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.