Most cities require people to be dead or at least very famous before naming streets in their honor. Not so Placentia, which for years has been naming streets after living city officials.
"It's kind of a reward for service in this job," said Councilman Norman Z. Eckenrode, whose name graces Eckenrode Way in the eastern section of town. "This job is certainly not about the money."
The most recent example was Tuesday night, when the City Council unanimously approved plans for a 214-home project that would have named streets after Mayor Michael L. Maertzweiler, retired Police Chief Daryll Thomann and former (but still living) city administrator Roger Kemp.
Maertzweiler and Thomann, in fact, both sat on the city's street-naming committee when it recommended those names a month ago. Thomann could not be reached for comment on the matter. Maertzweiler said he did not take part in the committee meeting in which Maertzweiler Drive was created--he was busy that night.
"I don't have any feelings about it," the mayor said Tuesday.
Naming streets after living council members and other city officials has been the custom in Placentia since the 1970s, nearly a decade after establishment of a street-naming committee consisting of the mayor, city engineer, director of public works and police chief.
Since then, the names of 44 council members have been used to designate various streets, lanes, drives and ways. Of the five current council members, three have had their names immortalized, though few profess to understand the process.
Maria Moreno, the 11-year council member for whom Moreno Way is named, said she has never participated in the selection of street names and has little understanding of what criteria apply. Though she considers it an honor to have a street bearing her name, Moreno said, she would like to see more public participation in the process.
"I've put in 11 years and earn less than $200 a month," Moreno said of her City Council position. "I didn't do this to have a street named after me. I really would have preferred it if they'd named it after my mother."
Some who have been passed over voiced concern, albeit couched in humor.
"So there is no Lowe Drive there, huh?" quipped Councilman Chris Lowe, who has yet to see his name attached to a thoroughfare. "What does one have to do to get one of these?"