Time Capsule Tuesday: City of Industry General Plan Implementation Program: Phase 1, Part 1

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

Having developed its General Plan and its Civic-Recreational-Industrial Project #1 in 1971, both of which were covered extensively in this series, the City of Industry moved to an implementation program, the first phase of which was begun in July 1977, just as the city marked its twentieth anniversary.  Subtitled “For the Retention and Reinforcement of Employment and Economic Resources,” a published document contained several key elements.

These included a discussion of the Overall Plan of Development, which will be the subject of today’s first part, followed by elements concerning employment; infrastucture; the Hacienda Boulevard-Southern Pacific Railroad grade separation project; existing conditions and the implementation concept focusing on traffic circulation (including  bicycle path and equestrian trail components) and land acquisition.

The July 1977 report on implementing Phase 1 of the City’s Plan of Development based on the 1971 General Plan.

The lead entity in formulating the program, as with the general plan, was Gruen Associates, a noted urban planning firm.  Assistance was provided by Urbanomics Research Associates, which was an economic consulting business; National Engineering Company, which specialized in engineering and project coordination; Donald Frischer and Associates, experts in traffic issues; and Emmet. L. Wemple and Associates, a nationally-known landscape consulting company.

In the introduction, it was pointed out that “The City of Industry’s strategic geographic location has proven over the years to be an important factor in attracting manufacturing, industrial and distribution facilities.”  Noting its level topography, access to the pair of major railroad lines heading east from greater Los Angeles; availability of land; and a large work force “strengthen the City’s location in terms of a major industrial employment base in Los Angeles County and the East San Gabriel Valley.”  It was “a dedication by City government to create an ideal setting for industry” that “further enhances the City’s industrially zoned land.”

This aerial photograph taken from east of Nogales Avenue and looking west takes in the 60 Freeway (top to bottom left), the winding San Jose Creek (recently converted into a drainage channel at center), Valley Boulevard, just right of the creek, Industry Hills at the upper right, and at the top center a patch of light brown that is the Homestead.

Following adoption of the general plan six years prior, “reuse parcel planning” was conceptualized in three phases.  The first was with the central area of the city.  The second covered the areas at the eastern end.  The third and final was the western sector.  Important as the general plan was, it was noted that “the full potential of the City as an economic and employment resource has not yet been inlocked.”  The idea for the Implementation Program, obviously, was to plan “for the retention and reinforcement of employment and economic resources . . . now in motion.”

Looking at the Overall Plan of Development, it was stated that, in 1975, 625 companies employed 40,000 workers on annual payrolls totaling nearly a half billion dollars.  About 15% of these companies expored to foreign nations with products valued at almost $90 million.  Shipments generally amounted to $1.25 billion and contributed some $600 million to the region’s economy.  In the preceding five years, 6,500 jobs were creation and annual payrolls doubled.  It was projected that, by the mid-nineties, the employment base would leap 50% with payrolls just about doubling to $900 million.

From the adoption of the plan, the City embarked on an ambitious program relating to infrastructure improvements in utilities, roads, storm drains, and railroad grade separations.  The 500-acre Industry Hills project “and a historic-cultural landmark center,” comprising the Homestead, were underway.  A new city hall had recently been completed and the Puente Hills Mall, with 1.4 million square feet of stores and shops, opened in early 1974.  All of the work kept up with growth in the city as the benefits went out from the city “to the neighboring communities, the San Gabriel Valley, and Los Angeles County.”

A map overlay of a satellite photo showing the City of Industry in the eastern San Gabriel Valley.

Fourteen key areas were specifically identified with new roads; drainage; sewage improvements; utility work; industrial and financial growth; the environment [landscape standards]; marketing support [a conference/marketing/exhibits center at Industry Hills]; commercial growth, such as the Puente Hills Mall; recreation at Industry Hills; public safety through grade crossings; civic enhancements like the new city hall; preservation and conservation through the development of the Homestead; and health care.  This last point involved a parcel adjacent to the Homestead which was earmarked for the “Industry Health and Family Care Center,” as a response “to County and State findings which document health care deficiencies in the East San Gabriel Valley.”  This project was shelved after much planning, though its parking lots are largely intact and used by the museum.

Sections gave particular attention to several major program projects.  The Civic-Financial Center was the first of these after the adoption of the general plan with planning finished in 1972 and work immediately ensuing.  Street realignment, land acquisition, clearing of older structures and other work was followed by the building of city hall, the banning of street parking, and landscaping and beautification developed.  A key part of the work was, after two years of planning, the completion in 1976 of the grade separation for Hacienda Boulevard at the Southern Pacific rail line.  Future work was to involve more parcels for development, continued parking improvements, the construction of a heliport, rehabbing vacant structures, finishing the street work, and removing the last blighted structure from the Stafford Mill, which dated back decades.

The Industry Hills Civic-Recreational-Conservation Element was developed on what, for about twenty years, was a landfill before the opening of the Puente Hills Landfill.  The report noted that “subterranean fires smoldered throughout the area, and dangerous gases were created by decomposing debris.”  Cut-and-fill work through disposal operations scarred the landscape and erosion and mud flows were identified as problems.  There was, however, an identified area of “great natural beauty” with “grassy meadows, eucalyptus groves and native chaparral” allowing for “a tranquil setting within the slopes and arroyos.”

The page relating to the Industry Hills Civic-Recreational-Conservation Element.

Research and planning was finished by 1975 and, the following year, construction began on the element “for its corporate citizens and the surrounding residents.”  The five main components were: two 18-hole championship golf courses; the Industry Exhibit-Conference Center for seminars, conferences and meetings for city firms; park and recreation areas including picnic grounds, sports fields, playgrounds, bike paths and equestrian facilities; a center with swimming and tennis facilities and a clubhouse; and “conservation and recreation areas for picnics, hiking and nature trails, and equestrian trails.

The Azusa Avenue Corridor was another major project and its status as a major north-south arterial roadway meant that dealing with vacant land, blighted conditions, and underuse by making significant improvements to infrastructure.  Work to the west of the road were done, but much remained to be done to the east. with traffic circulation; removing overhead utilities; beautification through landscaping, lighting and signage; reusing land not appropriately developed; and others in the works.

Another idea, developed in 1974, was “The Industry Distribution & Commerce Center, Foreign Trade Zone/Freeport.”  At the time of the publication of the report “the legal, economic, and conceptual planning work has been completed,” though an application to the federal Commerce department was in process for a foreign trade zone.  The idea was “on the production and manipulation of goods within the zone reflective of the United States’ increasing ability to compete with foreign labor.”  Structures for warehousing, production and commercial uses would be adjacent while restaurants, truck service facilities, a heliport and other facilities were to be included.  Ultimately, however, the application was denied and this area, between Fairway Drive and Lemon Avene, was developed into general industrial parks.


Examples of major projects completed and proposed within the project area.

The general “stimulation of private investment” was highlighted with examples of how the Plan of Development met City goals, but it was cautioned that much more needed to e done through the three-phase work that this first report put into focus.  Examples of success to date included the proposed 300-acre Crossroads Industrial Park at the interchange of Interstate 605 and State Route 60; the completion of what was officially the “Puente Hills East” regional shopping center and a separate project for additional commercial and office space; a porposed Fairway Industrial Park; the extension of Gale Avenue east of Azusa Avenue; and major work proposed northeast of the intersection of Azusa Avenue and Valley Boulevard.

The economic effects of the Plan were also covered with the observation that

Since its incorporation in 1957 as a municipal preserve for industrial employment and activity, the City of Industry has developed to the point where it now ranks as one of the most significant industrial centers of the entire Southern California region.

The number of manufacturing firms rocketed from 41 to over 300 from 1958 to 1975, with a total of 625 businesses operating in the city, and job growth going from 3,300 to over 38,500, nearly 80% of these in manufacturing (this has, however, changed significantly to warehousing).  Payrolls moved from about $19 to over $460 million during the same period and were projected to surpass the half billion dollar level in a few years.  Value added by manufacturing jumped from about $30 million in 1958 to over $450 million seventeen years later.  The value of manufactured products mushroomed from $75 to $922 million.  Additional indicators included a contribution of more than $600 million to gross regional product and the value of exported goods at $87 million, among others.

A table summarizing primary and induced economic benefits provided by the City in 1975.

Another touted measure of success was the relation of primary to induced benefits provided by the city.  This was in terms of what one primary job in Industry led to in induced jobs in trade, finance, government, services and other areas and what the monetary results were.  So, 38,500 primary jobs led to 110,000 induced ones, while payrolls were about $460 million and over $1 billion.  Other financial indicators were included, such as houehold consumption, personal income tax payments and household saving.  The total stated “aggregate volume of economic activity” in the city was more than $1.2 billion.

Finally, mention was made of work at “The Historic-Cultural Landmarks Area,” that is, the Homestead site, as “another major element of the City’s Overall Plan of Development.”  This included the restoration of the Workman House, La Casa Nueva and El Campo Santo Cemetery (reference was made to the latter being the last resting place of Pío Pico, the last governor of Mexican California—though the document says he was “the last Mexican governor of California,” which is not actually true.  Romualdo Pacheco was briefly in that position for nine months in 1875.)

It was also noted that “reinforcing the rich historic-cultural heritage within the City is the construction of the Pio Pico Gallery, which will be used for informational and historic displays related to the Historic-Cultural Landmarks.”  A “memorial walkway” connecting the cemtery with this historic houses was to be called the “El Paseo Memorial de Pio Pico,” further emphasizing the connection with the ex-governor.

The page relating to the Homestead, otherwise known as “The Historic-Cultural Landmarks” and showing views of the historic houses, El Campo Santo Cemetery, and site improvements to date in 1977.

Over the years, however, this has been retrenched with the walkway and gallery renamed, though we certainly don’t want to imply that Pico, a neighbor and friend of the Workman and Temple families, doesn’t deserve to be recognized! Photographs of work, largely focused by that time on the general site infrastructure rather than restoration, and a site map were included in this section.

Next week, we move on to the second part, looking at specifics of the Phase 1 implementation regarding potential, infrastructure, the Hacienda Boulevard/Southern Pacific grade separation work, existing conditions, and general physical factors.


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