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December 14, 1990|ELENA BRUNET

The city of Stanton has suffered an identity crisis at times: It wasn't always sure it wanted to be a city.

A 16-square-mile area called Benedict became incorporated on May 23, 1911, in protest against the plans of its neighbor to the north, Anaheim, to turn the territory into a sewer farm. (The site is an alluvial plain at an elevation of 65 feet above sea level, thus ideal to provide drainage for the Santa Ana River.) In gratitude, the city took the name of former state Assemblyman Philip Stanton, who was instrumental in the process of incorporation.

In 1924 residents voted to unincorporate to allow the county or the state to construct roads that were sorely needed in the area. When residents voted to reincorporate on June 4, 1956, their domain was a mere shadow of its former self: Annexations by Anaheim and Garden Grove had left less than one square mile of land for the city of Stanton. Today the city measures 3.3 square miles.

This particular neighborhood reflects that indecision: Though it is mostly within Stanton city limits, the northern section is Anaheim and one small island is still unincorporated. But education crosses city lines, as the Hansen school demonstrates.

The Hansen Elementary School at 1330 S. Knott Ave. in Anaheim is attended by children from both Anaheim and Stanton, and local history lives on in this school and the park beside it. The family that farmed this land lent its name to both.

Charles and Peter Hansen raised wheat here in the 1880s, according to local historian Don Meadows, and Knott Avenue was once called Hansen Street. Indeed, Hansen was the name of a stop on the Pacific Electric Railroad's Los Angeles-Santa Ana line (at the intersection of Knott Avenue and Ball Road).

Hansen Park, a seven-acre tract of land adjacent to the school (and the province of the Anaheim Parks and Recreation Department), circumscribed by the railroad tracks, the school playing fields and by private homes along Thornton Avenue, is accented now by deciduous trees showing their autumn colors of deep red, dark orange and yellow. The homes are separated from the park by fences, but the children's shouts in play carry across the fields.

The city of Anaheim shares part of the playground south of Hansen Park with the Stanton Recreation and Leisure Services Department using the school and park through a cooperative agreement within the school system to run a Friday after-school recreation program. There are a variety of activities in one day, says Sharon Weil of the recreation department: arts and crafts, organized games and general recreation. The 25 to 30 children who attend are mainly students from the school who need somebody to supervise constructive activities after school hours.

"It's a latchkey type of program," Weil said. The city has them all over, mostly on the school grounds. The location of the park enhances this particular arrangement.

But education and youngsters are not the sole attraction here. A wide variety of medical services are available, ranging from the traditional (Anaheim General Hospital on Ball Road) to the organic (the Center for Preventive Holistic Medicine on Cerritos Avenue). Another small medical complex, the Crescent Medical Group, which provides family practice and surgery, is nearing completion of its construction.

Two churches tend to the spiritual well-being of the neighborhood: the Living Hope Community Church on Knott Avenue and the Calvary Assembly of God. Entirely independent from the latter is the Southern California Theological Seminary also listed on the sign in front, which rents the building for its classes.

The city that began as an agricultural community producing such crops as wheat, barley, sugar beets, corn and sweet potatoes has no farms today. With the exception of the hospitals, churches and a few commercial ventures, the neighborhood is for the most part residential, with a near-equal number of apartments, condominiums and single-family/single-story residences.

The zoning of Cerritos Avenue, which bisects the neighborhood, is split between multiple-unit dwellings (R-3) and low density (R-1), according to a Planning Commission spokesman. Most of the construction, particularly the tract homes between Katella and Cerritos avenues, and condominiums, occurred in the 1960s and '70s. Housing here, in fact, is a microcosm of Stanton's citywide trend: 50.9% owned; 49.1% rented.

There is, however, one rural holdout--a single street of an unincorporated section where man's best friend reigns. Here hounds may be groomed, trained, boarded or bred within the span of a single street.

Kermore Lane is the site of three ventures: Superior Dog Training, Starline Grooming and Boarding (stud service optional), and Concepts in Dog Behavior ("the art of dog training"). But owners better wear the proper shoes: This lane within the county's province has never acknowledged the advantage of sidewalks, and the road has a strip of tar in its center, bounded on both sides by dirt.

Man and beast will be healthy, well-behaved and groomed. And only Kermore Lane shows any vestiges of the frontier--and Stanton's unconventional and ornery past.

Population Total: (1990 est.) 5,331 1980-90 change: +42.3% Median Age: 30.8

Racial/ethnic mix: White (non-Latino): 75% Latino: 16% Black: 1% Other: 8%

By sex and age: MALES Median age: 30.6 years FEMALES Median age: 31.0 years

Income Per capita: $16,075 Median household: $41,166 Average household: $46,048

Income Distribution: Less than $25,000: 34% $25,000-49,999: 30% $50,000-74,999: 23% $75,000-$99,999: 7% $100,000 and more: 6%

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