Cityhood Campaign Ends After Missing Deadline

The latest effort to incorporate Diamond Bar officially ended earlier this month when cityhood proponents missed their third self-imposed deadline for gathering a sufficient number of signatures to put the issue on the November ballot.

Phyllis Papen, chairman of the Diamond Bar Incorporation Committee and the prime mover behind the incorporation attempt, said a lack of early support from the Municipal Advisory Council, a panel of locally elected officials who make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, contributed to the petition drive's failure.

Papen also criticized signature-gatherers, many of whom, she said, abandoned the effort before the deadline had passed. The committee gathered 4,137 of the 4,600 signatures needed.

"To be 500 short and quit is ridiculous," Papen said. "We should have had it."

The drive began last May, but when it became apparent that the incorporation committee would miss its first deadline of Nov. 15, the Diamond Bar Homeowers Assn., who sponsored the drive, elected to move the deadline ahead. Because state law requires that signatures be gathered within six months, moving the deadline forward meant that signatures gathered in the first months of the drive had to be dropped.

Papen resigned her post on the committee in late November because of business obligations, but resumed it after Fred Sanchez, a local resident chosen to take her place, also resigned. Although Sanchez had recommended that the effort be abandoned, Papen persuaded the Homeowners Assn. to extend the deadline to Jan. 15. It was extended twice more, most recently to March 3, before the Homeowners' Assn. decided to end the petition drive.

Papen said she still believes incorporation is crucial if the community is to gain local control of development, and that most of the residents of Diamond Bar support incorporation. But she said any future petition drives will need a stronger effort by signature gatherers to be successful.

"Until some people come along who want to work, I'm going to let the issue rest," Papen said.

In 1983, the issue of incorporation was put to the voters, but failed by a slim margin.

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