By Lauren Davis
La Habra Journal
For 75 years now, the La Habra Heights Improvement Association has been a community organization dedicated to the residents of La Habra Heights.
The LHHIA is a group of volunteers interested in creating a community atmosphere in La Habra Heights by sponsoring events that bring residents together, said Pam McVicar, secretary of the LHHIA.
According to the LHHIA website, the association began in 1938 after five La Habra Heights residents came together to reorganize the association. Originally, the association worked towards agricultural betterment, improved roads and roadside planting of different shrubs.
However, when La Habra Heights became a city in 1978, the group became involved in zoning, land division requirements, roads, safety matters and fire protection.
McVicar added that around the same time, the association also pulled away from any political involvement, and instead focused on serving the community by sponsoring community events and publication of the Heights Life, the LHHIA magazine. The Heights Life magazine is a monthly magazine that is published 11 months out of the year and is given to each household.
In 2010, the association became a non-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization that approximately half of the households in La Habra Heights are members of.
“The association has nothing to do with planning or permitting,” McVicar said. “It (the association) is completely separate from the city.”
McVicar said that annual dues to the association are voluntary, and start from $35 a year to $500 a year.
“We send out a dues notice to the city every year, and roughly half of the community pays dues,” McVicar said.
She explained that community members usually pay dues because they enjoy what the association is doing for the community.
Funding for the association’s many annual events come from community dues, donations, sponsorships and advertising in the Heights Life magazine.
Some events include Concerts in the Park that take place during the summer, Easter egg hunts, Halloween Haunt at the park on Halloween and other miscellaneous events like barn dances and movie nights in the park.
Dues have also gone towards projects like re-roofing the gazebo in the park and planting of trees in the park.
The Concert in the Park, one of the largest events during the summer, began 25 years ago by a couple named Claire and Paul Spothelfer.
Claire Spothelfer explained that when they lived in Downey, they enjoyed the concerts in the park very much, and when they moved to La Habra Heights, they felt it was wise to begin their own.
“When we moved here, we noticed that they had a beautiful park, but hardly anyone used the park,” Spothelfer said.
She explained that in 1988, she and her husband began planning and brought the idea to city council members.
“They said we needed a venue for the concerts, and my husband is a building contractor, so we proposed building a gazebo in the park,” said Spothelfer.
She added that her husband, along with community volunteers, helped build the gazebo that is still there today.
“We started out just having a…few hundred people attend,” she said. “Now it has grown to thousands that attend.”
For more information, please visit: www.lhhia.org