Tustin, when it incorporated 75 years ago this coming September, gave no indication that it would ever become the vibrant, successful community it is today. Barely 900 people lived within the small area now recognized as Old Town. Less than a third of the population had enough interest in incorporation to vote. Incorporation passed by 28 votes with 138 惣es’ and 110 ‘no.’
The newly elected mayor, Byron “Barney” Crawford; members of the first city council, Charles Logan, William Huntley, Edmund Kiser and Fred Schwendeman; city treasurer Walter J. Pollard and city clerk J. R. Harbour started from scratch. City offices were set up in borrowed space in the Knights of Pythias building.
Councilmen assumed specific duties. Kiser took charge of streets, walks and parks. Logan became fire and police commissioner. Huntley took over light and power. Schwendeman was responsible for health and safety. In December the city selected its first chief of police. Highly recommended by the city of Huntington Beach, John L. Stanton interviewed for the job and was hired immediately. Nicknamed “Big John” because of his 6�5″ height, he became a fixture at the corner of Main and D (El Camino Real). Seated in his car parked along the curb next to the side door to the drugstore, he kept an eye on traffic and mischievous kids until 1942.
The existing volunteer fire department continued to provide serve. Their fire truck, a converted 1912 Buick touring car donated by Sam Tustin, was housed at the Tustin Garage. Volunteers came on the run whenever the siren on the First National Bank building sounded. Eventually the fire department and city offices settled in a small stucco building on Third Street, but Tustin continued to operate with minimal staff and facilities. There were no full time firemen until 1962. It was 1974 before the city had a civic center complex with a city hall and police headquarters. A city treasurer and a city clerk are no longer sufficient staff. Tustin has added a city manager as well as numerous departments including finance, community development, business license, personnel services, public works, parks and recreation and redevelopment.
The police department has expanded from one man to hundreds of patrol officers, motorcycle officers and bike officers as well as plain clothesmen and K-9 units. Volunteer firemen have been replaced by professional firefighters from the Orange County Fire Authority.
The city now operates its own water department, contracts trash collection and disposal services, provides street sweeping and a myriad of other services not available to residents when Tustin incorporated in 1927.
Those 138 residents voting for incorporation really started something.