A.B. Miller, Fontana's Founding Father, envisioned those living here to be able to make a living by raising chickens or rabbits or other farm animals, as well as harvesting grapes, oranges, lemons, or other fruits in the early 1900s.
Plus, most households had enough property to also benefit from a vegetable garden. And even during the Great Depression, those living here made a decent living living, thanks to Miller's plans.
Once Henry J. Kaiser built Kaiser Steel here, during World War II, the local steelworkers' homes were built on lots large enough to plant some fruit trees, a vegetable garden, and raise a few chickens or rabbits. So, the legacy of A.B. Miller lived on, but on a smaller scale.
Unfortunately, over the last few years, the only housing projects approved by the Fontana Planning Commission are for houses built so close together, that there is no room for fruit trees or a vegetable garden, let alone for a pen for the three hens currently allowed on a person's property, within the city limits. This has been allowed so the developers can squeeze more buildings into smaller spaces, thus making more money for themselves.
After I found out, a couple years ago, that Kaiser Permanente doctors don't live here in Fontana, I started asking why? Everyone answered that the new houses are built too close together, on lots too small for a pool, kid's playground equipment, a vegetable garden and fruit trees. So, instead, they buy homes in Upland, Claremont, Redlands, and Rancho Cucamonga!
So, who IS buying these newly constructed two-story houses built too close to each other? Again, I did a bit of research and found out they are mostly being bought by first-time homeowners, because they are less expensive here than in Orange or Los Angeles counties. Plus, Fontana is next to three different freeways, so the new homeowners can easily drive to work in Orange and L.A. counties.
Again, unfortunately, most of those new homeowners I spoke with said they intend to eventually move out of Fontana, and get homes with more yard space, and closer to their jobs!
Then there was the woman I met who bought a new home in Fontana 15 years ago, with a decent sized yard. She and her husband and kids have loved Fontana -- until now.They are planning on moving away as soon as possible, because they can't stand the sound of the diesel trucks, 24 hours a day, driving to and from the newly constructed warehouses near where they live!
Not only has A.B. Miller's legacy for Fontana disappeared, but it seems that those in charge of city planning are NOT doing what is best for our current, new, and future citizens. Instead, it looks like the only ones currently benefiting are out-of-town warehouse and housing tract developers. Why is this being allowed?
(Darlene Willis Scalf is a Fontana resident.)