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City of Irvine: The Early Days
Orange County Public Libraries
Serrato, Richard
Woollett, Bill
Contributing Institution
OC Public Libraries
California Revealed from Orange County Public Libraries
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Irvine's first City Manager recalls creating the City of Irvine in the early 1970's.
Hi, I’m Bill Woollett and I had the pleasure of being the first City Manager of the City of Irvine. I got here shortly after incorporation in January of 1972 and I served until October of 1989 and I have to tell you it was a growing experience. I had been the City Manager, previously, of Los Angeles. Managed three cities, but I’d sort of taken a vacation to do this. So I came down here from Santa Barbara. I was starting out with really kind of a clean slate and we were dealing basically with one landowner. Very unusual combination. Very unusual combination. [At] that time, the city was a little over 10,000 people. [Illegible] has grown tremendously. The street wasn’t even paved in front of the university when we incorporated it. We had no staff. We had one secretary and myself. So we negotiated an agreement with the City of Costa Mesa - lasted about three years – and we paid them to basically add the area of our city to theirs for police services. And I got to be the Police Chief for three years. We had people – streakers! – who came to the City Council meeting. They were students from UCI (mostly) who lived in tents because the housing was so difficult. So we had a very close working relationship with the university from the beginning. We were using their old faculty dining room right across the street from the administration building and they were most gracious and helpful to us. We had one book mobile and the book mobile wasn’t in town very much. People who really feel strongly about the community enough to spend the time and the energy and maybe even the money, but certainly the time and energy and effort to create a city are an unusual breed of people. I mean, they have an idea of what they want to do and they know what kind of organization they want to have. They know generally the kinds of services they want to have and then they just get together and follow the process, bring it to a vote and if it goes, why, you have a city. And that’s exactly what happened to Irvine. But the enthusiasm and the willingness to take risks, and the absolute frankness with which they dealt with me and also others, I thought was remarkable.
California Preservation Service (CAPS)
moving image
Cities and planning
Woollett, Bill
The California Revealed Project is supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

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