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

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

In this important planning document, prepared by noted Los Angeles planning firm Gruen Associates, the groundwork for much of the development that took place in the City of Industry in the nearly half century since its 1971 creation was laid.

Previous posts on this series looked at the purpose for establishing a Civic-Recreational-Industrial project after the General Plan was crafted earlier in the year; laying out city goals and objectives; noting development trends and needs; specifying existing conditions in terms of land ownership, general physical factors; and potential city acquisition of property; and the plan’s framework with respect to how to improve the area between 7th Avenue on the west and Nogales Street on the east and Industry Hills on the north and Colima Road and the 60 Freeway on the south.

Plan elements included a general “Industrial-Commercial Element;” “The Civic-Financial Center;” “The Civic-Recreation-Conservation Area” at Industry Hills; and “The Historic-Cultural Element,” including the Rowland House, now owned by the La Puente Valley Historical Society, and the Homestead.

Having covered these areas in recent posts, we turn our attention to matters of infrastructure discussed in the document, including the key area of traffic and “circulation system improvements” under the heading of “The Circulation and Transportation Element.”

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A diagram of the project area was keyed to a dozen major proposed projects, including freeway interchanges and on and off ramps; railroad grade separations; road extensions; and general road improvements, such as widening.  A table listed the source of the original proposal, whether from the city, county or state; the classification of the roadways as major or secondary; the status at the time of publication; and the funding agency, which in several cases involved multi-agency partnerships.

The report noted that the 60 Freeway, as part of a well-planned regional network, “provides excellent access from all sections of the Los Angeles metropolitan region.”  Notably, the document stated that there were five interchanges with the freeway in the city and that another was being planned, with the design process underway following approval after a county public in June 1971, at Turnbull Canyon Road.  This project, however, never got past that stage.

As for major arterial roads, Valley Boulevard and Colima Road, still identified as Fifth Avenue on maps of the time, were the major east to west examples with Gale Avenue, which needed extending from Azusa Avenue to Nogales Street, and the opening of Temple Avenue further east within the project area, cited as secondary.  It was also stated that the plan was consistent with county highway plans, except for the recommendation to close Stimson Avenue at the Southern Pacific railroad track, while the county plan was to keep it open at grade.

Citing “a need for greater continuity in the east-west collector system,” the plan recommended improvements in six key ways, including the extension of Don Julian Road past the Homestead from Turnbull Canyon Road to Hacienda Boulevard; extending Gale Avenue, as noted above; and others.  Adding traffic signals at twenty-one locations was also recommended for expediting traffic movement through the project area.

Another signal component of the element was completing a grade separation at the Southern Pacific tracks along Hacienda Boulevard which “will greatly improve vehicular circulation and traffic safety” in the city and more broadly.  A major separation on Azusa Avenue had recently been completed and it was noted that the county proposed doing so at Grand Avenue in the furthest eastern reaches of the city (this was done later).

It was also observed that “it would be desirable to effect grade separations with the railroads at Seventh Avenue and Nogales Avenue in the interest of achieving a circulation system that is capable of accommodating the ultimate regional needs.”  While in 1971 those needs could be estimated, growth in the last four and a half decades has surpassed estimates, both in terms of vehicle and rail traffic and the Alameda Corridor East project has expanded the planning for grade separations.  Seventh Avenue was completed years ago on the old Salt Lake and current Union Pacific line and more recently on the Southern Pacific and Nogales Avenue was completed a few years ago on the latter and just within the last year on the former.

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Another interesting item on the circulation system improvement proposals map is the inclusion of two alternate routes for the long-proposed building of the Huntington Beach Freeway (SR-39) that was to be built from the Pacific at Beach Boulevard up to Azusa and cut through the Puente Hills with the alternatives shown as just west or east of Azusa Avenue and skirting the east end of Industry Hills on its way north.  That project also never proceeded beyond early conceptual plans.

As to mass transit, reference was made to bus service in the area and the report stated that “Project One recognizes this benefit to the area by encouraging a continuation and upgrading of bus service” including “comfortable rest stations at bus stops” as well as “the opening of new roadways which offer opportunities for additional bus routes.”

Further mention was made of “long-range public rapid transit proposals for the region” though the rapid transit district was a long way from “firm improvement plans.”  The report stated

Project One stands ready to undertake improvements, within reason, that will complement a future rapid transit system and further increase the City’s and area’s accessibility.  The provision of a low- to medium-speed system of public transit, running the length of the City, is an improvement that could have significant long-range benefits to the City.

The report suggested that the Industry Urban Development Agency (the city’s redevelopment agency) “monitor the needs and desirability of such a system and undertake public transit feasibility studies at an appropriate point in time.”

In 1992, as the Metrolink mass transit train system was completed through the area, the City provided a lot on Brea Canyon Road near the heavily used 60/57 interchange for a station and a recent addition was made at the site of a multi-level parking structure.  As heavy traffic continues to be a major regional issue, along with the pollution it generates, the future of rapid transit will continue to be a major issue.

Another historically interesting point was that the General Plan identified a location for a “Mid-Range Aviation Terminal” in the City based on recommendations by the county’s Regional Planning Commission.  This report, however, stated that, while “the Project One Area has been studied to determine if this recommended air transportation facility can be physically accommodated within Project One limits,” the suggested location in the General Plan to the area east of Azusa Avenue “is inhibited . . . due to the location of existing substantial structures.”  However, it did suggest  “that airport studies concentrate on property east of Nogales Street.”

Moreover, the document continued that

the importance of air transportation facilities to the City’s industrial development program and the region cannot be over-emphasized . . . the pursuit of an industrial air park program is urgent and in keeping with City desires to accelerate growth which will be beneficial to the City and the region.

Obviously, plans for an airport in the City never got off the ground and neither did one proposed for the Chino Hills to the southeast (the latter site became Chino Hills State Park about a decade later) and controversy remains over existing airports and their expansion as well as proposed ones, such as a long-planned one in the Antelope Valley.

The last portion of discussion for this element had to do with parking.  It was noted that parking was dealt with “through the provision of private, off-street parking areas,” but the plan suggested “a program that could provide for certain parking requirements through development of public off-street parking facilities.”

What this could involve was partly fiscal in that these lots “could broaden the City’s flexibility in generating maximum revenues for the area” and might attract new companies while allowing existing ones to convert or expand their private ones.  Suggesting that having publicly owned lots would accelerate development, the report added that these lots could be provided for by the purchase or lease of land and that “parking structures can be provided in response to increased parking requirements.”

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A notable recommendation was to have “local employee parks,” in which small areas set aside in these public parking lots would “be strategically located in respect to offering the maximum in convenience to nearby employees.”  By having “an inviting space to employees who may eat lunch in the park, or use it during break periods during rest and relaxation,” having these spaces provide “ample landscaping, seating areas, and a pull-in facility for catering vehicles” were suggested for inclusion in the “local park development” concept.

The Homestead, which has a large parking lot built for a hospital and medical facility that was halted in its early stages, does actually attract some local employees and residents who either eat their lunch in their cars or sit at our picnic area or by the fish pond near El Campo Santo Cemetery.  While catering trucks were certainly around in 1971, the modern version is the food truck, which has established a strong following in our heavily urbanized region.

Next week, we continue with a look at the Plan One report’s recommendations for utilities, including sanitation, water and flood control.

 

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