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Chino Hills has always been a special place in Southern California. It is a place that is close in miles to large metropolitan cities and yet far in spirit. Virtually unchanged for hundreds of years, the rolling hills were home to a few ranches and homesteaders. A handful of property owners appreciated the beauty of the hills. The majority of the residents were red tail hawks, mule ear deer, ground squirrels, mountain lions, cottontail rabbits, and coyotes.
In 1907, Boys Republic made Chino Hills its home. The facility continues to provide important contributions to the lives of young people and sends its famous Della Robbia wreaths around the world during the holidays.
During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Sleepy Hollow was a perfect weekend getaway from the fast pace of Los Angeles. By 1928, Sleepy Hollow was a summer resort with about 90 cabins, some of which are still in use today. After World War II, these cabins and newer dwellings became permanent residences.
Los Serranos Golf & Country Club
The Los Serranos Golf and Country Club, which opened in 1925, was also a favorite spot for city dwellers. Originally, members of the golf club could purchase small lots in the community. The club members would erect cabanas on their property, or rent casitas for a festive getaway. Today the course is owned by the family of tennis legend Jack Kramer, who passed away in 2009, and is still a favorite Chino Hills attraction.
Chino Hills State Park
The natural beauty of Chino Hills in the early 1900’s is preserved in Chino Hills State Park. A grass roots organization, known as Hills for Everyone, was the guiding force behind the preservation of 14,102 acres of land that became the largest California State Park located in an urban setting. Visitors to the park take a step back in time to a place where they seem to be decades away from the urbanization of California.
Residents Want to Protect Chino Hills
Over the next few decades, word was spreading that Chino Hills was a great place for year-round family living. More and more people were discovering the unspoiled hills located within an easy drive of downtown Los Angeles. Residents appreciated the rolling green hills and beautiful vistas in the community. They wanted to preserve and protect the hills and guide future development into the most suitable locations. They were realizing the importance of providing needed services while safeguarding environmentally sensitive areas. It was clear that Chino Hills was a special place and residents began seeking a way to be involved in shaping the community’s future.
Chino Hills Specific Plan
In 1979, the County of San Bernardino initiated the development of the Chino Hills Specific Plan – the document that would plan for the eventual development of 18,000 acres – 26 square miles – located in Chino Hills. The area had been protected from haphazard development because the land was not flat enough to build inexpensively. It was clear, however, that development pressures were moving toward Chino Hills. The innovative Specific Plan was the first in the State of California to be designed for an unincorporated area. A Citizen’s Advisory Committee and County officials worked in cooperation with 150 property owners to develop the Plan. The Southwest Hills Environmental and Planning Association (SHEPA) also participated in the public land use discussions during that time. The Specific Plan called for clustered residential development concentrated in village cores, decreasing in density away from the core in order to protect as much open space as possible. Commercial development was slated along the Highway 71 corridor. By 1982, when the Specific Plan was approved, there were approximately 4,000 homes and 12,000 residents in Chino Hills.
Governed by San Bernardino County
As residents of an unincorporated area, citizens in Chino Hills were represented by one member of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. The Fourth District County Supervisor appointed citizens to serve as advisors to various County Service Areas that had oversight responsibilities for items such as road maintenance and landscaping. Chino Hills residents also served on the Chino Hills Municipal Advisory Council that met monthly at Gerald F. Litel elementary school to listen to citizen concerns and make recommendations to the County Supervisor. If residents had business with the County, a 45-minute trip to San Bernardino was necessary. Building and Safety issues and permits were handled in Ontario. For several years in the late 1980's, some residents were actively exploring the pros and cons of cityhood. The issue of local control was moving to the forefront.
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