The First Employees and new infrastructure
"It takes work to establish a City." Editor, Buzz Garland, expressed this sentiment in the Carlsbad Journal. Once Carlsbad's certificate of incorporation was filed on July 16, the City Council held their first meeting. At this meeting, council members divided up the workload facing the city. Each member agreed to chair one of the citizen volunteer committees that were formed to gather information pertaining to water, police, fire, building, public works, finance, budget, zoning and planning. The newly elected city council began forming a city government by assuming all government responsibilities and duties previously handled by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. The council also initiated a local control of government in Carlsbad. They issued a statement promising to proceed slowly and thoughtfully while setting the basic city infrastructure in place. Operating funds were limited and the council depended on volunteer labor and expertise. Carlsbad's initial city budget was derived solely from permits and business license fees. Collecting funds from gas taxes, liquor licenses and motor vehicle fees was several months away and property tax fees would not be available for at least eighteen months.
Since the budget was limited, the council could hire employees only as they were absolutely needed or as funds became available. The City of Carlsbad's first employee was Attorney T. Bruce Smith. He was hired for a 60-day trial period at $300 a month to draw up city ordinances and to do preliminary legal work. Some of the legal concerns facing the Council were lawsuits filed by the Williams’ and C.H. Patterson that questioned the validity of Carlsbad's incorporation. The city attorney's salary was well spent when he successfully defended Carlsbad's right to incorporate.
According to Ede Westree, Colonel Edward Hagen, Carlsbad's first elected city clerk, refused to take even one cent in salary. The retired United States Army Colonel believed in serving the community. Colonel Hagen received permission from the Carlsbad branch of the state forestry office for temporary use of their building on Beech and Carlsbad Boulevard for city office space. He established 9 to 5 office hours and hired Virginia Amburgey in September as a clerk- typist. Mrs. Natalie Vermilyea replaced Ms. Amburgey, who resigned in December 1952. Mrs. Vermilyea had already contributed many volunteer hours working for the city and made a smooth transition into her new job. Mrs. Vermilyea was well known as a jack-of-all-trades when she became Carlsbad's first policewoman.
By the end of 1952, Carlsbad had converted itself from a small town into a fledgling city. It was San Diego County's ninth city to incorporate and the first to do so in forty years. The City consisted of 7.5 square miles with a population of 6,963. As a general law city, it followed the laws of the State of California rather than a specific city charter. The nascent city had no budget, buildings, land or public works department. The five city employees, City Clerk Colonel Ed Hagen, City Treasurer Roy Pace, City Attorney T. Bruce Smith, Police Chief Max Palkowski and Clerk- Secretary Natalie Vermilyea worked diligently for the residents of Carlsbad.
Throughout the 1950s, Carlsbad established all basic city services, increased the budget to $401,028 and employed 42 fulltime staff. In 1952 the Carlsbad Police Department was formed and Max Palkowski was hired as police chief. Max Ewald was hired in 1953 as the city's first building inspector. By 1954, the city budget, supplemented by S.D.G.&E. taxes, increased enough to hire Floyd Hollowell as the first full time fireman, Nelson Westree as Parks Superintendent, Jack Kubota as City Engineer, Ralph Scholink as Director of Finance and also establishing the Carlsbad Municipal Water District. The office of City Manager was established in 1955 when the Council passed an ordinance creating the position in response to the increased workload. Herbert Nelson, a retired U. S. Marine who was hired as city manager at a salary of $500 a month, assumed the daily management of the city. Carlsbad's first city library was established in 1956. Georgina Cole, Carlsbad’s county branch librarian, persuaded the city council to remove Carlsbad from the San Diego County library system and create a city library system.
A series of events affected Carlsbad during the 1950s, including construction of I-5, and of San Diego Gas and Electric’s Encina power plant, acquisition of Colorado River water, and a continued legal struggle with the Rural Citizens Group.
In November 1953, the first 10.7 miles of Interstate 5 connecting Carlsbad to Oceanside was dedicated. The freeway bisected the city and diverted traffic from the coastal highway, drawing customers away from the downtown business district. It also made travel within Carlsbad from one side of the freeway to the other more difficult. The only roads that connected east to west through Carlsbad were Tamarack and Elm. The Chestnut underpass was not available nor were the bridges over Chinquapin and Jefferson. Many farms that once grew beans, strawberries and flowers were paved over when the freeway went directly through their fields. The only benefit the freeway offered to Carlsbad at this time was faster travel to Oceanside. The City Council was faced with the problem of increased traffic into town and the need for stoplights, signs, and general traffic control. Funds were requested from the state to help rectify some of the impacts caused by the freeway’s construction.
In January 1952, San Diego Gas and Electric broke ground for their Encina power plant. Constructed on the southern bank of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, the power plant provided local employment opportunities and a substantial amount of tax money. The existence of the power plant provided a secure source of revenue for the City of Carlsbad's budget. It was a fortuitous occurrence for Carlsbad that the natural resources of ocean and lagoon could provide the perfect environment for a power plant location. The ocean allowed easy and convenient unloading of fuel needed to operate the plant and the lagoon supplied an ample supply of water to cool the generating units. In 1954 the first generating unit of the Encina Power plant was completed and functional. During the next two decades the plant expanded with the addition of four more generating units and with construction of a higher smoke stack.
Finding and Developing sources of water
One of the biggest concerns during the 1950s was acquisition of water. Lack of water was one of the driving forces behind incorporation. Availability of water had always been an issue for Carlsbad residents. Having a water supply meant growth and development for the city.
Some families drew water from their own wells; others bought or were issued stock in the shareholder owned Carlsbad Mutual Water Company. The Mutual pumped water from six wells along the San Luis Rey River. Carlsbad's water supply diminished during the 1940's for a variety of reasons. The salinity level rose in the wells as the wells along the San Luis Rey River started to go dry. A drought also contributed to the decrease in available water. Another factor was the increase in postwar population. As more people drew on the water supply, there was less water available.
The Carlsbad Mutual Water Company in 1953 supplied about 1/3 of their total water output to the newly incorporated city. The other 2/3 of the water went for agricultural use outside of the incorporated city. This water was of agricultural quality. The San Diego Board of Health repeatedly warned the Carlsbad Mutual Water Company to improve the water used domestically. Lack of adequate storage and filtration allowed foreign matter into the water supply. Consumers complained about taste and about rust particles in the water due to faulty pipelines and water mains. Those who lived in the downtown area and who could not afford to buy stock in the Carlsbad Mutual Water Company sank their own wells. The water was easy to access because the level was very close to the surface. However, there was not a sufficient difference in depths between water wells and septic systems and seepage between the two occurred. The county health department investigated contamination between the water systems and the septic systems when an outbreak of illnesses occurred in the Mexican neighborhood during 1952.
Carlsbad residents wanted a dependable and clean water supply. The San Diego Water District had a dependable and clean supply of Colorado River water. Carlsbad residents could obtain the water if pipelines from Carlsbad connected to the aqueduct. The cost to join the San Diego County Water District was $57,000 paid over a five-year period. The Carlsbad Mutual did not have the money to join the water district or lay new pipeline.
A second water company was established in March 1954 when Carlsbad residents overwhelmingly voted 1189 to 644 to form the Carlsbad Municipal Water District. This district, known as CMWD, would cover over 30,000 acres and was authorized to connect with the San Diego County Water district and obtain Colorado River Water. Four directors were elected to the CMWD: W.W. Rogers, Max Ewald, Billy Fry and Alan Kelly. CMWD used an Oceanside water line to bring water into Carlsbad, until a more permanent arrangement was made. A series of bond elections were held to finance the construction of pipeline. In August 1955 and July 1956, these bonds were defeated. Finally, in October 1956 a bond passed 1500 to 577, financing the pipeline needed to connect with the aqueduct. The CMWD estimated the cost of running these pipelines would be to $6 a year per tax bill for thirty years.
The deterioration in water supply and equipment forced the Carlsbad Mutual to seek outside funding. The division of stock ownership in the privately owned Mutual Water Company, made it difficult to reach a voting quorum or a consensus of opinion from the shareholders. This made the Carlsbad Mutual Water Company difficult to administer.
In August 1957 the Carlsbad Mutual Water Company Board of Directors unanimously voted to sell all Mutual Company assets to the city of Carlsbad. They stated four reasons for the sale: 1.) Change in water use from rural to urban; 2.) Subdivision of land that led to division of shares, resulting in higher administration costs; 3.) Greater burden to administer divided shares; and 4.) Sale would give the city control and ownership of a water distribution system that served a large percentage of city 's population.
The city agreed to buy the Carlsbad Mutual Water Company if two conditions were met. The first was that shareholders had to agree to the sale and second that city voters needed to approve the sale contract and issuance of bonds to buy the Mutual's assets.
The city believed purchase of the Mutual would benefit the citizens of Carlsbad. It would save money for water users by elimination of duplication of services and equipment. Ownership of the Mutual would further reduce the fire insurance premiums and provide a more reliable source of water for those currently outside the CMWD. The city agreed to maintain and protect the water rights of the current Mutual customers. They also agreed to two different rate structures for water purchase. Agricultural water use would be charged a lower rate than that of domestic water use. The city also agreed to charge no more than an additional five cents in water rates for those Carlsbad Mutual customers that lived outside of the city limits. The city incurred all Mutual Company indebtedness and assumed all contracts. Finally, the city agreed to hire all Mutual employees for one year.
December 1957, two bond issues were voted on. One bond issue authorized the purchase of the Carlsbad Mutual Water Company and the other authorized rehabilitating the existing equipment. Both bond issues passed by a strong majority. The Terramar Water System was added into the City Water System in February 1958. By July of the same year, Carlsbad pipelines were directly connected with the aqueduct supplying Colorado River Water. Once all areas of Carlsbad had a sufficient supply of potable water, the land value increased.
The Rural Citizen group’s opposition to incorporation in 1952 continued after the city was established. They had feared that new city services would cause new forms of taxation, which would eventually force them out of Carlsbad. City Attorney T. Bruce Smith successfully defended several lawsuits filed against the city by members of the Rural Citizens opposition. The first lawsuit filed within days of the election by Clifton and Alma Williams claimed that taxpayers would suffer if incorporation went through. They additionally charged that the Carlsbad Journal’s advocacy of incorporation had caused biased public support that influenced the voters. A second lawsuit was filed in 1954 by C.H. Patterson. He contended that the incorporation was invalid because election notification was not given with two weeks advance notice and that the exact date had not been published in the Carlsbad Journal. The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Carlsbad’s incorporation. The last challenge by the Rural Citizen’s Group was made in March 1954. Forty-six Carlsbad residents requested Oceanside to annex Carlsbad. The Oceanside City Council agreed if they could get twenty-five percent of Carlsbad registered voters to sign a petition requesting a special annexation election. Carlsbad Mayor Dewey McClellan and the City Council protested Oceanside’s actions. McClellan stated” This action was prompted by persons within the city who were determined to halt the city’s growth and who were unwilling to accept the verdict of the election.” This was the last effort by any member of the Rural Citizen group to reverse the results of the 1952 incorporation election. Mayor McClellan made overtures to several of the more rational members of this group, who later joined city government. As Buzz Garland said in 1952, "It takes work to build a city." All the issues that led to incorporation were solved within six years of the election. The city had locally controlled police and fire departments, adequate water, and a government that was concerned only with making Carlsbad a better place to live.