Time Capsule Tuesday: The City of Industry General Plan, 1971, Part Three

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

This third part of a series of posts on the City of Industry’s 1971 General Plan, which is still current, focuses on matters of infrastructure, especially in an area not long removed from rural agricultural uses, but, for about the previous fifteen years, becoming heavily suburbanized.


One of the major issues included sewage and sanitation, a subject people would rather have out of sight and mind and which often is literally hidden from view.  Especially for an industrial city, the matter of the disposal of sewage is an integral one.  With the pronounced west-to-east orientation of the city, directing waste to the trunk line running along the recently converted San Jose Creek, turned into a flood control channel, and then having it taken to treatment facilities was a significant part of the plan.


The transformation of the creek concerned another important infrastructure issue, which was improvement of the storm drain system.  Though greater Los Angeles has a Mediterranean climate with frequent dry winters and droughts, it can also experience periodic deluges and flooding.  Just two years before the issuing of the general plan, major flooding plagued the region, including along San José Creek, which, in 1969, was still largely a natural watercourse.


So, the plan referred to the fact that “the primary storm drain facility serving the City of Industry is San Jose Creek” and that “the improvement of the section through the City has served to elimiate the worst flooding problems which beset the City in its early years.”  Reference was also made to La Puente Creek, which empties into San Jose Creek a little to the east of Seventh Avenue.

San Jose and La Puente creeks received early national attention when Harper’s New Monthly Magazine ublished an article in 1853 called “A Ride with Kit Carson.”  Carson, a famed scout and mountain man in his time, was an apprentice of William Workman’s brother, David, who ran away to Taos, New Mexico, where William recently settled.  Carson and William became reacquainted during the Mexican-American War and the article recounted Carson’s famed long-distance caravan from Los Angeles to New Mexico in spring 1848.  The first leg of the trip meant a 17-mile segment to Rancho La Puente, where Carson and his men, including article author George Brewerton, camped along “Bridge Creek,” which was either San José, along which a bridge was built by Spanish explorers in July 1769, or Puente, which means “bridge” in Spanish.


Another core component of the General Plan was the distribution of water in the City and there were, forty-five plus years ago, six companies serving the city, with a “Water Purveyors” diagram showing the service areas for each, from the San Gabriel Valley Water Company on the far west part of town to the Diamond Bar and Walnut Valley firms on the eastern extremities.

Also mentioned are electrical, natural gas, and telephone services, with Southern California Edison providing, as it does now, for the first; Southern Counties Gas and Southern California Gas for the second, though SoCal Gas is today the sole provider; and General Telephone for the last, but this has changed significantly in recent years.

A “Potential and Opportunities” section recapped the development of the city since its June 1957 incorporation, noting that firms in the city went from just over 50 to over 330 and employees from 3,300 to some 32,000 in the fourteen years since.  Yet, in 1971, “only about 30% of the incorporated area is occupied by industry and commerce” so “opportunities for future growth are significant.”  In fact, the document stated “the potential developable land represents one of the largest undeveloped industrial areas in the Los Angeles metropolitan area” comprising 3,500 acres or a bit under 10% of all industrial space in the county.

An accompanying map on vacant land, showed that the largest such areas were in the Puente Hill area, formerly home of a landfill and now the Industry Hills area, and the eastern extremity, where cattle ranching was still being practiced.  Another large area became, five years later, the Puente Hills Mall.


Key to developing these and other open parcels was transportation access.  This was discussed in the last post relating to railroads and existing and planned freeways.  A “Schematic Access Diagram” showed fourteen key areas, ten along the Pomona Freeway (SR-60), three along the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605), and one on the merge of the Pomona and the Orange Freeway (SR-57).  The plan, however, observed that “programmed improvement to arterials within and immediately adjacent to the City will increase this total number to about 25 within 20 years.”

Another part of the section brief looked “at the historical development and likely growth of the five-county Southern California region . . . and, in particular, at Los Angeles County.”  Specifically, it was observed that the county had an annual population growth in the preceding decade of 1.5% with the five-county area at 2.6%, so that outside of Los Angeles County, in places like Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino, there was higher growth that would have an impact on the City of Industry, situated close to the three.

More importantly for the city, while employment growth was strong, the county’s “share of industrial employment dropped from 92 percent to 79 percent,” but the future of the city “offers unique opportunities for growth beyond those which are expected for Los Angeles County as a whole.”  In fact, the city’s employment growth was about 21% a year and industrial land use climbed about 19% per year compared to 3% in the county.  However, there was an economic downturn in the years preceding the publication of the plan, so the expectation was higher levels of growth–though the tenacity of inflation through the 1970s belied some of that.


The plan also noted that “asked what influenced their decision to locate in the City of Industry, industrialists most frequently mentioned accessibility being the primary factor” and it was stated “that the City’s location makes it the ‘last frontier’ for manufacturing, distribution and industrial development close to downtown Los Angeles.”  With accessibility, labor supply and housing availability, “the City [is] in a unique position for accelerated economic growth.”

Finally, with a projected need for the rest of the decade for over 18,000 acres of industrial land in the region, the City “should be in a position to fulfill a significant share of that demand.”  Rather than “be content with the status quo,” city leaders “must take positive action to meet the requirements for private investment” by eliminating “obstacles to orderly development, and to eliminate blight” as we as to offer “a wide range of parcel sizes.”

That will take us to part four of this post next Tuesday, so check back then.


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