Title:
Urban Sprawl: Cerritos, California's Plan To Come Out Ahead

Word Count:
646

Summary:
While "urban sprawl" and "smart growth" seem to be key phrases in the news these daysespecially among politicians and environmentalists, the truth is "smart growth" can only happen when there is a plan in place to grow. "Smart growth" is not a reaction to a housing boom. Neither is it a way to boost a city's economy as it begins to slide into a slump. Truly smart growth is a new city's plan to, over years, accommodate more people and businesses, without comprising its natur...


Keywords:
car,auto,truck,van,car,sedan,suv,sut,vehicle


Article Body:
While "urban sprawl" and "smart growth" seem to be key phrases in the news these daysespecially among politicians and environmentalists, the truth is "smart growth" can only happen when there is a plan in place to grow. "Smart growth" is not a reaction to a housing boom. Neither is it a way to boost a city's economy as it begins to slide into a slump. Truly smart growth is a new city's plan to, over years, accommodate more people and businesses, without comprising its natural resources or the quality of life for those who are already there. Despite what many people are labeling as "smart growth" in an effort to pad their own bank accounts or please their more powerful constituents, smart growth can happen. And it has in the California city of Cerritos.

Cerritos is an unassuming city, less attention-hungry than its bigger brothers Los Angeles and Hollywood. Nestled just northeast of Long Beach and northwest of Anaheim, the city of Cerritos isn't well known. Most Americans wouldn't know that it's home to Cerritos College (the third largest Hispanic-serving community colleges in the country), Isuzu Motors America, Inc.well-known for its top-of-the-line SUV "Ascender" and pickup trucks, and United Postal Services (which employs approximately 5,000 people in Cerritos alone). California Business Magazine named Cerritos one of the best 100 Cities to do business in the state.

Incorporated in 1956 as The City of Dairy Valley, Cerritos' original name reflected the community's agricultural focus. At that time, dairy cattle outnumbered the residents of the city nine to one as there were less than 5,000 people living in the incorporated city. Cerritos received its charter to become a California city two years after its incorporation, which marked the beginning of its "smart growth."

Approximately eight years later, rising property taxes and land prices began to take their toll on dairy operations, and by the early 1960s the agricultural crux of Cerritos was beginning to falter. In March of 1965, the citizens decided, in a special election, to permit homes to be built under strict residential development guidelines. This change led to a spurt in the population growth, with the population edging to just under 16,000 people by 1970, only three years after the city officially changed its name to Cerritos (chosen because it was located in close proximity to the original land grant Rancho Los Cerritos).

Seeing the potential problems with continued population growth, Cerritos wanted to continue to grow in a well-developed manner under a policy of continual environmental improvement. The standards and goals of the policy laid out ways to achieve a park-like community and still allow for commercial, industrial, and residential development.

The first Cerritos General Plan was adopted in October of 1971, to provide for a controlled urban development. The plan itself guaranteed convenient access to shopping near homes, locations for a multitude of services, attractive neighborhoods, and parks for recreation. A revised version of the General Plan was adopted in January of 2004.

So how did they do it? Approximately half of the city's land is designated for residential development. This didn't slow Cerritos down. From 1970 to 1972, Cerritos became California's fastest growing city with a population increase from 15,800 to 37,700. But it wasn't just the residential development that was being focused on.

Cerritos opened the first solar-heated City Hall complex in U.S. history in 1978. The City developed the Cerritos Auto Square in the early '80s, which now generates $10 million+ in sales tax revenue annually. In 1997, Cerritos opened a state-of-the-art Cerritos Sheriff's Station/Community Safety Center to the tune of $10 million to provide residents with public safety services 24-hours-a-day, 365 days a year. In March of 2002, the Cerritos Library was dedicatedan 88,000-square-foot building featuring art collections, educational displays and beautiful conference center s. As anniversary gifts commemorating 50 years as a city, The Cerritos Sculpture Garden and a fitness/wellness center at the Cerritos Senior Center were dedicated in 2006 to the community.


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