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Community Profile: Diamond Bar

August 22, 1995

Nestled in the meandering hills and valleys of Brea Canyon near Pomona, Diamond Bar is the youngest city in Los Angeles County.

Since its incorporation six years ago, this city of 55,000 has gained a reputation for political upheaval. Recall elections, slander suits, special elections and brawls over how much development should be allowed have dominated Diamond Bar politics. Campaign posters and protest placards are a constant fixture on the landscape in this suburban enclave, where recalled Assemblyman Paul Horcher got his political start on the City Council.

Of the four current council members, three have been targeted for recall over development issues. Fueling the flames, the council last month adopted its third General Plan, a guide to city growth. Not surprisingly, slow-growth activists, who have lead two successful referendums to scrap previous proposed general plans, vowed to go to the ballot box again.

Things hit an all-time low last year when a confrontation between Councilman Clair Harmony and Assemblyman Gary Miller (R-Diamond Bar), then a councilman, ended with Miller hurling Harmony across the council conference table. Harmony, not to be outdone, has been accused by his opponents of "body slamming" a councilwoman and striking someone else with a sledgehammer. He has denied both accusations.

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Diamond Bar Inside Out

SEVEN-YEAR SWITCH: You call this a birthday gift? When Diamond Bar turns 7 years old next year, it will drop its status as a baby city and thus lose a big bundle of cash. During a city's first seven years, the state artificially inflates the city's population so it gets a larger slice of taxes and other revenues. When the state next July abandons Diamond Bar's boosted population of 74,115 and reverts to the actual number of about 54,000, it will mean a loss of $1.1 million annually to the city.

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ALL THAT SPARKLES: Diamonds in Southern California? Miles away from Rodeo Drive? Not exactly. The city's bejeweled name derives from the Diamond Bar Ranch, which took its name from its cattle brand, a diamond shape and bar. The ranch, started up in 1918 by Frederick E. Lewis, remained pristine until Transamerica Corp. purchased it in 1956; development soon followed.

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STEPPING STONE: Diamond Bar might be just as a municipal child chronologically, but as a springboard for higher office, it's downright precocious. Several of its council members have moved on to bigger, if not always better, things. Republican Rep. Jay C. Kim, 56, relinquished his status as mayor in 1992 to become the first Korean-American in Congress. Former Assemblyman Paul Horcher served on the same council. After Horcher was recalled this summer for quitting the Republican Party and providing the vote that temporarily allowed Democrat Speaker Willie Brown to remain in power in the Assembly, voters replaced him with Gary G. Miller, also a Diamond Bar councilman.

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ONLY BURGERS: Diamond Bar draws affluent homeowners by the bundle, but has had more trouble pulling in new businesses that make for precious tax dollars. "Six years and all we've had come in is a Burger King," says City Manager Terry Belanger. But then, not to look a gift burger in the mouth, he hastily adds: "Don't get me wrong. I love Burger King."

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BY THE NUMBERS

CITY BUSINESS

Date founded: April 18, 1989

Area in square miles: 14.9

Number of parks: 10

Number of city employees: 41

1995-96 Budget: $9.3 million

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ETHNIC MAKEUP

White: 53%

Asian: 24.%

Latino: 17%

Black: 6%

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PEOPLE

Population: 53,672

Households: 16,886

Average household size: 3.18

Median age: 31.9

Married couple families*: 71.6%

Other types of families: 12.0%

Non-family households; 16.4%

* includes married couples with no children.

Median household income: $60,651

Median household income / L.A. County: $34,965

Women in labor force: 65.5%

Men in labor force: 82.0%

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MONEY AND WORK

Median household income: $60,651

Median home value: $271,500

Employed workers (16 and older): 29,473

Self-employed: 2,701

Source: Claritas Inc. household expenses are averages for 1994. All other figures are for 1990. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number. *

Ages

0- 17: 28%

18- 64: 68%

65- 79: 4%

Over 80: 0%

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