In 1921 oil was struck in Signal Hill, a previously agricultural area. Speculation and poorly regulated drilling followed. Wells, sumps, and derricks surrounded houses. Fires, leaks, soil and air pollution, noise, and industrial accidents proliferated. To thwart annexation by Long Beach, Signal Hill incorporated as an independent city in 1924, but problems continued. The city formed the Signal Hill Redevelopment Agency in 1974. Redevelopment dramatically transformed Signal Hill. By 2011, residential neighborhoods and commercial space characterized the city. While wells continue to operate in cul-de-sacs and shopping center parking lots, oil and community have learned how to coexist.
Black Gold in Paradise—Reclaiming Signal Hill: A History of the Development of Signal Hill
Kenneth C. Farfsing has been the City Manager of the City of Signal Hill since 1996, and previously served as City Manager of South Pasadena, 1991-1996, with prior experience in planning, redevelopment, and city management in the cities of Downey and La Verne. He is a member of the Los Angeles Region Planning History Group’s board. He has also held leadership roles in the Gateway Cities Council of Government and the League of California Cities.
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Kenneth C. Farfsing; Black Gold in Paradise—Reclaiming Signal Hill: A History of the Development of Signal Hill. Southern California Quarterly 1 August 2015; 97 (3): 244–266. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/scq.2015.97.3.244
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