The good news is that we are not alone. There are plenty of folks who also want this land saved.
The state has recognized the need to protect our last remaining natural open spaces and passed laws requiring cities to do so. Los Angeles County has also strengthened protections for its Significant Ecological Areas, one of which covers Diamond Bar's sphere of influence. Additionally, the cultural, spiritual and economic value of natural open spaces has become much more widely recognized by citizens and a growing number of politicians. This has created a much larger political awareness than in previous years.
Additionally, other non-profits, for example, Hills For Everyone, who, like us, advocates conservation, along with responsible development, have been working since 1977 to save these hills and the wild life corridor. Their decades long efforts have born impressive results, one of which includes the creation of Chino Hills State Park. Now, it's our challenge to take up the mantle and work alongside them to protect the last vestiges of our heritage.
Sadly, horrendous development projects are still being approved by city officials.
The partially bulldozed disaster you see above is the Millennium project in Diamond Bar's Country Estates. That's right. It's only partially bulldozed. Their plan was to completely destroy the center hill above, fill in the valley, which has been scrapped of all vegetation, in order to create a flat surfact for 48 mansion sized lots. Approved over strenuous citizen objections, developers planned to move nearly 4 million cubic yards of earth to accomplish this, and build expensive, mansion sized houses on top of all that unstable fill.
These types of projects, which completely destroy the essential nature of our remaining natural landscapes, are in direct violation of our general plan's spirit, but, sadly, not the law. It doesn't take much imagination to understand how buckets full of developer money have the ability to entice a city's elected officials to make decisions against their citizen's best interests. Vigilence is therefore required at all levels of local government to take aggressive action against developer's plans such as the one above, which destroy what's left of our quality of life and sense of "Country Living."
That development has been stopped for now, but the city is still allowing it to continue when/if the legal challenges can be resolved.
So far, citizen involvment has scuttled similar types of development projects, such as the one mentioned above, in each of the three large properties we are attempting to save. An outline of some of those projects can be found below.
But non of these properties can be considered truly saved until they have been purchased from the current owners and incorporated into Chino Hills State Park.
There is much work to be done. That's why we need your help. It will take all of our combined efforts to create a political environment where saving this land is the only acceptable outcome.
The only way to truly save these properties will be to purchase them and make them part of Chino Hills State Park.
Tres Hermanos has been mired in controversy for over fifty years. There was a plan to make it into a power generation resevoir. Developers have salivated over the prospect of building thousands of homes on it. Most recently, it has been the subject of numerous law suits involving a plan to cover the property with solar panels.
The property is now owned by the Tres Hermanos Conservation Authority. City of Industry owns a ninety percent interest in the Authority, Chino Hills and Diamond Bar together own the remaining ten percent. It is governed by a board with three members from Industry, and two each from Chino Hills and Diamond Bar. The authority has limited the property to the following uses: conservation, open space, and public use.
We are concerned about "public use" aspect conservation easement because the words "public use" have not been specifically defined. Technically, "public use" could therefore mean housing or retail development.
This is relevant to us as California is currently in the middle of another state-wide housing element update, where each city is required to add a specific number of housing units. During the last housing element update in 2014, both Chino Hills and Diamond Bar zoned a portion of their Tres Hermanos acreage for their required housing units. We are concerned the cities may attempt this again for the 2021 housing element update.
Industry Property in Tonner Canyon
This property lies largely within what is called Diamond Bar's sphere of influence. This is an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County adjacent to Diamond Bar's southern border. This acreage has been alloted to Diamond Bar, should Diamond Bar decide to annex it. Annexation usually occurs when development projects are planned within a sphere of influence.
However, development in this area just became more difficult, as it lies entirely within Los Angeles County's Significant Ecological Area number 15. Due to the hilly terrain, the property is largely unsuitable for development.
It is also a very important link in the Tonner Canyon Wildlife corridor. Industry originally purchased the individual parcels which comprise this property for the purpose of creating the power generating resevoir. The power generating resevoir plan has long since been discarded. Industry's intentions for this property are currently unknown.
Shell Aera Property
This roughly 3000 acre property has been a Shell-Aera oil producing field for many years. Anticipating the near future when the oil fields play out, Aera has been looking at other uses for the property.
They proposed a plan to essentially flatten the hills between the 57 freeway and Harbor Blvd, requiring 50 million cubic yards of soil to be moved. They planned to put 3,600 houses on the unstable graded area, along with 300,000 sq feet of retail. All of this with just one primary exit onto Brea Canyon Road, which runs along side the 57 freeway.
The project, which has been stalled for over 10 years due to intense public resistance and regulatory issues, was officially withdrawn, recently, due to the tightening of environmental development restrictions in Los Angeles County's Significant Ecological Areas.