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Diamond Bar Calls Sign an Unwelcome Intrusion

January 15, 1987|MARY BARBER | Times Staff Writer

The City of Industry can take its welcome sign and put it somewhere else, say the folks in Diamond Bar.

Welcome or not, the sign stays, say people in Industry.

So goes a feud that is escalating to ever higher bureaucratic levels as two disparate communities air their differences over a sign that may or may not be on the wrong side of the border.

Industry and the unincorporated community of Diamond Bar agree on just one thing: that Industry employees posted the city's welcome on a state Department of Transportation signpost on the median strip of Grand Avenue where it greets northbound motorists as they exit the Orange Freeway.

Spokesmen for both communities disagree on when the sign appeared, whose property it's on, what purposes it serves and what's to become of it.

"It has to be taken down if I have to do it myself," said Russell Hand, whose Diamond Bar Honda dealership dominates the otherwise barren land west of the freeway, where Grand Avenue dead-ends.

Hand said he first saw the sign "a couple of months ago" and figured that Industry employees "just found a convenient post with a Caltrans sign and attached theirs. It's a couple of hundred yards away from where the city (Industry) ends.

"People get off the freeway on Grand to get to Diamond Bar, we are in Diamond Bar, we are named for Diamond Bar, we have a Diamond Bar ZIP code, and now they see the stupid sign. Industry's border is a couple of hundred yards away."

John Radecki, Industry's city engineer, said the sign was posted six months ago and it's going to stay.

"We don't intend to do anything about it. I don't see why we should," said Radecki, who maintains that the sign is well within Industry's eastern boundary. In 1983, the city annexed 600 acres of hilly land that almost surrounds the small commercial portion of Diamond Bar just west of the freeway.

"We post signs at our boundaries," Radecki said. "Grand is a county road, and next year we will extend it three or four miles over the hills to connect with Valley Boulevard."

Jean Granucci, spokesman for the county Department of Public Works, said that hours of research have revealed only that the sign is "within 10 feet of the boundary, one way or another, and too close to call" without an actual survey.

"We just don't feel it is worth the expenditure of public funds to do such a survey," Granucci said.

Phyllis Papen, president of the Diamond Bar Improvement Assn., also believes Industry has encroached into county territory.

"It's inappropriate to represent Diamond Bar Honda as being in Industry," Papen said. "We are looking at another attempt at cityhood in the future, and that site will generate substantial sales tax revenue. A car wash and a restaurant are planned there, and we want to make sure that it remains in Diamond Bar."

Diamond Bar, a sprawling community with many new homes and upper-income families, grew from 36,000 residents in 1980 to 55,000 in 1986. Two efforts at incorporation have failed, and Papen said that another will be attempted soon. A ballot measure in 1983 lost by a few hundred votes, and a petition drive aimed at incorporation failed to get enough signatures two years later.

Industry's exact population is as much a subject of dispute as the placement of the sign.

According to City Hall, the city has 707 residents. That figure is disputed by the Chamber of Commerce, whose spokesman said the population has grown little since it was 406 in the 1980 Census. But those figures differ from research by the state Department of Finance, which reported last March that the population was 310 last year.

What seems more certain is that there are 1,300 industries and several businesses within Industry's 11 square miles.

Only a small portion of Industry's eastern border adjoins Diamond Bar.

Radecki said no one from Diamond Bar has contacted his office "to try to work something out" about the sign.

Papen said the subject will be discussed at a meeting of the Diamond Bar Improvement Assn. tonight, and she has a Jan. 21 appointment to take up the matter with Industry's city administrator.

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