While Placentia sports the city motto “All-America City,” the homes tucked between Yorba Linda Boulevard, Bastanchury Road, Valencia Avenue and Spahn Lane make up the “All-America Neighborhood.”
In this nook of northern Placentia, children ride bikes and play softball in the streets. Teen-agers shoot baskets in the driveways. Spacious homes sprawl out over large lots; swimming pools and spas dot the back yards, dense with greenery.
It is a place to live out the American Dream. In fact, even the streets are named after people who attained the American Dream in one fashion or another.
On Gehrig Avenue, named after baseball great Lou Gehrig, the houses are not adorned with New York Yankees memorabilia. Nor is Cobb Street decorated with Detroit Tigers logos to commemorate Ty Cobb’s 21 years spent with that team. And the residents on Appling Avenue may not be familiar with the batting average of shortstop Luke Appling.
According to realtor Carrie Craig, four different builders went into the area with four different ideas for naming the streets.
“The oldest section, built 25 to 30 years ago, has streets with baseball (players’) names,” Craig said. “The next builder went in and named the streets after symphony directors and performers.”
Another section is named after American authors, such as Mark Twain and William Faulkner. Streets named for British literary lions figure prominently as well.
“The homes on the author streets are about 25 years old,” Craig said. “When I show a house in this area, people always take note of the unusual names.”
In the center of the neighborhood, a small park that backs up to an elementary school stands as a remembrance to one of the Orange County’s pioneers, Charles Wagner.
The Wagner family moved to the county in the 1920s. The house, located at 902 E. Yorba Place in Placentia, is currently a tea room and restaurant. The white Victorian home is flavored with county history. Rooms reflect different themes, eras and heritage of the county’s residents.
Of German descent, the Wagners were a part of a myriad of nationalities represented by the area’s pioneers. Among them was Domingo Bastanchury, a Basque sheepherder, who had come to the Placentia area in 1860. It was Bastanchury who, after a severe drought had forced cattlemen to sell their land to pay off their losses, was able to purchase 6,000 acres of land in Fullerton and Placentia to plant oranges. Soon, Bastanchury boasted the largest citrus grove in the world.
But, it was not the oranges that lured the pioneers to Orange County; it was the land.
According to county historian Virginia Carpenter, Placentia is Latin for “a pleasant place.” Today, the name is just as appropriate as it was in 1879 when, as legend has it, Sarah Jane McFadden chose the moniker for the city.
It was the pleasantness of the area that attracted six-year resident Dave Warble to the neighborhood.
“I’m originally from Colorado,” Warble said. “I wanted to live in a safe neighborhood with good schools nearby. This location was ideal for my family.”
Each day of the school year, children walk to Wagner Elementary School or to El Dorado High School, located on the west side of Valencia Avenue.
“The school districts are what impressed me most,” Warble said. “When it comes right down to it, we moved here because of the good schools.”
Warble has discovered additional amenities to living in northern Placentia.
“This is a quiet neighborhood,” he said. “And it is close to the freeways, yet far enough away that you don’t ever hear the traffic. Cal State Fullerton is nearby and from here, everything is nearby. It’s very centrally located.”
Despite the positive features of the housing tract, many homes are currently on the market. Two or three homes on every block have “for sale” signs in the yards. While the recession has worked to decrease housing prices in the county, homeowners still find that their initial investment has grown to such a degree that holding onto the house seems unprofitable.
Realtor Carrie Craig has watched the housing market change.
“Houses used to list for no longer than 45 days,” she said. “Now, homeowners can plan on a sale taking at least four months. Anything over $200,000 is taking much longer to sell.”
On the other side of the homeowner spectrum, many families are remodeling and renovating their homes. These are the owners who may have raised families, but are reluctant to leave their dream house for a smaller home.
This is because there are still many people around who would like to hold onto their piece of an All-America neighborhood.
Population: Total (1990 est.): 4,174 1980-90 change: +13.7% Median age: 33.8 Radical/ethnic mix: White (non-Latino): 79% Black: Less than 1% Latino: 12% Other: 9%
By sex and age: in hundreds Males: Median age: 32.7 years Females: Median age: 33.2 years
Income: Per capita: $25,242 Median household: $65,695 Average household: $69,596 Income distribution: $100,000-and more: 13% $75,000-99,999: 22% $50,000-74,999: 40% $25,000-49,999: 20% Less than $25,000: 5%