About the City of La Habra Heights
La Habra Heights and most of the city of La Habra lie within the La Habra Rancho, a grant which Marina Roldan received from Mexico, October 22, 1839. He sold to Andres Pico, a brother of Pio Pico, Shaped like a wedge of pie, pointed south, La Habra Rancho was partly in Orange County. La Habra means a low pass in the mountains.
The Picos lost La Habra Rancho to Don Abel Sterns, who owned a whole collection of Ranchos, including La Habra, Los Coyotes, San Juan Colon de Santa Ana, Las Bolsas y Paredes, La Bolsa Chico, Jurupa and La Sierra. He was a great cattle baron and was known as the richest man in California.
A great drought in 1861 ruined Sterns and the lands went to San Francisco capitalists. The new owners organized the Los Angeles - San Bernardino Lands Company and put Sterns Ranchos on the market at prices ranging from $2 to $10 per acre. Many of the purchasers were Basque sheep growers from the Pyrenees Mountains. In 1900, Mrs. Sansinena decided to sell 3500 acres to W. J. Hole. This 3500 acres was the area later to become the Heights, it was sold at about $15 per acre.
Known for their Avocado’s and the Avocado Festival
During the 1920s, the peak of development, hundreds of men were employed, including engineering crews, mule skinners, pipe line men, nursery men and laborers building roads and pipe lines, contouring the hills and planting avocados. Today these trees stand high above the orchards and add much to the beauty of this area.
Agriculture in the early days was not limited to avocados. Gene Barley and Lauren Meod operated nurseries an East Road. Flowers were grown on the slopes above the county line. Subtropic Farms raised vegetables such as rhubarb, cucumbers, tomatoes and string beans. Oranges and lemons were planted in the valley lands. At one time about 40 acres were in citron production.
However, avocado growing became the dominant agricultural pursuit in the Heights. Their start dates back to George W Beck (shown on the right) who planted avocados along Cypress Street in 1910. Later he bought property from Hart on Kashlan and planted more avocados. His son, Walter Beck, became one of the foremost authorities on avocado culture.
The Heights is indebted to the Beck family not only for their pioneer work in avocados but also for their fine cooperation in Heights community affairs. Many new avocado varieties were originated here including the Hass developed by R. G. Hass. Roads throughout the Heights were named for avocado varieties such as Chota, Dorothea, Popenoe, Sharpless, Ganter, Benick, Kashlan, Moyapan, Nabal, Panchay and Kanola. Ahuacate road of course means avocado - in Spanish this means water hag.
A survey in 1930 showed that there were 1,292 acres of avocado orchards, 282 acres of orange, lemon and citron orchards, 43 acres of miscellaneous plantings like persimmons, cherimoyas, passion fruit, papayas, sapotes, bulbs, flowers, and avocado and citrus nursery stock or a total of 1,617 developed acres. At that time also there were 95 homes some costing as much as $100,000.
Volunteer Fire Department in coordination with the County of Los Angeles
Prior to 1942 the closest fire station was at San Dimas. The method of fighting fires was far Cecil Knowlton to get a crew with water buckets and wet sacks to beat back the fire until San Dimas equipment arrived. In 1939 a disastrous fire started above Reposado and Hacienda and swept eastward almost to Fullerton Road.
In the spring of 1942, Clement F. Levins became the "Father" of the fire department, by suggesting to his friends, Ernest Sherwood, Howard Cooper and Art Sucksdarf, that fire protection was the number one need in the Heights. This small group of men purchased a "nurse" rig from Mr. Cooper and set out to collect funds from their neighbors to pay for it. The fire truck was kept at the ranch of Cecil Knowlton on Fast Road.
On October 8, 1942, the department was incorporated. Acting directors were 0. D. Belanger, Art Sucksdorf, Fire Chief, Sam Eastman, Young Wilhite, Larry Marsh and Mr. Levins. With Mr. Wilhite as master of ceremonies, the group held a fund raising campaign in 1945 and raised over $3,000 from their neighbors. As a result of this a Seagrave fire truck was purchased. As the department grew, the board authorized the installation of many fire hydrants. In 1946 they purchased a new International Army fire truck that carried 400 gallons of Water. Today, with a fulltime Chief and Fire Marshall and a staff of paid volunteers, this community is provided with extra-ordinary fire protection at a cost much lower than those communities under the County's protection.
The Heights Today
The gradual change in the image of La Habra Heights as an avocado producing area to one of residential estate character, has continued without interruption. Without a doubt, this rural and secluded community has become one of the most beautiful and desirable home site areas in Los Angeles County. Its natural beauty at the start provided an ideal setting for this, but great credit must go to those remarkably individualistic people who chose this area for their homes and developed and nurtured this community until it is unsurpassed in charm and beauty and home-like atmosphere.
Population – 5,325 (Census 2010)