“I never thought it would amount to this much. No one else did, either.” So Linden Harold Chandler told Daily Breeze reporter Diana Chapman in a 1985 interview.
“It” was Chandler’s giant gravel pit and quarry operation in Rolling Hills Estates.
Chandler was the founder and longtime owner of Chandler’s Palos Verdes Sand and Gravel located on the northern edge of Rolling Hills Estates, bordered by Palos Verdes Drive East, the Rolling Hills Country Club, Alta Loma Park in Torrance and the Lomita city limit.
Born on Feb. 6, 1900 in Colorado, Chandler moved to Southern California with his parents in 1909, and became a farmer and a truck driver in the 1930s. He started his own trucking company in 1939, loading his truck with gravel from the pit, then owned by Southwest Portland Cement, often with just his own shovel.
Linden H. Chandler stands near the rim of his quarry and gravel pit in this March 11, 1985 file photo by Daily Breeze Staff Photographer Jack Lardomita.
He decided to buy five acres of land and start his own mine, which became the Chandler quarry. Business was good, and in 1945 he was able to purchase the gravel pit and 600 additional acres of land for $1 million. The postwar construction boom allowed him to pay off that loan by 1955. The family’s land holdings eventually grew to 30,000 acres in the South Bay and in the Paso Robles area.
These holdings included 28 acres of prime Peninsula land donated by the Chandler family to the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy to form the Linden H. Chandler Preserve, an area of lovingly restored natural habitats open to the public. It opened in 1994.
Chandler, an excellent horseman, had wanted to return the land to its natural state, allowing hikers and horseback riders to enjoy its native beauty. As for the gravel pit itself, various plans for its repurposing have been floated over the years. In the late 1960s, a landfill was proposed to fill the pit, then be covered over and turned into a regional park. That plan was vetoed for good in November 1974 due to the proximity of underground water sources to the pit and to the concerns of neighboring residents.
Negotiations to turn part or all of the gravel pit and surrounding propery into a massive residential housing development have been in the news in recent years, but plans to do so have been around since at least 1971, when a developer proposed building about 3,000 apartments and townhouses on the property. That plan was nixed due to density concerns.
In September 1972, developer Kenneth Battram of Sunnyglen Construction Co. was authorized to prepare a map for his plan that would mix single-family homes, townhouses and commercial and recreational facilities not to exceed 750 unites on 125 acres of Chandler property.
Seismic concerns stalled the plan temporarily. Battram even brought in earthquake authority and Richter Scale originator Dr. Charles Richter of Cal Tech’s seismology department to testify to the safety and buildability of the site. Residents continued to express concerns despite Richter’s testimony, and the project never came to fruition.
Chandler didn’t live to see his gravel pit and quarry transformed. He died on April 14, 1995 in Cayucos, Calif.
Discussions about developing the land continued. In 2002, a new concerted effort began to gather steam. Developed jointly by the Chandler family and the Rolling Hills Country Club, Chandler Ranch called for filling in the gravel pit and building a new 18-hole golf course and clubhouse, in addition to constructing 114 single-family homes on 228 acres in Rolling Hills Estates and neighboring Torrance.
For years, plans have been in the mix to convert the Chandler’s Palos Verdes Sand and Gravel mine into a new Rolling Hills Country Club with 114 homes.This July 24, 2009 file photo by Staff Photographer Scott Varley shows the gravel company in operation. At its Tuesday, July 26, 2011, meeting, the Rolling Hills Estates City Council certified the plan’s Environmental Impact Report and approved a tentative map for the new tract along with various permits and a grading plan.
“I never thought I’d see this day,” said Linden Chandler’s grandson, John Robertson, at the time.
As of this writing, the plan has yet to become reality. A sluggish economy stalled it originally, but the city continues to seek a developer who can make the decades-long dream become a reality.
In the meantime, Chandler’s Palos Verdes Sand and Gravel remains open for business at 26311 Palos Verdes Drive East in Rolling Hills Estates. The headquarters of Chandler’s Palos Verdes Sand and Gravel Company in Rolling Hills Estates on May 1, 2013. Daily Breeze photo.
Chandler’s Sand and Gravel website.
Daily Breeze files.