09 December 2017

Wildfires, Development Planning and Carbon Canyon's Future

As wildfires have been raging through the greater Los Angeles area in recent days, there is renewed discussion about the continuing problem of building homes in and very near wildland areas.

An editorial in yesterday's edition of the Los Angeles Times by Richard Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute takes on the issue of planning for development in the face of the increasing threat of fire.

This follows two recent articles in the same paper about the role of wind in wildfires and on new research concerning Arctic ice melt and increasing high pressure systems that will send rain emanating from systems in the Pacific north and away from our area causing more drought.

Halsey began his piece by noting that, while major wildfires are a natural element of California history and life, "the destruction of our communities is not."  The result is that
Many of the political leaders we elect and planning agencies we depend upon to create safe communities have failed us.  They have allowed developers to build in harm's way, and left firefighters holding the bag.
He continued noting that tough questions need to be asked "about the true cost of expanding the local tax base with new residences in high fire hazard zones."  He lamented "the same conversation over and over again . . . laced with non-sequiturs and focused on outdated, ineffective solutions."

Halsey pointed out that there are many cited reasons for the recent explosion of huge wildfires in forest and wildland areas:  too many dead trees (there are many killed from pest infestations exacerbated by drought); climate change (it does play a major role, but there are fires that can't be blamed on this); and fire policies of suppression that allow for more chaparral to grow, though he noted that's the only way these tough plants grow naturally.

He observed that clearing habitat, such as brush and trees, are a standard planning tool, costing huge sums, but houses still burn anyway.  This policy inspired a recent bill in the House of Representatives calling for more logging in the western United States—a cynical view is that this is an excuse to reintroduce logging as a political ploy rather than represent an attempt to deal with wildfires!

Halsey wrote:
While vegetation management such as fuel breaks and prescribed burns can help during non-extreme fire events, they do little to suppress extreme events . . . we need to protect communities from fires that actually do the damage.
He continued that what this means is to look at fire policies as social, not natural, because building homes in wildland areas introduces the former into the latter and changes the conditions that lead to conflagrations.

Halsey cautioned that:
Planning agencies need to push back against pro-development forces in government, whose willingness to build in known fire corridors borders on criminal neglect.
Then, more locally, stricter fire codes for new developments calling for elements like external sprinklers for eaves and roofs (as is done in Australia, another area hit by frequent wildfires) and retrofitting older structures and more "proper defensible space regulations" are called for.  He wrote that "such policies would cost significantly less than the $9.4 billion [in] wildfire-related claims submitted statewide as of Friday."

Halsey pointed to CalFire, the statewide fire agency, and its policy of addressing vegetation management, rather than looking at protecting property and life.  He noted that the local mountain communities of Big Bear City and Idyllwild have adopted the use of better roofing and venting systems with grants from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).  Notably, FEMA grants were used for vegetation clearance around neighborhoods in Carbon Canyon, but Halsey would certainly recommend foregoing that for the retrofitting done in those cities.

He concluded by observing that "trees, shrubs, grasses, or homes will all provide the necessary fuel for a wildfire.  It's part of California's story."  He linked wildfires with other natural disasters, suggesting:
As we do with earthquakes and floods, our goals should be to reduce the damage when wildfires arrive, not pretend we can prevent them from happening at all.  That mindset starts at the planning department, not the fire station.
 What this trilogy of pieces in the Times demonstrates is that the risk of wildfire in our region and, specifically in Carbon Canyon, will only increase.  Those of us already living here have to be contend with the consequences and which will only worsen as climactic conditions change and as more housing is built in the area.

As the Hidden Oaks development, proposing 107 houses south of Carbon Canyon Road and across from the 76-unit Hillcrest now being built, and more projects are forthcoming, it is apparent that, while fire supppression and and fighting policies and procedures have been improved in many areas, the intensity and frequency of wildfires have also increased.  Planners need to take this into account and elected officials need to be more educated when confronting the immense lobbying power of groups like the Building Industry Association.

With valleys and plains just about fully developed, the only open areas left to developers are foothill, canyon and mountain areas that are the areas that burn most often and hardest.  Current Canyon residents confront mounting challenges of traffic congestion and fire risk and the need for planners and officials to adequately address these issues is greater as the canyon faces greater risk.

05 December 2017

Future Droughts and Effects on Carbon Canyon

A Los Angeles Times front-page article from today by Evan Halper has the headline: "State's droughts may get a whole lot worse."

Advanced modeling research by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in northern California suggest that:
California could be hit with significantly more dangerous and more frequent droughts in the near future as changes in weather patterns triggered by global warming block rainfall from reaching the state.
This is postulated due to increasing melting sea ice in the Arctic leading to stronger high-pressure systems in the Pacific Ocean causing wet air to move to the north rather than to California.

Estimates are that, within 20 to 30 years, as much as 15% less rainfall could be experienced and, with the last drought wreaking havoc to our agricultural economy and causing major problems in other way, even California, "the state most proactively confronting global warming is not prepared for its fallout."

A study published in Nature Communications observes that the Arctic is going to be ice-free in the summer and the resulting changes in precipiration patterns means that, though the average drop in rainfall would be up to 15%, some years would be considerably less and other more.

Lead scientist Ivana Cvijanovic commented, "the similarities between what will happen and the most recent drought are really striking."  The work of Cvijanovic and her colleagues was federally funded and, as Halper observed,
The findings contrast starkly with Trump administration policy on warming, which ignores the mainstream scientific consensus that human activity is driving it.  The administration has been working aggressively to unravel Obama-era action on climate change, withdrawing from the Paris agreement which seeks to limit its impact, dismantling restrictons on power plant emissions, and signaling it will relax vehicle mileage rules that are a crucial component to addressing global warming.
Other climate scientists note that the latest study is one of several "that have signaled a connection between the ice melt in the Arctic and the building of atmospheric ridges affecting California.  Michael Mann of the Earth Science Center at Pennsylvania State University stated, "the impacts of climate change may exceed our adaptive capacity.  The leaves only mitigation—doing something about climate change—as a viable strategy moving forward."

Stanford's Noah Diffenbaugh noted "the change is dramatic, and it is taking place faster than had been projected by climate models."  He went on to observe that making a concrete connection between ice melt and effects on rain and snow fall in California is a significant milestone.

In fact, Cvijanovich suggested that, if there hadn't been so much melting in recent years, our recent mega-drought might have been avoided, though the model she worked on only addresses future impacts. [Note:  because of a comment raised below, here is the text of the article from which the previous sentence was based: But the atmospheric patterns leading to that drought had all the characteristics of those that can be triggered by Arctic sea ice melt, Cvijanovic said, raising the prospect that California might have dodged the latest drought — or at least not have been hit as hard — if not for the large amount of ice that has already vanished.]

She concluded:
There is lots of research to be done. Hopefully we do it in time to allow people to plan for whatever may be coming.
As for Carbon Canyon, what will be comng, provided the modeling proves prescient, is both longer and drier drought conditions providing more fuels for wildfires, like the latest ones in the last couple of days including the massive Thomas fire in Ventura County that is raging out of control, and flooding and mudslides, worsened by burned slopes, during heavier rainfall years.

Coupled with the recent Times piece on the role of wind in the rapid spread of wildfires, this article is another stark warning for local officials whose responsibility is for jurisdictions like Carbon Canyon and for state and federal leaders more broadly.

The more knowledge we (or, at least, some of us) obtain about climate change, the more pressing the need for mitigation becomes.  This week's high winds and the much higher than average temperatures continue to be an issue with respect to the fire risk in the Canyon, but a Fire Watch staff member was seated this morning in a chair outside his vehicle on eastbound Carbon Canyon Road west of Olinda Village.  This program, funded by The Irvine Company, provided an observer a couple of months ago during the recent firestorms in the Anaheim Hills/Corona area, so it's good, at least, to know someone is literally watching.

29 November 2017

Carbon Canyon, Wind and Wildfire Risk

In the wake of October's devastating wild fires in northern California, the Los Angeles Times from last Friday the 24th had this lead headline on its front page: "Fire policies sidestep key factor: wind."

Bettina Boxall's article goes on to discuss a realization made by University of Washington atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass's realization after studying a pair of high-resolution weather models on 8 October when the conflagration broke out: "Oh my God, look at he winds?  What if people were paying attention to this? What could they have done?"

Boxall continued:
As California puts more people and houses on one of the planet's most flammable landscapoes and the grim list of deadly wildfires grows longer, some experts say it's time to take stronger steps.  Among them: Ban development in wind corridors where wild lands repeatedly burn . . .
As Alexandra Syphard, a research scientist with Conservation Biology Institute notes:
In Southern California, every single year the conditions are there for a severe wildfire.  You have Santa Ana wind conditions every year.  You have summer drought every year, high temperatures.
Alex Hall, an atmospheric sciences profesor at UCLA, added:
There are certain corridors where the winds tend to travel.  We also have the ability to predict event by event where the winds are going to be the strongest. 
But with wind mapping and forecasting not shown in the wildfire policies of the State of California, the problem becomes, as Syphard expressed it:
I often hear people say that if we construct our buildings correctly and put enough defensible space around it, then we don't need to worry about where you put the houses.  But they don't necessarily fireproof your house.  You can see that by some of the houses that burned in recent years.
Despite the passage of law five years ago that requires local jurisdictions to include wildfire risk when updating general plans and approving housing projects, Boxall wrote, "there appears little inclination to place especially fire-prone areas off limits to development."

What then followed is a quote from Mitch Glaser, assistant administrator for the regional planning office in Los Angeles County: "we have to consider property rights."  He went to say that, while changes in the layout and size of housing projects are made, no denial of an application was made because of the risk of fire.

Boxall continued: "The building continues even in areas where it is virtually guaranteed that a wind-whipped fire will roar through sooner or later."  She also noted that in France there are new regulations that ban development in hazardous fire zones in the southern part of the country.  A natural resources advisor with the University of California cooperative extension system told Boxall, "it's not terribly popular.  But they do have the ability to make that happen."

This takes the matter then to local jurisdictions and land-use planning.  Richard Halsey, director of the California Chaparral Institute, commented:
Local municipalities are so concerned about their tax base and private property rights and making money that they're not addressing the real risks.
He recommends barring development in high-risk locations or, if it is done, then requiring residents to sign waivers that they forego fire protection, though he followed by stating "I don't know if politically that's ever going to happen."

The article also addressed above-ground power lines and the addition of weather observation stations on poles or requiring that lines be routed underground (which is a significant expense and, in some cases, difficult with terrain).  Shutting off power for public safety reasons was also discussed.

Notably, what San Diego Gas and Electric has found in its monitoring of wind in a county that has been heavily affected by wildfires in recent years is that "it turns out the county's strongest winds don't blow through passes or canyons, as previous thought . . . [and there is] remarkable variability in wind strength across relatively short distances."

In 2014, a new program with that utility, the U.S. Forest Service and UCLA was launched and the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index is intended to rank threats based on weather and moisture in vegetation.  At the end of October, "one of the strongest Santa Ana events in years hit Southern California" and the ranking was high, just below the worse of extreme.

For Carbon Canyon, this article has great relevance.  While District 12 of CalTrans on the Orange County side of the canyon put up signs several years ago noting an extreme fire hazard, this designation was not made for the San Bernardino County side by District 8.  A wildfire, however, won't heed the sign difference and stop burning at the county line.

Moreover, while San Diego's experience is that the strongest winds may not be in canyons and passes, that in no way suggest that these areas don't funnel high winds and pose great risks.  They certainly do, as most recently was demonstrated in another pair of destructive Santa Ana Canyon fires in September and October and as the history of wildfires has shown in Carbon Canyon (1929, 1958, 1978, 1990 and 2008 being just the worst of many such conflagrations.)

A United States Geological Survey video "Living with Wildfire," which was the subject of a post here a few years ago, warns of high winds at upper elevations as well as gullies and other natural features serving as funnels for winds up from canyons to those plateaus and ridges on adjacent hills.

Private property rights, property tax revenues and other factors will continue to influence decision-making at the local level, but these will be dwarfed by the financial and human cost of catastrophic wildfires, the intensity and frequency of which are growing.

Our local officials in city and county government and in fire-fighting will continue to face these issues and articles like this as well as the USGS video, in addition to mounting studies of wildfire conditions and causes, will, hopefully, bring more needed attention to a growing problem.

After all, most of the remaining undeveloped land in our region are in our canyons and hills—precisely those areas most in danger of extreme wildfire risk.  The Hillcrest project of 76 units is slowly progressing on the north side of Carbon Canyon just east of Sleepy Hollow and the subdivision is surrounded by wildfire-prone areas with many homes at the ridge top and plateaus where winds are strong, carrying embers well over the defensible spaces put into the project.

Across Carbon Canyon Road, directly south of Hillcrest, the proposed Hidden Oaks, of over 100 units, will soon be heard by the city's planning commission and council.  Again, the project is sited on hillsides, plateaus and ridges with steep topography to Soquel Canyon on the south and Chino Hills State Park (98% of which burned in 2008) beyond that.  Many home sites are, once more, in higher elevation with strong winds.

It is likely that city staff will cite private property rights, future revenue, and improvements in planning for fire as reasons for approving the project, even as our knowledge of the issues with the risk of wildfire grows.  Unfortunately, prospective buyers will not be made aware of that risk and will be lulled into a sense of false security when they move into these new subdivisions.

27 November 2017

Carbon Canyon's Cabin Eats Restaurant

The latest restaurant to operate in a spot that has had several over the years in the largely-empty Olinda Village shopping center is Cabin Eats, which opened within the last few weeks.

It's a pretty sparse interior with plastic folding chairs, basic folding tables and not much in the way of decor.  A TV sits high in the corner and there are a couple where there is outside seating.

The restaurant is advertised as being open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and offers Mexican and American food. The menu has breakfast and lunch sections, though, for some reason, there is no separate dinner portion. 

Going there last night, our group of three had nachos, a veggie burrito with red sauce, and cheese enchiladas with mole, along with a Caesar salad.  American selections include fish and chips, a grilled cheese sandwich, and a variety of burgers and the breakfast menu will be worth a visit, as well.  Drink are sodas and water with no alcohol served.


The food was pretty good.  The salsa served with the chips was pretty tasty and had a little kick to it.  The mole was good, as well, and the others liked their selections.  

Overall, it didn't measure up to the food at Sol de México, which operated there for a number of years before the short-lived Stone's Smokehouse, which was decent, or, going further back, the excellent Las Redes (anyone remember the name of the pretty good Italian place that was there for a minute or two maybe a dozen or so years back?) but it was still enjoyable.  

The server was good at checking in to see how things were going and the chef said hello and thanked our group for stopping in, so that was nice to see.

As our group discussed, the question is how long this or any other restaurant can survive in a shopping center, built in 1964 when local centers were more sustainable, which looks older and shakier with each passing year.  There were no other patrons last night during our visit and it will take a steady, regular stream of clientele to keep the business afloat.

So, let's hope enough people give it a try and like it that Cabin Eats can get established, but the restaurant business is tough as it is and the location makes the challenge that much greater.

26 November 2017

David Purington Reminiscences of Sleepy Hollow, Part One

Well, given that we just celebrated Thanksgiving and the last post here was about something provided by a neighbor, this is an opportune time to move to another Sleepy Hollow-related set of posts, with material provided by another neighbor--with thanks given to both!

These items consist of typescripts by Purington and appear to have been done in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  There are a total of ten of these related to Carbon Canyon history and they will be bundled together in sets over coming months.

They'll be presented through scans of the originals, cropped and touched up to enhance readability.  An occasional note will be added when needed to help clairfy certain portions of the accounts.

We're starting with a four-page piece titled "Sleepy Hollow: Some Water Development and Family History" that seemed the best way to start the series, because it gives some background on the community from its founding in 1923, two years after Purington's father bought the land, up to the date of writing in 1978 when he was planning for development of a ranch he had in Sleepy Hollow.

To better read the pages, click on them to see them in an enlarged view in a separate window.





Note 1: The Oak Grove and Joe Tatar's (originally called Ichabod's) Restaurant is the area on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road, where the Party House Liquor Store building is located.  In this document, Purington mentions that he built the building on this property--this appears to be the now-shuttered store building.

Note 2:  The original Purington house and the community church are across from the eastern intersection of Carbon Canyon Road and Rosemary Lane.  The first water well was near the house along the creek.

Note 3:  The original plat map of Sleepy Hollow, from 1923, is on file with the County of San Bernardino and was reproduced on this blog.

Note 4:  Lookout Ridge is the area at the top of the northern portion of Sleepy Hollow, north of Carbon Canyon Road.

Note 5:  The tennis court, swimming pool, and area where the 4th of July picnic and stockholders' meeting was held was between the Purington place and the current liquor store property, along the creek on the north side of Carbon Canyon Road.

Note 6:  Known also as "Tidwell Oaks", the store and restaurant were located where the parking area for the Sleepy Hollow Community Center is situated at the east intersection of Carbon Canyon Road and Rosemary Lane.

Note 7:  When Purington mentions existing water reservoirs (or tanks), the one on the south side of Sleepy Hollow at the top of the hill was removed a couple of years ago by the City of Chino Hills.  There is still a tank at the top of the hill on the north end.

Note 8:  In discussing acquiring water outside the community, Purington mentions the land of Mrs. Anderson across from Western Hills Golf Course.  This was formerly the Oasis Country Club and is now the Western Hills Oaks subdivision, established in the mid-1960s.  Purington wrote a separate essay about the water supply for Sleepy Hollow, which will be posted soon.

Note 9:  Purington's discussion of the Sleepy Hollow Volunteer Fire Department is expanded upon in a separate essay, to be posted later.  The Fire Hall, on a lot assigned to the local water district, became a community building where the current Sleepy Hollow Community Building is situated south of Carbon Canyon Road on Rosemary Lane.

Note 10:  Purington's home, destroyed in the big canyon fire in 1958, was situated below Lookout Ridge on the north side of Sleepy Hollow.  He mentions the remodeling of the original family home, which, again, still stands next to the highway.  Members of the Stearns family still live in the canyon.

Note 11:  Purington's pointed criticism of the water supply in Sleepy Hollow continues to be an issue, with varied pipe sizes throughout the community, though there have been marked improvements in the last few years.

25 November 2017

A Different Kind of Tagging in Carbon Canyon

Usually, mention of tagging on this blog has had to do with occurrences of graffiti sprayed on signs, guardrails and, especially, the gradually crumbling original water tank of the La Vida Mineral Springs resort (which, since Thanksgiving was just two days ago, has, thankfully, remained free of such embellishment in recent months.)



The tagging referred to here in this post, though, has to do with an interesting little discovery made a couple of months ago by a neighbor of mine here in Sleepy Hollow.  While working on the steep hillside on his property, he unearthed a metal ring with six tags on it.

Though the ring and tags were dirty, rusted and pitted, the tags have on one of the faces the stamped wording: "B.O.U.H.S. / 55 / WOOD / SHOP."  It seems pretty obvious that the tags were used by the woodshop classes at Brea-Olinda Unified High School in 1955, probably for tagging trees (almost certainly the oaks that abundantly grow in the canyon) that were desired for wood for the class.



Whether the woodshop teacher or a student lived in the house next to which the tags were found or whether there were trees on the property that were identified for tagging isn't known.  The house had an initial part that goes back to the early days of Sleepy Hollow in the 1920s with a 1950s addition.

Anyway, my neighbor thought it was a cool little find, so he passed it on and this post does the same, even if it's just a little element of our canyon's history.

11 November 2017

Tres Hermanos and Potential Public Use

Today's Champion has an article by Marianne Napoles on Tres Hermanos Ranch, located in Tonner Canyon just north of Carbon Canyon, and the continuing controversy over its potential future uses.

Napoles repoted that "The City of Industry reiterated its commitment to use the 2,450-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch for open space, public use, and preservation purposes" following last week's determination by the state's Department of Finance that it would not act on the sale of the ranch to the city for $41,5 million. 

Further, it was observed that Industry stated "it is not proposing a 450-megawatt solar facility" on the property, with documents suggesting the possibility of one up to that size.  This was confirmed in a statement made by Chino Hills City Attorney Mark Hensley, who told the paper that document he'd seen indicated that the project "could be up to 450 megawatts, but there are various numbers in various documents."

Paul Philips, city manager in Industry, was quoted as saying "we will collaboratively with interested stakeholders and residents to ultimately create a space for people to enjoy."  A restrictive covenant was part of the sale that would only allow for the three stated uses cited above.  Philips went on to say that there will be a plan for Tres Hermanos coming in the near future.

Officials in Chino Hills and Diamond Bar continue to express the belief that their lawsuits challenging the legal validity of the sale will be upheld in the courts, with Chino Hills council member Peter Rogers referring to "this shroud of secrecy" about Industry's plans keeping the city "vigilant in seeking information that defines this project."  Hensley added that "when you [Industry] are constantly working to hide the facts from the public and are untruthful when you are caught, it results in a lot of mistrust and confusion."

Diamond Bar City Manager Dan Fox stated that the sale, executed, in his view, "so Industry could have more cash to develop a massive solar generating facility is clearly inconsistent with" the long-range property management plan for the Successor Agency to the City of Industry Urban Development Agency.  The argument is that the sale should have been for the maximum monetary value for the benefit of public entities like the two cities.

To further explain their positions, Chino Hills and Diamond Bar have added pages to their web sites, with the former offering this page and the latter presenting this one.  The City of Industry has posted this press release on its website in the aftermath of the finance department's announcement.

08 November 2017

Madrona Appeal Rehearing Denied

Yesterday, judges from the fourth district of the California Appeals Court issued a ruling denying the petition of a rehearing before the court of the decision rendered in mid-October substantially upholding the superior court verdict in the Madrona case.

This matter involved a proposed 162-unit development in Carbon Canyon between Sleepy Hollow and Olinda Village in Brea and the trial court ruled for Hills for Everyone and fellow plaintiffs who alleged that the City of Brea failed to follow its own ordinances in approving the project.

Old Standard Life Insurance Company, a bankrupt Idaho company in state receivership, appealed, through its OSLIC Holdings, LLC variant, and then lost in the decision rendered about three weeks ago.  Yesterday's action ends the matter at the appellate court level and OSLIC and the State of Idaho now have to determine whether to take the issue to the California Supreme Court.

So, stay tuned for whether this matter moves to the state's high court.

05 November 2017

State Finance Department Takes No Action of Tres Hermanos Ranch Sale

The State of California's Department of Finance has issued a decision to "take no action" regarding the sale of the nearly 2,500-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch, north of Carbon Canyon, to the City of Industry.

The department indicated that, in its review of the sale, it determined that the transaction was approved by the Successor Agency to the City of Industry Urban Development Agency and that it had no objection.

The cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar requested a review because of concern that the sale price of $41.5 million, being far less than anticipated sale value and other offers topping $100 million, would result in significant financial losses.

Both cities have also filed two sets of lawsuits challenging the sale on the grounds that the sale did, as both claim, violate the state's law for disposing of former redevelopment land, as well as not meet state environmental review laws.

So, the legal wrangling will continue at the courts and Industry's proposed solar farm project, with promises for provision of the public use of other portions of the ranch, remains in play.

Read more in this San Gabriel Valley Tribune article just posted online today.

04 November 2017

Big Ballers in Carbon Canyon

It's news now, though rumors go back a few months, that the Ball family, which has garnered a great deal of national attention through the basketball talents of Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo and the publicity-generating promoter and budding enterpreneur that is their outspoken father LaVar, has purchased Chino Hills' largest home, located here in Carbon Canyon, and is renovating the structure. Here is one online article about the purchase.

A YouTube video shows a brief tour conducted by LaVar of the building and there are photos and news articles galore about the purchase and the family.  There isn't anything that could be said here that isn't found in dozens and dozens of places elsewhere.

But, there is an angle to add to this story going back almost twenty years.  When my wife and I lived in another part of Chino Hills, we got memberships to the brand new LA Fitness down the street.  My wife, who is dedicated to fitness, was doing her usual tough workout one day, when a man about our age walked up and, impressed with her intensity, started giving her some friendly encouragement.

A few minutes later, she walked over and introduced me to a guy standing about 6'5" and weighing well over 250 pounds.  After a handshake and a comment about how hard my wife was working out, LaVar Ball went back to his training.  We'd occasionally run into him and chat before returning to our routines.

When our older son was born in 2002, we'd ended our memberships at LA Fitness.  On a weekend, we were walking with our son in a jogging stroller up a steep street near our house when we saw the unmistakable figure of LaVar standing in the garage of his home where he did personal training.  Recognizing us, he hollered over to come by.

We went into the house and met his wife Tina and then were introduced to three little guys.  Lonzo was not quite 5, LiAngelo was 3 or 4 and LaMelo was 1 or 2.  After talking for a bit, LaVar, knowing I'd coached some high school basketball when I was in college, took me to the backyard to show me his set up.  He then told me that he was going to train his sons to be basketball players.  I don't remember if he mentioned the NBA, though I seem to recall that, and, knowing him, it is entirely possible.  I do remember thinking that he had pretty audacious plans with kids who were so young.

We saw LaVar out in his garage once in a while on our walks and then moved to the Canyon in 2004 and lost contact.  Then, ten years later, after reading an article in the local Champion newspaper about the phenom brothers, Lonzo, who was a sophomore, and LiAngelo, a freshman, and the up-and-coming Chino Hills High team that they led, my wife and I went over to Ayala High for a cross-town matchup.

There was a decent size crowd there, but nothing like the attention that steadily grew over the next few years.  Once we went over to the Ayala side of the gym, I pointed out LaVar and Tina to my wife and we walked onto the court.  We got no further than half-court when La Var rose up from his seat, pointed at us, and bounded out to greet us.  I was more than surprised that he remembered our names.  He was as friendly and gregarious as usual and Tina was typically gracious, too.  As for that game, I remember clearly being very impressed with the Ball brothers and their skills and abilities, but surprised at how wide-open their game was.  It only got wilder from there.

That part is well known and oft discussed.  I saw a fair number of games in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, but it was nearly impossible to get in during the 2015-16 campaign when the team went undefeated and was ranked #1 in the country.  I did go to the Southern Section semifinal at Ayala against Mater Dei, in which Chino Hills dismantled the Monarchs 102-54 (there was actually a running clock at the end).  Last year, I saw one game at U.C.L.A. with Lonzo and one Chino Hills contest, an overtime loss to Mater Dei in an open division playoff game at U.S.C.

Now, Lonzo is a rookie with the Lakers learning the ropes in the N.B.A., LiAngelo has just played an exhibition game with U.C.L.A. with the regular season starting in about a week.  LaMelo, however, was pulled from Chino Hills High and is being home schooled.  LaVar insists that his training and playing in A.A.U. ball will prepare him for U.C.L.A., but there is also the matter of the Big Baller shoe issue and eligibility.  He's a talented player for sure, scoring 92 points one game last year, so we'll see where he goes from here.

As for LaVar, his public persona is hotly debated.  To some, he's doing a disservice to his sons with his boasts and often outrageous comments.  To others, his persona is a publicity tactic and he's working to keep his sons in the spotlight to their future financial advantage.   Whether all three will eventually play in the N.B.A. (many feel LiAngelo is the least likely), the Balls have already achieved remarkable success.

What stood out to me was when I stood in the long line to get into the Ayala gym before that Mater Dei game.  I started talking to the person behind me, who was a teacher at Chino Hills.  I asked her what she knew about the Ball brothers and she said they were not only respectful and a pleasure to have in her class, but that they were excellent students—credit also goes to their mother, who is recovering from a severe stroke.

Hopefully, the hype, constant attention, critiques on 24-hour cable channels and endless online websites and social media platforms, the family's Facebook reality show, and so on, don't turn into a long, deep rabbit hole with a disappointing end.

As for that Carbon Canyon house the Balls bought, it was the subject of an early post on this blog, just as the Great Recession, largely brought on by a housing crash, was on its way.  It may be no small irony that the realtor representing the Balls was Richard King, who built and lost that home.





02 November 2017

2nd Lawsuits Filed by Chino Hills & Diamond Bar Over Tres Hermanos Ranch Sale

As reported by Jason Henry of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar have filed separate lawsuits, and for the second time, challenging the sale of the 2,450-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch to the City of Industry by the Successor Agency to the Urban Development Agency, the former redevelopment agency of the City.

The first suits were filed on the ground that the sale violated state laws governing redevelopment property liquidation.  These new filings argue that Industry's purchase and its recently revealed plans violate California's environmental statutes and are "an illegal gift of public funds."

Chino Hills City Attorney Mark Hensley accused Industry of having "rigorously concealed" the planned solar project and so "failed to maximized the value of the land," as well as rejected an offer of purchase for over $100 million.  Technically, the rejection was from the Successor Agency, which includes of city and county officials.

Industry countered by saying that the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, is not yet at issue because the city is researching the potential for the property and has not advanced to the stage with the solar project to have it be applicable to that law.

Chino Hills Mayor Ray Marquez issued a statement stating that there was a concern "that Industry will use their position as a public agency developing the land for public benefit' to proceed without any input from the residents and the City."

Notably, perennial Chino Hills city council Rossana Mitchell, at a recent meeting, accused Marquez of favoring housing on Tres Hermanos, which she stated most residents do not want, and Marquez responded strongly that this was not the case.

Henry's article concluded by observing that Industry's solar farm plan could be boosted by state policies geared towards ramping up alternative and renewable energy sources.  He noted that the state, nearly a decade ago, agreed to waive CEQA requirements for a proposed football stadium in Industry near the Walnut and Diamond Bar borders and implied this could be attempted at Tres Hermanos.

For more, here is the Tribune article.

31 October 2017

Happy Sleepy Holloween 2017


It isn't like decades past, when Sleepy Hollow residents, led by the Carbon Canyon Women's Club, would have a community event including the famed Ride of the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving's short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."


It's not even ten or so years ago when the women's club hosted a Halloween party at the Sleepy Hollow Community Center.


Now my kids are too old to trick or treat, so there's not even that.


But, there are still folks in the neighborhood who get into the spirits of the holiday and put up creative, eye-catching, and creepy decorations--so there is something about upholding tradition that way.


For example, check out a neighbor's fence and the wish for a "Happy Sleepy Holloween" along with a witch making her brew for All Souls Eve.


Or, the one with the scary clown--after all, clowns are generally creepy.


Then, there's the ghostly lady gently swaying with the breeze as she hangs from an oak tree.


One of the coolest (yup, pun intended) decorations is a neighbor who created a 5-foot tall volcano in the yard.  Lavalicious!


And, check out the neighbor who carved this year into their pumpkin!


So, we'll see how many trick-or-treaters there'll be tonight--lately, it's been only a few kids plying the neighborhood.  But, they tend to do really well in terms of amount of candy per house!


It's getting dark, so time to see who will be coming to get their treats.  Happy Sleepy Holloween 2017!

28 October 2017

The Gaines and Brown Families of Carbon Canyon, Part Six: Flying Cow Ranch Photos

Thanks again to Joyce Harrington, who generously shared many photographs from the Gaines and Brown families, who lived in the Carbon Canyon/Olinda area for many decades from about the 1900s onward.


Past entries in this series included a couple of views of the Gaines family home on their Flying Cow Ranch in what is now the Olinda Village community on the Brea side of the canyon.

The home stood on what is today's Hollydale Mobile Home Estates property on the south side of Carbon Canyon Road, though the ranch extended north into the Olinda Village subdivision.  Edward F. Gaines used the ranch to pasture livestock and Joyce's photos include a number of great images of the ranch property.  He died in 1956 and less than a decade later, Olinda Village was developed.

So, today's entry highlights more of those snapshots, with the first being a view, of an unknown date, but perhaps in the 1910s or 1920s,  taken looking northwest towards the Gaines ranch house and framed nicely among some trees.

 

Among the gentle rolling hills sloping gradually downwards towards the photographer and, behind that person, the confluence of Carbon and Soquel canyons, is a man with a team of horses.  Presumably, he and the animals are grading the land or preparing it for planting crops.

In the distance are two stands of trees, the Gaines ranch house, what looks like a water tower, and an outbuilding.  In between the trees and further off is the distinct sharply pointed peak of a hill that can easily be seen today at the west end of the Olinda Village tract.

The second photo, perhaps from about the same time as the first, shows a pair in a buggy pulled by two horses and a group of four persons seated on the front steps and porch of the Gaines house.  Behind the house is a portion of the sloping hills in what is now the Olinda Village area.  Presumably the photo shows Gaines and his wife, Fannie Atwater, along with family and/or friends.


Finally, there is an image of a barn, horse and a man behind the animal on the ranch, again maybe from the time of the other two.  In 1939, a devastating fire burned down the barn; destroyed Edward Gaines' original and restored stagecoach, which he used for parades and other events; and killed some of his prize horses.

There are more photos from Joyce's collection to be posted, so check back for more soon.

25 October 2017

Carbon Canyon Road Closed Due to Fire by Regional Park in Brea

7:50 p.m.  Official Chino Hills update from 5 minutes ago is that Carbon Canyon Road is fully opened.

7:25 p.m.  Starting to see vehicles coming eastbound from the Brea side of Carbon Canyon, so it looks like the road is again open.

6 p.m. UPDATE from the city website:

Road Closure - Wed. 10/25 UPDATE 6:00 pm Fire is nearly out- Carbon Canyon still closed

6:00 pm update: The Carbon Canyon fire is nearly out. Crews on on scene conducting mop up with 2 helicopters remaining in the area in case of hot spots or flare ups. Fire was in Brea and contained to 5 acres. Carbon Canyon remains closed due to fire apparatus in the area.

Here's the City of Chino Hills alert:

October 25, 2017 4:27 PM

Road Closure - Wed. 10/25 4:15 pm - Carbon Canyon Road Closed Due to a Vegetation Fire in Brea

Carbon Canyon Road is closed in both directions due to a vegetation fire near Carbon Canyon Regional Park. From the Chino Hills side, residents will be allowed access into Carbon Canyon from Chino Hills Parkway. There is a total road closure at the County line past Sleepy Hollow.
On the Brea side, Carbon Canyon Road is closed in both directions of trave

24 October 2017

Chino Hills & Diamond Bar Sue Over Tres Hermanos Ranch Sale

It's hot off the (electronic) press, being posted just about 20 minutes ago, but the San Gabriel Valley Tribune has an article detailing the lawsuits filed on Friday the 20th by the cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar against the sale of the 2,450-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch, which is within their borders, to the City of Industry.

Mark Hensley, city attorney for Chino Hills, wrote in his filing that Industry "deceived the Oversight Board [for the former Industry redevelopment agency] and the public by consistently making false statements that the property would be used for open space and recreational purposes" while spending millions of dollars in studies for a solar farm that would cover about 40% of the land.  Hensley argued that "as a result of this deception the affected taxing agencies have been harmed."

Tres Hermanos Ranch from the south, March 2016.

Industry secured a 4-3 vote by the oversight board because of an offer to use Tres Hermanos land for public access and for the preservation of open space and has, it's been reported, contacted the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation about ways this could be done, presumably on the remaining 60% of the ranch, or about 1,550 acres.

Statutes require the oversight boards of former redevelopment agencies to secure the "best and highest value" for former redevelopment property, like Tres Hermanos.  A question would be whether this is solely measured in dollars lost to cities like Chino Hills and Diamond Bar, because the appraised value of the ranch was up to approximately $120 million and the agreed-upon purchase price was just south of $42 million.  The suits claim the ranch should be sold to the highest bidder

Notably, these suits challenge the sale as their major focus, though there are expressed concerns about the proposed solar project violating state environmental laws and local planning ordinances.  Interestingly, the Chino Hills filing includes letters from the Chino Valley Fire District and the County of San Bernardino supporting the city's allegations.

Here is the full article, which will appear in tomorrow's print edition.

21 October 2017

Madrona Trial Court Ruling Upheald by State Appeals Court

Four days ago, judges in District Three of the Fourth Appellate District for the State of California affirmed, with modifications, an Orange County Superior Court ruling against the proposed Madrona project in the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon.

This suit filed by the preservation organization Hills for Everyone, along with three other entities, against the Old Standard Life Insurance Company and its OSLIC Holdings (under receivership with the State of Idaho), challenged the City of Brea's approval of the 162-unit project on the north side of the canyon between Olinda Village and the Chino Hills border on the grounds that the project failed to meet the city's own development standards for the canyon.

The city argued that, because the project dated back years before the adoption of the Carbon Canyon plan, Madrona was exempt from it, but the Superior Court ruling firmly rejected that contention.  Consequently, when an appeal was mounted, the city declined to join OSLIC Holdings (it helped that most of the council and some of the city staff were no longer in their positions).  Still, OSLIC persevered only to suffer this latest defeat.

The two main points upheld by the appellate court had to do with conflict in the city's woodlands management policy to protect, preserve and manage oak and walnut trees and associated woodland areas and that there was not "the necessary and critical analysis" concerning "compliance with slope grading requirements" in the Carbon Canyon plan.

There is much more to the ruling which spans thirty-seven pages of the mind-numbing legalese to be expected in such a document, but, for now, Hills for Everyone and its fellow litigants, as well as allies, associates, friends, supporters and whoever else was against the Madrona project duly deserves a massive "hurrah" for the huge undertaking it shepherded for many, many years.

13 October 2017

City of Industry Approves Solar Farm Project for Tres Hermanos Ranch

Here is the latest from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on the City of Industry's plans for a solar farm project at Tres Hermanos Ranch, just north of Carbon Canyon:

04 October 2017

Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council Brush Drop Off This Saturday!

The Carbon Canyon Fire Safe Council, with funding from the City of Chino Hills and support from Chino Hills (Republic) Disposal, is holding its second and final brush drop-off of 2017 this Saturday the 7th from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The disposal company will have a large roll-off bin on Canon Lane, just north of Carbon Canyon Road and adjacent to Chino Valley Fire District Station 64, for Carbon Canyon residents to deposit their cut brush.


Volunteers from the Fire Safe Council will be present to help residents with the unloading of their brush into the bin.

This great program aids in reducing flammable material that is easy and ready fuel for wildfires, like the Canyon fire which burned more than 2,600 acres within the last couple of weeks.  Last winter's rainfall promoted new growth and that, along with older material, presents a threat for a fire in our always-vulnerable canyon.

So, anything residents can do to reduce and minimize the risk helps greatly and the Fire Safe Council is glad to work with the City and the disposal company to offer the drop-off service.

26 September 2017

State Launches Review of Tres Hermanos Ranch Sale

As explained in this San Gabriel Valley Tribune article today, the State of Calfornia's Department of Finance will review the recent sale of Tres Hermanos Ranch to the City of Industry, the agreement of which calls for approval of the deal by the department.

The department's staff who deal with redevelopment issues have 40 days to complete the review, though it is not expected to take that long.

As noted here recently, the cities of Diamond Bar and Chino Hills, in whose jurisdictions the ranch is located, have called for a state review and/or rejection of the sale as undercutting their tax receipts for the sale.  The City of Industry has stated that its purchase will yield open space, public access, and public uses--the latter meaning a planned solar farm on a substantial portion of the ranch.

While the article quotes state law requiring redevelopment land sales to "maximize value," the fundamental question with that word of "value," seems to be whether it is to be taken as meaning "dollar value" or some other qualifiable "value," such as open space, public access and so on.

The purchase price of $41.5 million agreed upon in a 4-3 vote by the City of Industry Successor Agency to the Urban Development Agency was contingent on a perpetual use of the 2,450 acres for public access and public uses.  However, a property management plan pegged the monetary value as roughly $86 to $122 million.

Interestingly, Chino Hills City Manager Rad Bartlam, who talked before of housing limits in general plans for the city, is now taking a different tack on the ranch by suggesting that his city and Diamond Bar could have bid $41.6 million ($100,000 more than the approved deal) and turned Tres Hermanos into parkland if the cities could have been allowed to bid.  He stated, "I would think the community would be better off having the cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar own it, than the City of Industry."

25 September 2017

Fire in Corona and Chino Hills State Park

UPDATE. 10:15 p.m.: Traffic has been heavy on eastbound Carbon Canyon Road because part of the 91 Freeway is closed due to the fast-moving Canyon fire in Corona, which has now consumed some 2,000 acres and is only 5% contained.  The portion of the blaze that got into Chino Hills State Park is very small and the main section is along the Cleveland National Forest in the Santa Ana Mountains, west of Corona.  A home is evidently destroyed and others threatened.

Here's a recent update from the Orange County Register.

A fire that started just off the eastbound 91 Freeway and has lanes closed near Anaheim Hills and Corona has jumped the freeway and has gotten into Chino Hills State Park, according to this article in the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

The 2008 Freeway Complex fire started not far from this location and quickly spread to the Carbon Canyon area.  Let's hope fire crews are able to put this one out before it gets too much bigger.

Meanwhile, look for an increased volume of traffic on eastbound Carbon Canyon Road due to the lane closures on the normally clogged 91.

18 September 2017

Tonight's Chino Hills Historical Society Presentation on Don Antonio María Lugo

Thanks to great publicity, including two articles in the Chino/Chino Hills Champion, a good crowd of nearly 150 people came out tonight for a presentation for the Chino Hills Historical Society on Don Antonio María Lugo, grantee in 1841 of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, previously a ranch under the auspices of Mission San Gabriel, and the western border of which extended into Carbon Canyon just east of Sleepy Hollow.

Approximately 150 people turned out tonight at the Chino Hills Community Center to hear the story of Don Antonio María Lugo, grantee in 1841 of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, which extended west to near Sleepy Hollow within Carbon Canyon.

The talk covered the Lugo family's migration from the state of Sinaloa in Mexico to Baja California and then to Alta California, where Don Antonio was born in 1778.

From his birth at Mission San Antonio (hence his name?), the story followed his military career, settlement on Rancho San Antonio (that name again!) southeast of Los Angeles, political involvement in the puebelo, acquisition of other ranchos, including Chino, and more.

A lively crowd included descendants of the Lugo, Rowland, Workman and Temple families, as well as local residents interested in the history of the area.

Lugo, an unusually tall man at 6 feet and known as el viejo Lugo, because he lived a longer-than-typical life of 81 years, died the last day of January 1860, and impressed a great many people with his stature, bearing and personality.

A post on this blog from 2010 about Don Antonio can be accessed here, but there is also some other information that will be posted here in upcoming days, so check back for those.

17 September 2017

Chino Hills to Sue City of Industry Over Tres Hermanos Ranch Sale

The Chino/Chino Hills Champion reported in its edition yesterday that the City of Chino Hills intends to file a lawsuit challenging the late August sale of the 2,450-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch, immediately north of Carbon Canyon, to the City of Industry, which has been planning for a large solar farm on the ranch.

This development came after a closed door session of the Chino Hills city council meeting last Tuesday night. City Attorney Mark Hensley cited a "number of issues" including Industry's not presenting the proposed solar farm to the Chino Hills Planning Commission, which determines appropriate use to the city's general plan.

City Manager Rad Bartlam decried a lack of transparency in the process, telling the council that the city had to file public records requests for thousands of documents in order to learn of the plans for the ranch. Mayor Ray Marquez observed that the farm would cover most, if not all, the property and be visible from Grand Avenue.

A City of Industry spokesperson responded that going to the Chino Hills planning commission before a purchase "would have been premature" and added that Industry was committed to following all applicable laws and regulations from the local jurisdictions up to the federal level.


A view from the south of Tres Hermanos Ranch, March 2016.
Jim Gallagher, a Chino Hills resident and member of the grass roots organization Save Tres Hermanos Ranch, told the city council during the open portion of the meeting that people [most, presumably] in Chino Hills are against housing and the traffic it would bring to the area if these were built. Chino Hills and Diamond Bar together allow nearly 1,100 units (meaning a few thousands new residents) on their respective portions of the ranch.

Gallagher went on to say that "Tres Hermanos is a critical natural area with a natural waterway. Our residents say yes to open space and green infrastructure." This latter refers to the publicly stated intention of Industry to build a large solar farm on the ranch and Gallagher told the council that it was too big, noting he mentioned this to Industry officials. He then observed that there are misperceptions in the public mind about what solar farms are.

Chino Hills council member Cynthia Moran stated that the idea of the sale was "not necessarily a good one" and that she would like to see a public meeting to explain how the decision to sell the ranch will affect the city. She also said that while "people are quick to say they don't want houses," there is also the matter of residents comprehending "the reality of the situation."

Stay tuned as this issue ramps up!

15 September 2017

Carbon Canyon Road Slope Retaining Wall Project Begins This Monday the 18th

This project starts on Monday.  Note that, though the wall is 200 feet in length, the affected area in terms of warning signs, cones and so forth, will go from the county line to Canyon Hills Road.

They're talking 8 hours a day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday until the end of the year.


San Gabriel Valley Tribune Editorial on Tres Hermanos Ranch

The editorial board of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune has weighed in on the Tres Hermanos Ranch issue and the editorial can be viewed here.

The last post here linked to an article on a request by the cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar for a state review on the legality of the sale of the ranch to the City of Industry, so we'll see what is forthcoming from Sacramento.

30 August 2017

Chino Hills & Diamond Bar Seek State Rejection of Tres Hermanos Sale

A new twist to the ongoing saga of the City of Industry re-acquisition of Tres Hermanos Ranch, as the cities of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar are petitioning the State of California to reject the sale or undertake a review to determine if the purchase meets legal criteria.  The stated harm to the cities involves the loss of tax revenue from the lower price ($41.5 million rather than in excess of $100 million) paid by the terms of the 24 August sale.

Read more in this San Gabriel Valley Tribune article.

29 August 2017

City of Industry Reacquires Tres Hermanos Ranch

In a 4-3 vote last Thursday, the Successor Agency to the City of Industry's Urban Development Agency approved the sale of the 2,500-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch, originally acquired by the UDA forty years ago, to the City for $41.5 million.

Tres Hermanos Ranch from the south, March 2016.
Although there had been offers by the City and an Irvine developer of $100 million or more, the lower amount was approved on condition of guarantees by the City for public access to portions of the ranch, in addition to a proposed solar farm intended for the area.

Read more in this San Gabriel Valley Tribune article about the purchase.

09 August 2017

18 September Talk on Antonio Maria Lugo and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino

Chino Hills Historical Society Presents:
“A Look Back at Antonio María Lugo and the 
Early Years of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino”
Monday, September 18th 

The Chino Hills Historical Society will host a presentation by Chino Hills resident and historian Paul R. Spitzzeri at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 18th at the Chino Hills Community Center, 14259 Peyton Drive.  Spitzzeri will share the history of Antonio María Lugo and the early years of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino.

According to Spitzzeri, Antonio María Lugo (1775-1860), born near Monterey, Mexico just six years after the Spanish first settled California, was one of the most prominent and remarkable persons in greater Los Angeles during his lifetime.  A soldier in the Spanish Army during his younger years, Lugo was granted the Rancho San Antonio, encompassing nearly 30,000 acres southeast of Los Angeles.  Later, he and his family acquired the Rancho San Bernardino and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, the latter including today’s cities of Chino and Chino Hills.

“Lugo was torn by the loss of California to the Americans during a war that included the Battle of Chino, which was fought on what is now Boys Republic,” said Mr. Spitzzeri, “He was known for his forthright personality, hospitality, and strength of character.”

Mr. Spitzzeri has lived in Chino Hills for 20 years.  He is the Museum Director at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in the City of Industry, where he has worked since 1988. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree in history from California State University, Fullerton and has published on local, regional and state history in many journals and anthologies.  His book, The Workman and Temple Families of Southern California, won a 2009 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History.  Since 2008, Paul has maintained the blog www.carboncanyonchronicle.blogspot.com.

“Paul really captivates the audience as he paints a picture of the history of the area,” said Chino Hills Historical Society President Denise Cattern.  “We are so happy that he has returned to share the story of Antonio María Lugo!”

The Chino Hills Historical Society is a non-profit organization funded through memberships and donations.  For additional information, please call (909) 597-6449 or send an email to chhistory@aol.com.

07 August 2017

Tres Hermanos Ranch Updates

In recent days, a pair of news items have come out in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune regarding the City of Industry's attempt to reacquire the Tres Hermanos Ranch, which the city's redevelopment agency purchased in 1978 and which then went to a successor agency when RDAs were eliminated.

Industry's city manager Paul Phillips wrote an open letter advertisement a few weeks ago stating the city's intention, if able to buy the ranch, to use it for public purposes, including open space and recreation.

That was followed by this article by the Tribune on the 3rd in which Phillips confirmed in a meeting with State Senator Josh Newman and officials from Brea, Chino Hills, Diamond Bar and Walnut that Industry is looking to establish a solar farm on the ranch.

The Tribune then followed yesterday with this article on Industry's expenditures so far in its early work on the proposed solar array.

13 July 2017

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #56: Camp Kinder Ring Plunge, 1942

As has been covered in this blog before, the Workmen's Circle, now SoCal Arbeter Ring/Workmen's Circle, an association devoted to the Jewish community, Yiddish culture and social justice (for more here is the organization's website), operated Camp Kinder Ring, which began as a youth camp in 1928 and then served all ages until it closed thirty years later, in 1958, presumably because of a lack of reliable water.  That fall, a massive wildfire swept through Carbon Canyon destroying part of the site and sections of nearby Sleepy Hollow, which lies just to the west.

The facility included a community hall, buildings for lodging, a swimming pool, and much more. Some of these structures survive as part of a horse and cattle facility on the east side of Canyon Hills Road north of Carbon Canyon Road on the Chino Hills side of the canyon.

Incidentally, the elderly owner of the site recently passed away and there are rumors that the property may be sold.  If that happens, expect developers to hungrily eye the property for more homes and for the camp buildings to be destroyed without documentation of their historical value or importance.

That happened not long ago with the ruins and remains of other structures and elements of the camp, wihch were razed a couple of years ago without so much as a report or survey about their existenc as the construction of the Hillcrest housing development, now in its third phase, went underway.

The swimming pool, or plunge, at Camp Kinder Ring, owned and operated by the Workmen's Circle for Jewish youth and others between 1928 and 1958 on the site of today's Hillcrest housing development and a horse and cattle ranch near Sleepy Hollow in the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon.
After the camp closed, the site was used as a country club, as "Ski Villa" utilizing a plastic needle covered run for outdoor, all-year skiing (an idea that, not surprisingly, lasted all of a year in 1966-67), and as the "Purple Haze" counter-culture bar, among others.

Today's entry is a postcard titled "A View of the Workmen's Circle Camp Plunge," the swimming facility for the camp.  It shows the large cement pool, what were likely changing rooms, and nine persons in swimsuits on the pool deck. In the background are a portion of the Chino Hills, where the Oak Tree Downs and Oak Tree Estates developments are today.

On the reverse of the card is the camp's name, mailing address and city (of course, Chino Hills was some fifty years away from incorporation!).  A date stamp from a Los Angeles post office shows the date of 28 July 1942 and there is a stamp encouraging the purchase of defense savings bonds and stamps and a 1-cent mailing stamp "for defense."  The United States had entered World War II, just seven months before after the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor.

A note from "Herbie" to Mrs. Tillie Katz of Glendale mentions that he was swimming and hiking as part of his stay at the camp.
A message written in pencil from "Herbie" to Mrs. Tillie Katz of Glendale notes that "I go swimming 2 times a day" and "I went hiking last Wednesday and am going again today," giving two of the main activities for youth campers like "Herbie," while spending part of their summers at Camp Kinder Ring.

It's extremely rare to find anything about Camp Kinder Ring, so this is a very welcome addition to the documentation about an important element of Carbon Canyon history.

04 June 2017

The Gaines and Brown Families of Carbon Canyon, Part 5: Olinda School, 1910s

Because it was located in a district that had extraordinary tax revenues from a booming oil field, Olinda School may have been the best-funded elementary through junior high school in the region.

For the Gaines and Brown families, whose descendant Joyce Harrington has shared many of the family photos, this meant a quality education outside of the established cities in northern Orange County like Fullerton and Anaheim.

When it came to going to high school, Olinda students would make the long bus ride to Fullerton Union High School, which gave a good education, just not with the tax revenues of Olinda!

It seemed particularly appropriate at this point, as our schools have completed their year and students are headed for their summer vacations, including some who have graduated, to post a couple of the images provided by Joyce of the Olinda School.

The facility was located near the banks of Carbon [Canyon] Creek after it flowed out of Carbon Canyon, past the confluence with Soquel Canyon and its creek and headed into what is now Carbon Canyon Regional Park.

The Olinda School, located in what is now the eastern end of Carbon Canyon Regional Park, from a circa 1910s photograph provided courtesy of Joyce Harrington.
Those familiar with the old park entrance, near which is a state historic landmark plaque for the Olinda community, will recognize in one of the photos the steep hill behind the school, which is above the park's eastern edge and where housing tracts in Yorba Linda overlook the park just to the west of today's Diemer water treatment plant operated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

At the left of the image, behind a small tree is the covered projecting entrance of the school, situated under a bell tower with arched openings.  Again, this is pretty fancy school for such a rural area.

The other photo shows the graduating 8th grade class of 1917, exactly a century ago, posed on the front steps of the Olinda School.  As with almost all school photos, it is fun to see the varied dress and expressions of the students, some with broad smiles and others are serious, while a few students look away from the camera.  At the bottom left is the mark of Hartsook, a major photography studio with offices in Los Angeles and Oakland.

The 8th grade graduating class of 1917 at the Olinda School.  Courtesy of Joyce Harrington.
The Olinda School operated well after the post-World War II period, even as the residential population of the oil fields diminished significantly from the late 1920s onward, with the rise of the automobile allowing oil field workers to live further from their job site.  When the Carbon Canyon Dam project was completed in the late 1950s, the school was razed.

The name of Olinda School, however, was revived when the Olinda Village subdivision was built further east where the Gaines' Flying Cow Ranch was located.  Olinda Elementary School opened in the mid-1960s and operated until recent years, when new housing at Olinda Ranch and projecting subdivisions in the shuttered oil fields north of Lambert and west of Valencia prompted the move of the school to its current location on Birch Street.

Thanks to photos like the ones provided by Joyce, we can document the existence and usage of the original Olinda School.

03 June 2017

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #s26262/26389 + Bonuses

Two recent accidents on Carbon Canyon Road indicate more reckless driving.  On Wednesday, 24 May at 10:30 p.m. that familiar sound of screeching tires and skidding followed by a metallic crunch echoed through Sleepy Hollow.

By the time a neighbor and I got over to the accident scene at the old Party House liquor store where Carbon Creek crosses under Carbon Canyon Road, the vehicle was gone, but left behind a twisted, bent section of guardrail there along the north side of the state highway.  A neighbor who lives directly across the street went out upon hearing the wreck and found a young woman hightailing it from the scene.


Yesterday about 4:15 p.m. while heading westbound from Chino Hills Parkway on Carbon Canyon Road, another accident scene was encountered, in which an older SUV was on its side and glass scattered across the westbound lane.

A Summit Ranch resident just narrowly missed being hit by the SUV, which apparently drifted off the eastbound lane, went up a dirt embankment and then skidded across the road on its side acros the opposing lane of traffic.  It has been said, but not verified, that alcohol was smelled on the breath of the driver.

Meanwhile, Chino Hills councilmember Ed Graham, as part of his regular updates to residents, which is a great service that he provides, had this to offer in his most recent edition:
Chino Hills Police conducted a Carbon Canyon Joint Enforcement Action on April 25th. The Cities of Chino and Brea participated as well. A total of 80 citations were issued by the three agencies with Chino Hills writing 50 of those tickets. Twenty of the 80 citations were for excessive speed. Several of those were in excess of 65 mph. Thirty-six citations were issued to Chino Hills’ residents. The balance were spread over a wide range of Orange County and Inland Empire cities. Interestingly, 16 citations were issued for use of cell phone/texting. As expected, a number of citations were issued to trucks, mostly for crossing the double yellow line. All of those were residents outside of Chino Hills. 
It is always a good situation when our local law enforcement personnel are out on Carbon Canyon Road, because, if they write that many citations on one day, just think how many instances of dangerous driving there are every day.

It should be added that the action took place on a Tuesday and, though not stated by councilmember Graham, was almost certainly during daylight hours.  However, those of us who live in or drive the canyon regularly know that more reckless driving takes place weekend evenings than during weekday mornings or afternoons.

As the City of Chino Hills moves to phase two of a Carbon Canyon Road traffic study, the obvious conclusions in phase one's basic engineering analysis were presented last month to the planning commission.  That is, traffic volumes are in the D or F ranch for Level of Service (LOS); that volume will be increasing as more housing is built in the Inland Empire; and that there are some improvements that can be suggested to Carbon Canyon Road with the goal being to increase efficiency of movement on the state highway.

However, of the dozen or so speakers who addressed the commission, many asked for traffic lights at Canon Lane or Canyon Hills Drive so that residents seeking to turn (especially left) onto Carbon Canyon Road can do so more easily.  As a canyon resident who has to turn left all the time, but won't even have the opportunity to have traffic signals to assist because of the sight line issue in Sleepy Hollow, I really do empathize with those residents.


But, adding more traffic signals, while it may benefit a few, will actually slow traffic down and impede movement through the canyon for the larger numbers of commuters on the road.  As a state highway, Carbon Canyon Road has to be looked at in terms of the broader, rather than the more localized, impacts.

Again, I experience the same issues and frustrations of trying to access the road as do those speakers, but more traffic signals will be counterproductive and lead to more stoppages, less access, and slower commute times.

Here, though, is the bottom line in the big picture.  There are too many of us, me included, driving ourselves solo.  There is no way to improve existing freeways, highways and arterial roadways to address the real problem of inefficient volume.  The huge amounts of money and time spent on the 91 Freeway widening and the improvements of the 57/60 interchange, two of the worst traffic areas anywhere in the United States are the proverbial "finger in the dike," and won't address long-term traffic problems.

More carpooling, trains, subways, and, especially, buses are the only way to deal with volume.  For those who love to drive or want the convenience (compromised as those may be by lengthening commute times) of controlling our time by driving ourselves solo, we have to decide how much more we can put up with.

The Carbon Canyon Road traffic study is needed and it is good to see the city taking this project on, but the reality is that solutions will be temporary and minor.  What our elected officials and citizens need to do is embrace getting away from solo vehicle occupancy to mass transit in its varied forms.  Otherwise, it is more time wasted, more pollution generated, and our quality of life diminishes further.