The Post-war years and new political developments
The many wartime changes that occurred in Carlsbad created a series of events that eventually had a major impact on Carlsbads’ view of itself. By war's end, Carlsbad was thriving economically. The influx of military families had revived the real estate market and the business community. GI's settling in town created an environment that was different from the prewar years. The water system was overtaxed by the increase in population. Even construction of the Calaveras Dam was not a significant solution to the water problem. The postwar population increase placed a strain on the local school system causing overcrowding. The lack of basic services inadvertently set up a situation that eventually led to incorporation. By the early 1950s a series of events led to a growing dissatisfaction with the San Diego County’s administration of Carlsbad. Residents believed that a better understanding of their problems and a faster solution to those problems would occur if civic matters were handled locally. Each problem or issue that Carlsbad faced was not enough of an individual reason to generate total support or a need for creating a new city. However, viewed together these issues functioned as building blocks to create a new Carlsbad identity. Some folks argued in favor of one particular "Straw that broke the camel’s back” that forced an incorporation vote. But the facts supported a series of independent events that joined at about the same time to create a unique window of opportunity that lead to formation of an independent city.
Carlsbad 's first de facto government was the Chamber Commerce, founded in 1923 by Roy Chase. Catering for many years to the fledgling business community, the Chamber worked in the best interest of all Carlsbad residents by focusing their combined efforts on finding solutions to local problems. Chamber members petitioned the San Diego County Supervisors for road improvements, building codes, street lighting and updated sewer systems. It was the Chamber that paid for tourism advertisements and installation of street signs. The Chamber also began street beautification programs to clean up vacant land and plant trees and flowers throughout the downtown. As the city grew, so did the Chamber of Commerce workload. By the late 1940s the Chamber of Commerce had an organization of hard working community minded members with the expertise and reputation to handle a variety of civic business.
Dewey McClellan, son in law of Chamber founder Roy Chase, and Chamber President himself in 1932 and 1946, was a well-respected man in Carlsbad. Viewed as honest, hard working and intelligent, many ordinary citizens sought his opinion and advice on community related issues. According to Al Jandros, he and Reg Marron Senior introduced Mr. Kay Kalika of Gorden Whittenall and Associates to Dewey McClellan. Kalika recommended to McClellan that Carlsbad might consider incorporation as a solution to the many problems facing the town. It was becoming increasingly obvious that the workload to just maintain the status quo in town was a tremendous burden on the Chamber of Commerce.
Jandros and Marron had hired Whittenall and Associates to evaluate property they owned that ran south of Buena Vista Creek. This property, which later became Plaza Camino Real Mall, had a high salt content from sea intrusion and was considered worthless for farming. The release in 1950 of the Standford Survey detailed projected population increases in San Diego County and the needed road additions and improvements to accommodate the increase. Jandros and Marron hoped that their worthless farmland could be good for commercial development. Kalika suggested that this land was a terrific site for commercial development since two roads that were slated for major improvements, Highway 78 and El Camino Real, surrounded it. However, Kalika pointed out to McClellan, Jandros and Marron that developers for such a project preferred working with local governments, since they received quicker response on building issues than if they dealt with county bureaucracy.
While this issue was taking shape on the northern end of town, another equally important and more immediate development was occurring along the ocean and Agua Hedionda Lagoon. In 1948, the San Diego Gas and Electric Company bought 110 acres along the Agua Hedionda Lagoon to construct a power plant. Development of the power plant would generate more than just electricity, it would produce a tremendous amount of tax money, funds that could be used to establish and maintain a city government. By the early 1950s the power plant represented a potential source of income to run a city. We also have an idea planted that incorporation and the formation of local government would solve many issues and problems. On January 1, 1952 an event that acted as a catalyst brought everything to a head.
A devastating house fire occurred on New Years Day 1952 which underlined Carlsbad’s totally inadequate municipal services. By the time the fire was over, the series of events associated with it could only be termed a dark comedy of errors. Early on the morning of January 1, 1952, when smoke was first seen rising from the Garlock house, neighbors thought they were burning trash. Later in the day, at 2:40 p.m. people realized that the home was on fire and a call was placed to the State Forestry Station. The truck was out on another call but by 3 p.m. the truck arrived along with the Carlsbad Volunteer Fire Department crew. The problem was, they had no equipment to fight the fire. Finally at 3:15 P.M. Oceanside's Fire Department arrived and at 3:30 P.M. another State Forestry truck from Del Mar was on the scene, but there were no water hydrants close by. As a truck pumped out its tanks it had to go to Pine School on Harding Street to refill and then drive back to the Garlock Home on Oak Street. By 6 P.M. the fire fighters believed that the fire was under control and left. At 7 P.M. the fire rekindled, but the Carlsbad based State Forestry Truck was in La Mesa. Del Mar, again sent their truck, which arrived at 8 P.M. and stayed until 11 P.M., when the fire was finally extinguished. Unfortunately, by this time, the Garlock Home was totally destroyed.