A City for a New Century

Double congratulations to the city of Fillmore for being named “the best community in the West” by Sunset magazine and for taking a political step toward becoming an even stronger community by repealing its pointless and divisive “English only” resolution.

In 1985, Fillmore became the first city in the nation to declare English as its official language. Just one sentence long, the resolution had no enforceable provisions but sent a message that many of the city’s 13,600 residents found offensive: Foreigners aren’t welcome here.

City Councilman Roger Campbell, who voted for the original ordinance, now says the law served no purpose. “If there is still some pain being caused by this resolution, then I think we ought to change it,” he told The Times.

Scratching that vestige of xenophobia off the books, as the City Council did by unanimous vote last week, allows all residents to share in the pleasure of the Sunset magazine honor.


Each year the magazine rates the West’s top cities in the categories of Best Community, Best Arts, Best Preservation, Best Waterfront and Best Transportation. Along with Fillmore, this year’s honorees are Santa Barbara; San Luis Obispo; Portland, Ore.; Spokane, Wash.; and Boulder, Colo.

The publishers wrote that “over the last year, writers and editors searched for communities doing outstanding work at meeting the challenges offered by urban life at the start of the 21st century"--including such issues as dealing with commutes, reviving downtowns and main streets, preserving open space and creating the “vital quality of a sense of community.”

Its choice of Fillmore as Best Community was based in part on the quick rebuilding of the city’s historic downtown after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, a revival that came about through “intense community involvement.”

“We seem to really come together, especially when there is a need,” said Mayor Evaristo Barajas. “There is a lot of togetherness in this town.”


With its rebuilt and reinforced downtown, its lovely setting in the Santa Clara Valley and its historic steam train that offers visitors a lazy ride through the citrus orchards to Santa Paula and back, Fillmore retains much of the charm it had nearly a century ago.

“I always hear people say coming here is like a trip back into time,” says Mayor Barajas, “because of the atmosphere and the way everyone treats each other here.”

Repealing the English-only measure is a worthy affirmation of Fillmore residents’ belief in working together and treating each other right.