_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK



Cerritos Mayor Mark E. Pulido

March 25, 2019

By Cerritos Mayor Mark E. Pulido

As the City of Cerritos prepares to celebrate its 63rd Anniversary in April, it is only fitting that we celebrate the City’s past as well as its future. An integral part of this past is the history of Dairy Valley.

The agricultural area that would become Dairy Valley, and later Cerritos, began experiencing a building boom in the 1940s. World War II had made Southern California an important industrial center, with thousands of workers moving to the area for jobs in the local factories, shipyards and plants that supplied products for the military. After the war, many of the local workers stayed, and thousands of returning veterans joined them on the assembly lines. 

To accommodate this growing workforce, developers sped up production of dozens of tracts of homes in Long Beach, Artesia and Norwalk. More than 10,000 homes were built in the first two years alone. Priced at $7,000, the homes were quickly purchased by buyers who often took advantage of G.I. loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Authority.  

As Lakewood grew to the west, Norwalk settled in to the north and Buena Park burgeoned to the east, Dairy Valley’s farmers could see their area’s rural roots start to wither. As local cities began to evolve from fields to suburbs, many took action to “incorporate,” to meet the state’s legal requirements for an independent city government.  

When Lakewood’s population exploded in the 1950s, this “instant city” became home to 77,000 people. Instead of annexing with Long Beach, Lakewood made arrangements to contract with Los Angeles County for many of its services, and eventually incorporated in 1954. 

Other cities took notice, and the state legislature assisted by passing the Bradley-Burns Act in 1956, which provided a one percent sales tax revenue for cities. With this financial help, 47 new cities were incorporated in the Los Angeles-Orange County area from 1954 to 1974.

One of these cities was Artesia. By August 1951, Los Angeles County Ordinance 5800 had established the “Artesia Zoned District” south of Alondra Boulevard and between the San Gabriel River and Coyote Creek. With help from Lakewood attorney Angelo Iacoboni, who had spearheaded his city’s incorporation drive, the Artesia Chamber of Commerce embarked on a campaign in 1955 to incorporate the Artesia Zoned District and create one of the largest and wealthiest cities in Los Angeles County. The chamber set up an informal meeting to discuss the idea, inviting local dairymen Jim Albers, Frank Leal, Leslie Nottingham and Albert Veldhuizen. 

At this meeting, boundary papers and petitions were presented calling for development that would not include poultry ranches or feed lots for cattle. Housing developments, the papers stated, would be sandwiched between the dairies. It quickly became apparent to the dairymen that not only would the feed-lot ban place a burden on their dairy operations, but new homeowners would most likely object to the dairies’ odor and flies. The plan made vulnerable the dairymen’s way of life.

The next day, the dairymen met with fellow Farm Bureau members at the Central Milk Producers Association offices on Pioneer Boulevard. Several pledged money to pay for an attorney, and paperwork was drawn up that would set the stage for incorporation of a separate, agriculturally based community, carved from the Artesia Zoned District, that would be named Dairy Valley. 

Dairy Valley’s early leaders were astute entrepreneurs and successful businessmen. They were savvy in management and knew that if the area was correctly developed, it could only enhance their investments.

Veldhuizen, a Minnesota native who lived with his wife and four sons on a Studebaker Road dairy, was elected chairman of the Dairy Valley committee. Other active members and future City Council candidates included John Schoneveld from Iowa; Albers and Louis Struikman, both born in Holland; Jack R. Bettencourt, originally from Massachusetts; and A.C. Pinhiero and Francisco C. De Mello, natives of the Azores. Representing the poultry farmers were George Sperou and Hal Rees.

Dairy Valley’s incorporation was brought before voters in 1956. Nine dairymen joined the slate of candidates for Dairy Valley’s first City Council, but they took the unheard of step of campaigning as a bloc, taking out a full-page ad in the “Artesia News” to show their commitment to a common vision. Promoting their idea for a new agricultural city, the dairymen promised to encourage commercial development, clean industry and one house per five acres. As in Lakewood, the county would be contracted to provide services. 

The men first sketched out a city that would include Artesia, Hawaiian Gardens and a strip known as Monterey Acres, now part of Lakewood. But by election time, city boundaries had been scaled back. In a move that ensured that the new homes would be filled with voters friendly to the dairymen’s cause, the dairymen arranged to buy up a new housing tract known as Artesia Crest to move in their milkers.

The election was held on April 10, 1956. Although the results were close, 441 to 391, the dairymen prevailed. The Secretary of State approved the Articles of Incorporation and Dairy Valley officially became a city at exactly 9:16 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24, 1956. Resembling a horse-shoe encircling Artesia, the new City of Dairy Valley was home to 3,500 people, 32,000 cows, 83,000 chickens, 9,600 turkeys and 105 acres of row crops, including fields of strawberries and sugar beets as far as the eye could see. Dairy Valley’s name was officially changed to Cerritos on January 10, 1967, and the rest is history. 

Please join us in celebrating the City’s 63rd anniversary at the Community Spring Festival & Fireworks Spectacular to be held Friday, April 26 through Sunday, April 28. There will be entertainment, food, rides and more for the entire family to enjoy. I hope to see you there!  

  • Jas says:

    Mayor Mark Pulido Historical Story.

    Great Story, very educational, hope this is passed on to ABCUSD, city has rich roots. Cerritos was one of three Dairy Valley Cites.

    La Palma was incorporated on October 26, 1955. It was originally incorporated as Dairyland, and was one of three dairy cities in the region (the other two being Dairy Valley in Cerritos and Dairy City in Cypress) but when the dairies moved east in 1965, the name of the community was changed to La Palma.

    Hawaiian Garden use to be crop city and was old public dump for nearby Long Beach, etc. Said city is the smallest city in LA County.

    Rossmoor was being developed during the same era as the above citys: Rossmoor Estates and Rossmoor Highland. Many Long Beach and Downey Jewish business owners worked to make Rossmoor, since it is an non incorporated area.
    East Lakewood, adj to southern side of Cerritos, many property owners from Compton, South Gate, HolyDales, escaped the decaying hoods, to start up in E.LW.

    ………Mark, Lot of the local residents are burned out from the Cerritos Annual Spring Festival. Same old agenda, nothing new added. Festival is not keeping up with changes and has not drew anything new. Like to see some large car shows, RV camping and some new, besides deadly/polluting fireworks. Theme parks change and Cerritos needs to start a path- way to some changes. Maybe Let Freedom Ring Committee work on this project too.

    ……….Cerritos Homes……:

    Without all of the cities being developed out of the greater Dairy Valley, real estate developers created great roads leading to and from their cities, which in long run, benefited growth of Cerritos. There was no 605/91, only freeway existed back then was the 5 and pseudo Imperial Highway. One time, South Street, from Bellflower city limits to La Palma, had over 2 doz gas stations. Both South St and Artesia, were maj. Cross streets in the Valley.

    My tract of homes, was former equestrian stables and home to brothels. Many of the old timer sheriff employees, use to tell stories about using our Brothels during lunch breaks and weekends. Many would travel over from Lakewood of Long Beach, for the personal touch found at the brothels.

    Major employers for our areas:

    McDonald Douglas;
    Ford Motor;
    General Motors;
    Knotts Berry Farm;
    Long Beach Ports;
    Norwalk sanitariums;
    RV Industries and Airstream RV;
    Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center.