Time Capsule Tuesday: Civic-Recreational-Industrial Project No. 1, City of Industry, 1971, Part One

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

As the City of Industry commemorates its 60th anniversary, this “Time Capsule Tuesday” posts looks at another crucial planning document undertaken by the City in the early 1970s.

A recent series of seven posts about the City of Industry’s General Plan, which was adopted in June 1971 and is the existing plan, highlighted core components of that planning tool.  The firm of Gruen Associates, which developed the plan, then turned its attentions to a “Civic-Recreational-Industrial Project No. 1” plan and issued a report later that year.

Project One was a defined area in the center of the city, roughly from Seventh Avenue on the west to a little east of Nogales Avenue and from the “Geraldine Tract,” where the Puente Hills Mall was built a few years later, on the south to what is now the Industry Hills area on the north.  Included in this was the Homestead, of which the Workman House and El Campo Santo cemetery were acquired by the city in 1963, while La Casa Nueva was still owned by the Brown family, operators of El Encanto Sanitarium directly north of the historic houses.

Identifying the adoption of that project and the recent formation of the “Industry Urban-Development Agency,” the firm stated that “this report sets forth recommendations designed to give the Agency direction in formulating detailed policy and in making administrative decisions in carrying out the Project One Plan.”  Project One was to serve as representative of a future “Plan of Development” for the city as a whole.

The front cover of the report.

The report’s introduction observed that nearly two-thirds of industrial property developed, in the first several years of the 1960s in a five-county area (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties) was within Los Angeles County, but that 44% of such land in the following decade would come from there.

One identified issue was that about 2,000 acres of East San Gabriel Valley industrial land “have major development problems.”  Consequently, the Project One Plan “provides an opportunity to make additional prime industrial land available” which would strengthen the regional economy.  Highlighting a motto of “accent on achievement,” the project had four main expected outcomes.

These were to expand property for new industrial development; grow the level of investment by the private sector; rehabilitate areas already developed; and raise employment and public revenues.  The idea was to make “fallow land” productive for industrial purposes; acquire land for future needs in this area; and improve “voids in services required of industry.”  With these ends met, the plan “allows the City and the region to fulfill their rightful role as superior centers for industry.”

A regional map placing the City of Industry in a strategic position within greater Los Angeles.

Much of the descriptive content of existing conditions in the report are taken from the General Plan document, as are the six identified goals of the City.  These latter involved maintaining and growing the local and regional employment base; carrying out capital improvement projects that not only had local impact but “will, on a nationwide basis, stimulate and support investment;” increase the tax base to support growth in the area; improve highways and streets to minimize conflict and inconvenience; continue efforts to beautify the City “and to conserve its natural resources;” and use commercial, professional, and service elements to support the City’s core areas of manufacturing, distribution and industrial uses.

A survey by Economics Research Associates (ERA) yielded reported findings.  One had to do with the fact that, with the county being second in the country in manufacturing, industrial growth was key to overall economic growth.  In the 1960s, the City expanded its acreage developed for industrial use from about 300 to nearly 1,800.  This growth mean that there was an “excellent market acceptance of the City’s concept” of providing an environment nearly exclusively for industrial development.

An overlay of the city on a satellite photograph.

The ERA survey found, during interviews with realtors, developers and business owners that the key to successful development was to highlight location to freeway and rail access, proximity to downtown Los Angeles, labor supply, and adequate housing; land availability and reasonable prices; “and an excellent municipal attitude.”

While respondents to the survey were said to be “overwhelmingly complimentary of the City’s accomplishments to date,” there were defined areas of “potential deterrents to the City’s growth.”  These were traffic, a poor appearance in the City, drainage issues, and smog.  Stating that “there is little the City itself can do about the smog problem,” the report continued that “the City can and must do something about the other problems listed above if the City of Industry is to maximize the opportunities for further development awaiting it in the 1970s.”

The Eagle Manufacturing Company, evidently shown as a representative city business.

As to the outlook of the city, it was noted that the five-county area would need over 18,000 acres of industrial land in the ensuing decade, with about 43% of that expected from Los Angeles County.  Despite a recently sluggish economy, the future looked bright for the city.  However, there were four main recommendations for action proposed by Gruen:

  • Improving or reducing factors that held back growth in the past
  • Provide “a full spectrum of parcel sizes and buildings”
  • Continue the policy of encouraging industry and commercial uses of all kinds
  • Continue efforts in terms of how “to facilitate site selection and start-up of businesses locating” in the city

If these suggestions were followed, ERA outlined two areas of growth for the city, including the expansion of the growth of companies already in the city and “the capture of new plants locating in the overall Southern California area.”

ERA also estimated that “internal demand” for expansion by existing city-situated firms required 150 acres through the end of the 1970s, while acreage needed to that “capture of new plants” was to total about 1,000.  Assuming a density of employees per acre of 21, the company estimated that employment in the city by 1980 would be 60,000.

Next week, we’ll look at the “Existing Conditions” section of the report.

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