T H E   S T O R Y   OF   C E R R I T O S
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Election News

Attention in 1987 was on planning and construction in Cerritos Towne Center (the old “Golden Triangle” area at 183rd and Bloomfield Avenue), installation of underground cable television, an expansion at Liberty Park, a new sports complex, an a new commercial development at South Street and Pioneer Boulevard that would be called Lincoln Center.

On October 1, a morning earthquake provided some excitement but little damage in Cerritos. The 6.1 quake was centered in Whittier where many buildings were severely damaged.

Later that month, Councilman Daniel Wong and members of a new Sister City Foundation traveled to Panchaio, Taiwan for a nine day visit. The Council passed a resolution in March 1986 declaring interest and willingness to form a sister city relationship. Panchaio leaders later visited us and gave a very large vase to Cerritos that is displayed in the lobby of the library.

1988 was a big election year. Campaign signs appeared all over town. The highlight of the election season was an appearance at a Heritage Park rally by the Republican candidate for the Presidency, Vice-President George Bush.

City Attorney Ken Brown had declared that Proposition “H” term limits would not prevent city council incumbents from running for re-election, so Daniel Wong's name appeared again as a council candidate and he was re-elected. Paul Bowlen, a Cerritos High School history and civics teacher, was elected to fill the seat vacated by Don Knabe, who had decided to run for the state senate. The largest ever combined city/redevelopment agency budget was approved - $90 million for city operations and capital improvements.

Honors were won by several Cerritos residents during the year. School board member Cecy Groom was named 63rd Assembly District Woman of the Year. Grace Gee and Clara Shin, two Whitney High School students, were selected to participate in a youth summit with forty Soviet, Finnish, and United States students. Miss Cerritos, Simone Stephens, won the Miss California title. Bret Barberie and Jimmy Kim brought home gold medals from the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. Barberie was a member of the U.S. baseball team, and Kim won his gold medal in the demonstration sport of taekwondo.

Rosewood Park, the city's newest, won a merit award from the California Department of Rehabilitation for excellence in handicap accessibility.

The library expansion project won a national award of excellence, the top award given by the American Institute of Architecture and American Library Association. City Librarian Waynn Pearson and architect Charles Walton traveled to Dallas, Texas, to accept the award. The attractive addition had resulted in 40% growth in the number of patrons of the library and 33% increase in circulation of materials.

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More for the Auto Square
One of the first business locations in Dairy Valley was the General Telephone Company's service yard, replacing a turkey ranch on the northwest corner of Studebaker Road and 183rd Street. In 1988, the Los Cerritos Redevelopment Agency purchased the 8.5 acres and made $1.2 million in improvements, including road improvements, landscaped medians and parkways, rocky waterfalls, and decorative street lights. The site was soon the new home of Moothart Chrysler-Plymouth and Victory Pontiac-GMC. A few years later, a Saturn dealer was added to make twenty-two dealer franchises in the Cerritos Auto Square.

The Auto Square has been recognized as one of the largest, most attractive and most successful vehicle shopping places in the nation. More than $4 million in sales tax revenue is generated annually from this business center alone.

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Liberty Park Expands

January 7, 1989, 1600 citizens celebrated the opening of the Liberty Park Expansion. Two years of construction and $2.7 million had enlarged the park to thirty-four acres. Features included “Camp Liberty,” offering a much needed enclosed group picnic-area with barbecues, stage, and separate restroom facility - ideal for day camps, large group picnics, and overnight camping for organized city youth groups.

An amphitheater with grass seating for 300 would offer a site for summer concerts, performing groups, and youth sports awards programs. Athletes would enjoy a new field and jogging track, four more lighted tennis courts, two lighted basketball courts, a “Frisbee” golf course, and four indoor racquetball courts.

In a statewide awards program of the California Park and Recreation Society and ARCO, Liberty Park was given the Special Award of Excellence as the Best Community Park in the state for “outstanding and unique achievements in park and recreational facility design and development.”

1989 saw the completion of a number of projects. Automatic Data Processing (ADP) moved into its new regional headquarters of national accounts division and became the first occupants of Cerritos Towne Center. A seven-story office building was completed and work was underway on the Sheraton Hotel and Performing Arts Center. The seven buildings of Cerritos Corporate Center were completed on the last large parcel of the industrial park.

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1989 - Goodbye to the Last Dairy
The last dairy buildings were demolished in March. The mint-green structures still boasted a sign that read “John Barcelos - Producer of Challenge Fresher Milk,” although it had been closed for almost ten years. Thirty eight new homes replaced it at Shoemaker and South Street.

Group sports have always been popular with Cerritos residents, and there were never enough facilities for all the teams. The opening of the Cerritos Sports Complex, located on a 25-acre portion of Cerritos Regional County Park, would fill this need. more than 2700 area residents turned out for hot dogs and entertainment on opening day, February 3, 1990. They admired a $4.9 million facility designed to accommodate “all ages at all levels of play.” There were three softball fields, one combination baseball/softball field, one regulation baseball field, six fields for soccer or football, a sports office, and a concession stand with outdoor eating area. Amenities included state-of-the-art lighting, electric scoreboards and public announcement systems for each field, aluminum stadium seating, and a stage/presentation area.

In May, the baseball field was given the name John J. Ramsey Field in memory of a resident and businessman of Cerritos. Ramsey was the stadium voice for the Los Angeles Rams, USC Trojans, and six Super Bowls. He also announced professional baseball, basketball, football, and hockey in the Los Angeles area.

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Bad Bugs
Appearance of a female Mediterranean fruit fly on April 19, 1990 near Bloomfield Avenue and Alondra Blvd. added the city to the expansion of the 46-square mile Downey quarantine zone. It was feared that the pests would breed and endanger several California fruit crops. Release of sterile male flies or malathion spraying were considered the best defense. As yet there were insufficient numbers of the sterilized flies, so spraying over large areas caused residents to scramble to cover automobiles and other outside valuables.

It was unsettling to watch nightly formations of helicopters slowly flying back and forth, applying a thin spray of mixed insecticide and molasses. Citizens protested in fear of danger to health and property, but all previous attempts at eradication had failed and the state government order prevailed. In addition, residents were forbidden to transport home-grown fruit of any kind from the quarantine area, which eventually included most of southern Los Angeles and northern Orange counties.

Newly elected City Council members John Crawley and Sherman Kappe and re-elected Ann Joynt were sworn in at the Council's April 18 meeting. Mrs. Joynt was also sworn in as mayor for 1990-1991. Diana Needham and Barry Rabbitt had not sought re-election because of a court ruling on Proposition “H” term-limit provisions. Mrs. Needham had been on the Council for twelve years, and Mr. Rabbitt had served for twenty.

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Sheraton Hotel

At last the Sheraton Cerritos Hotel was open, and a grand reception in May treated six hundred community members to a tour with refreshments prepared by the hotel's chefs. The guests were impressed with the decor and amenities, which included twenty-one suites, ten conference rooms, a banquet room, and restaurant among the 203 rooms. The builder was Transpacific Development Company of Torrance.

While the completed office buildings of Towne Center were starkly simple with dark red granite facades, the hotel has light colored granite on the lower public floors. The upper stories present an expanse of dark blue glass. The round, ten-story central tower is flanked by two eight-story wings, sweeping at angles from each side. In front of the formal entrance is an unusual fountain. Water emerges from the center of a large zinnia-shaped structure, gushing upward and then flowing down and over the layered concrete petals to a lower basin.

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Get Cable TV
Work was underway on a unique telecommunications system. GTE of California and Apollo Cablevision, in a joint venture, worked to provide Cerritos with a cable-TV system, burying 170 miles of coaxial cable under the city. Cerritos codes require all utilities to be underground, so the city had waited several years before a willing company was available. An experimental fiber-optic network was installed in the northeast section of the community to test sophisticated video, voice, and data services, forerunners of systems that would be extended nationwide. Cerritos had been selected because of its “progressive orientation and desire to acquire the most advanced system possible.”

In May, the City Council recognized Paras Mehta, 16, for his selection as one of six high school students from California and 141 nationwide for the honor of Presidential Scholar. In June he traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive a medallion from President George Bush at a White House ceremony. Candidates had been chosen on the basis of academic achievement leadership, and community and school involvement or achievements in creative or performing arts. Mehta had a 4.0 grade average and would receive $33,000 in local, regional, and national awards when he graduated from Cerritos High School in June. In 1989, he was the national winner of the United Nations essay contest, and was able to participate in a U.N. goodwill tour of Egypt. He was the only student voting member of the California State Board of Education for the 1989-1990 school year. The next fall he began university studies at Harvard, joining his older brother Chetan, who had also attained many remarkable academic honors as a Cerritos High School student.

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1991 - Students Support Military
January of 1991 found Cerritos citizens tying yellow ribbons to almost every tree in town and hanging out American flags to support the troops, reserves, and national guardsmen who had sped to “Desert Shield” and “Desert Storm.” Military action in the Persian Gulf area forced Iraq to liberate Kuwait and prevent the takeover of Middle Eastern oil resources. School classes adopted local servicepeople and wrote letters and sent supplies - especially Skin-so-Soft lotion to combat bugs, and many cookies. The Cerritos personnel returned safely to neighborhood “welcome home” parties, honors at classroom visits where they met their pen-pals, and the biggest celebration of July Fourth ever. 25,000 attended the “Let Freedom Ring” festivities, enjoying a musical extravaganza and the only legal fireworks in Cerritos.

In March, City Manager Gaylord Knapp was replaced by former Assistant City Manager Art Gallucci. Knapp had managed the city for eighteen years. He had helped to draft the General Plan and oversaw the development of facilities and recruitment of businesses to make the city self-sufficient. The growth period was over, and the Council felt that a manager with a “reorganized set of priorities” would best serve the next phase of service and maintenance. Knapp moved on to manage the new city of Lake Forest in Orange County. Gallucci had been hired as a Recreation Superintendent in 1971, and headed the Human Affairs Department from 1973 to 1981, when he was named Assistant City Manager.

Seventy-five years of service were celebrated by the Artesia-Cerritos Woman's Club in June.

The fiscal 1991-1992 budget adopted by the City Council/ Redevelopment Agency was $86.4 million, with $38.4 million dedicated to capital improvements in the community.

Fifteen homes on Pine Creek Road were annexed from Norwalk. They already had Cerritos mailing addresses and other services.

The April 1992 municipal election brought Grace Hu to the City Council. She replaced Daniel Wong, who retired after fourteen years.

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City Wide Pride

The first “City Wide Pride” program had been announced in January by the Property Maintenance Appeals Board (soon to be renamed the Property Preservation Commission).

Back in the 1950's and 1960's, the city and chamber of commerce had sponsored “Paint Up, Fix Up” campaigns in order to inspire property owners to repair buildings and clear trash left over from agricultural days. “City Wide Pride” was to reward homeowners
who made an extra effort to keep their property maintained and to inspire residents to keep up the standards that made Cerritos an attractive city.

Home maintenance workshops were featured as part of the program, to inform homeowners about permit requirements, materials, and methods for home upkeep. Most of the houses in the community were fifteen to twenty-five years old, and owners were considering re-roofing, painting, and renovating landscapes. While builders were required to stay within the “earthtone” pallette of the 1970's - shades of brown and beige, mossy green and avocado, with cream as background - color fashions had changed to white, grey, and blue as houses were repainted. The intention was to keep neighborhoods free of Miami pink or psychedelic effects.

At the end of the campaign, there had been more than 350 structures nominated, and owners of eighty-one homes and ten businesses were honored at an April banquet at the Cerritos Sheraton Hotel. It was decided to keep “City Wide Pride” as an annual event. Meanwhile, the Property Preservation Commission would be on the watch for undrivable cars parked on blocks, fallen fences, dangerous shrubberies (for example, yucca overgrowing a sidewalk), and other maladies that lower a neighborhood's value.

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Hard Facts About the Economy

According to the World Almanac, the “Reagan Years,” 1981-1988, brought the “longest economic boom in U.S. history via budget and tax cuts, deregulations, `junk-bond' financing, leveraged buyouts, mergers, and takeovers.” A strong stand against communism led to increased defense spending, development of MX missile systems and “star wars” research, along with military action and intrigue on this hemisphere. No wonder the economy boomed in Southern California, site of numerous military bases and aviation and space research and manufacturing. Local real estate values soared. One local three-bedroom house that was bought for around $30,000 in 1969 resold for over $300,000 in 1985.

Toward the end of the era, we were celebrating the end of the long Cold War. However, the stock market crash of 1987, evidence of financial scandals, foreign trade imbalances, and the budget deficit of $3.2 trillion (1988) revealed the economy was very bad and getting worse.

The Bush presidency (1989-1992) was left with the chore of juggling savings-and-loan fraud investigations, improving foreign trade, and downsizing the military establishment, while at the same time mounting assaults in Panama and Iraq. The largest business companies in the country were taking each other over or “downsizing” by laying off thousands of workers - middle managers, engineers, bank tellers, office clerks, and skilled assembly workers. Manufacturing and assembly jobs were moved outside the country. Computer systems and mechanization replaced much of the labor force, and unemployment was rising. This pattern continued through the Clinton presidency, while attempts to cut the federal budget and reduce the national debt were mired in political wrangling.

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Local Effects
The effects on California were severe. Unemployment rates were high as government contracts were cancelled. Locally, the Long Beach Naval Shipyard and the Navy Hospital were ordered closed, and McDonnell Douglas Aviation and Hughes Electronics downsized. Thousands of workers lost their jobs and many lived or shopped in Cerritos. Often, it seemed that every résumé book in the library was checked out.

The state and counties attempted to cut budgets by laying off personnel and cutting programs and services. Large and small businesses protested high taxes, stringent environmental regulations, and high salaries and living expenses by moving away - the populations of Tucson, Phoenix, and Denver boomed. Those lucky enough to be offered retirement flocked to Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada. California was also feeling the effects of the 1978 Proposition 13 that had frozen home property taxes. Governor Pete Wilson ordered funds withheld from counties, cities, and school districts.

Cerritos Public Library was lucky that the city was solvent - the book budget was cut a bit and hiring was slowed. Students, readers, and researchers came from miles around as their city or county libraries were closed or were operating with greatly reduced hours. Standing-room-only on weekends and evenings was normal. Non-resident fees for library cards were raised to cover extra costs.

Cerritos lost $2.8 million from its redevelopment funds. The city re-prioritized capital improvement projects and decided to delay some until 1993. City Manager Art Gallucci was quoted in a Press-Telegram end-of-y ear summary: “It's a matter of readjusting your priorities to have a good, healthy, safe community.” The alternative was a utility users tax. Due to the recession, 1992 sales taxes had fallen to $13.4 million, down from $16.4 million in 1990.

Nearby communities were struggling with the recession and from stagnation. It was Bellflower that suggested that cities should share the wealth. In the Press-Telegram, August 20, 1991, Bellflower Mayor Bill Pendleton proposed a “regional or per-capita distribution of sales-tax revenue which would benefit commercially underdeveloped communities, such as Bellflower.” This was soon followed by Cerritos Councilman John P. Crawley, a financial analyst by occupation, who asked why cities who have “done all the work to create a solid revenue source be forced to share their income?…Do the commercially underdeveloped communities that want to share in the revenue…also want to share in the expense of paying interest and principle on our redevelopment bonds?…or the expense of maintaining business-related infrastructures?… [They] would be better served by spending more time trying to create a healthy business climate within their own city limits…” Bellflower's high point was evidently in the 1950's, and as Norwalk, Lakewood, and later Cerritos malls were built in the 1960's and 1970's, major stores were relocated, others closed and shoppers drifted away. Residents voted down the idea of filling the treasury by opening card clubs, and finally decided to redevelop the area where Artesia and Bellflower Blvd. meet, still in process in 1996.

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Shop in Cerritos

People from a wide area of the Southland preferred to do their shopping in Cerritos. Fedco was one of the first businesses to build in the city and attracted many civil service members. When the Los Cerritos Center was opened across the street, it was immediately popular. In 1987, it began an extensive renovation and added an attractive food court. Complementary stores were on South Street, Gridley, and 183rd.

Fortunately, funds had already been set aside, so projects that were underway were headed toward completion. Jacob Park was expanded and improvements completed at Heritage Park and at the swim center.

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Towne Center
Work on the overpass that would join both ends of Shoemaker Avenue and link new on- and off-ramps to the 91 freeway continued. This was to be the grand entrance to Towne Center, so a gracious sweep of paving, landscaping, and another setting of waterfall over faux boulders were an announcement that the visitor, shopper, theatergoer had arrived!

Those ubiquitous waterfalls were to be found through the landscaping on Bloomfield and 183rd, linked by streams of recycled water, and at the entrance to the Auto Square. Looking very natural, they are constructed of cement over a steel framework.

Cerritos' soil is alluvial river bottom - there isn't a natural pebble to be found in the area.

Vestar Development Company of Scottsdale, Arizona had been chosen to develop the forty-acre parcel near the freeway. The original plan was to have been the creation of an up-scale mall on the order of Newport's Fashion Island, with stores like Neiman Marcus and Sak's. Marketing studies revealed that the recession was causing up-scale markets to withdraw, not expand, and the site might compete with our own Los Cerritos Center. Even there, Orbach's had been replaced by Mervyn's, Robinson was now Robinson-May, and by 1995, The Broadway had been gobbled by Macy's, its fate uncertain.

It was decided that the anchor stores for the new center should be an enormous Smith's Food King and Wal-mart, the most successful retailer in the United States. Ours would be one of the first Wal-marts to open in the Los Angeles area. “Discount” businesses had been enormously popular in Cerritos. Already Fedco, Gemco (later Target), Best, Sportmart, and Home Depot had patronage from a large area. The new “outdoor mall” would also have discount clothing stores, a book store, numerous eating places, specialty shops, and a ten-screen Edwards Cinema movie theater.

Most of the stores were open by September 1994 and Towne Center Mall met all expectations. Projected revenues to the city were $3.5 annually, and about 920 new jobs were created (150 new jobs were created through construction alone.) Several single stores were built near Bloomfield Avenue, and by November it was decided to construct an additional 77,394 square feet of retail space to house a Home Express housewares store and Best Buy appliance and electronics center.

The grand opening included live entertainment and laser light shows, and the response among area shoppers was tremendous. This popularity was to continue with the parking lots full.

The appearance of Towne Center Mall might be called “Fantastic moderne.” The theme materials of granite, limestone, and ceramic tile blend with pastel shades of stucco. The shapes of the buildings are angular and irregular - no nostalgia here. Colorful beds of flowers brighten the bases of 130 tall palm trees, perhaps in memory of the palms that were removed from Pioneer Boulevard so long ago.

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Catch the COW

In 1992, the City Council began a study of an inter-city transportation system, Dial-a-Ride vans were already available to provide transport for the disabled and elderly, particularly to clinics and hospitals. The Los Angeles and Orange County buses went through the community and stopped at Cerritos Mall, but didn't fill the local need.

It was decided to begin a service to start in August of 1993 that would consist of eighteen-passenger vans on seventeen-mile reverse routes that would stop at the major parks, shopping centers, Cerritos College, and all the high schools, beginning and ending at the Civic Center.

The ride would cost only 25¢, and hours would be from 7 AM to 9 PM, seven days a week. In 1995, a shuttle route was added between Towne Center and Los Cerritos Center.

A contest was held to provide a name, and four winners came up with “Cerritos on Wheels,” or familiarly, COW. How appropriate! For a long time there had been little reference to Cerritos' former identity as Dairy Valley. The COW buses were even painted white with an irregular black patch similar to the coloring of the Holsteins that once occupied the community's pastures.

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ABC Agony
While the city was coping with budget restraints during the recession, the ABC Unified School District was, like most California school districts, in serious trouble. The state and federal governments had cut many grants but still required mandated programs. The annual daily attendance counts on which the state bases student funds were falling as families moved away or registered children into parochial and private schools. Supply and equipment costs were rising. Salaries had been frozen, but benefits had risen. Superintendent Larry Lucus projected that the district needed to cut $5.75 million from the budget by 1992.

The teachers' and school employees' unions were dissatisfied when nurses, librarians, aides, and many clerks jobs were eliminated, and voted “no confidence” in a May 1991 election. They were irate when administrators were given a 7.1% raise, and a state arbitrator was requested. Then, school-board member Dean Cries died of illness in April 1992, and controversy over his replacement had the district in turmoil. Militant teachers staged sick-outs and marched in well-publicized protest, until a special election put union-supported candidate David Montgomery in the vacant post. A shortfall in state grant revenues cost ABC $2-million more in 1993, and after compromise and a pay freeze, the teachers' contract was approved. District teachers and employees conducted the first strike in local school history in October and got the attention of press and broadcast television. The strategy worked, and Montgomery and two more union-backed members were elected.

Superintendent Lucas was asked to resign in February 1994. Los Angeles County schools rejected the ABC fiscal report and appointed a fiscal advisor. Ira Tobin and Robert Purvis acted as interim superintendents until Thomas Riley was selected for the position and twelve months of county oversight was lifted.

The district looked for a source for other funds and discussed leasing some school facilities or the administrative headquarters for business offices, but at the time there was an over abundance of offices in the area. Finally it was decided to enter a joint venture with Warmington Homes to build sixty-one deluxe homes on an open field next to Whitney High School.

It seemed to be a risky proposition. When the sixteen houses of Cerritos Terrace at the corner of Shoemaker Avenue and Artesia Boulevard were offered at auction in October 1992, the bids were set to start at $189,000, half of the original price. However, when a lottery was held in March 1996 for the Warmington homes at Shoemaker Avenue and 166th Street, 150 pre-approved buyers were anxious to compete for the $357,900 to $397,900 houses.

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ABC at It's Best
Despite all the politics and turmoil, ABC district was praised for excellence - CAP and SAT scores were among the highest in the state, an outstanding bilingual program was available (and needed - Faye Ross Jr. High counted eighteen languages among its students), extra-curricular programs provided Model United Nations, bands, choirs and athletic sports, ranging from the usual football, baseball, and basketball, to water polo, volleyball, and soccer.

Especially, ABC had Whitney High School - both our pride and bone of contention. Whitney originally had been built to be an ultra-flexible facility, to be used as an elementary or secondary school as needed. Eventually it was designated as a kind of “academy” where junior and senior high schools would be selected through test scores, grades, and teacher recommendations. While Artesia, Gahr, and Cerritos High Schools also offered college preparatory classes and advanced placement allowed students to begin earning college credits, Whitney boasted that all of its students were college prep - and proved it with high CAP and SAT scores, academic decathlons, and prestigious college placements. Critics were concerned with the democratic correctness of an academy in a public school system, whether or not it skimmed the best students from other district schools, and the ethnic makeup of the student body - 66% of the children chosen were Asian.

Whitney attracted Asian families to Cerritos as they read national surveys and press articles praising the school. Parents who considered a fine education to be the first step toward success often bought homes in the vicinity in hope that proximity would help their children pass the qualifying tests.

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Ethnic Diversity
When Dairy Valley was founded, the population was predominately White, with some Latinos and very few Asians and African-Americans. As the great building surge of the 1960s and 1970s brought more population, the mix of ethnicities became more varied. In fact, a study by California State University at Northridge concluded “the distinction of being the most ethnically diverse place in America belongs to the rapidly growing, relatively high-income suburban southern California City of Cerritos.” Eighty-four different national and ethnic groups are represented in the community. The 1980 census broke down the Cerritos population of 53,020 as follows: White 55%, Asian 21%, African-American 7%, and Latino 13%. After a decade that included the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 , the 1990 population was 53,240, with White 36%, Asian 44%, African-American 7%, and Latino 13%. An article in the Press-Telegram Sept. 18, 1992 about diversity of area Asians, states that Cerritos Asian community consists primarily of Korean-, Filipino-, and Chinese-Americans with an average household income of $68,617. 88% own their own homes. 52% over age 25 have college degrees, contrasting with 25% of Whites in Cerritos, 27% of Whites in Long Beach, and 25% of Asians in Long Beach. In celebration and appreciation of this diversity, in 1994 the city began the Cerritos Cultural Festival to be an annual cultural showcase of arts, crafts, dancing, entertainment and foods. Participants included Filipino, African-American, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Polynesian and East Indians.

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Senior Center

Another group of citizens who had finally gained recognition were the Seniors. Except for the “Gad-A-bouts” social club, which had been around for several years, the Dial-A-Ride vans, and a food program at St. John's Lutheran Church, their existence had first been denied and then benignly ignored. Pat Nixon Park was the most attractive site and centrally located. Wolff, Lang, Christopher Architects Inc. was chosen to design the facility which was dedicated January 29, 1994.

The Senior Citizen Center building is very different from most of the city's ultra-modern civic style. River rock and wood framework of a Craftsman style popular around 1910 set an inviting and comfortable mood. A park for outdoor activities surrounds the building and includes a patio with barbecue area, pond, and grass activity area. Near it is a planter filled with rosebushes. Once it was the foundation of the house where First Lady Pat Nixon spent her girlhood. Inside the 22,500 square-foot building are two lounges, rooms for classes, arts and crafts, billiards, and music listening/ television viewing. There are display areas for art and special exhibits. The large multipurpose room includes a stage area and catering kitchen and is the location of the senior food program, serving lunches during the week.

Services provided at the Cerritos Senior Center range from health screening, exercise classes, tax and legal assistance, medicare workshops and art classes to dances, travel tours, and receptions.

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Sheriff's Station

The City, the ABC School District, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department have long worked together in planning and facilitating measures to insure the peace and safety of the community. Part of one of the world's largest urban areas, we have inherited urban problems, including crime. While we have been pleased with response and service from Lakewood Station, a satellite station at the Civic Center will provide a stronger local presence. Work on the station began early in 1996 and should be completed in 1997.

The $9-million facility will occupy the former staff parking and loading dock area just west of City Hall The ground floor will contain administrative offices for the Sheriff's staff and the city Community Safety Division, a meeting room, public entrance, and lobby. The floor below wil1 house police operations, including holding cells and booking and custody areas, plus secured parking for police vehicles and officers' personal cars. The lowest floor will be a subterranean parking lot for city staff.

The City is offering rewards t o residents reporting vandalism, grafitti by gang members or taggers, and information related to violent crime and illegal firearm discharge. A Volunteers on Patrol program of uniformed adults has been active since 1994, aiding the Sheriff department as civilians.

After-school programs and team sports have helped keep young people out of trouble. Enlarging the Cerritos High School gym, a combined effort of the City and ABC District has provided another facility. In 1994, an official Cerritos Community Youth Group was organized. Most recently, in 1996, the PIC (Private Industry Council of Southwest Los Angeles County) is organizing a Community Youth corps, a work-and-education program to help distressed teens.

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Earthquakes & Events - 1994
The 6.8 earthquake that struck the San Fernando Valley on January 17, 1994 affected a large area of Southern California. Residents of Cerritos were rudely jolted and shaken awake and most found a few fallen pictures and curios, but there was no serious damage nor injuries. We appreciated our blessings even more when daylight came and we saw televised scenes of devastation - collapsed hospitals and freeways, fires, and thousands of families newly homeless.

Bruce Barrows was the newest face on the City Council in April 1994. Ann Joynt retired after her two terms.

In August 1994, it was exciting to watch Marcelo Balboa play on the U.S. soccer team for the World Cup. The venues were in several cities across the country, including the Rose Bowl, and had local sports coverage. His spectacular “bicycle kick” did not make the winning score, but inspired a generation of young players. Marcelo grew up here, and played soccer at Cerritos High School, Cerritos College and UCLA before turning professional.

Two Artesia High school alumni made headlines in basketball. Brothers Ed and Charles O'Bannon actually lived in Lakewood but thrilled fans here in CIF tournaments and then took their talents to UCLA. Ed recently graduated and is playing professionally.

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Water and Waste: Recycle
Conservation presented several challenges during the early 1990's. The Reclaimed Water Distribution System made it possible to keep the parks and public area landscaping green. However, every year the homeowners had to be reminded that they and the City faced fines if families were careless with the Metropolitan Water District allotment, which supplements our local wells. There just will never be enough water to go around in this semi-desert region with its enormous population.

The Green Waste recycling experiment was a dud. Homeowners were expected to dispose of grass clippings in a separate container, marked with a green ribbon. A separate trash pickup would collect and transport the leaves for composting. There was very little response. The City did better with the Christmas tree composting project. In many neighbor cities, homeowners were expected to sort recyclables and have them ready in designated bins for pickup. The City looked for alternatives because the California Waste Reduction Act of 1989 requires all cities to reduce waste that would go to landfills by 25% by 1995 and by 50% by the year 2000.

Families were encouraged to sort their own recyclables and take them to buy-back centers. The value of glass, plastic, scrap metal, and newspaper had risen as technologists developed uses for them. Who would have dreamed that sweaters and carpets could be made from discarded plastic pop bottles?

The 1995 contract with CalMet Services, Inc. of Downey provided the usual trash pickup service, but the trash would be taken to a MRF (pronounced “murph,” it means Materials Recovery Facility) where workers would do all the sorting and retrieving. The fee for residential collection increased from $8.67 to $10.60 per month, but is still the lowest in southeast Los Angeles County as the City shares in the profits from the recycled materials when they are sold.

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Programs and Services
Cerritos has programs and services to suit everyone. The library collection grew as of 1996 to 144,000 books, videos, and audio tapes. There are 38,416 resident and 10,133 non-resident cardholders. The library has always been popular for its attractive and comfortable atmosphere and convenient hours. Computer stations provide index programs for books and periodicals, business statistics, and other information including a replacement for the old collection of telephone books. On the introductory Internet, local users can “surf” for information from all over the world and get the latest facts instantly.

The Summer Reading Program for children is always filled to capacity, as well as the children's entertainment programs, story hours and teen/children read-along program.

Leisure Services, now called the Department of Community and Cultural Services, produces four enormous listings a year of activities for adults, youths, and children, from arts and crafts to team sports, ballroom dancing, whale-watching tours, and swimming lessons. Athletes can participate in the Summer Games. The Fishing Derby, “Let Freedom Ring,” Halloween Haunted House, and Santa Claus have become seasonal traditions.

Outdoor band concerts and theatrical performances at Heritage and Liberty parks were popular. These programs would be continued and helped build an appreciative audience for the jewel of the community - the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

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CCPA And It's Ours
An 8.8 acre site for a live performance theater had been set aside in the original Transpacific Development Company plans for Towne Center. In 1984, the question before the City Council was whether to build a large theater and compete with the Long Beach Terrace, the Orange County Center, or the Los Angeles Music Center, a11 of which were backed with private funds, or to build a modest recital hall and community center. Debate raged politely for several weeks. Mayor Don Knabe and Barry Rabbitt preferred a community center. Diana Needham liked then City Manager Gaylord Knapp's concept of a “festival hall” of 1800 seats that could accommodate graduations, community music groups, and top-name entertainers. Ann Joynt had campaigned against the “scope and appropriateness of the whole $225 million Towne Center project for a city the size of Cerritos.” She was seconded by the fifth councilman, Daniel Wong, who opposed the “festival hall” plan, unless the seating were flexible. All the Council feared having an audience of three hundred people rattle around in an enormous white elephant. However, once the decision to proceed was made, all members of the City Council supported the project and contributed to its success.

Kurt Swanson, the city's Director of Human Affairs, was named Project Director for building the new performing arts center, with responsibility for managing all the various groups and operations needed for completing the project. He remained Project Director through its completion in 1993. Theatre Projects Consultants of London, first hired by the city in 1983, was the source of information about the Derngate Theatre in Northampton, England, where blocks of seats were on air casters and could be re-arranged or even removed. Seating capacity ranged from 650 to approximately 1,200. Nothing like it existed in the United States.

Barton Myers Associates of Los Angeles was selected to design the center. Theatre Projects Consultants was responsible for designing the working mechanism of the theatre. By 1987, the plans included a meeting room for receptions, and a 5100 square-foot conference center that could be divided into six separate rooms for banquets and community events and sectioned off for a 200 seat theater with its own sound and lighting systems. The scope of the project increased and the cost had more than doubled the $17 million that had been budgeted. Phill Lipman was chosen in 1988 to be the center manager. His responsibility was to “develop Cerritos' programming and mold its identity,” according to the Times, May 8, 1988. City officials had requested a venue that would have a broad appeal to local residents.

A complimentary report in the Architectural Record, May 1989, described the exterior of the building as resembling a cluster of small buildings rather than a 154,000 square-foot megastructure. Instead of a flat-topped stage house, four pyramid-shaped caps break the roof line, and four similar caps are sited on the lower meeting hall. Tall, glass elevator towers, again with pyramidal tops, flank the entry portals and are surmounted with thin spires from which colorful pennants would fly.

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Nothing We've Seen Before
We all wondered as the framework was erected, with all the points and projections. Eventually, the façade of pink limestone and rose granite panels was in place, the glass walls of the lobby were installed, and all those pyramids were roofed with colorful ceramic tiles. Tile patterns accented the side walls, created a large logo above the lobby entrance, and framed the top edges of the large stage house. The price had reached $40 million plus by June 1990, but we were beginning to see where the money was being spent - we were getting a cultural icon, imaginative, and completely unlike anything we'd seen before.

In June 1991, a formal “topping out” ceremony was held as the uppermost structure was lifted to its position by crane. As part of the builders' tradition, an evergreen tree and American flag were also hoisted aloft, as well as a ceiling panel, autographed by those attending the ceremony and destined to be a permanent part of the building.

Victor Gotesman, formerly director of the Fine Arts Center Series at the University of Massachusetts, replaced Lipman as manager, who retired. It was hoped that performances could be scheduled for 1992, but rain on the unsealed building created water damage and forced a slowdown. It was January of 1993 before the building was open for public use, although some programs had been performed before invited audiences to “tune the acoustics.”

January 9, Mayor Sherman Kappe welcomed visitors to a ribbon-cutting ceremony and unveiling of a dedication plaque that listed alphabetically all the council members who had been involved in the project. The two-day openhouse featured guided tours of the new Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. It was amazing to see an unending queue of astounded people, four and six across, shuffle through the meeting rooms, the lobby, up the curving staircase, and across the seating area of the theater itself.

All were impressed with the gracious lobby. One entrance leads from a large plaza on the Bloomfield Avenue side, the other from the Sheraton hotel. An enormous caste concrete spiral staircase leads to the upper galleries, from which theater-goers can look down upon the lobby area. The side walls are glass, and fifty-five feet high, surmounted by a skylight. The colors repeat the colors of the exterior tiles, set off by copper, brass, and sparkling etched-glass accents.

The theater itself has garnered the most attention. The only permanent seats are rows in the back loges. Other seating can be arranged on the flat floor in five different configurations, depending on the event, but it is the sight of the ten forty-six-foot-high seating towers that can be moved on cushions of air that cause the most amazement.

Architect Jonathan B. Hankin, associate in charge of the project for Barton Myers Associates, said in the Press Telegram, “They wanted a landmark building. Something that would become part of the architectural tour of Southern California. That's why they came to us.” Ove Arup and Partners were responsible for the engineering work on the building, and Larry Kirkegaard insured the quality of the acoustics.

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A Landmark Season
Now it was up to Victor Gotesman to come up with a landmark season. $4 million was set aside from the city budget to attract performers, plus another $784,000 for staff. Gotesman outdid himself. Frank Sinatra, perhaps the most highly regarded popular singer in the world, was the headliner for the opening and the next four nights. A celebrity gala cheered the crowd of very important persons and members of a newly formed organization - the Friends of the Center of Performing Arts. Like the Friends of the Library, they would be a permanent booster group and support Center activities.

The rest of the first season and the last three seasons prove that the surveys of residents and visitors have been heeded. The programs have great variety - favorite singers (Ray Charles, Kenny Rogers), orchestras (Henri Mancini), dance groups that range from ethnic troups to full ballet companies to duets (Twila Tharpe with Mikhail Baryshnikov), and classical soloists (Isaac Stern, Yo-yo Ma, Leontyne Price). Even novelties and comics (George Burns!). The list is amazing. Long ago the Council realized that it would take several seasons to build up an audience to make the Center self-supporting, so a $2 million subsidy or pump-priming fund is budgeted to augment the annual $3 million from ticket sales and pay operating costs and performers.

Thus far, the most celebrated audience member has been HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, attending a performance of Henry VI by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in November of 1994.

In no time, CCPA collected four prestigious awards for design and was named one of the top grossing theaters in its category in the United States. The U.S. Institute of Theatre Technology stated that the facility is “the most sophisticated project we've seen in terms of architecture, technology, and urban design.”

Sophisticated? Using Webster's definition, that applies to the city, too. We are indeed “complex, refined, and developed.” Cerritos has gone through many changes - we even have our own zip code, 90703.

The 1996 assessed valuation is now $3.8 billion; population is
53,240. There's not a trace of the little farm town that was known as Dairy Valley.

In April 1996, the city will celebrate its fortieth birthday with a parade and grand celebration. It would be appropriate if a float or marching group could depict the San Gabrielinos who foraged here, or Nieto's cowboys rounding up the thousands of cattle hiding in the tall mustard. Someone could dress-up like the hard-working frontier farmers of old Artesia, or wear a cow costume in honor of the Holsteins that supplied a million dollar dairy industry.

Only in our imaginations can we form a notion of the little hills that never were - “Cerritos.”

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