History of Villa Park
Villa Park is Orange County’s smallest city, but one of its friendliest and most welcoming places to live.
Here, you will find people with a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and occupations; quiet neighborhoods and attractive residential streets; the lowest crime rate in the County; and four schools within walking distance.
The City of Villa Park is in the center of Orange County. It has an area of 2.1 square miles, a population of 6,500 and approximately 2,050 homes, and is almost 99% built out. With the exception of one shopping center, the City is zoned for single-family residences, most of which are on half-acre lots. The shopping center includes a grocery store, banks, a pharmacy with a postal substation, a variety of specialty shops and offices, the City Hall and community room, and a branch of the Orange County Public Library.
Schools in Villa Park, California
Villa Park High, Cerro Villa Middle, Villa Park Elementary and Serrano Elementary – are a part of the Orange Unified School District. There is no city newspaper, but the “Foothill Sentry,” a local paper published in Orange Park Acres once a month, includes the Villa Park news and events, and a periodic newsletter from City Hall. Cable TV is available with a public access channel, Channel 3. There are no churches within the City limits but most denominations’ facilities can be found close by.
In the Middle of Everywhere!
Due to Villa Park’s central location and proximity to the freeway system, the wealth of cultural, social, recreational, business and philanthropic activities that Orange County offers are all within easy access.
City Government Composition
The City is governed by five council members, each elected for four-year terms, who serve without pay and meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. Residents are encouraged to attend and participate in these meetings and the political life of the City. Council agendas are posted on the bulletin board outside of the City Hall. There are also a full-time appointed City Managers, a small office staff, and a maintenance crew. Police, fire, legal, and engineering services are contracted for outside of the City. The City offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; the telephone number is (714) 998-1500.
Villa Park’s tree is the Weeping Fig; the City flower is the Orange Blossom; the City bird is the Hummingbird; and the City motto is “Villa Park, the Hidden Jewel.”
The official City tree in the City of Villa Park is the “Weeping fig” or ficus benjamina. Not only does this tree make a beautiful house plant when confined in a pot, but it can grow to gigantic sizes. In fact, there is a ficus benjamina in Asia that is supposed to be the largest tree in the world!
The official City flower is the Orange Blossom. Orange Blossoms were the most fragrant flowers to the hummingbirds found on their flights through various gardens in Villa Park. So, City Council decided that this flower would be the official flower of Villa Park.
The Hummingbird is Villa Park’s official City bird. At one time, there were many, many hummingbirds in Villa Park, happily flying from blossom to blossom and from feeder to feeder as they gathered nectar.
The Villa Park Women’s League
The center and springboard of activities in Villa Park is the Villa Park Women’s League, founded in 1969, with a current membership of 375. It is open to any Villa Park resident of voting age. The membership chairman’s name and phone number can be obtained from City Hall. The League’s aims are to provide support, friendship and a focus for the citizens of Villa Park and to promote safety, education, beautification and cultural enrichment within the City and its environs. It also sponsors a host of social and recreational activities for its members: bowling, bridge, gourmet, stitchery, golf, newcomers, etc. There is no better way to make friends and become a part of this community than to join the League.
The Hidden Jewel – officially since 1962
Villa Park was not incorporated until 1962, but the history of the area goes back to around 1860. It was known in its early days as Mountain View. Villa Park came into usage when a post office was located here and there already was a city of Mountain View in northern California.
A Rich History of Agriculture and Commerce
Villa Park was, for many years, an agricultural area producing, in turn, grapes, walnuts, apricots, and finally, citrus, which was the major crop for about 60 years and is most closely associated with its development. It was the citrus ranchers and their families who molded Villa Park into a vital community and organized its incorporation to save it from what they felt were unwelcome zoning practices from the eastward-moving city of Orange.
These ranchers established the Serrano Water District, which still provides Villa Park’s water. (The district office is located on Lincoln Street.) They also founded the Villa Park Orchard’s Association, still a thriving business in Orange, although the packing house that was the dominant Villa Park landmark for many years, located west of the shopping center, was torn down in 1983. The citrus groves have yielded to the developers but these pioneers have left an enduring legacy in our half-acre zoning, which has been instrumental in shaping the City’s character, and in many of our street names; such as, Brewer, Nichols, Squire, Collins, Morrow, Regan, Knuth, Workman, Adams, Wulff, Abbott, Durfee, Sterling, as well as, Hazel, Mary and Florence.
Villa Park Takes Solid Waste Seriously
The City of Villa Park has a citywide recycling program with curbside pickup at each home, every week. Many items that can be recycled, such as newspaper, cardboard, all types of paper, aluminum cans and other metals, glass and several types of plastic are being collected from residents. These are placed in a large container provided by the trash hauler. The residents place it at the curb for recycling. At least 80% of the residents of Villa Park set their recyclable material out for collection. The City has reduced the amount of waste going to the landfill by more than 25%, by weight. There are no landfills in Villa Park.
The City has an agreement with a private contractor who collects and disposes of all refuse generated in Villa Park. The contractor collects the recyclable materials separately and delivers them to a materials recovery facility. There they are sorted, compacted and sold to make new materials.
Want to know more? Pick up the book!
A more detailed history of Villa Park will be found in a charming, volume entitled, “The Hidden Jewel” by Jan Van Emon. The book is available in the Villa Park Library.