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Citrus Heights City

Citrus Heights City Hall is located at 6237 Fountain Square Drive, Citrus Heights, CA 95621; phone: 916-725-2448.

Beginnings [1]

In 1862, a schoolhouse was built on five acres at Sylvan Corners, where the new Auburn Road crossed Sylvan Road. Sylvan School and Sylvan Corners became the educational, civic, social, and religious center of the small, rural community. The Sylvan area was given its name because of the pristine oak-dotted countryside. In 1864, the County Board of Supervisors approved a petition by local farmers to build Greenback Lane to connect Auburn Road to the eastern part of the Sylvan district. That same year, extension of the Central Pacific Railroad brought in new settlers and increased export of local crops.

Among the newcomers of the 1860s and '70s was Cornelius Donahue. Donahue established a ranch in 1863, which he later expanded in 1872 to include the area now home to the Sunrise MarketPlace. Another early settler, Peter Van Maren, amassed an almost 1,000-acre estate by 1875 located between today's Greenback Lane and Dewey Drive. The historic Rusch Home in Rusch Park dates back to 1885 when Fred and Julia Volle built the original sod-roofed house, which was replaced with the existing structure after a 1914 fire. Much of their 480-acre ranch is occupied by Rusch Park. The original San Juan School was built in 1880, making it one of the oldest remaining in the region and establishing the basis for the area's strong emphasis on education. In 1913, San Juan High School was built on Greenback Lane, where it remains in operation.

During the latter part of the 19th century, Sylvan Corners continued to provide lodging for teamsters, food for local markets, and a pastoral life for its primarily farming residents. By 1900, Sylvan was still largely a sparsely settled farming community consisting of a relatively small number of large landowners.

In 1910, quiet Sylvan underwent a marked change when the real estate firm Trainor & Desmond bought large tracts of idle land and subdivided them into 10-acre lots. To attract buyers, the firm replaced the name Sylvan with the catchier "Citrus Heights," although little citrus production ever developed. The Citrus Heights Water Takers Association provided irrigation water in 1911, initiating the transformation of the rural grain farming area into the present residential community.

The suburbanization of Citrus Heights began in 1912 with the construction of Highway 40, connecting San Francisco with Sacramento and Roseville, and the introduction of irrigation water in 1911 by the Citrus Heights Water Takers Association (later, Citrus Heights Irrigation District). The increase in both resident and visitor travel on the new state highway led to increased business opportunities, and a number of service stations, auto camps (motels), restaurants, and small general stores sprang up along Auburn Boulevard. The community built a library at Sylvan Corners in 1930.

During the Great Depression, attempts at fruit farming ended in Citrus Heights. A freeze in 1932 destroyed most of the remaining working orchards. A volunteer fire-fighting group was organized in 1934, and the Citrus Heights Fire District followed in 1935.

After World War II, families moved into new subdivisions with lots as small as one acre, straining an already limited water supply and escalating the need for new public facilities. In 1947, Citrus Heights opened its own post office in Wood's Variety Store. New businesses continued to accommodate the growing population along Auburn Boulevard, Mariposa Avenue, and Greenback Lane. By 1950, the San Juan Unified School District had grown to include eight elementary schools and one high school.

Postwar activity at the Southern Pacific Roseville railyards and McClellan Air Force Base, a supply center for forces around the Pacific Rim, attracted new residents to the area. By 1960, the population in Citrus Heights reached 22,600. Auburn Boulevard continued to serve as the community's main street, spurred by the 1960 construction of the Grand Oaks Plaza, one of the first enclosed malls in the country. Business at the Aerojet General rocket motor manufacturing plant boomed; the company employed more than 19,000 people locally at its peak in the early 1960s.

The groundbreaking for Sunrise Mall was in 1970, stimulating significant new growth in the Sunrise Boulevard-Greenback Lane area. In 1976, across Sunrise Boulevard from Sunrise Mall, rose Birdcage Town Centre, a collection of shops and businesses laid out along a park-like walkway. The two shopping centers spurred the construction of hundreds of additional businesses in the surrounding area. Radiating outward from this area, now known as Sunrise MarketPlace, came large office buildings, new apartment complexes and housing tracts, the bulk of which were built during the 1970s and 1980s. Sunrise Boulevard replaced Auburn Boulevard as the principal business and commercial center of Citrus Heights.

Beginning in 1974, Citrus Heights residents began to seriously pursue incorporation as means of achieving orderly and efficient development, circulation, and public facilities, rather than annexation into the City of Sacramento. The incorporation movement experienced a number of defeats during the 1970s and 1980s, attributable primarily to opposition by the County Board of Supervisors. The Citrus Heights Community Council, an advisory body to the Board of Supervisors, fought for increased land use controls and improved public services. The community's population continued to grow, as most of the last rural properties developed. The County seemed unable to address increased service needs resulting from the rapid growth, particularly in providing enough law enforcement officers to combat car thefts, residential burglaries, and vandalism. Finally on November 5, 1996, voters approved incorporation, and on January 1, 1997, the community became the City of Citrus Heights.

  1. City of Citrus Heights California, Citrus Heights General Plan, updated 2011, www.citrus, accessed August, 2013.
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