Yorba Linda History

Historic Documents

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close this bookYorba Linda - Its History
View the documentDedication
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentPreface
View the documentChapter 1 - The Indians
View the documentChapter 2 - The Hacienda Era
View the documentChapter 3 - Carlton
View the documentChapter 4 - The Pioneers
View the documentChapter 5 - The Business District "Down Town”
View the documentChapter 6 - Recreation and Celebrations
View the documentChapter 7 - Water
View the documentChapter 8 - The School Story
View the documentChapter 9 - The Library
View the documentChapter 10 - The Churches
View the documentChapter 11 - Organizations
View the documentChapter 12 - Incorporation
View the documentChapter 13 - Richard M. Nixon
View the documentChapter 14 - Famous Citizens
View the documentChapter 15 - A Forward Look
View the documentChapter 16 - Yorba Linda - What Now?

Chapter 12 - Incorporation

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The fight for incorporation by the town of Yorba Linda was a long and costly one. Although considerable money, given by proponents in the contest was spent, this writer feels that the greater cost was the bitterness and animosity aroused among the otherwise friendly people of the town. But it seems this had to be, for, in order to allow the town to maintain its identity against the predator cities surrounding Yorba Linda's area on all sides, real battling was demanded.

In 1953, perhaps the first stirrings of a need for a more orderly plan for land development began to interest the people of Yorba Linda. People who had invested money in homes saw the danger of having noisy and smelly oil wells placed near their property. Others deplored having farm animals, rabbitries or chicken farms too close to their residences. So, in 1955 a nine-man committee headed by A. B. Stephens, held a public meeting in June to present a zoning plan they had worked out. They recommended five types of zoning, C-l (light commercial), R-l (single residence), E-4 (estate type residence), C-2 (heavier business), and M-l (light industry). They put limits of square footage on two zonings. Membership on this committee represented three organizations in the town: the Business Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Center. [139]

After the June meeting, residents began doing more thinking and various questions were raised and suggestions made. The oil companies came in and plagued the community by their attempts to locate a tank farm or a drilling on land zoned as residential. Residents protested and attended meetings in efforts to protect their property.

The Committee, with Fay Young as its chairman, in 1956, after working with the Orange County Planning Commission heard protests and held a public hearing in June, one year after the first meeting. The Star reported on the meeting and said that the consensus of opinion was that the plan was too restrictive. Those opposing the plan wanted it to be abandoned and an eight year old county zoning plan be continued in effect. Val Lucas, editor of the Star at the time reported that the meeting was made up of two factions: the buyers, who wanted to protect the friendly, rural atmosphere and the sellers who wanted no restrictions.

In November 1956 rumors of intentions of neighboring cities planning to annex land adjacent to Yorba Linda caused the Committee to authorize a study of the advantages and disadvantages of incorporation. A citizens' meeting was held in January, 1957 to sound out the community on whether to bring the incorporation question to a vote. The meeting was attended by 175 Yorba Lindans and the incorporation idea was stopped by a vote of 88 to 62, with some not voting. Val Lucas made the prediction in the next issue of the Star that those who voted against the idea and were motivated by the desire to keep Yorba Linda a little country town were going to find that our neighboring cities were going to absorb us piece by piece. Val was a valid prophet.

The proponents of incorporation kept up their studies and findings and other individuals and groups studied the plans for merger with one of the neighboring cities. A meeting at the Woman's Club House on October 9, 1961 was so well attended that some, wishing to attend, could not get into the building. Four points of view were presented: (1) merging with Placentia, (2) advantages of incorporation, (3) financial data on Yorba Linda, Placentia and Brea, (4) remaining "as is". School problems and [140] legal matters were discussed. The meeting was well conducted and progress was made. More meetings followed and the pot was kept boiling.

Jim Craig had by now come to the fore as a leader of the group for incorporation and as chairman he took petitions which had been signed by about 75% of the residents of Yorba Linda and filed them with the Board of Supervisors at Santa Ana on December 18, 1961. The area delineated for the proposed city of Yorba Linda at that time followed the boundaries of the Yorba Linda County Water District with a few minor variations. It comprised a total of about five thousand acres. Population of the area was estimated at 4,500.

The committee for incorporation under the chairmanship of Jim Craig continued to meet with various county heads and to add to their file of information on procedures to be followed if the movement should succeed. They found that certain services could be contracted for from the county such as fire protection, police, road maintenance and health services, which would cut down the expense of running a city.

In March of 1962 the opponents made a study of financing required to operate a city of 3,000. The proponents had also made a study and the figures of the two far apart groups were as follows:





income from

gas tax, vehicle

tax, Sales tax.













When our city has been in operation for two or three years, it will be interesting to compare its expenses with these figures.

Much space was taken in the Star by "Letters to the Editor”from both sides of the question. At the hearing in the Board of Supervisors' room in Santa Ana on April 18, 1962 it was disclosed that the opponents of incorporation had secured the signatures of persons owning 62.82% of the total assessed land [141] value of the proposed city of Yorba Linda and the incorporation issue was killed again, but unlike the bug victims of "Raid" not killed dead. This was the second attempt made at incorporation.

Our hungry neighbors again drooled when they looked at unannexed land close to and claimed by Yorba Linda as its rightful territory. The city of Placentia assured the Yorba Linda Homeowner's Association in April of 1963 that they wanted to work out mutually satisfactory boundaries with Yorba Linda along Linda Vista Avenue and the barranca north of it. But within two weeks Yorba Linda people were horrified to learn that Placentia had submitted three uninhabited annexations including much of this territory to the County Boundaries Commission the following Monday after their assurances. The picture of the territory being annexed depicted on the map of western Yorba Linda was a "groansome" thing indeed. It badly chopped up that section of our town.

A year having elapsed since our last try at incorporation, a local group immediately organized and set about preparing incorporation proceedings. Dr. Buel Enyeart was the chairman of the group. A notice of intent to circulate a petition for incorporation was filed with the cleric of the Board of Supervisors on April 29, 1963. A request for approval of proposed boundaries was filed with the secretary of the Boundaries Commission at the same time. The members of the committee for incorporation girded themselves to again circulate petitions so as to get 25 % of the registered voters owning 25% of the unimproved property valuation. A hundred copies of the petitions were printed and fifty volunteers started circulating them during the first week of June. A public meeting was held at the Woman's Club House and several neighborhood meetings were organized. The required number of signatures was secured with an additional number in case any signatures proved invalid.

The opponents immediately set about taking up their cudgels and girding for a fight. Letters were mailed to all voters [142] telling of the dangers of incorporation and the huge rise in taxes that would accompany it.

So, for the third time, incorporation petitions were filed with the County Board of Supervisors on July 24, 1963. The proponents had done a thorough job and the petitions represented 46.77% of the assessed value of unimproved property within the boundaries of the proposed city, approximately 86% of assessed value of improved property, 80% of the persons entitled to sign the petition, nearly 85% of all residents within the boundaries and 88% of the registered voters. As before, thirty days were allowed the county clerk in which to certify the documents after which the Board of Supervisors would set a date for the protest hearing.

During this time proponents raised money by subscription to hire J. B. Hanauer and Company, municipal and financial consultants, to make a study of the advisability, finance wise, of incorporation for Yorba Linda, taking into consideration its vulnerability to being cut up piecemeal by annexations of neighboring cities, who in the six years previous had increased their acreage through such annexations by 46, 353 acres.

The Hanauer study was decidedly favorable to the incorporation plan, recommending that a minimum of personnel be kept on the city's payroll and that such services as fire protection, police protection and road maintenance be contracted for with the county. The report predicted a surplus to the city for 1964-65 of $63,599, for 1965-66 of $67,000 and for 1966-67, $92,000. The report was presented to the public at a meeting in the Yorba Linda Woman's Club House and copies were placed in the library for study by anyone wishing to check out and examine.

The fighting grew more intense. Placentia had filed intention to annex certain territory on Yorba Linda's westside containing the Cinderella Homes No. 1, Yorba Linda Homes and Yorba Linda Park No. 1. A meeting was held by the residents in this area, addressed by Bill Ross, an active proponent for incorporation, in which he explained the legal aspects of the [143] situation and the steps necessary to prevent their annexation by Placentia, if they so desired. He noted that intention to circulate petitions for incorporation of Yorba Linda was filed with the Board of Supervisors at 8:35 a.m. on April 29, 1963 and description of proposed boundaries was filed with the County Boundaries Commission at the same time and at 11:00 a.m., two and one half hours later Placentia annexation 63-3, containing the above homes was approved by the County Boundary Commission. Since the incorporation papers were filed before the annexation was approved it gave precedence to Yorba Linda's proposed west boundary line, which had included the homes above mentioned.

The residents of Cinderella homes raised $100 and presented it to the Committee for Incorporation to help in the legal expenses. They also circulated petitions to present to the Supervisors asking that they be allowed to remain in Yorba Linda territory. The petitions stated that the signers were living at the time within the proposed boundaries of the proposed city of Yorba Linda and wished to remain within the proposed boundaries.

At this time a new commission was being formed according to the passage of a bill for that purpose. Annexations and incorporations would come under this commission but it would not affect the 1963 incorporation battle. The bill forming the commission became a law September 20, 1963. A sixty day period was allowed in which to form the commission which was named the Local Agency Formation Commission.

On October 24, 1963 the opponents of incorporation filed protests amounting to 57.5% of land and mineral valuation with the Board of Supervisors. Only 51% was necessary to kill the measure. Alex Bowie, attorney for the proponents questioned the legality of signing mineral rights and also found some alleged discrepancies in the ownership of property at the time of signing the petitions. He asked for a week's extension so that petitions could be checked. The Board granted the request but also gave the opponents permission to continue signing more protest petitions [144] During this week the opponents filed additional signers to total an extra $93,160 in land values.

Mr. Bowie protested duplication of values and irregularities amounting to over $200,000 in land valuation and the allowing of oil field leaseholds to be included in the protest signatures.

Supervisor William Phillips moved that the protest documents be upheld and the other supervisors voted with him unanimously, so, for the third time in four years the incorporation of Yorba Linda into cityhood failed. Feeling ran at a feverish high in Yorba Linda.

Editor Bill Drake of the Yorba Linda Star spat some venom at the holders of oil and gas leases who had joined in the protest. In his column, "William Tells," he stated, "Now that the out-of-town holders of oil and gas leases on Yorba Linda property have had such powerful effect on the future of our community, we feel that pressure should be put on them to clean up some of the unsightly junk heaps scattered around their operations. From time to time we hope to present pictures showing violation of the oil code in this area. As long as they are so instrumental in keeping this community from incorporating, there is no reason at all why we can't keep it a little more pleasing to the eye."

Bill was as good as his threat and pictures of most unsightly spots, high with weeds and overturned old tanks, etc. appeared to keep the populace informed as to the causes of this indignity. The biggest violators were the small companies and the independents. Large companies are usually more responsible. Two oil executives came out and accompanied Mr. Drake on a tour to view these eyesores but about all they did was to clean out some weeds. The oil code is rather weak in this matter.

The people who had fought for incorporation could not give up. They kept investigating and turning up more evidence of irregularties having been allowed by the Board of Supervisors. They could not accept defeat when they felt the battle had not been fought fairly and the decision made was unjust. More and more evidence was turned up by the proponents, showing enough discrepancies used against them that on Friday, November 29, [145] 1963, a writ of mandate was filed in Orange Count Superior Court to compel the county supervisors to show cause why their resolution killing the Yorba Linda incorporation movement should not be set aside and an election held on the question. Hearing on the court order was set for December 13, 1963 at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Stephen Tamura. The Orange County Board of Supervisors as a group and County Clerk, William St. John, were named as defendants in the action.

Meetings were held in Yorba Linda to discuss and provide financing of the litigation. The petition was filed on behalf of Dr. Buell Enyeart, Fred Johnson and Paul Gibbs, members of the incorporation steering committee. The sum of $670 was collected in cash, and pledges given to support the action.

Meanwhile dispute and litigation was carried on over Placentia's annexation 63-3A, which covered an area of 250 acres, the largest amount of land involved in annexations so far in our area. Because of the definite bias against Yorba Linda in Santa Ana and the cost of legal action we eventually gave up on this issue and a great slice of our most lucrative area on the western side of town was lost.

The cause of the writ of mandate petition filed against the Board of Supervisors was heard on February 6, 1964. Yorba Linda was represented by attorneys Homer L. McCormick and Dennis V. Menke. Attorney Clayton Parker of the County Counsel's Office argued for the defense. In the first week of the following March, 1964, Judge Tamura made public his decision against Yorba Linda. The full text of arguments on both sides and Judge Tamura's decision, based on a similar case, fought previously in Santa Barbara, make interesting reading but we do not have space for it here. Yorba Linda's hopes were again dashed.

But the issue was not yet closed. Judge Tarawa's final judgment was filed in late April. Proponents had sixty days in which to appeal. This issue had narrowed down to the question of whether the inclusion of mineral rights in the opponents protest was legal. If the mineral rights had not been included, opponents would have filed only 49.63% instead of the 51% needed to kill [146] the right of Yorba Lindans to vote on the incorporation issue. Yorba Linda's proponents decided to continue the fight an notice of appeal was filed on June 26, 1964, to the District Court of Appeals, Fourth District, in Riverside.

In 1965, the people of Yorba Linda being discouraged about ever being allowed to bring the incorporation issue to a vote began to attend meetings at which the cities of Placentia, Brea and Anaheim each made overtures to Yorba Lindans for annexations in total to one of the surrounding cities. Each city held out advantages to be gained. Yorba listened and cogitated. Some were won over to one or another of the wooers, but there was a deep reluctance to give up our identity as Yorba Linda, which we felt would be inevitable though each of the three cities made assurance that we would maintain the name of Yorba Linda. An election was held in Yorba Linda in 1965 on whether or not to merge with the city of Anaheim. The voters decided the issue by voting against the annexation.

On November 3, 1965 the Yorba Linda Star printed a four page supplement, containing the complete summary of findings and conclusions on merging with the city of Placentia. The committee composed of citizens from both Placentia and Yorba Linda had done a monumental job and their findings had a persuasive appeal. Their final paragraph stated “There was never any doubt in committee discussion and deliberation that merger of Placentia is feasible in the area of planning and zoning."

Jack Gomez was chairman of representation committee, Bert Goss, of the community identity committee, and Roland Bigonger, of the boundaries and zoning committee.

Before this issue was brought to a vote the surprising news broke that the Applelate Court in Riverside had decided in favor of Yorba Linda and its right to vote on incorporation, holding that the supervisors had acted improperly in including the mineral rights as protesting valuation. There was rejoicing in the area then, to be sure; rejoicing, that is, by the proponents of incorporation. [146] Many of the ones who had been persuaded by the opponents that incorporation was too expensive had by now become disgusted with the biased action by the Board of Supervisors and felt that the only fair thing was to allow the issue to come to a vote.

The Board of Supervisors, however, decided to take the issue to the California Supreme Court, and to the delight and satisfaction of the majority of Yorba Lindans the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Appellate Court and ordered the supervisors to set the boundaries and call the election.

Election day was October 24, 1967. Voters who participated in the election voted for incorporation by 3 to 1 vote. There were 2,601 voters who turned out; 1963 voted for incorporation and 638 voted against. Five city councilmen were elected to the city council at the same election from the field of twenty-seven candidates. Those elected were Roland Bigonger, Whit Cromwell, Bill Ross, Burt Brooks and Herb Warren, named in order of highest votes received.

Yorba Linda seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief, that now the question was settled for once and all. Animosities aroused during the long struggle started to fade, as is the normal procedure in a stable and self governed, disciplined citizenry. At the first meeting of the city council, Roland Bigonger was named Yorba Linda's first mayor with Whit Cromwell as vice mayor. It was decided that the term of mayor for the time being being would be six months, each member succeeding to the title according to his vote count at the election.

A drive started immediately to get all non-registered voters to register, for each registered voter was worth $150 to the city in tax monies returned for use by the city. The city receives $50 multiplied by three for each registered voter.

And so we are a city. Our little town about which we first started to tell in this history has grown from a tract containing a few ranchers to a bonafide city with an approximate population of twelve thousand. We are still growing rapidly and will probably [148] continue to do so, so long as there is land to the north and east of us to annex and add to our boundaries.

It has been many months since this chapter was written and the first anniversary of cityhood was celebrated eight months ago. At the close of the first fiscal year at the end of June 1969 when the city was nineteen months old the records showed a city balance of $290,264.65. A total of 572.5 acres of new land has been annexed to the city at this time. [149]

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