Realm of creatures, comforts
La Habra Heights is about opulence: sprawling properties with orchards and canyon views, rolling hills with room for horses to roam, a golf course and trails for hiking and deep breathing.
Originally part of the expansive La Habra Rancho, the land that now comprises the Heights was sold to W.J. Hole in 1900 for $15 per acre.
When a reservoir was completed in 1921, large parcels were sold to avocado growers, who planted orchards, some of which grace the landscape today. The popular Hass avocado was cultivated here, and many of the town’s streets are named after the fruit’s varieties, such as Chota, Popenoe and Sharpless.
La Habra Heights has attracted its share of movers and shakers seeking refuge from the madding crowd. Laura Scudder of potato-chip fame owned a house here, as did Herman Smith, founder of Smith Industries International, a manufacturer for the oil industry. Residents also included Dema Harshbarger, who was Hedda Hopper’s media rep, western movie actor Jack Holt and author Kirby Page.
What it’s about
Horse ownership in the Heights is not de rigueur, but guacamole at social events is.
With large, rustic properties and community trails perfect for equestrian activity, many owners indulge in the horse hobby. La Habra Heights’ Highland Riders equestrian club holds horse shows and maintains local trails.
But equine activity isn’t the only show in town (just ask the avocado growers). Mayor Brian Bergman’s family has raised chickens. One year, his daughter cared for a calf on a neighbor’s property.
Other locals raise llamas and goats.
And, of course, there is golf. The Hacienda Golf Club, with 18 holes, views and a Spanish-style clubhouse, is one of the oldest in Southern California.
La Habra Heights’ winding, tree-lined streets beckon outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers and bicyclists enjoy Powder Canyon, a 517-acre wilderness reserve with trails connecting to 640-acre Schabarum Regional Park in bordering Rowland Heights. It has an 18-station fitness trail, an equestrian center, soccer fields and playgrounds.
Growing up on her family’s 5-acre spread in the Heights was “the best childhood anyone could ever imagine,” said Maryanne Price, who raised her own kids in the Heights. Her father organized baseball games in a large field nearby, and she and her friends used the wild mustard field across the street as their personal playground.
“I rode my pony and horse all over the place,” said the 62-year-old middle-school teacher. “Sheep grazed nearby, and we’d bring the lambs home, bottle-feed them and send them back.”
Price’s brother raised turkeys and chickens and sold eggs. Her father built a playhouse on the land that she and her husband now own. She and her childhood friends whiled away their summers playing Davy Crockett in the avocado orchard. “We had no TV but plenty of time to use our imaginations,” Price said.
There are about 2,298 single-family homes in La Habra Heights. Currently, 57 homes are listed for sale, from $498,000 for a one-bedroom home in 594 square feet on 2.1 acres to $3.6 million for a seven-bedroom home in 7,150 feet on 1 acre.
La Habra Heights kids attend Macy Elementary School, which scored 895 out of a possible 1,000 on the 2007 Growth Academic Performance Index Base Report; Murphy Ranch and El Portal elementary schools scored 887 and 850, respectively. Rancho Starbuck Intermediate School scored 802; La Habra High, 745; and Sonora High, 756.
Residential resales: Year...Median Price
*Year to date
Sources: DataQuick Information Systems; www.cde.ca.gov; Jan and Rick Fiore, Century 21 Jervis & Associates, La Habra; www.la-habra-heights.org/.