Finding your Valhalla
Many of us dream of finding the perfect city with the perfect weather and the perfect home. Some of us are blessed when we find our perfect city and others continue to search to find their “Valhalla”.
In January of 1980 I was transferred to Southern California from Burlingame, California, just south of San Francisco and close to the San Francisco Airport. I acclimated immediately with the difference in weather from the Bay Area and the beauty of the surrounding homes in the area. I was especially pleased with the friendliness of the neighbors and the amount of social activities that were available. The city that I found and chose to live in was Villa Park, California. Villa Park’s area is 2.1 square miles and is the smallest city in Orange County and has only 6900 residents and approximately 2000 homes. The city has R4 zoning which means that the lots are 20,000 square feet. There are no sidewalks and no street lights. That is the way the founding fathers wanted it and to this day the city has kept this policy. The City was incorporated in 1962 and has a City Manager, Mayor and five councilmen. It was originally called Mountain View, but a city in Northern California had the same name and the Post Office wanted us to change the name to avoid confusion.
The people who live in Villa Park are blessed with beautiful weather, a beautiful community, convenience of shopping, excellent schools, 15 minutes to the ocean and 1 hour to the snow. The city is made up of a wide diversity of backgrounds, interests, occupations and famous people. The crime rate in Villa Park is the lowest in the county and is protected by a contract with the Sheriff’s department. The only commercial area is the Ralph’s shopping area which consists of approximately 25 retail stores, 3 banks, one library, post office, city hall and one gas station. The city motto is “The Hidden Jewel”.
The city is made up of several organizations which keep the city exciting. One of the main organizations is the Villa Park Women’s League which was started in 1969 and provides support, friendship, education, beautification and cultural enrichment within the city. It also has a host of social and recreational activities for its members.
Another organization is the Rotary Club of Villa Park which has 45 members and provides fellowship and goodwill to the community. The annual fund raiser is the Oktoberfest which raises approximately $35,000 which is all given back to the community. The Rotary sponsors the high school, middle school and the two grammar schools. In addition the Rotary has a tree farm and grows trees to give away to community projects. They also support many international projects and have a goal of eliminating Polio.
Another organization, the Villa Park Foundation was created as a vehicle to raise money for the community to provide a picnic for the citizens of Villa Park once per year. They also have an annual Boat Parade where resident’s boats are decorated and towed through the community each December. They also provide funds for a Halloween celebration each October 31 for the youth. Usually on the first week of December, the Villa Park Councilmen and Women dress up like Santa Claus and ride the Villa Park fire engine through the town and distribute candy to our children.
The City has its own library and is supported by “The Friends of the Villa Park Library. There is a main librarian and children’s librarian and have programs for the children to encourage reading. It is entirely free to the community and there are available books on tape, videos and tapes, periodicals, and other literary resources.
City Hall is located next to the Library in the Shopping area and is a friendly place to visit and gather information about the city, building permits, and learn what is going on with the city meetings the third Tuesday night of each month.
Most of the homes in Villa Park were built in 1970 and the city is 99% built out, so many owners are remodeling existing homes to make them larger and creating custom homes. The present average value of homes in the city is over $1,000,000.
A recent book, which was written by Jan VanEmon with the help of the community called Villa Park, “The Hidden Jewel”, is for sale at City Hall for $50.00. This tells a much more thorough story of Villa Park.
I have found my “Valhalla”, and enjoy living in this city sharing it with my neighbors and working to make this wonderful city even a better place to live.