City Looks Ahead to Revitalizing Route 66

 California, Daily  Comments Off on City Looks Ahead to Revitalizing Route 66
Feb 282011

I have not been in Glendora for some time now – but it seems they need to embrace te ‘history’ of the route (like so many other successful towns) and try not to wipe the ‘hisotry’ away….


With the sunset of redevelopment agencies drawing near – as well the uncertain current state of redevelopment agencies – city officials hope to boost economic development along the historic corridor.

In its heyday, Route 66 was one of the nation’s main transportation arteries that spanned through eight different states. But since the road’s decommission in the 1980s, many communities where the highway passes through have maintained the road’s name if only for historic and cultural value.

In Glendora, much of the city’s portion of Route 66 remains as it has for decades. Car repair and automotive shops line a portion of the road. But in an era where big box retailers and malls have replaced mom-and-pop businesses as central areas of retail, businesses along the corridor are struggling. Route 66 has been plagued with high vacancies.

With redevelopment agencies slated to sunset in 2019 – as well as the uncertain state of redevelopment agencies following Gov. Jerry Brown state proposal – city officials are looking into ways to speed up the process to revitalize its portion of the historic route into a sales tax-generating area. But planning for commercial, industrial, office, retail and residential development along the corridor is a long, slow and challenging process.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the council discussed future development plans as outlined in the city’s 20-year Route 66 Specific Plan, including possible projects to consolidate small parcels of land along the route and create more possibilities for future businesses. The Specific Plan determined types of desired development for different areas along the route.

While Route 66 currently generates far less sales tax revenue than other commercial areas, city officials say it provides a significant number of workforce opportunities, including Armstrong Nurseries, America’s Christian Credit Union and incoming Loopnet.

But dwindling redevelopment funds and the lack of eminent domain has limited and delayed development efforts on the historic route.

According to City Manager Chris Jeffers, current zoning along the route has allowed for multiple uses on small parcels. To update a considerable amount of property in the area, developers may have to deal with several owners, of which all may not be willing to sell.

“These small uses are underperforming,” said Jeffers. “It’s impeded, slowed and retarded economic growth from happening because of those facts. For instance, why would we have, in one of the major thoroughfares across this country, a junkyard? Does someone want to make an investment of millions of dollars knowing they’re right next to a junkyard? This is where economic blight comes in.”

According to Planning and Redevelopment Director Jeff Kugel, 14 percent of the city’s sales tax is generated from businesses on Route 66. Most of Route 66 is within a redevelopment zone – Project Area 3 – that does not generate any more tax increment. Kugel said about $7 million is left for improvement projects in Project Area 3, a number he said does not cover all of the proposed projects for the area.

The physical makeup of the route compounds difficulties in developing large-scale projects along the route.

“The challenge of assembling these parcels is that the road is bordered to the north by the Gold Line,” said council member Gene Murabito. “Parcels are not very deep and we have to assemble east to west.”

Location logistics is also affecting a proposed development at a former mortuary at 363 W. Route 66. Developers are proposing an 8,300-square-foot banquet hall on the land. But limited surrounding space – the property sits adjacent to a mobile home park— poses parking challenges. A public hearing on the project is planned at the planning commission meeting, Tuesday, March 1 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

But with recently acquired properties along and around the corridor, the city is looking forward to new development. A baseball school is slated for an area on Route 66 and Amelia, along with housing development near the future Metro Gold Line. A vacant portion on Glendora Avenue and Route 66 has also been acquired.

Even with time and money constraints, city officials say that all future development will stay on course with the city’s Specific Plan.

“The key issue is that we need to keep consistency in this plan and avoid inclination to try to change it, monkey with it, fool with it before it has the chance to reach its full potential,” said Mayor Pro Tem Doug Tessitor.


More Kicks (in Rancho Cucamonga) for Route 66

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Feb 062011

A new pedestrian bridge connecting the final section of the Pacific Electric Trail will be just one of the amenities included as part of the Foothill Boulevard Improvement Project.

I will cut to the chase and just have you go straight to the story and the ‘virtual’ drive and walk-thru of the proposed project.

I am VERY impressed with the 3D work they did for this presentation. It is well worth the 4 minutes to watch it.

Click HERE to go to the website – read the story – and view the video.

Historic Route 66 gas station in Rancho Cucamonga – on the chopping block?

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Feb 062011

I was notified this Historic Gas Station on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga was scheduled to be leveled in the near future.

An offer of $150,000 was presented to purchase it from a private owner – and the offer was refused.
One of the reasons was because of ‘not enough parking’. Apparently there are plans to tear it down with the other buildings behind it and use the property for some other type of business. It seems not a matter of ‘if’, but more like ‘when’.

I find this a little upsetting with Rancho Cucamonga in the news so many times lately about how they are embracing and realizing the importance of Route 66 running through their town and how to capitalize off of it like so many other towns up and down the route.

I do not know if this news is old or not – but the topic was brought up again just a few days ago – and it seems the town will not change their mind about saving this building and any type of preservation.
If this is so – is saddens me such a picturesque building has to simply ‘disappear’.

If anyone has any other additional information on this property or if there are any correction – please Email me at

Carty’s Camp in Needles CA on Route 66

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Feb 042011

Tucked away behind the famous 66 Motel (Route 66 Motel) in Needles CA – hidden by a fence and some over-growth is the remains of the historic Carty’s Camp.

The camp is probably best known for its cameo in the movie ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ after the family finally crosses into California, and drive up Route 66 with Carty’s Camp in the background as the camera slowly pans to the ‘Welcome to Needles’ sign. You pretty much see the ‘Carty’s Camp’ sign on top of the gas station – but you can not see the actual camp.

It is reported the crew stayed the night here while filming the scene.

While talking to the owners of the 66 Motel, I was given a personal tour of the remains of the camp. The remains pretty much consist of a row of ‘back to back’ rooms which were beyond repair. I was told tents were here before the cabins and there used to be dates in the back area the workers used to go out and pick during harvest season.

I poked my head inside a few cabins and things look almost frozen in time, not touched for years. It almost looked like no one has stepped back there in a very long time.

I really didn’t know too much about Carty’s Camp until I took the tour. I actually went back and watched ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ again, and sure enough – the sign was front and center on the screen!

Please remember it is on private property and the owners of the 66 Motel do not own that property – so you will not be able to go back there – and the owners of the 66 Motel probably do no want to be considered ‘tour guides’ for something which is not theirs.

Route 66 Motel (66 Motel) – Needles CA

 California, Daily, Help Route 66  Comments Off on Route 66 Motel (66 Motel) – Needles CA
Jan 312011

On a recent trip into Needles CA – I was fortunate enough to meet the owners of the Route 66 Motel. The motel is no longer taking guests – as it is now used for monthly rentals. The owners told me they would rather have travelers stay – but with the economy the way it has been, they need to rely on the monthly rent their tenants give them.

They also mentioned the idea of trying to get a grant to ‘work on the exterior of the place’ was not too far fetched. If they decided to start taking travelers – then they would have to go back into the individual rooms and do a 100% remodel.

After talking to them further – we looked at the sign and the owner told me ‘I can’t tell you how many people stop and take pictures of that sign! If I had a dollar….’ It’s funny because most owners who have businesses on Route 66 and have a neat and interesting sign – all say the same thing!!

So, I offered them something they were not expecting. I told them we all know it is one of the most photographed signs on the route and I would be honored to repaint it and replace all the yellow bulbs on it – for free. I do this because I am hell-bent on preserving these historic places on Route 66.

I told them I cannot do the neon because we have to figure a way to make sure the ‘local kids’ stop throwing rocks at it and breaking the neon. I am working on a plan for that as well.

Ironically, they said they felt the sign is it’s own attraction and they really don’t need to use it as a connection with their business – but they see the importance and how much folks love it – and they were very welcome to the idea of me helping them preserve it.

So I will post some pics when I get back out there shortly – and hopefully I will do a decent and respectable job!!

Neon lights revived along West Hollywood’s Route 66

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Jan 222011

Great pictures of neon at its best! Neon and Route 66 just go together!!

By LeTania Kirkland
A new outdoor exhibit featuring neon art of the Route 66 era seeks to portray the medium and its creations as indispensable to the artistic heritage and landscape of Los Angeles.

The public exhibit, “On Route 66, Lights,” combines four vintage neon art pieces from the collection of The Museum of Neon Art, as well as a suggested route and 21-page color roadmap of still existent neon signs.

MONA and the city of West Hollywood joined forces to celebrate the city’s 25th anniversary with a self-guided tour of neon art along Santa Monica Blvd (which was once a portion of Route 66) and the Sunset strip.

“As time moves forward into the future and we look back at these things, they really are folk art objects,” said Kim Koga, MONA’s downtown director.

A neon exhibit seemed a fitting way to honor “The Mother Road” and the city it helped create. After all, the first neon sign — for a Packard car dealership — was displayed in Los Angeles. And Route 66 — the quintessential California thoroughfare — became a hot bed of neon signage shortly thereafter.

Neon thrived on the billboards that flanked Route 66 as it did along LA’s sidestreets, fed by LA’s booming car culture, and has become an indispensable aspect of the history and aesthetic of each.

One sign, a 17-foot Winchell’s Donut — originally displayed in Plummer Park — resided on Route 66 in Upland. It was donated to MONA by the Barstow Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum.

The project was partly conceived of as a way to display some of the many pieces of vintage neon, much of which had been sitting in storage since MONA’s relocation to its new, smaller home downtown on 4th Street.

Koga put out the word around town that MONA had pieces of art waiting to be seen. It was then that West Hollywood cultural affairs administrator Andrew Campbell approached Koga with the On Route 66 proposal.

“I don’t think a lot of people would think about putting neon in their main art median,” said Campbell. Campbell is pleased that the “creative city” is celebrating a medium often seen as purely commercial.

“I think it’s a very fun thing to see that these people who may not have considered themselves artists we look at as artists today.”

“On Route 66” is a part of West Hollywood’s “Art on the Outside” program, which utilizes the city’s prominent road medians to display sculpture.

Click HERE to see the full video and many other neon signs.

California Route 66 Association holds meeting in Needles

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Jan 202011

NEEDLES – Members of the California Historic Route 66 Association were treated to a tour as part of their meeting in Needles Jan. 8.

The association, a statewide organization divided into three corridors – east, central and west – is focused on preserving, promoting and educating people to the importance of Route 66 in California, Darleen Bitter, organization president, said in a formal statement.

Some goals of the organization include identifying property along Route 66 that is in need of preservation, seeking scenic byways status for Route 66, networking with other groups interested in preservation and educating others about the historic route through outreach activities. Elected officers for the group are Bitter as president; Linda Fitzpatrick, vice president east; Keith Conilogue, vice president central; Dan Rice, vice president west; Terry Kafides, secretary and Lynne Miller, treasurer. Trustees include John Kafides, Steve Bitter, Ed Dietl, Jessica Rice, Tom Miller, Danny Castro, Jennie Avila and Chi Hamilton.

The group met at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant for a general meeting and then took a tour of Needles. They also toured Needles Theater. They met with Bureau of Land Management representative Danella George to discuss the scenic byways program.

Georgia Breault, president of the Needles Downtown Business Alliance; Shawn Gudmundson, city council member; Cindy Semione of the community development department for Needles; and Jim Conkle, Route 66 promoter, all attended the meeting as guests.

The association will rotate meeting sites between Needles, Rancho Cucamonga and Santa Monica. The organization is made up of volunteers and encourages new active members. Anyone interested may contact Linda Fitzpatrick for more information at

Rancho Cucamonga mayor sees turnaround on horizon – Route 66

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Jan 192011

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – The city’s future is bright, Mayor Dennis Michael told a group of community and business leaders at his first State of the City address on Wednesday at Etiwanda Gardens.

Michael displayed his optimistic outlook to a crowd of about 120 people at the annual luncheon hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. The former fire chief and newly elected mayor outlined a number of ongoing and future projects – including Foothill Boulevard’s widening and Hellman Avenue storm drain construction – as infrastructure developments that will help the city exit the economic slump.

“These projects not only benefit the community but they also help stimulate our local economy and create jobs right now,” Michael said. “This is just the type of jump start we need during a time when many businesses and families are being challenged due to our local and nation’s economy.”

A video simulation was shown of a widened Foothill Boulevard at the city’s western limits. The computer graphics showed a trailhead park and a Route 66-themed bridge near Baker Avenue.

Michael said the project, expected to be finished at the end of the year, will stimulate growth in an area that “needs it so drastically.”

“Words can’t describe how great this portion of Foothill Boulevard will look,” he said. “It will be the jewel of the entire stretch of Route 66.”

Later this year, construction will begin on Wilson Avenue from East Avenue to Wardman Bullock Road to provide a sidewalk and one lane of traffic each way in that northeast neighborhood.
Construction of the Hellman Fire Station in the Alta Loma neighborhood is also expected to be complete later in the year. The station, which will be equipped to fight hillside fires, has been in the fire district’s plans since the 1970s.

“Patience has truly paid off,” Michael said.

The mayor described an economic comeback on the horizon, with housing developers beginning to inquire about land and permitting processes and sales tax inching slightly upwards.

“We are beginning to see progress,” he said.

Last year, the city’s Redevelopment Agency was able to convince laser technology company SpectraSensors to stay in the city thanks to a grant from the county. The city also welcomed Sharp Electronics, which relocated here from Orange County, bringing 100 new jobs to the area.

“Our creativity and resilience continues to be tested but we also know that these tough economic times will not last forever,” Michael said. “And regardless of what is occurring at a national or state level, we have built a vibrant community with great schools, an excellent infrastructure and quality projects that will endure this economic downturn.”

Twists and turns on Route 66 in Pasadena

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Jan 072011

The nation and the world probably know one small strip of Highway 66 better than any other section of the 2,400-mile road. That stretch is Colorado Boulevard, where the annual Tournament of Roses Parade has marched along since the l890s.

The festivities have grown in grandeur and popularity through the years. And with it, television coverage of the parade has delivered Route 66 with its magnificent mountain backdrop right into homes worldwide.

From Arcadia, cross Rosemead and Route 66 becomes Colorado Boulevard through eastern Pasadena. For motorists making an effort to follow America’s Highway today, the trip can be frustrating and confusing. Numerous old and new alignments exist, but the adventure can be rewarding and fun if one follows the recommendations and maps contained in a guide entitled “Finding the End of the Mother Road” by Scott Piotrowski.

See along the way restaurants such as Cameron’s, punctuated by its large neon fish sign, Jakes and the Rose City Diner, touting ambience of years past. Here antique stores abound, as do vintage motels which remain as a testament to the time when travelers were in dire need of shelter and food.

A few feet south of the Road on El Molino Avenue is the Pasadena Playhouse, housed in a beautiful building of Spanish architecture which was constructed in 1917.

To enjoy the Road, take note of the remaining old churches while following Piotrowski’s guide and the Route 66 road signs through Old Town.

In one alignment, Route 66 follows Colorado Boulevard over the Arroyo Seco across the 1913 Colorado Street Bridge, famous for its graceful curves. Nicknamed “suicide bridge,” it is said that during the Great Depression numerous individuals jumped from the structure.

Following Colorado Boulevard, the Road passes Figueroa Street into Eagle Rock and, in 1934, followed what is now Eagle Rock Boulevard. However, the original 1926 Route turned south on Fair Oaks Avenue to Huntington Drive, Mission Road, North Broadway and Sunset Boulevard.

The turn on Fair Oaks reveals a myriad of remnants of the Road’s heyday leading into South Pasadena. The Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain was in full swing at the dedication of Route 66, having opened in 1915. Located at the corner of Mission and Fair Oaks, it continues to serve its famed fountain drinks. Gus’s Barbecue, established in 1946, still dishes up the juicy ribs that have attracted customers since that time. Probably one of the most controversial and photographed sites in the area is the 1925 Rialto Theater, one of the last single-screen movie theaters in Southern California. Will this icon fall victim to the wrecking ball? Not if the many preservationalists bent on saving the structure have their way. Only time will tell.

A far cry from the dusty desert towns and the communities along the vanished citrus groves of the San Gabriel Valley, the Route from Pasadena west becomes convoluted, rife with traffic and congestion.

Even pulling over to take a photo can be problematic. But the icons are there for those who care to search and the history in the area is rich and colorful.

As the Route closes in on the City of the Angels, vintage buildings hint of a past era. But first the Road cuts through Highland Park, a town surprisingly flush with Route 66 signs and icons.

It is perhaps here that travelers become frustrated with the hustle and bustle of city life. However, the end is in sight as the Will Rogers Highway will soon disappear at the Pacific Coast.

By Claudia Heller, Correspondent –

Route 66 store shutters its doors

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Jan 062011

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Route 66 through this city is characterized by an abandoned gas station, Sycamore Inn, Magic Lamp and a metal dinosaur with three heads. But, starting today, that menacing figure on Foothill Boulevard is extinct.
For 15 years, Route 66 Memories sold its metal dinosaurs, water fountains, old gas pumps and other memorabilia from the Mother Road. But the lingering recession did not spare the store or its foreboding dinosaurs.

On Tuesday, owner Rosa Ramos watched as her husband, Gilbert Ramos, and other workers put the remnants of the store on the back of trucks. The dinosaur with three heads went with the patio furniture and garden gnomes. Meanwhile, Rosa sobbed.

“I get too emotional. I don’t really want to believe it.”

A worker carries away items to a waiting trailer on Tuesday, the last day for Route 66 Memories on Foothill Boulevard in Rancho Cucamonga. After 15 years, the memorablia store closed due to effects of the recession. “We didn’t want to leave,” she said. “But the economy was really bad.”
“They didn’t have money to buy fountains or art that my dad makes,” said Ramos’ daughter, Michelle Ramos. “We have our loyal customers but it was just not enough.”

Route 66 Memories was kitschy and unique – a souvenir shop for those who revere the nation’s famed highway. But these aren’t souvenirs of the refrigerator magnet variety. These were souvenirs of towering Spinosaurus and wrought-iron salamanders.

Melissa Guerrero, a Highland resident who drives by Route 66 Memories every day, was reduced to tears when she paid her last visit to the store.

“I want to cry,” Guerrero said. “This is a landmark. This is Route 66.”

The store leaves the city at a time of much transformation on Foothill Boulevard. Last year, the city tore down the 81-year-old bridge near Baker Avenue to widen Foothill and spruce up the aging thoroughfare. A portion of the original Route 66, now shaded by old eucalyptus trees west of Vineyard Avenue, will be preserved in a trailhead park, scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

As part of the street-widening project, the city will maintain the Mother Road theme but much of those decorations – like the art work on the new bridge or the road paving with the Route 66 insignia – will be shiny and new. They look nothing like the decrepit house that the Ramoses found years ago.

Built in 1900, the Foothill Boulevard house west of Haven Avenue was occupied by mostly transients when Rosa Ramos set her eyes on it.

“I saw this house and it was all ugly,” she remembered. “But I closed my eyes and I saw basically what it’s been for the last 15 years. I wanted to make Route 66 come back to life and we did it.”

The Ramoses put a lot of sweat equity into the home. They first lived on the second floor and raised their children there. Eventually, they moved elsewhere in the city.

Michelle Ramos, 19, the oldest of three children, remembers growing up in the family business. When she was young, she’d watch shooting stars from the back patio and during holidays, she could see the fireworks from The Epicenter. In high school, she worked part time at the store to earn money for prom.

The lemon, tangerine and avocado trees planted when Michelle was young are now sagging with fruit.

“There’s so many memories here,” Michelle said.

On Tuesday, the building was nearly empty. A faded sign, once an item for sale, sat on a chair and read, “Memories are perhaps the best gifts of all.”

Next week, the family will go on vacation to figure out their next move. For now, they are storing the remaining merchandise in Victorville, where they own property.

Rosa Ramos has started new chapters in her life many times. The native of El Salvador was once a singer and served in the air force in Brazil. She also owned a jewelry business in Los Angeles.

But her true love is Route 66 and losing this store has been heartbreaking.

“I’ve been crying for two weeks,” she said.

As a young girl growing up in El Salvador, Ramos had an American pen pal who sent her postcards of Route 66. Scenes of that open road excited her and she made it a dream to someday visit.

In 1983, Rosa took a 15-day drive from Santa Monica to Chicago in her 1966 Chevy Nova, seeing the sights made familiar by postcards. It was the first of several Route 66 road trips she would take. Two years ago, she took two of her children on that iconic drive.

They returned from their trip to a nasty economy. Few had the expendable income for decorative pieces that the store sold. The family thought they could weather the economic storm but they were wrong.

“We can’t continue,” said Rosa Ramos. “We’ve put all our savings into it. I can’t continue to feed something that doesn’t produce. I’m crushed.”

Rosa Ramos said she may open a store in Victorville or Newport Beach in the future. She does not rule out opening again at the same Foothill Boulevard location should the economy revive.

To purchase the remaining Route 66 Memories merchandise, call 909-843-0498