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FOCUS : Old Sol Shines on Sunny Hills

October 26, 1989|Clipboard researched by Susan Davis Greene / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

All the earthbound stars are not glittering on Hollywood's famous sidewalk. Some have landed in front of Fullerton's Sunny Hills High School. School officials decided to emulate Hollywood Boulevard's "Walk of Fame" with their own version--this one starring former Sunny Hills students.

Permanent plaques on a walkway in front of the administration building honor outstanding graduates. The first six inductees were installed in the summer of 1986. Four more have been added.

Those to be honored are chosen by an ad-hoc committee, formed each year by the school administration. There are three criteria for inclusion in the Walk: graduation at least 10 years ago, sound academic standing while in attendance and contributions to society in the person's occupational field.

The best-known inductee is New York Mets catcher Gary Carter. "The main reason he (Carter) was chosen to be on the Walk of Fame is not only because of who he is, but (also) the charitable contributions to various organizations he has made in his life," assistant principal of student affairs Steve Roderick says.

Sunny Hills, true to its name, is a neighborhood of rolling hills dotted with chaparral and sprawling homes. Many of the homes, atypical of those in lots of the county's other neighborhoods, have great character and individual style.

Off its well-traveled streets, the area is very quiet. There is, however, the occasional sound of horses. Some homes have corrals on the property. And for those without enough room for a horse, the Laguna Lake Park on Euclid Street is an equestrian center with the usual amenities, including boarding stables and training rings.

According to the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce, Sunny Hills is the city's finest and most affluent neighborhood. Throughout the city, per capita income is about $17,000 yearly, while the median household income is $37,600. In Sunny Hills the comparable numbers are $23,000 and $55,700.

Along with the good tidings, though, come angry rumblings from the Hills. On July 5, the City Council decided to widen Bastanchury Road--the main east-west thoroughfare through Sunny Hills--to accommodate the increase in traffic from developments built to the east. According to city senior engineer Don Hoppe, the best way to handle the traffic would be to add two lanes to the existing four.

The project will be a joint venture between the city and the county, costing $3.7 million to buy the property, widen the street and build storm drains. Twelve homes will be directly affected, some fronts of businesses and a few backs of homes. The project will probably start in two years.

As soon as the project was announced, residents opposed to the widening formed SOB--Save Our Bastanchury. Mary Homme, the group's chairwoman, says alternatives should be tried first. Widening the already industrial and heavily traveled Imperial Highway, to the north, is one idea. Upgrading a few of Bastanchury Road's major intersections, such as those at Euclid Street and Harbor Boulevard, is another.

"This is a residential neighborhood," Homme says. "I've lived here 27 years, and we don't want to see our bridle trails disrupted. One of the unique things about Sunny Hills is its almost rural atmosphere. (There is) lots of horse property, and some areas don't have curbs and gutters. This will all be disrupted."

The group also fears a significant increase in noise.

But hope of holding off city planners seems dubious at the moment. "Based on the status of the last City Council meeting, we (the city) are to proceed as planned, with the exception of moving the bicycle lane from Bastanchury Road to Valencia Mesa Drive," Hoppe says.

In 1860, sheepherder Domingo Bastanchury migrated here and bought 6,000 acres of land, that include what is now Sunny Hills, for a sheep range. The sheep have subsequently disappeared, but for some residents, they would be a welcome alternative to increased traffic--and one that would help the neighborhood retain that treasured rural feeling.

Population Total: (1989 est.) 15,302

1980-89 change: +7.8% Median Age: 36.4

Racial/ethnic mix: White (non-Latino), 89%; Latino, 6%; Black, 1%; Other, 4%

By sex and age: In hundreds MALES Median age: 35.0 years FEMALES Median age: 37.9 years


Per capita: $23,005

Median household: $55,678

Average household: $69,556

Income Distribution:

Less than $25,000, 18%; $25,000-49,000, 27%; $50,000-74,999, 23%; More than $75,000, 32%

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