by Paul R. Spitzzeri
In this 1977 document that followed, by a half-dozen years, the passage of the City of Industry’s General Plan. improvements in the central part of the city were discussed, starting with a general look at the overall plan of development, the potential of the phase one area, intergovernmental cooperation, and existing conditions. What followed is titled “The Implementation Concept,” accompanied by a fold-out illustration.
This section “reflects pending projects, along with completed improvements and capital works programs in process.” Several areas were emphasized including infrastructure (roads, utilities and drainage systems) with an aim that would “yield the economic and employment beneifts originally intended” and which was “critical to accomplishment of local community and Los Angeles County goals” including full employment and balanced land use.
Reclaiming fallow (that is, former agricultural) land was also briefly noted, specifically through acquisition by the city’s Urban Development Agency. The concept here was to deal with fragmented ownership, poor access, “illogical proportions,” and topography that inhibited development.
Facilities to support industry involved “improved civic, recreation, commercial and health care services” in fhe form of the Civic-Financial Center, the Puente Hills mall and shopping area, and the 550-acre Industry Hills development as “anchors.” The latter was slated to have an “industrial exhibit/conference center” as well as facilities for the families of employees in the city and in surrounding communities.
Cooperation between the City and Los Angeles County was also emphasized through such road projects as the extension of Grand Avenue southeast through the eastern end of the city as well as recreational ones. One of the latter was the “Skyline Equestrian Trail” which was slated to run from Pico Rivera through the Puente Hills northeast through the city and through Walnut and San Dimas to Bonelli Regional Park.
The other was the “San Jose Creek Bicycle Path,” proposed to follow the former natural watercourse converted to a flood and drainage channel from its confluence with the San Gabriel River to Cal Poly Pomona. The report noted that the City of Industry would consider “funding construction . . . were County funding is currently not available.”
In a segment headed “Preservation, Conservation, Beautification,” it was observed that
The Industry Historic-Cultural Landmarks Area project involves restoration and preservation of historic monuments highly significant to Southern California’s heritage.
This meant the Homestead, which included the final resting place of Pío Pico, last governor of Mexican-era California, and the Workman House “constructed in 1841 by pioneers who were the first to arrive in Southern California by wagon train.” This latter statement had only two errors: the house was built over stages starting in 1842 and the Workman family were not only not the pioneers of the area—this would have been the native indigenous people—but they didn’t arrive by wagon train. Other than that . . .!
Beautification was also highlighted through landscaping improvements on Stafford Street at the Civic-Financial Center and along the extension of Don Julian Road through the Homestead property to Hacienda Boulevard. Also noted was the “Azusa Avenue Corridor Plan” which “will carry on an impressive beautification program initiated by the City of West Covina” and work with the thoroughfare’s extension south to Otterbein (now Schabarum) Regional Park.
Mention was made, too, of the standards set by the Bixby Industrial Park area, along Gale Avenue west of Azusa, with repect to “how community benefits are derived from the master planning of a large segment of land under single ownership and the pre-building of all physical systems necessary to the functioning of a modern industrial park.” Attractiveness meant drawing new businesses to the area and the patterns utilized in the city can be seen in nearby industrial areas later built in places like Chino and Ontario.
The report also noted that prviate property owners were not able to undertake larger-scale improvements, so the implementation of Phase 1 “is a cooperative effort by the private and public sectors designed to accelerate expansion of the employment base” by major projects involving roads, sewers, flood control projects and other elements. This was to be done through “orderly growth in the sense that improvements are scheduled for construction at the right time, in the right place, and in harmony with one another.”
The document hearkened back to the 1950s “when Los Angeles County recgonized the unique employment potential of the Walnut Valley by zoning it for industrial uses” and “prevented home builders from developing land between the two mainline railroads.” This laid the groundwork for the “implemention of the City of Industry’s General Plan and its supplemental documents [which] will safeguard this important resource.”
A General Circulation Plan map compared to existing circulation highlighted the critical aspect of traffic improvements, many of which were underway or were in the planning process. The golden age of freeway construction between 1950 and 1970 brought four such routes in and near the city including interstates 10 and 605 and state routes 60 and 57, with “only the Route 39 . . . lacking with respect to the Freeway Master Plan adopted by the State.”
The so-called Huntington Beach Freeway would have extended from today’s Beach Boulevard through the developed La Habra Heights area of the Puente Hills and along the Azusa Avenue corridor, but was scuttled in 1975, two years before this report was issued. In fact, it was noted that the city’s “access potential is even more significant when the current policy of discouraging further freeway construction is considered.” That is, forestalling freeway projects meant employment centers would not be built and it would be left for Industry “to carry out the responsibility by completing the circulation system” and thereby “conserving existing resources and filling in voids in existing urban patterns.”
Specific traffic improvements included the major alteration of the grade separation with Hacienda Boulevard and the Southern Pacific railroad; the completion of civic center roadways; the extension of Don Julian to Hacienda Boulevard through the Homestead; and major rerouting and new street construction between Azusa Avenue and Nogales Street. Notably, two of the roadways (Rowland Street and Railroad Street in the latter wound up being very different than envisioned on the accompanying map. Gale Avenue, extended partly beyond Azusa was to be extended out to Nogales to connect with the existing Walnut Drive. Fullerton Road, which ended just north of the 60 Freeway, was to be extended to Valley Boulevard.
A table of proposed road projects in the area included five for Phase 1 as well as seven others for two future phases (part two in the eastern and part three in the western areas of Industry) with the county expected to pick up from between $21 and 28 million of the tab, the City to pay for about $14 million, and neglible amounts for one phase II project from the cities of Walnut and West Covina. The largest by far of the dozen projects, also shown on a fold-out map, was for extending Azusa Avenue southward to either the Orange County line over the Puente Hills or to Fullerton Road possibly at or near the crest of the hills—neither of these invasive alternatives were pursued. The other eleven project, however, were carried out basically as indicated.
A dozen photographs of current road conditions are interesting to view with most showing areas that have dramatically changed, including the brand new Don Julian Road extension with the Homestead in development in the background. East-West traffic volume is also discussed with respect to the 60 Freeway and interchanges within the city. While it was noted that “current CalTrans policies do not place emphasis on expanding interchange capabilities,” there have been in recent years major changes in the 60-57 interchange because of volume levels unforeseen four decades ago. This includes the nearly completed swapping out of the Brea Canyon Road interchange with a new Lemon Avenue one.
A couple of minor proposals to improve flow included a proposed extension of Stephens Street, a short cul-de-sac east of Stimson Avenue, through the Southern Pacific (now Union Pacific) switchyard to about Azusa Avenue and an extension of Harcher Street, which is east of Azusa north to Valley Boulevard, also cutting through the switchyard. Neither of these were pursued and the switchyard is still very much in busy operation. The extension of Grand Avenue southeast from Valley Boulevard to the 60/57 route was considered “essential to the well-being of the City of Industry, the San Gabriel Valley, and Los Angeles and Orange Counties.”
Next week, we look at the proposed San Jose Creek Bicycle Path and Skyline Equestrian Trail, as our look at this important development document for the City of Industry continues.