Canyon Road's traffic volume has increased significantly just in the last several months, following another spike in 2013.   This means more wasted time and more pollution emitted in the canyon and generally.  We need forward-thinking solutions, not ones rooted in old ideas no longer applicable to changing times and circumstances like those advocated by the Daily Bulletin's editorial board.

Fundamentally, it's not a technological problem, it a matter of political, economic and social will.  The Daily Bulletin's antiquated views on traffic and development as related to it are, unfortunately, still very orthodox.  The problem is: we can't afford for those views to be the mainstream, because that philosophy is just not sustainable.

28 October 2016

La Vida Water Tank Vandalized Again

Well, it had been a couple of years or something, but that poor defenseless (and crumbling) La Vida Mineral Springs water tank, which has been precariously perched on the hillside at the western end of that historic resort site on the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon just east of Olinda Village, has been tagged once again.

The photo here was taken three days ago.  In the past, an unknown/anonymous Good Samaritan (or more than one) has always come out and painted over the graffiti to the gratitude of at least some of us.

So, let's hope that this same doer of good deeds does this same this time.

28 September 2016

Tres Hermanos and Its "Highest and Best Use"

The latest development in the fate of Tres Hermanos Ranch, which is just north of Carbon Canyon, and situated between Diamond Bar and Chino Hills as one of the last large pieces of undeveloped land in the region, was in the news today.  Click here for an article in today's San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

The successor agency to the former Industry Urban Development Agency, axed when redevelopment agencies were outlawed several years ago, commissioned a report from a consultant to determine what the "highest and best use" of the ranch would be.

This action was taken in light of the City of Industry's recently unveiled bid of just under $42 million for the 2,400-acre ranch, a figure determined by an appraisal from a firm hired by the city and taking into account its current zoning and future use.

The new report, however, presented to the successor agency stated that this figure was far too low and that the land should be sold in conformance with state law which mandates that such properties be disposed of "in a manner aimed at maximizing value."

Naturally, this means "dollar value," not just because of the sale price, but because future residential and commercial development means more tax revenue for the state, county and cities.

Of course, there are other less tangible "values," such as the cost of increased pollution, the lost hours stuck in traffic, the long-term net effect of residential property, which most of the ranch would undoubtedly become, with respect to maintenance and care.

Tonner Canyon and Tres Hermanos Ranch from the south, March 2016.
When the report states "highest and best use," the operative term is not "best," it is "highest."  After all, if the only criteria for determining whether a property has "value" is that it brings top dollar for its sale and development, there would never been a reason for any government--be it local, county, state or federal--to dedicate or purchase property for parks, monuments, open space areas, conservation easements or other passive uses, which are often "best" for the broader public.

The City of Industry's city manager has been quoted as saying the offer of $42 million for Tres Hermanos was to keep the property for public use and not for housing. although past plans have discussed a reservoir and talk lately has also centered around a solar farm.

In any case, anyone who has driven Carbon Canyon Road just in the last several months and seen the very obvious and noticeable increase in volume and the lengthening of commuting hours readily understands the problem, just with this one issue alone, that would come with approximately 2,000 houses as well as commercial development that have been slated for Tres Hermanos if it is sold to developers.

Grand Avenue is the only road through the ranch.  A public roadway, namely Tonner Canyon Road, which exists as a prviate thoroughfare on the ranch, could be built to the 57, but that freeway has also seen a significant increase in volume in recent years with backups for miles in either direction depending on the time of day.

Regional pollution levels are rising precisely as we should be dramatically reducing them as climate change worsens.

If regional leaders addressed the broader issues of greater development, such as the mind-boggling number of homes being built in Eastvale, Corona and other Inland Empire areas, and then square those with the consequences of more pollution and traffic (and other variables) that would be remarkable.

Instead, what is driving the discussion is what this report highlights (lowlights?).  That is, the "highest and best use" of property is that which is handled "in a manner aimed at maximizing value."

What about "best use" for the public good as a whole?

What about "value" being quality of life, rather than chasing short-term revenue gains exceeded by long-term costs?

Can we afford our public policy to be pursued by these outmoded and outdated perceptions of "best use" and "value"?

21 September 2016

Hillcrest Model Grand Opening in Carbon Canyon on Saturday

Hillcrest, a gated community of 76 houses spanning from about 3,500 to over 5,000 square feet, located north of Carbon Canyon Road at Canyon Hills Road just east of Sleepy Hollow, has its model grand opening this Saturday.

The property, which was a Jewish camp from 1928 to 1958 and then a series of resorts for some years after, including the strange, short-lived Ski Villa, which had a plastic needle-covered ski slope, was given a negative declaration in the mid-1980s, exempting it from environmental impact reports and basically allowing development in lieu of blight.

Conditions relative to traffic, water, diminishing habitat and fire risk have changed a great deal since then, but the project was not subject to any substantive review.  Now, as our region is mired in a historic drought, as we continue to lose open land to development, as climate change brings bigger and more damaging fires, and as traffic worsens on Carbon Canyon Road, as anyone who uses it can attest even within the last few months . . . here are 76 more homes.

No doubt, the models are beautiful, the views stunning, and the development will sell quick as buyers seek executive homes in a tight and pricey market.

Undoubtedly, the glossy brochures, well-rehearsed sales pitches, and other marketing and public relations endeavors will look past the fire threat, water scarcity, traffic issues and so on and buyers will find out sooner or later what all of these mean.

Coming soon, most probably, will be application for over 100 more houses right across Carbon Canyon Road on the so-called Hidden Oaks property (well, hidden might apply to the 2,000 oak trees butchered by a developer who then abandoned their plans years ago.)  The development plan requires a zoning change which city staff are more than happy to accommodate for the owners.

Further east, the Stonefield property, with approval for 28 houses, is for sale below the S-curve and near the Western Hills Golf Course.

So, do the math and see that are possible 200+ homes that could be in the works on the Chino Hills part of the canyon alone.

In Brea, there is an appeal pending on an Orange County Superior Court ruling overturning the city's approval of the Madrona project of 162 houses between Sleepy Hollow and Olinda Village.  The State of Idaho, which holds the property in receivership, is pursuing the appeal.  That's why a fundraiser is being held this weekend--a post just a few days ago here gives a link for more info on that.

19 September 2016

Fall Brush Drop Off for Chino Hills' Carbon Canyon Residents Saturday!

This Saturday, the 24th, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., residents of the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon, including Sleepy Hollow, Mountain View Estates (Canon Lane), Oak Tree Estates and Downs, Western Hills Oaks, Carriage Hills and Summit Ranch, are encouraged to bring your cut brush to the Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council's brush drop off location on Canon Lane, north of Carbon Canyon Road, adjacent to Chino Valley Fire District Station 64.

Volunteers from the Council will be on hand to assist with the unloading of material into a roll-off bin, provided courtesy of the City of Chino Hills and Republic (Chino Hills) Disposal.  It definitely helps when the brush is cut to pieces that are easily transferred off vehicles and piled into the bin.

The goal is to reduce as much flammable material as possible from the canyon before the fall Santa Anas, with windy and dry conditions, come along.  However, as we all should know by now, there are no "fire seasons," because the entire year is susceptible to wildfires.  Look at the enormous wildfires that broke out in late spring/early summer.

So, if you have material ready to be cut, or already cut, load them onto your vehicle and head on down to the drop-off site this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Help us reduce the risk of wildfire in our ever-sensitive Carbon Canyon!

18 September 2016

Hills for Everyone September Shindig Next Saturday

Hills for Everyone, the non-profit organization that was a major force behind the creation of Chino Hills State Park and which has been working to preserve remaining open space in the area, is poised to go to court once again over the Madrona project, which would include over 160 houses on 367 acres on the northern edge of Carbon Canyon in Brea between Olinda Village and Sleepy Hollow.

An Orange County Superior Court ruling last year determined that the City of Brea did not follow its own ordinances in voting to approve the project, which was a tremendous victory for HFE and others opposed to Madrona, but the property owner, the State of Idaho (through receivership for the bankrupt Old Standard Life Insurance Company), has taken the matter to a state appeals court.

Obviously, while Idaho can use taxpayer money to foot the bills for its legal maneuverings, Hills for Everyone has to fundraise to be able to continue the fight.  So, next Saturday is a "September Shindig" so that organization can marshal its resources and carry the legal campaign forward to the next level.

The flyer for the event, with the all the information, is here.

30 August 2016

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #54: La Vida Mineral Springs Water Crate

This was quite a find--a crate for carrying quart-size water bottles from the La Vida Mineral Springs, probably dating to the 1930s or 1940s.

As noted in this blog previously, the naturally hot mineral water seeping down from the hills above the old La Vida resort, north of Carbon Canyon Road, just a short distance east of today's Olinda Village, was bottled and sold throughout western America from the late 1920s.

Over the years, there were various sized bottle of the product, ranging from 7 ounces on up to the quart and a wide variety of flavors, including lemon-lime, cherry, root beer, grape, strawberry, grapefruit, and more.

There was a bottling facility on the premises, which had a Placentia rural route mail delivery address, as well as in downtown Fullerton.  There were branches of the company elsewhere, such as in Sacramento.

Advertisements in newspapers and magazines, especially in the early days of the end of the Twenties and in the early Thirties, touted the health benefits from drinking the water and testimonials from homeopathic doctors, regular users and others claimed that La Vida water was a restorative product sure to help out others.

Whether or not the flavored mineral water actually delivered on the promises and hype, the product had a long life and seemed to have been pretty successful for a number of years prior to the 1960s.  Having this crate, even if a little worse for wear, along with a good sampling of bottles from the company, is a nice addition to a decent little collection of artifacts related to La Vida.

28 August 2016

Hillcrest Grand Opening on 24 September

Hillcrest, the 76-unit housing development north of Carbon Canyon Road adjacent to Sleepy Hollow and Oak Tree Downs, will have its model grand opening on Saturday, 24 September.

Homes will range from about 3,500 to over 5,300 square feet with anticipated starting prices at a cool $1,1 million.

Glossy publicity folders will, of course, highlight the fine architecture, flexible floor plans (the "Canyon Hills Room" will be interesting to see), and community amenities, with the exception of a few little details, such as growing commuter traffic times, less stable water supply, and greater fire risk.

No doubt the project will do very well, however.

27 August 2016

Carbon Canyon Traffic Enforcement Yields 46 Citations

As reported by Josh Thompson in today's Champion, a dedicated traffic enforcement operation on Carbon Canyon Road along the Chino Hills portion of the state highway on 18 August yielded 46 citations.

Infractions included speeding, following too close to the vehicle ahead and, the article states, unsafe lane changes.  Presumably the latter means passing, because this is prohibited the entire length of the highway (yet goes on all the time.)

What wasn't stated is what time of day the operation took place.  Newly appointed captain Darren Goodman was quoted as saying, "if we have to write more tickets to get people to drive safety, then we will."  He went on to suggest that, "the operations thus far have been successful in curtailing some of the unsafe driving practices."

Whether this is really the case remains to be seen.  As noted above, it depends very much on time of day and day of the week.  The 18th was a Thursday and if the operation was during daylight hours, that is a big difference from a Friday or Saturday late evening, which is when many, if not most, of the worse excesses in driving take place.

Moreover, if this operation is a one-off, rather than part of a regular effort and by that it is meant consistent, certainly not daily or even weekly, enforcement, then it is impossible to state that "curtailing some of the unsafe driving practices" can be known.

Notably, Captain Goodman made reference to the fact that "many residents would enjoy seeing a reduction in commercial vehicle usage in the canyon," before stating that it was not possible to prevent such use because Carbon Canyon Road is a state highway.

This was a big issue for some local residents who held meetings and lobbied the city and CalTrans to do something.  The result was a series of signs in both Brea and Chino Hills that are advisory for vehicles longer than 50 feet.  Clearly, these signs are about as effective as speed limit and other warning signs here and elsewhere--in other words, there are still plenty of trucks longer than 50 feet that drive the highway.  A sign is essentially ineffective without on-locale enforcement.

Which goes back to the operation of the 18th.  It is great that the department did this and shows that there is a modicum of concern for the ongoing problem of unsafe driving on Carbon Canyon Road.  But, hopefully, the effort doesn't stop with the one dedicated day of enforcement, especially given the weekday and, presumably, daylight time for the operation.

The worst examples of dangerous driving are weekend evenings and a truly effective enforcement program would target those days and times, although it is understood that there is a greater cost to the department in doing so.  And, again, this enforcement has to be somewhat regular and consistent, so that drivers understand that there is a demonstrable presence, rather than a one-time promotional effort.

So, kudos to the department for carrying out this operation.  Let's see if there is any follow-up.

26 August 2016

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #19247: Yesterday's Motorcycle Accident

Traffic has been noticeably heavier on Carbon Canyon Road this week because of the return to school as well as growing numbers of drivers looking to avoid the 91 and 57 freeways entering Orange County.  As noted here before, there has been an appreciable change in volume on the state highway the last three years.

One of the consequences is that more motorcycles are lane splitting, a practice that has generated controversy.  On one hand, it doesn't make sense to expect cycles to stay behind larger vehicles on congested roads, which would only add to the growing problem on that score.  On the other, there are safety risks for everyone involving lane changes, speed factors and others.

Evidently, the state has decided to legalize lane splitting, become the first to do so in the country, according to this recent online report.  Let's be clear, though, that there are many, many motorcyclists who are responsible and who drive safely and carefully and there are many who don't--just as with drivers of other vehicles.  An issue, of course, is visibility and high likelihood of serious injury or death to cyclists who just aren't that well protected.

Carbon Canyon Road, obviously, is a two-lane state highway, so lane splitting is not possible.  But, what motorcyclists are increasingly doing is passing slower or stopped vehicles by either going into the opposing lane or riding within the lane on either the left or right.  Sometimes cyclists racing through the canyon pass cars going the speed limit or higher--something I've often experienced in twelve years living here.

This is a significant safety issue, especially when it comes to other vehicles making turns.  This appears to have been demonstrated yesterday morning, when a motorcycle and a car collided at the intersection of Carbon Canyon and Fairway Drive, next to the Western Hills golf course.

I was among the many vehicles that lined up on Chino Hills Parkway from Eucalyptus Avenue (and there were many more on the other side coming from Peyton Drive) and then crawled west the couple of miles to the accident scene.

An accident between a motorcycle and a car at Carbon Canyon Road and Fairway Drive in Carbon Canyon slowed already-heavy traffic down considerably yesterday morning.  The cyclist appears to have been riding on the right shoulder to get around slowed vehicles when the car made a left turn and the collision resulted.
Again, this is speculation based on the condition at the scene of the accident, but the cycle and the car were off to the right where Fairway Drive meets Carbon Canyon.  The car was obviously turning onto Fairway from eastbound Carbon Canyon, probably because someone in the long line of cars heading towards Orange County stopped to allow the vehicle to turn left.

The motorcycle was clearly passing on the right shoulder and then could not see the car as it made the turn and the collision took place.  If the cyclist had been trying to pass on the left, presumably the rider would have seen the car in the left turn lane making that movement onto Fairway.  Instead, it looks as if the cyclist was unaware of the blind turn and rammed into the car.

This was an injury accident as there was an ambulance and fire department personnel heading back down eastbound on Carbon Canyon with light and sirens on.  It could easily have been avoided.

More than likely, we will see these occurring more frequently as volume on Carbon Canyon grows and cyclists are looking to make their way through as quickly as possible.  All the more reason to allow more housing in the canyon to join the crawling masses using the state highway (much less the greater use of water, destruction of dwindling native plant and animal habitate and so on.)

And, let's not forget the increasing challenge of trying to deal with an emergency, such as a wildfire, of which there are increasing numbers and intensity, that requires firefighting access and resident evacuation, when the road is becoming more heavily utilized at longer periods during the day.

21 August 2016

Chino Hills State Park Astronomy Event Was Far Out!

Last weekend's "Meet the Night Sky" event, sponsored by the Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Association and held at the Rolling M Ranch in the heart of the park, was a fascinating peek into the mid-boggling wonders of the size and complexity of the universe.

Led by Jeff Schroeder, who conducted the same program last year, the evening featured his illustrated presentation that put the size of the universe and the distances between components of it in terms of relative scale that could be understood.

Jeff Schroeder gives a fascinating talk last Saturday night on the size, scale and scope of the universe to a large crowd in the amphitheater at the Rolling M Ranch in Chino Hills State Park.

The talk also emphasized that, despite the amazing work that has been done in space exploration in recent years, our understanding of our universe is very limited.  Still, what has been learned is amazing in terms of coming to terms with our infinitesimally small place in an ever-expanding universe.

Before the talk, while it was still light and while there was still a good deal of air turbulence from our planet's surface heat that affected the clarity of the viewing, Schroeder had his home-built telescope set up on top of his Volvo station wagon, so that guests could get a still-remarkable view of the surface of the moon, which happened to be full that evening.  Schroeder's way of expressing the magnification was that the smallest item viewed through the scope was something on the order of several (5, perhaps) miles across.

Before Jeff's talk, guests could look through the large telescope, which he built himself and which was mounted on his Volvo station wagon, and get a good view of the surface of the moon, despite air turbulence from the surface heat here on earth.  After his discussion and when it was dark, views of Saturn, its rings, and two of the moons were visible--an experience few get to have.
Then, after his presentation, when it quite dark out, especially given the ranch's location, he directed his scope at the plant Saturn, which could be seen with its rings, as well as two of the planet's moons to the lower left.  For those of us who have never had the opportunity to see something like this, it was definitely worth the long wait in line.

This event is another example of just how valuable Chino Hills State Park (which was earmarked at various times for an international airport and a freeway, much less housing) is for our local area and how great it is to see the interpretive association put on programs that educate and entertain.  It was really a fun evening.

20 August 2016

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #19163

Why not make it two?

On the S-curve along Carbon Canyon Road between the Carriage Hills and Summit Ranch subdivisions on the Chino Hills side of the canyon, a west-bound vehicle strayed off the roadway and mowed down a second of the directional signs designed to assist with negotiating the turn.

So, now its companion, flattened recently by someone going the other direction (and who had to cross the opposing lane to do so), has some company.

There are still a couple of these left, though we'll see for how long.

At least the sign a little further eastbound had some "leg surgery" and is standing straight and tall again (for now).

15 August 2016

Fire Threat in Carbon Canyon

As profiled ten days ago in the Los Angeles Times (click here) and reemphasized by the latest massive blaze in the Clear Lake area of northern California, this has been a notable summer for wildfires in California.

To the date of the article, 5 August, 223,600 acres, or some 350 square miles, had burned in 4,000 separate incidents, taking out 300 houses and killing eight persons.

Much of the state is susceptible to wildfires, given the length, severity and reach of the unprecedented drought that has gripped California for several years running.

Some people might be lulled into a false sense of security because of the good rain and snow that fell on parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains last winter, but much of California received very little precipitation--this includes southern California and our own Carbon Canyon.

The Erskine fire near Lake Isabella in Kern County killed two people and blackened close to 50,000 acres.  The San Gabriel Complex fire in the mountains above Duarte and Monrovia burned over 4,000 acres.  The Soberanes fire in Monterey County scorched about 54,000 acres.  The Sand fire near Santa Clarita claimed almost 40,000 acres.

Then, there are the hundreds of fires that range from under 10,000 acres and lower--in one week, there were 300 separate incidents recorded throughout the state.

Now, southeast of Clear Lake, in an area already hit by three major fires in 2015 alone, the Clayton fire has destroyed 175 structures in 3,000 acres.  The fire doubled in size yesterday alone and is only 5% contained.  Read the latest on that blaze here.

It is telling that, even with all of this activity, the statistics are dwarfed by what happened in 2008, when, by 11 August, there had been around 1.2 million acres burned in wildfires.

This was before the Freeway Complex fire in mid-November raged through much of Carbon Canyon sending a lot of us on a three-night evacuation, during which Sleepy Hollow was a sudden wind shift away from being significantly engulfed.

Plus, since 2010, a staggering 66 million trees have been killed by bark beetle infestations, which are exacerbated by drought conditions and those trees become bone-dry fuels ready-made for wildfires.

But, back to 2016.  There's a long way to go this year.  The fall Santa Ana season awaits.  Our region had another winter of about 4 inches of rain as the drought continues.  This summer has had some hot spells--today registered 106 in Chino Hills at about 4 p.m.  Dry plant material is everywhere.

So, we have to be aware of what is possible here in Carbon Canyon during this last half of the year.  2008 is possible again.

Meanwhile, housing developments in these parched hills, which are most vulnerable to wildfires feeding on those dry fuels and driven by winds at upper elevations, are being built and proposed with the possibility of several hundred new structures added.

There's a reason why CalTrans has placed signs on the Brea side reading "Entering Hazardous Fire Area."

Why the department doesn't have those signs on the Chino Hills side is puzzling.

Why our local, regional and state planners continue to act as if conditions have not changed when they work with housing projects is mind-boggling.

Why we hear so much about the demand for housing as if we had all the water in the world, didn't have the worst smog in almost a decade, had plenty of funds to pay for the infrastructure needed to support the new housing, and so on, is truly mystifying.

Why a proper sense of context and perspective continues to elude leadership when it comes to to development (though intense lobbying, builder-friendly statutes, and an evident weakening of regulatory controls come to mind) is bewildering.

Maybe we'll get lucky and escape without another major fire in Carbon Canyon this year?

Addendum, 16 August, 1:15 p.m.:  Another wildfire, the Bluecut, reaching 1,000 acres in within one hour, has broken out near Cajon Pass at Devore.  6:15 p.m.  The Bluecut fire is now pushing towards Wrightwood and has consumed almost 7,000 acres. 9:15 p.m.  This fire has exploded to some 15,000 acres and there are 82,000 people evacuated in 11 hours.

10 August 2016

Stonefield Stonewalling Stopped Stone Cold (Sort Of)

There is a little bit of good news on the Carbon Canyon housing development front, actually.

As reported by Marianne Napoles in last Saturday's edition of the Chino Hills Champion, Ausmas Properties, developer of the approved 28-unit Stonefield development, slated for construction between Carbon Canyon Road at the summit near the Carriage Hills subdivision and Fairway Drive across from Western Hills Country Club, is seeking yet another two-year extension, following two others, the number allowed by state law.

Seven residents spoke at the most recent Planning Commission meeting to point out that traffic has worsened significantly on Carbon Canyon Road since Stonefield was approved by the city council in 2009.

The assistant city attorney stated, however, that the project's contribution to that traffic is minimal and was concurred in this by the city's development director--in pure number-crunching terms this is true, except that Stonefield was approved with a stipulation that the developer pay for "traffic improvements" consisting of signals at Carbon Canyon and Fairway.

As we've found out since signals were installed at Olinda Village, largely to assist students to get to a school that was then closed down and moved, this "traffic improvement" only slows down the bulk of commuter traffic on the state highway, while providing some relief to the few vehicles that need access to it.  This, in fact, is the flip side of the assistant city attorney's coin (and that of the development director)--of which she only acknowledges one side.

As one resident astutely put it, "It's like saying we have a big leak in the boat, but this other little leak won't hurt."  A very fair analogy, especially when those steering the boat look at all of the leaks, like Stonefield (28 units), the in-process Canyon Hills (76 units), the soon-to-come-to-a-decision Hidden Oaks (107 units), and the not-yet-dead Madrona (161 units), in isolation as if there is no cumulative effect!

An Ausmas representative claimed that these mandated improvements were a major issue for the developer, yet it seems like 7 years is plenty of time to deal with that problem.  In other words, Ausmas either prepares to build accordingly because it has the financial wherewithal to do so, or it sells the property.

Wait, Ausmas actually is selling the property!  The representative didn't bring this up until it was pointed out by observant residents and then the question was asked by chairperson Gary Larson, who was also quoted as stating, "I'm tired of extensions.  I'm tired of developers blaming the recession."  Frankly, it was a bit surprising to read Larson's observation given the ease with which developers have been able to build just about anywhere in the city (and elsewhere, for that matter.)

Commissioner Mike Stover added, "At some point we need a 'have to use by' date.  If we wait long enough, there'll be another recession."

But, the most pointed remarks came from commissioner Stephen Romero, who decried a lack of transparency by staff, who didn't provide information to back up their statements, and then observed, "as projects come on board, at what point do we say that Carbon Canyon is a real problem?"  He aired his view that the canyon is a "death trap" which is being worsened by more development. Romero followed by noting, "it's getting worse, not better, so I have a real concern."

It's worth bringing up that a traffic engineer hired by Madrona's owner, the State of Idaho, after providing all of the mind-numbing data on traffic, then claimed, to a very audible chorus of groans, snickers and laughter from the audience at a Brea city council meeting, that traffic would go down over time.

Beyond traffic, though, there is the matter of water supply and fire risk in a hazardous fire zone with few exits for a growing amount of traffic and number of homes in the canyon.

After a 3-1 vote to reduce the 3-year request to 1-year, it was stated in the article that the question might appear on the agenda of the city council meeting, which was yesterday, so there may be more on this soon.

09 August 2016

Hidden Oaks and Not-So-Hidden Traffic in Carbon Canyon

While heading eastbound on Carbon Canyon Road this morning at a little before 8, it was observed that one of the owners of the Hidden Oaks property, proposed for 107 houses south of the state highway and directly across from the in-progres 76 unit Hillcrest project (yes, that's 183 more houses for a population of almost 800 people that will access Carbon Canyon Road from one intersection) was out at the entrance talking to someone . . . and smiling.

More than likely, the property owner wasn't smiling at the westbound commuter traffic that wound its way, as this blogger continued east, all the way back to Chino Hills Parkway, with a few small breaks in between the continuous line.

More than likely, the property owner, who told this blogger at a community meeting that he and his fellow investors all planned to live in their development and who would, if this were true (a cynic might suggest it was a line to placate opponents of the project) have to deal first-hand with the mounting volume of traffic, was smiling at the thought of the profits he envisions if he can get approval for the project and then sell the property for the expected increase in value that would accrue.

More than likely, the property owner will not be around if the project was built (again, this is a cynic's conjecture) and the traffic continued to get worse, on top of the fire risk for a project largely built on ridge tops where wind gusts are stronger, on top of the uncertainty of future water supply for what will be the same general type of "luxury" embodied in "estate homes" on large lots.

More than likely, if the property owner realizes his ambitions and makes his money from speculation (says the said cynic) and goes smiling all the way to the bank (or wherever the dollars flow), those of us still living in Carbon Canyon and dealing with the consequences won't be smiling.