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

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

Continuing with an in-depth look at the City of Industry’s General Plan, which is still in effect, we take a look at more recommendations for improvement in the city’s operations.

One key component was the creation of a “Civic-Financial Center,” proposed near the existing local station for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and a post office.  It was also pointed out that the Bank of America, United California Bank, and Community Bank were in the proposed center area (an earlier post on a mid-1960s promotional pamphlet highlighted banks such as these in the city.)

Beyond the idea of having a city hall and financial element, however, the document noted that “other uses such as professional office space, restaurants and commercial facilities are contemplated as complementary activities that will enhance the civic complex.”

There was a major issue, though.  Hacienda Boulevard, the north-south thoroughfare in the proposed zone was stated as being “one of the most heavily utilized highways in Los Angeles County” (consider how 30,000 cars per day compares now, nearly a half-century later!).  Yet, there was an “interference created by Hacienda Boulevard crossing the Southern Pacific main rail line at grade.”  Issues with the intersection of that roadway with Nelson Avenue at the north end of the project area were also discussed, especially with the proximity of La Puente High School to that intersection.

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Then, there were “the odd assortment of old structures at the east end of the proposed center adjoining downtown La Puente.  The accompanying map shows the extensions of Workman and Abbey streets from La Puente, as well as Old Valey Boulevard, into the center area.  Moreover, “the structures immediately west of Hacienda Boulevard, next to the Southern Pacific Railroad, are eyesores that have long outlived their usefulness.”  This site was the long-standing Stafford Mill, which had been closed and was soon razed.

Noting that the willingness of banks to add branches to the area “in the midst of this array of dilapidation” was an indication of “how strategic this location is,” the plan noted that “it is unlikely the true potential of this area can ever be developed as long as its image is downgraded by blighted structures.”  An accompanying photo of the proposed area showed the scale of the problem, which could be greatly improved “if traffic and blight problems are remedied.”

Then, there was the recommendation for a major expansion into commercial development, beyond the existing emphasis on “manufacturing, distribution and industrial development.”  The idea was to provide “essential support to both industrial employees and the City’s revenue base.”  It was recommended, therefore, that “attention should be given to establishing incentives that will bring sound commercial and professional development into the City.”

The only area specifically designated for commercial development was a 30-acre area in the northern reaches of the city.  However, the idea in the plan was built around “tailoring policy to the unique characteristics of the City” and “takes a position that the amount [original italics] of commercial development in the City  need not be limited by planning policy.”

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In fact, improvements in traffic circulation meant that commercial development could take place just about anywhere in the city, so location was not needed in terms of what the Plan laid out.  Rather, the sites and number of commercial enterprises should “be determined by the region’s economic forces.”

Instead, the plan offered that zoning should be reoriented toward “the quality and visual appearance of development” that would be “consistent wit a City goal of beautification.”  Additionally, locations boasting excellent exposure to traffic, size and proportion of the land and so on were to be pinpointed.  Further study was needed to highlight “opportunities that would otherwise go unnoticed” and this was “consistent with a City goal of providing development incentives.”

As noted elsewhere in the plan, the question of waste disposal and storm drainage was also important and it was reinformced that the county’s sanitation district network had plenty of capacity to handle future development with respect to waste.  Again, it was the problem of inadequate drainage that needed addressing because of the continuning danger of flooding.

With respect to transportation, a circulation element looked at freeways, arterial roadways, the compatibility of highway systems, collector circulation, and broader bus and air transportation.  The Pomona Freeway (SR-60) was the key freeway with the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) also pointed out.  Notably, nothing was mentioned of the Orange Freeway (SR-57) on the city’s eastern fringes.

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Three arterial roadways in a west to east direction were pointed out, with Valley Boulevard being the most important.  Also noted, as a collector street, was Gale Avenue (recently the subject of a post here), while Colima Road, until a few years prior still known as Fifth Avenue, was considered a “distribution service” road and became a core road for expanding commercial development, including the Puente Hills Mall.

Eleven streets in a north-south orientation were listed, highlighting the general west to east layout of the city.  From Workman Mill Road at the west to Grand Avenue to the east, all but two were considered major, with Turnbull Canyon Road and Fullerton Road considered secondary.

Today, the latter is certainly a major thoroughfare and is undergoing a grade separation as many others have at the Union Pacific and former Southern Pacific (now also owned by the UP) tracks.  One of these streets has been renamed.  What was known in 1971 as Water Street is now Fairway Drive, also going through a grade separation.

Concerning highway system compatibility, it was observed that this was a regional, rather than local, issue, but that the city’s arterial plan was consistent with regional plans.  There was one issue pointed out with secondary arterial roads, this being Stimson Avenue, which being just a short distance east of Hacienda Boulevard, “introduces some difficult alignment and land use problems.”  Years later, Stimson was closed on both sides of the Southern Pacific tracks.

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On the matter of collector circulation, this had primarily to do with west to east streets that were collectors from north to south arterial streets and the only one of these included in the county’s master plan of highways was Gale Avneue, likely because of its proximity as a parallel road to the 60 Freeway.  But, the plan cited “a need for additional east-west collector streets to connect together discontinuous sections of streets and to provide east-west circulation continuity.”  Efforts were made in subsequent years to address this deficiency, involving groups of streets between main north-south arterials.

Finally, there was brief mention made of bus lines, then under the auspices of the Southern California Rapid Transit District (RTD) and now mainly handled by Foothill Transit.  Interestingly, in discussing the county’s Regional Planning Commission’s work on a master plan for major transportation networks, there was mention of “the need for a midrange aviation type of air park in the City of Industry.”  However, identification of potential sites “are actions that would follow the General Plan adoption.”

Next week’s entry in this General Plan series looks at housing, conservation, open space, the city’s image, and, most importantly for the Homestead, the “Historic-Cultural Element.”  So, check back next Tuesday for that.

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