Commentary

A view of La Habra Heights: La Habra Heights or where the sidewalk ends

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of high density development lays a small town in Los Angeles County. It may be hard to find but it is easy to spot. There are no sidewalks, gutters or curbs. The zoning is one acre or more per single family home.

Time slows down and you can hear the sounds of the country, birds singing in the daytime and coyotes singing at night. You can imagine that you have traveled back in time to the days of Andy Griffith and the town of Mayberry. When you are walking or driving the winding country roads people you don’t know wave to you acknowledging the friendship that the residents feel for one another and their town.

This feeling resulting from the sights and sounds is not an accident. The founding fathers and mothers of La Habra Heights recognized that they lived in a special place and in 1978 they incorporated the City of La Habra Heights to preserve their values and vision.

Our first Mayor Jean Good Lietzau is still active in the community. That vision is evident today as you travel around the city. You will not see high density housing, restaurants and business establishments. I often joke that if I want to buy someone a cup of coffee, I would need to go to a ubiquitous Starbucks in La Habra as there are no commercial establishments in the Heights.

The city has a night skies ordinance prohibiting bright light after 10 p.m. Consequently the stars are out and very visible at night. One of the few concessions to modernization is the two stoplights in the city on Hacienda Road.

The Park has a name but most people don’t know it because it is the only park in La Habra Heights. When we say, “I’ll meet you at the park” there is no ambiguity. The Park is the heart of the city and is the location of most city events.

The Park and Recreation Committee members Karen Vipperman, Faith Grimm, Sandy Dykier, Yvonne Strain and Carolyn DiMario put on the Avocado Festival, car shows, Market Days, Gazebo Lighting Snow day at Christmas and many more.
La Habra Heights is the home of the Hass avocado and that fact is commemorated with a monument at the Rudolph Hass home on West Street. Phil and Krystal Emery of the Pet Prescription team created the Dog Days of Summer, a well attended event featuring dogs of course. Highland Riders have many Horse shows at the riding arena.

The La Habra Heights Improvement Association, a community service organization that was formed many years before the city was incorporated, provides summer entertainment with Music at the Park on Wednesday nights, the Halloween Haunt, Easter Egg hunt and donations to the city including doggie bags at the park, the sign at the park and furniture for the new fire dorms to name a few. I would like to recognize Claire and Paul Spothelfer’s many contributions to the community.

The Heights is the home of Hacienda Golf Club. The course was constructed in the 1920’s, considered the golden age of golf. It is called the “jewel of the canyon”. The course has a rich history. The first course record was held by Gene Sarazen with a score of 70 in 1923. The current course record is held by Tiger Woods with a score of 62 during the 1994 Southern California Golf Association Championship that he won. Both of these players went on to win the US Open, British Open and the Masters tournaments, considered the Grand Slam of golf accomplished by only five players in the history of golf.
By Howard Vipperman
La Habra Heights City Council

La Habra Heights is a general law city like most of the surrounding cities. We elect our 5 Councilmen every two years rotating three and two for a four year term. The mayor is elected by the city council to a one year term. The size of the city does not reduce the requirements on the city government.

We are able to manage the city with a very small staff. Our fire department has a couple paid positions but for the most part our fire fighters are volunteers. Police service is provided by the Los Angeles Sheriff. The city has experienced declining revenue as most other costs are going up. This revenue decline has placed a lot of pressure on the council as they adopt a budget that meets the community’s needs. I hope that property values rise and additional revenue will allow the council to address some infrastructure needs.

I believe that the greatest threat to La Habra Heights is the RHNA requirements. The Regional Housing Needs Allocation requires communities to have planned zoning for a mix of housing use. This requirement imposes on La Habra Heights a zoning requirement for low cost housing. The result is that the City must zone for high density housing which is the exact reason the city incorporated to prevent. I think this legislation as well as many more laws are ill conceived and onerous to the city and its residents. I asked Assemblyman Curt Hagman to introduce a bill to exempt the city from this requirement.

I flew to Sacramento to go before the Assembly to argue for the city. Unfortunately, the bill failed.

I have served on the City Council for almost six years and was mayor in 2009. I love this city and its residents. It has been my honor. Thank you.

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Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.