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

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

In this concluding entry in a seven-part post about the City of Industry’s General Plan, developed by Gruen Associates, adopted in 1971 and still in effect, we look at more elements of the planning process proposed in the document, including with what was, and still is, officially known as the “Historic-Cultural” element or landmark—that is, the Homestead.

One of the several identified elements was housing, even as the plan reiterated that a major goal for the city was to provide an idea setting for manufacturing, distribution and industrial facilities.

A focused planning area map from the Plan.

With this in mind, the document went on, “the environmental demands of residential uses are such that homes are incompatible with the existing uses in the already developed portion of the City.”  Therefore, the statement continued, “any attempt to bring residential units into the midst of the established industrial pattern is contrary to sound planning principles and destined for failure at the outset.”

The argument, simply stated, was that

The residents and industries would be equally unhappy with each other and conflicts between these divergent land uses would be never ending.

Rather than call for additional housing, the plan was intended “to upgrade the image of certain areas through the removal of substandard housing which has probably been allowed to deteriorate because of incompatibility with the surrounding manufacturing activity.”

It was pointed out that much of the eastern area of Industry was undeveloped and “existing [original italics] industrial plans would not intrude upon future residences.”  Yet, there were “other deterrents to housing” in that region.  Namely, in the narrow area between the ranges of the Puente Hills, Chino Hills and San Jose Hills are two major railroad lines, then controlled by the Southern Pacific and by the Union Pacific (both are now owned by the latter) and the recently converted San Jose Creek into a flood control channel runs through that section, as well.

20171114_134201 (2)
That focused area as shown on a large fold-out map contained in a rear pocket of the document.  The Homestead is in the blue area at the horizontal crease near the upper left.

Consequently, “the General Plan does not designate any specific area of residential land use within the City,” while the document “proposed that the [existing] residential element remain within the City of Industry” under certain conditions.  These were that existing units be in sound condition “and are compatible with the surrounding land use”; and that any additional or replaced housing be done under a “Planned Unit Development” or PUD to maximize the quality of life for those in such units.  How this would be done included decent access to schools and parks; buffering for housing from noise, vibrations from heavy trucks, heavy traffic and others; and a process through the city’s planning commission that would maintain high standards for appropriate number of units, density, building heights, and other elements.

What the Plan promoted was its goal

to complement the land uses in the surrounding residential communities with provision of an environment for employment opportunities for the population of the region, rather than to duplicate the residential facilities.

The second element put forward was for another stated goal of the plan, which was “the conservation, development and utilization of natural resources.”  One of the areas highlighted was water, including, as discussed in previous posts, the services of several companies delivering from local sources, as well as supplements from the Metropolitan Water District.  Brief mention was also made to sewage and other systems “structures to prevent pollution of underground and surface waters in the City.”

The far western portion of the city.

Also pointed out was the value of the northwest section of the 500-acre area at Puente Hill (now Industry Hills), which parcel “has been designated as recreational land preserving and taking advantage of this natural resource.”  Because of this value, it was recommended that “extensive grading . . . should be avoided in the interest of conservation and the preservation of existing trees.”

It was noted that significant grading for the closed landfill on the hill created “massive scarring of the land,” drainage issues, and the loss of vegetation.  The suggestion then was “a recontouring of this spoiled land” and re-landscaping to restore the area’s “former beauty.”

This portion of the plan concluded by stating that there were “not sufficient quantities and areas of land with soil condition” for agriculture nor was there indication of enough gas, oil and minerals within the city limits.  So, there was no reason to develop any strategies for conservation of natural resources along those lines.  As for open space, it was briefly stated that this was covered under the recreational development elsewhere in the plan.

The less-developed (in 1971) eastern area of the city.

The “Historic/Cultural Element” did not just include what became the Homestead.  There was also the case of the Rowland House, located less than a mile away within city limits.  With regard to the 1855 Greek Revival residence, which is the oldest brick building remaining in southern California, the Plan noted that it “is presently owned by the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District” but that “it is suggested that the City exchange it for property more useful to the School District.”  That way, the City could “improve and maintain the house as another part of the historic/cultural element.”

As to the Homestead, El Campo Santo cemetery and the homes of the Workman and Temple families, the Workman House and La Casa Nueva, were highlighted for their significant value.  The Plan observed that

the cemetery and the Workman home are owned by the City, which intends to improve access to them and to maintain them in accordance with their historical significance.  The Temple home should be acquired and similar improved and maintained.

What this meant in 1971 was left general, because further study into the potential and future use of the Homestead (and for the Rowland House, which was acquired by the City) came later.  This process will be discussed in greater detail in future posts on this blog.  But, the value and significance of these historic elements was clearly articulated as within the broader goals of the City as expressed in the plan.

The Workman House as it appeared nearly a half-century ago.

A short section regarding “City Image” discussed improvements made with respect to improving “the visual quality of the City;” the separation of incompatible land uses; screening unsightly storage and work areas and parking from major streets; having “a pleasant shaded environment for eating and rest areas;” and executing street light, signage and graphics programs.

For this latter, a logo was recommended to establish “a unified image for the City.”  Accompanying images showed potential logos as well as “a suggested City identification sign which would be located at major entrances to the City.”  The logo adopted in 1971 has just been replaced by one this year for the city’s sixtieth anniversary.

Finally, there were “Action Proposals” that began with the observation that the City had grown dramatically in its nearly fifteen year history.  For example, the number of firms in the city jumped about eightfold from a little more than 50 to over 330 and the number of employees shot up about ten times from above 3,000 to about 32,000.

La Casa Nueva in 1971, including wooden fire escapes from the upper wings during its use as part of El Encanto Sanitarium.

The city’s future was bright because of location, transportation access, availability of undeveloped land, “municipal attitude,” and other factors.  But, “to capitalize on these opportunities to the fullest extent possible . . . the City must take positive action to accelerate its full development potentials.”

This went back to what was discussed earlier; namely, improving traffic circulation, fixing drainage problems, and eliminating blight. Reference was made to a 1964 report on the city conducted by the Stanford Research Institute about the importance of urban renewal efforts and an in-process report by Economic Research Associates “reinforces this conclusion.”

With the adoption of the General Plan and resulting studies into its recommendations, the idea was to see what could be done for the “formulation of definitive programs of implementation, including financing through legally available methods,” including city funding; work with “quasi-public nonprofit corporations;” urban renewal agencies; joint power authorities; the state and other governmental (county and federal, presumably) entities.

A proposed city entrance sign from the plan.

The focus, however, was on an area defined as being between Seventh Avenue on the west to Sentous Avenue, between Nogales Street and what was then called Water Street (now Fairway Drive). on the east.  This area is encircled on an accompanying map here.  Improvements included “the park and recreational area [Industry Hills];” the civic-financial area [around today’s City Hall]; the “industrial exhibit/conference center,” which wound up being incorporated into the Industry Hills project; and “the historic/cultural elements,” including the Homestead.

A large fold-out color map of the city is included in a rear pocket of the publication and shows major areas of zoning for development types (residential, industrial, commercial, institutional, and recreation and open space); parks (including what was shows as “City of Industry Regional Park” and which became Industry Hills); schools; the “historic/cultural” sites; highways and freeways; railroad lines; and others.

Proposed city logos, including the one at the upper right which was adopted.  The city changed its logo earlier this year for its 60th anniversary.

One notable component shown, but not much discussed in the document, is a “midrange aviation terminal” sited just west of Fullerton Road, just south of Valley Boulevard.  This did not get built, obviously, nor did the “Huntington Beach Freeway” which is reflected by two sets of alternate routes in double dotted lines flanking Azusa Avenue.

Leave a Reply