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

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

In its published general plan document for the City of Industry, issued in 1971, Gruen Associates, a Los Angeles urban planning firm, laid out the existing conditions in the 15-year old city, including a regional orientation, discussion of land use, utilities, and potentials and opportunities.

This week’s post focuses on “Obstacles and Opportunities,” beginning with the statement that “a number of industrial realtors, developers and users were asked to identify those factors which have limited the City’s growth and which, if uncorrected, would deter expansion.”

The identified areas were: traffic, appearance, smog and heat, and drainage.

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Addressing the first, the plan stated that “the internal circulation system is inadequate” and that “parts of the City are virtually inaccesible” with traffic volume going beyond capacity.

With regard to the second, the plan observed that newer areas “are satisfactory from an aesthetic point of view,” but others were “eyesores and discourage potential development.”  To maximize potential “such blight must be reduced, controlled and prevented.”

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Concerning air quality, the report stated that what was then the “Los Angeles County Air Pollution Control District” and has now been replaced by the Southern California Air Quality Management District “is actively working to reduce air pollution” in the area.

The lengthiest explanation concerned the addressing “of severe flooding problems,” mentioned in a previous post, mainly through the creation of the San Jose Creek flood control channel, but also noting that “most of the City still suffers from drainage problems.”  Because it was policy for “individual owners to solve their own drainage problems,” this led to “an inequitable burden” because a given company’s issues “may be generated by someone else.”  The idea was to have citywide solutions “to assure that all of the City is adequately served.”

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The plan noted that a late 1968 report to the county’s Board of Supervisors by the Regional Planning Commission stated that over 9,000 acres “gross reserve of land in the east San Gabriel Valley” had to be trimmed by almost 2,000 acres “because of major development problems.”

Then, there was “random land usage” resulting from “unplanned growth.”  Particular attention was paid in this section of the report to the region of the city between Azusa Avenue and Nogales Avenue and from the 60 Freeway to Valley Boulevard.  In this area were major drainage issues caused by tributary streams and gulles to the creek and “topographical problems” like changes in elevation that “put severe constraints” on development.

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With respect to traffic and access, the situation “is tortu[r]ous” with a lack of continuity in access and “haphazard development of the internal road network.”  Noting that “existing development ranges from agricultural through residential to industrial,” the plan stated that “much of the development is of very poor quality, as can be seen from the accompanying photographs” and that undeveloped areas “are indiscriminately used as dumping grounds.”

In concluding this section, Gruen wrote that

comprehensive coordination of highway and street access and internal circulation to provide better continuity, both with surrounding development and within the area itself, a solution to the flood control problems, and standards for future development nd land uses will be necessary before the full development potential of this area and areas like it in the City can be fully implemented.

A schematic of “Circulation System Improvement Proposals” identified 14 key areas, noting the location, origin of proposal (state, city or county), highway classification (major or secondary), status from a proposal to a completed design and funding availabiility, and the funding agency (combinations of the state, county and city).

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These included grade separations, grade crossings, freeway interchanges, and general improvements like widening, an increase in lanes, and others.  It is interesting in this respect to see what has gone on in the nearly half-century since the plan was adopted, particularly in work on the 60 and 57 freeways, and major grade separation work done along railroad lines through the Alameda Corridor East project.

As for those photos of blighted areas within the city, they include issues with railroad crossings, flood control situations, aesthetics, incompatible land uses, topography, and more.  A map focusing on that area discussed above around Azusa, Nogales, Valley and the freeway provides detail on these questions.

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While not specifically mention, the Homestead’s creation as a museum in the decade following the adoption of the plan was through redevelopment, with part of the justification being that the property was blighted, though, of course, city leaders also wanted to recognize the historical significance of the site and restore it for public use and benefit.

Next week, the fifth installment of the series moves to specifics of the General Plan, so check back for that.

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