by Paul R. Spitzzeri
After addressing existing land use and transportation circulation, as well as general ownership issues for the Project No. 1 in the central part of the City of Industry, Gruen Associates, in its 1971 report on the project, moved on to general physical factors in the area.
There were four main concepts discussed: circulation, flood control, general building condition, and general environmental quality. With the first, problem areas including poor movement, inconsistent design of intersections and junctions, issues of railroad crossings, inadequate road widths and surfaces, and those that did not have curbs and gutters.
For flood control, there was also the matter of ponding of water, as well as open ditches and unimproved water courses (meaning the natural San José Creek and others), improvements were needed to avoid haazards.
Building conditions were ranked as “below average;” “average;” and “above average,” with the first involving those with poorly built additions, those vacant, and those that “are relics of the rapidly disappearing agricultural use.”
Finally, with environmental quality, it was stated that “the study areas leaves much to be desired, as can be seen from representative photographs exhibited in this chapter.” Specific problems included “a poor visual image” from railroad rights-of-way, drainage ditches, overhead utlities, poor street lighting, badly screened and maintained storage yards, and unmaintained and unimproved vacant properties which “lowers vlues and retards investment.” It was also stated
The Project Area generally lacks a cohesive recognizable identity as a major industrial center.
An accompanying set of maps divided the project area into four sections with each having detailed “general physical factors” identified and the supplemented with a page of photographs highlighting portions of these section that posed problems.
For all four sections, there are consistent identified problems, such as old drainage ditches; overhead utilities considered unsightly; a lack of curbs and gutters along roadways; barns and outbuildings from discontinued agricultural use; railroad crossings that impeded traffic; and generally blighted conditions on properties lacking ease of access that could have greater value development, among others.
In some cases, the topography had low hills or had drainage courses that the report identified as requiring grading “to allow site to reach full development potential.” This was especially the case in an area roughly extending from Fullerton Road to Nogales Avenue, bearing in mind that Fullerton terminated just north of the Pomona Freeway (SR-60). Nogales was then a two-lane road, so its widening was needed to provide for future volume.
In fact, there were a number of other streets that were in need of extension, widening and other improvements. Gale Avenue ended eastbound at Azusa Avenue, so there was considerable freeway frontage property that remained undervalued and difficult to develop because of that. Other roads between the freeway and Valley Boulevard were substandard and incomplete and a network of these had to be improved to get traffic through from Azusa Avenue east past Nogales and eventually out to Brea Canyon Road.
Valley Boulevard, which goes back to pre-American times, was obviously a crucial east to west route and it also is paralleled by the Southern Pacific Railroad line, which dates to the early 1870s. Among the cited problems were drainage ditches off its shoulder, unsightly telephone and power poles along the side, and dangerous railroad crossings with intersecting streets.
Several areas on the map, with matching photos, show abandoned ranches and farms with those outbuildings and barns standing in gradual states of decay. Some of these were properties owned by the Rowland family, which owned much of this area from as early as 1842 and, in the case, of a ranch west of Nogales and north of the freeway, remained in family ownership and operation for some time afterward.
Then, there were the historic sites located in sections a and b. The Rowland House, situated behind and to the east of the offices of the Hacienda-La Puente Unified School District, was listed and “requires upgrading.” The “Temple and Workman Houses: Historical Element” at the time where Don Julian Road coming east from Turnbull Canyon ended, “requires upgrading and parking.”
A small photograph comprising an aerial view of the Homestead from the southwest, shows the Workman House, La Casa Nueva, and Water Tower, with the ca. 1920 reservoir/swimming pool and tennis court, built by the Temple family, next to the Workman House.
To the north is El Encanto Convalescent Hospital, which opened its modern facility, after roughly a quarter century in the historic houses and outbuildings at the Homestead, just a few years prior to the report’s publication.
Notably, cleared land just below the Water Tower was the site of the 1860s brick wineries built by the Workman family and which had only recently been demolished.
Following these detailed phyiscal factors is a fold-out General Acquisition Map for the project area, specifying in gray those areas “subject to acquisition,” including the Rowland House and Homestead parcels (parcel numbers are in red boxes and their boundaries in red lines) and a considerable number between Azusa and Nogales.
A brief description of “Land Subject to Acquistion” made note of the fact that
The Industry Urban-Development Agency is entitled to acquire property within the Project One Area in order to eliminate conditions which preclude the implementation of the Plan.
Five issues were cited as reasons why redevelopment was crucial, including:
- “A fragmented and illogical ownership pattern discourages economic development”
- “Major topographical, flood control or access problems deter development”
- “Buildings are of substandard structural quality”
- “Land uses are of a non-conforming use and/or incompatible with the maintaining of an acceptable manufacturing, distribution and industrial district”
- “Improvement of the circulation system is necessary to implement a logical road and access pattern in support of future development”
California’s redevelopment agencies were eliminated several years ago because of questions over how they were operating and many redevelopment properties purchased by the UDA are in the process of being either purchased by the city or sold.
Concluding this section was a page of three photographs of industrial developments presented because “in the interest of presenting a balanced picture of existing conditions in the City of Industry, these photos of existing industrial development are presented as examples of sectors in Project One which excel in respect to quality and environment.”
Next week, this series continues with a look at the “Plan Framework” section of the report.