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

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

With the first four parts of this series looking at the 1971 City of Industry General Plan, which is still in effect, from the perspective of existing conditions and general comments about what to do to improve the city, today’s post looks at the general plan’s fundamental conclusions and recommendations.

First, the plan’s author, the firm of Gruen Associates, noted

the Plan necessarily goes well beyond the City limits in outlining land use and circulation patterns.  City boundaries fade when the day-to-day function of this area is considered so neither the City of Industry nor its neighboring communities should be viewed as islands within themselves.

The firm noted that master plans for those adjoining cities that had them were taken into account when drafting the City’s plan, though a lack of planning or outdated forms meant that there had to be some adjustments in the process.  The document then continued with a restatement of the purpose of the plan:

The General Plan is a framework for guidance of growth and transformation of the City into a productive and pleasant environment for manufacturing, distribution and industry, and their supporting facilities.

It cautioned, however, that “some of the elements that form the basis of the Plan concept are likely to change in years to come” so it was suggested that occasional reviews and updates be undertaken based on changes within the city and outside of it, as well.

An aerial photograph from the General Plan showing Puente (or “P”) Hill from the east.  At the bottom right is the intersection of Azusa and Temple avenues (note how Temple ended there).  The shuttered landfill is on the south face of the hill.  Much of the City of Industry and Hacienda Heights are towards the upper portion of the photo with the west end of the Puente Hills in the background.

In terms of land use, it was ointed out that the single land use dedicated to industrial purposes meant that “the standard of population density will be the employment base of industrial and complementary commercial development” rather than residents.  So, future industrial development would determine population density from that perspective of the number of workers employed.

One notable component of the industrial land use aspect was that “the General Plan recognizes a trend toward warehouse construction . . . warehousing is a valid aspect of industrial development and distribution is a growing area of the economy.”  No one could have foreseen, in fact, just how expansive this sector would be, because the idea of China being the world’s largest manufacturer of goods was inconceivable in the late Mao Tse-Tung era.

Yet, the plan pointed out that “part of the economic strength of the City is due to a good balance of manufacturing, commercial retail sales and distribution of facilities,” and warned “against an overbuilding of warehousing” which would result in the “downgrading [of] City productivity and image.”  It also cautioned against “warehousing on a specialized basis” and even this “should be limited to sections where is a demonstrated need in the community.”

Another high elevation view of the site that became Industry Hills shows Azusa Avenue at the right, Temple Avenue and part of the East Valinda community at the top, and La Puente at the lower left.  The northeast section of the hill area was considered as having “extraordinary natural beauty” and is where the Expo Center is situated today.

There is a parks and recreation section, as well, in the plan, specifically geared towards “a 500-acre tract of land [that] was acquired for park, recreation and conservation purposes.”  In acquiring what was largely a landfill on Puente (or simply “P”) Hill, “the City is desirous of making park and recreational facilities available to surrounding communities with emphasis on youth.”

It was also stated that there was a “shortage of public golf courses in this sector of the metropolitan area,” so that the sport became “an essential element of the recreational program.”  An analysis of the Puente Hill property noted that an 18-hole championship and a 9-hole regulation course “will offer recreational opportunities to many people in the City of Industry and the surrounding area.”

Further, “it is proposed that the remaining land be dedicated to active park use (sports and play), youth centers, picnicking, equestrian activities, hiking, nature areas, and future development opportunity areas.”  The northwest portion of the parcel was highlighted for its “extraordinary natural beauty” being “heavily wooded and has long, gentle valleys winding into a picturesque backdrop of steep, vegetated slopes.”  This areas was denoted as “Park-Recreation-Conservation” on a “Conceptual Park and Recreation Plan.”

The Conceptual Park and Recreation Plan laid out recommended uses for the 500-acre Puente Hill area, now Industry Hills, including for golf, equestrian trails and an “equestrian nature area”, and “park-creation-conservation.”

The closed landfill was earmeked for the colf course and “complimentary uses,” while the perimeter was proposed to have riding trails connectd to an equestrian center and “equestrian nature area” where steep slopes at the northeast portion of the hill were deemed best suited for that use.  Though not stated, it may be that the area’s historical roots in ranching were part of the conceptual development for the equestrian component.

Finally, there was a proposed “Industrial Exhibit/Conference Center” to meet the goal of “support facilities for existing and future industries, and maximizing the potential for industrial development within the City.”  Stating the need that companies had for seminars, sales meetings, conferences and exhibits (temporary and permanent), the document continued that “the General Plan recommendations include development of an industrial exhibit/conference center within the 500-acre parcel to be developed for recreation—conservation purposes.”

The proposed facility would include various sized exhibit halls, conference rooms, an assembly hall and dining and banquet facilities “programmed to meet the demands of future industrial development within the City of Industry” and which would “provide an additional stimulus for industries to locate in the City of Indusry.”

What was built by the end of the decade and first half of the following one was a series of projects including a hotel and conference center, an exposition and equestrian center, golf course, a tennis facility, and a swim center among others.  In the decades since then, some of these (the latter two) have been removed and the others have remained, though with some alterations.

The next post moves to other recommendations, principally a Civic-Financial Center; a move toward more commercial development; waste disposal and storm drainage; and transportation issues based on a city-wide circulation plan.

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