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Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley. California 


Volume II 


Interviews with 

Mathew P. Whitfield 
Wallace R. Pond 

John Brooks 
Robert Fisher. M.D. 
Laurence W. Milnes 
William D. Patterson 

Interviews Conducted by 

Ann Lage 

Carole Hicke 

John Caswell 

in 1955, 1982, 1986 and 1987 

Copyright (c\ 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 

Since 195A the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing 
leading participants in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the 
development of northern California, the West, and the nation. Oral history 
is a modern research technique involving an interviewee and an informed 
interviewer in spontaneous conversation. The taped record is transcribed, 
lightly edited for continuity and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. 
The resulting manuscript is typed in final form, indexed, bound with 
photographs and illustrative materials, and placed in The Bancroft Library 
at the University of California. Berkeley and other research collections for 
scholarly use. Because it is primary material, oral history is not intended 
to present the final, verified, or complete narrative of events. It is a 
spoken account, offered by the interviewee in response to questioning, and 
as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, and irreplaceable. 


This manuscript is made available for research purposes. 
All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to 
publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library of the University 
of California, Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted 
for publication without the written permission of the Director of 
The Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be 
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office. 486 Library, 
University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include 
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated 
use of the passages, and identification of the user. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as 

To cite the volume: The Patterson Family and Ranch; 
Southern Alameda County in Transition, Volume II, "Water, 
Development, and Preservation in Southern Alameda County." 
an oral history project of the Regional Oral History Office 
conducted in 1955, 1982, 1986-1987, The Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley. 1988. 

To cit individual interview: Mathew P. Whitfield, ISeneral 
Manager of the Alameda County Water District. 1953-1977." an 
oral history interview conducted 1986 by Ann Lage. in The 
Patterson Family and Ranch; Southern Alameda County in 
Transition, Volume II, Regional Oral History Office, The 
Bancroft Library, University of California. Berkeley, 1988. 

Copy No. 

ca. 1977 

Photograph by Steve Rubiolo 


The Bancroft Library, on behalf of future researchers, wishes to thank the 
following organizations and individuals whose contributions made possible 
this oral history project. 

Alameda County Water District 

Brooks Family Foundation 

City of Fremont 

East Bay Regional Park District 

Oliver De Silva Company 

David and Joan Patterson 

Dorothy Patterson 

J. B. Patterson Trust 

Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 




Dairying on the Patterson Ranch, 1924-1950 

ELVAMAE ROSE BORGHI Girlhood in a Patterson Ranch Farm Family, 1931-1948 



Observations of a Ranch Worker's Son, 1918-1950s 

Working for Henry Patterson, 1930s-1950s 

The Logan Family in Alvarado 

A Neighboring Farmer Recalls the Early Days 

The L. S. Williams Company: Farming in Southern 
Alameda County, 1930s-1980 

Farming on Fremont's Northern Plain in the 1980s: 
Agriculture's Last Stand 


MATHEW P. WHITFIELD General Manager of the Alameda County Water District, 




The Pattersons and the Incorporation of Fremont 

Consultant to the Patterson Family: Master Planner, 
Developer, and Politician 

History and Politics: The Creation of Ardenwood 
Regional Preserve 

LAURENCE W. MILNES Ardenwood Regional Preserve and the City of Fremont 
WILLIAM D. PATTERSON The Alameda County Water District, 1914-1955 




Overland Journey. 1849 

Family Lore: The Pattersons and Their Land Since 
the 1850s 









Whipples, Beards. Ingalls. and Pattersons: Looking 
at the Hawley Family Tree 

Haw ley Family Memories 

Growing Up at Ardenwood 

A Son-in-Law Remembers Henry Patterson and Assesses 
Ranch Development 

Overseeing the Transition from Ranching to Property 

Patterson Property Management. 1970s-1980s 

Balancing Agriculture and Development, Family and 
Public Interests 

Donald Patterson and Patterson Ranch Management, 

Recalling the Pattersons' Past: The Family. Land, 
and Historic Homes 

Youth on the Patterson Ranch. 1950s-1963 

Summers at Ardenwood with Grandparents Sarah and 
Henry Patterson 

TABLE OF CONTENTS Volume II: Water. Development, and Preservation in 

Southern Alameda County 


INTRODUCTION by Leon G. Campbell 








General Manager of the Alameda County 
Water District, 1953-1977 

The Pattersons and the Incorporation 
of Fremont 


Consultant to the Patterson Family: Master 
Planner, Developer, and Politician 141 

History and Politics: The Creation of 
Ardenwood Regional Preserve 208 



Laurence W. Milnes, "Ardenwood Regional 
Preserve and the City of Fremont" 264 

William D. Patterson, The Alameda 

County Water District, 1914-1955 278 




The Patterson Ranch 

The historic George Washington Patterson home and ranch in Fremont. 
California, provides the focus for this oral history project which explores 
changing patterns of land-use in southern Alameda County over the past 130 
years. George Washington Patterson was a forty-niner from Lafayette, 
Indiana, who left the gold fields to settle on the rich alluvial plain 
created by Alameda Creek, on the southeastern shore of San Francisco Bay. 
He accumulated properties to form a 4,000-acre ranch in this area known as 
Washington Township and an additional 10,000 acres inland in the Livermore 
Valley. In 1877, he married Clara Hawley and added on to his home to create 
the Queen Anne style mansion that now is the centerpiece of the Ardenwood 
Regional Preserve, a historic farm operated by the East Bay Regional Park 
District on former Patterson ranch lands. 

Since George Patterson's death in 1895, three generations of his 
descendants have continued to oversee the ranch operations, sharecropped in 
the earlier years by tenants who grew vegetable crops on family farms and 
later leased to larger-scale and more modernized agricultural operations. 
Agriculture continued to flourish on Patterson ranch lands while surrounding 
lands succumbed to the pressures of urbanization from the burgeoning Bay 
Area metropolis in the post-World War II population explosion. 

The rapid urbanizations of the area brought with it inevitable political 
changes. The several small unincorporated towns of Washington Township 
Alvarado and Decoto; Irvington, Mission San Jose, Niles, Centerville, and 
Warm Springs; and Newark incorporated into the three cities of Union City, 
Fremont, and Newark in the 1950s. The Alameda County Water District, formed 
to conserve the ground water for the area's farmers, expanded its operation 
and its water supplies to deliver water to suburban customers. The Alameda 
County Flood Control District channelized Alameda Creek, putting an end to 
rich alluvial deposits, but making year-round farming and, most 
significantly, housing development possible on the northern flood plain. 

By the 1970s the Patterson family succumbed to development pressures and 
began selling off major portions of ranch lands for housing development. 
Their sale to Singer Housing of the lands surrounding the historic mansion 
and its landmark eucalyptus trees precipated the controversy that, after 
several years of lawsuits and negotiations, resulted in the creation of 
Ardenwood Regional Preserve. In the 1980s, the family has organized into a 
corporation with professional management from family members and has managed 
the development process in accordance with a master plan that emphasizes 
planned development and preservation of open space. Three regional parks 
are on former Patterson lands: in addition to Ardenwood, the Coyote Hills 
and surrounding marshlands are preserved, and in Livermore, the Del Valle 
Regional Park stands in the middle of Patterson cattle lands. Adjacent to 


the industrial park and the suburban housing tracts, lands still held by the 
Patterson family are leased to a modern truck farm growing cauliflower, 
lettuce, and specialty vegetables for Bay Area gourmets. 

The Oral History Project 

With a series of twenty-six interviews, the oral history project 
explores the transformation of the Patterson ranch as a case study of the 
complex evolution from agricultural to urban land use. The idea for the 
project came from the collaborative thinking of Knox Mellon and Leon 
Campbell. Dr. Mellon, former director of the California State Department of 
Historic Preservation and professor of history, was assisting the Patterson 
family to place Ardenwood on the National Registry of Historic Places. He 
saw the potential for an oral history project and found ready support among 
the Patterson family, particularly his friend and fellow historian, Leon 
Campbell, who was part of the management team for Patterson Properties. 
David Patterson, who has a keen interest in tracing family history, also 
took a supportive role. 

Dr. Mellon came to the Regional Oral History Office with his idea, has 
worked steadily with us to formulate and direct the project, and has 
served as interviewer and consultant throughout the three years to the 
project's completion. Leon Campbell was instrumental throughout in 
arranging funding and serving as advisor. Because of his ability to look at 
the story of the Patterson Ranch with a historian's eye, as well as his 
first-hand knowledge as a family member, he was asked to write the 
introduction to the project, which places the twenty-six interviews in 
historical context. 

As the planning for the project evolved, three main themes emerged, and 
these are reflected in the organization of the interviews into three 
volumes. Volume I focuses on agriculture and rural life on the northern 
plain of Washington Township in the prewar years and on the agricultural 
operations of the L.S. Williams and Alameda and Sons companies, the two 
outfits which farmed on the ranch during the transitional period from the 
mid-fifties to the present. 

Volume II tells the tales of water, development, planning, and historic 
preservation in the area topics seemingly diverse which are seen to be 
closely interrelated in these histories. Volume III focuses on the 
Patterson family, past and present. Two generations of family members 
combine nostalgic looks back to rural childhoods with insight into the 
processes of present-day property management by a family corporation. 

Each volume has been enhanced with interviews completed on previous 
occasions for other purposes, but ones which added so centrally to our 
project that we requested permission to include them here. These include. 
in Volume II, the interviews with William D. Patterson, son of George 


Washington Patterson, on his work with the Alameda County Water District; 
and Larry Milnes, assistant manager of the city of Fremont, on the city's 
role in the negotiations leading to the establishment of Ardenwood. 

Volumes I and III have interviews which were recorded in 1975 and 1977 
by family member Donald Patterson for the family archive at the Society of 
California Pioneers. These include the interview with neighboring farmer 
William McKeown in Volume I and cousin William Volmer in Volume III. Donald 
Patterson also recorded his own recollections on tape and later was 
interviewed for the Society of California Pioneers by Stanley Bry. 
Transcriptions of these tapes are included in Volume III. The project was 
further enriched by the volunteer assistance of Bill Helfman, a Fremont 
resident who recorded two interviews for the project. His interview with 
Donald Furtado is in Volume I. 

To enhance the reader's understanding of the interviews, illustrative 
materials have been included. Maps of the southern Alameda County area in 
1956 and 1987 are in the introductory pages for each volume. Family trees 
of the Patterson and Hawley families are included in Volume III (pages 2 and 
31). The 1981 town development plan for the Patterson Ranch is in the 
appendix to Volume II. In addition, interview histories preceding each 
memoir give specifics on the conduct and content of the interviews. 

All of the tapes for the project interviews are available in The 
Bancroft Library. Society of California Pioneer tapes are in their archive 
in San Francisco. In addition to the transcribed interviews included here, 
three interviews recorded for background information are available on tape 
only. These are interviews with Dorothy Wilcox Patterson, wife of Donald, 
and Eleanor Silva and Mary Dettling, former housekeepers for the Henry 
Patterson family. 

Research Resources 

Many resources exist for research on the subject matters of these 
interviews. The Society of California Pioneers has papers and business 
records and photographs of the Patterson family. A guide to these papers, a 
useful bibliography, and other information exists in Faces in Time: An 
Historic Report ^n the George Washington Patterson Fam ily and the Ardenwood 
Estate prepared for the East Bay Regional Park District by Susan A. Simpson, 
1982. The local history collection and the Grace Williamson collection in 
the Alameda County library in Fremont is another valuable source. Their 
collection includes many untranscribed oral history interviews with 
individuals prominent in Fremont's history. The library of California State 
University at Hayward also includes works on the history of the region. A 
CSUH master's thesis in geography gives specific information about the 
history of land use on the Patterson Ranch; it is based in part on a 1971 
interview with Donald Patterson (Jerome Pressler. Landscape Modification 
through Time; the Coyote Hills. Alameda County. California. 1973). 


Research Use 

The diversity and the universality of themes explored in this series of 
oral history interviews insure that they will be consulted by a vide 
variety of researchers. They are intended to be of use to the East Bay 
Regional Park District in planning and interpretation. They provide 
information on the history of agriculture, particularly the loss of 
agricultural lands to urbanization and the problems of farming in an urban 
setting. They discuss the process of land planning from the perspectives of 
city officials, developers, and property owners. They give an indepth 
history of the Alameda County Water District and illuminate the role of 
water in development. Finally, they provide a candid look at a family 
business over four generations and give insight to the dynamics of 
personalities and intra-family, inter-generational conflicts in shaping 
decisions in family businesses. 

Ann Lage 
Project Director 

September, 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

INTRODUCTION by Leon G. Campbell 

The three volumes of interview B prepared by the Regional Oral History 
Office of the University of California, Berkeley, dealing with the Patterson 
family and ranch between the years 1851-1988, constitute a case study of 
changing land use in southern Alameda County from the days of the first 
galifomios to the present. George Washington Patterson (1822-1895) came to 
California with the Gold Rush but remained to found an extensive farming and 
ranching enterprise in Alameda County. Originally known as Rancho Potrero 
de los Cerritos (Cattle Ranch of the Hills), the 4.000-acre Patterson Ranch 
has remained in family hands as an agricultural and livestock enterprise to 
the present day. Under the ownership of George Washington's sons, Henry 
(1878-1955) and William (1880-1961). the Patterson Ranch became a dominant 
economic institution in southern Alameda County and the family an integral 
part of the emergence of Fremont as a major Bay Area community. 

Situated between the eastern terminus of the Dumbarton Bridge, which 
connects Alameda County with the West Bay, and Highway 880, the Patterson 
Ranch is a prominent feature of the East Bay landscape. Today known as 
"Ardenw ood-New Town" in honor of the Shakespearean title sometimes used to 
describe the ranch, Ardenwood serves as the western gateway to Fremont and 
the entire South Bay. Despite the fact that the planned district of 
Ardenwood is less than four years old, the size and scope of the changing 
land-use patterns on the Patterson Ranch resemble those taking place on the 
Irvine and Bixby Ranches in southern California, where uninterrupted family 
ownership has retained influence over time and throughout change. 

Several important themes emerge from the various interviews contained 
within the three volumes. Volume I, Agriculture and Farm Life on Fremont's 
Northern Plain, chronicles the transition of the Patterson Ranch from a 
family farm in the nineteenth century to a large-scale agricultural 
enterprise operated by the L. S. Williams Company during the 1950s. The 
several interviews of tenant farmers and Patterson Ranch workers covering 
the period from approximately 1900-1950 constitute an excellent social 
history of farm life in Fremont's Northern Plain. Collectively, the memoirs 
of farmers and ranch workers not only inform about the Pattersons as owners 
but as well provide a third-party perspective upon changing public uses 
including the development of the Nimitz Freeway (1953), Alameda County Flood 
Control Project (1965-70), and the dedication of Coyote Hills Regional Park 

The oral histories in Volume I hint at subjects which Volumes II and 
III treat more centrally, namely the immense changes taking place in the 
area during the lifetimes of the individual interviewees, particularly 
during the period following World War II. During the fifties and sixties. 
southern Alameda County shifted from a rural to an urban orientation, 
resulting in the incorporation of cities and the initiation of water and 
flood control projects, as these new municipalities began to debate the land 
and water use issues which had prompted their incorporation. 


Volume I: Agriculture on the Ranch 

The initial interviews contained in Volume I represent a broad sample 
of ranch workers and tenant farmers who were closely associated with the 
Patterson family during the postwar. As a group, they reflect the value of 
family and neighbors and of traditional virtues associated with farming and 
farm life. Quite apparent is the fact that these attitudes ran as deep in 
rural Alameda County as in more traditional agricultural areas outside 
California. Indeed, the Pattersons considered many of these individuals as 
their extended family, sharing with them an ethic of hard work and 
perseverance in the face of drought, flooding, poor crop years, and economic 
uncertainty. The interviews also cover the transition from cattle ranch to 
farming and provide important data on the presence of Chinese laborers. 
Mexican braceros, and migrants of all nationalities who came to comprise the 
ranch work force. Also recollected are recreational activities from horse 
racing to duck hunting, the introduction of the tractor to Ardenwood. and the 
life of the mind in a farming environment, particularly within the context 
of the development of Stanford University and the University of California 
at Berkeley where many of the early Patterson family members matriculated. 

The second section of Volume I covers the more recent history of the 
larger-scale L. S. Williams and Alameda family farming operations on the 
ranch. In addition to providing an excellent overview of the agricultural 
basis of the Patterson Ranch, this section chronicles the decisions to grow 
various crops and the reasons for so doing, particularly the ability of 
various crops to withstand increasing salinity levels as a direct result of 
the ranch's location on San Francisco Bay and saltwater intrusion into the 
underground aquifers. 

These interviews also reflect the rapidly changing agricultural 
orientation of northern California as East Bay farmland was converted to 
housing and industrial uses and agricultural operations relocated into the 
Salinas Valley, which in turn reoriented transportation and marketing 
networks. Increasingly isolated from the large growers and packers in the 
Salinas Valley, agricultural operations in southern Alameda have been forced 
to either transship their produce to the Midwest and other areas by means of 
refrigerated trucks or to diversify and reorient their production towards 
local markets. Since 1984. the Alameda Company has shifted from 
agribusiness to more of a diversified local farm operation. The Alameda 
family operates at Ardenwood for only half the year, relocating to Arizona 
and northern Mexico to grow cauliflower and lettuce during the winter months 
on a more convenient and large-scale basis. These growers' interviews 
provide an important case study of the decisions required when farming in a 
community which is making a rapid transition to urbanization in a precarious 
agricultural environment. 


Volume II; The Context for Rapid Postwar Development 

Volume II, Water, Development, and Preservation in Southern Alameda 
County, provides a more in-depth study of the dynamic tension between 
development, preservation efforts, and the water projects which have all 
impacted Alameda County during the period after 1945. the first-hand 
account of Mathew Whitfield, general manager of the Alameda County Water 
District during the years 1953-1977, provides a case study of this process 
of change in the East Bay. Whitfield's vivid recollections, the longest 
interview in the history, offer a fascinating study of family, water and 
South Bay politics during the postwar period. Whitfield's oral history may 
well be the most important single contribution to the project, for the 
actions of the Alameda County Water District in the 1950s provided the 
foundation for the subsequent growth of Fremont and the Northern Plain. 

Whitfield was a close associate of W. D. Patterson, himself a director 
of the Alameda County Water District from its inception in 1914, whose 
recollections, based on a 1955 interview on the subject, are also included 
in this volume. Whitfield's perspective on the 1950s, the period in which 
the water district took a central role in planning for controlled growth, 
provides a context for assessing the subsequent changes which would alter 
Fremont and the Patterson Ranch thereafter. His reflections also touch upon 
an important aspect of Patterson family history not treated in this project, 
namely the events leading up to and including the creation of the Del Valle 
Regional Park in Livermore. which was created as the result of state 
condemnation of Livermore ranch land for the Del Valle reservoir. At one 
time the Patterson Livermore Ranch in Alameda County complemented the 
Fremont Ranch in an integrated farming-livestock operation. The Livermore 
operation is not treated herein in any detail, but is an important component 
of the history of the East Bay Regional Park system. 

In addition, Whitfield provides an important perspective on the State 
Water Project South Bay Aqueduct, which linked both Patterson ranches to the 
future of water transportation projects. These decisions to import water 
for groundwater recharge and the subsequent Aquifer Reclamation Program of 
1974 to counteract saltwater intrusion were determining factors in the 
continued agricultural development of southern Alameda County in general and 
the Patterson Ranch in particular. This interview thus provides an 
important complement to the Regional Oral History Office's series of oral 
history interviews on California water issues and relates changes on the 
Patterson lands to statewide water issues. 

Another pivotal interview contained within Volume II is that of John 
(Jack) Brooks, an important developer in southern Alameda County from the 
postwar to the present and the primary planner of Ardenwood. Brooks's 
recollections, because of his long association with the Patterson family and 
his central position as a political force in Fremont, offer an invaluable 
look at the city as it has emerged to become the fourth largest municipality 
in the Bay Area. As Brooks makes clear, with the five communities making up 
Fremont, the Northern Plain was always anticipated to be a sixth or "New 
Town," its name today. 


Whether this concept of an urban area on the North Plain was 
acknowledged by Henry and William Patterson before their deaths as Brooks 
contends, it was apparently supported by William's oldest son, Donald 
Patterson (1905-1980), who, as the oldest surviving Patterson son, assumed 
management responsibilities on the ranch after 1961 under an informal 
primogeniture (Henry Patterson's children were both daughters). Brooks 
holds that Henry and Will Patterson had virtually agreed to enter a 
development plan just before Henry's death in 1955. Subsequently, he 
recollects that the city of Fremont had begun to insist upon cancelling the 
Williamson Act, which had protected the Patterson family from future tax 
increases as an agricultural enterprise, so that the Pattersons would in the 
future pay their fair share of taxes. 

Although Brooks understates his role in the process, under his guidance 
and with Fremont's cooperation, Ardenwood was brought out of Williamson in 
1981 and substantial parts of the Patterson Ranch were sold, initially to 
the Singer Company and later to Kaiser Development Company and to Brooks 
himself. No less important are Brooke's recollections concerning the advent 
of a planned district concept and the complicated series of negotiations 
which led to the creation of Ardenwood Historic Park and the preservation of 
the George Washington Patterson House at its present location adjacent to 
Highways 84 and 880. Brooks' s interview also describes in some detail why 
particular land-use decisions were made as they were and how a series of 
urban villages were created to establish a residential new town and a 
commercial and high technology center amidst a traditional farming 

The interview of Dr. Robert Fisher also provides valuable background on 
the politics of preservation involving Ardenwood. Fisher, the leading light 
in the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation, describes from his viewpoint how 
various interested local historical associations including the Washington 
Township Historical Society, Patterson House Advisory Board, and Ardenwood 
Regional Park Advisory Committee were all drawn into the question of who was 
to control and implement what had belatedly been recognized as an important 
historic and civic asset, namely, the Ardenwood Historic Farm and attendant 
Victorian mansion which formed its centerpiece. 

The recollections of Fisher and of Larry Milnes. assistant city manager 
of the city of Fremont, provide a balanced view of how municipalities become 
involved in the process of acquiring valuable assets for future 
preservation, how these assets are administered, in this case through the 
aegis of the East Bay Regional Park District, which also operates Coyote 
Hills Regional Park adjacent to the site. Besides corroborating Brooks's 
reflections on the Ardenwood process, Milnes's interview describes how 
decisions were reached over the often controversial questions of deciding 
the focus and implementing the historical theme. Klines also depicts, from 
the city's perspective, the evolution of the Patterson Ranch from 
agriculture to mixed use. 


Following the gift of forty-six acres, including the family home, to 
the city of Fremont by the Patterson family in 1981, the city consulted the 
State Office of Historic Preservation in Sacramento to verify Ardenwood's 
historic value. This in turn led to the city and the Patterson family 
petitioning the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington. 
D.C.. to have the ranch placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, 
which was accomplished in 1985. Since then, the historic farm has become an 
increasingly popular tourist attraction featuring demonstration farming and 
the recreation of nineteenth century farm life. 

In sum, this volume treats the interrelated themes of water projects, 
municipal formation, planned district development and historic preservation 
within the context of Fremont politics, 1950-1988. It would be naive to 
contend that the issues delineated have all been resolved or to deny that 
choices forced upon the various groups involved have not produced bitter 
disputes. Nevertheless, these interviews, offered by the primary surviving 
decision-makers in each area, provide basic data about the campaign which 
transformed the Patterson Ranch from a sprawling agricultural enterprise 
beset by regular flooding and other natural hazards into a Planned Urban 
District (PUD). 

From the Patterson's perspective, however, a view no doubt shared by 
Fremont and EBRPD, pride is taken in the fact that a large portion of the 
Patterson Ranch has been converted to public use, first for the Nimitz 
Freeway in 1952. then for the flood control uses proposed by Alameda County, 
and later by the dedication of large tracts of permanent open space, 
including both the Coyote Hills Regional Park and the Del Valle Reservoir 
and Park in Livermore as well as the most recent dedication of the Ardenwood 
Historic Farm now operated by the Park District. The Patterson family's 
strong advocacy of open space preservation is reflected in the creation of 
no fewer than three East Bay Regional Parks on Patterson family lands and a 
substantial portion of the acreage within the planned district being 
dedicated to public use. This distinguishing feature of Ardenwood. like the 
better known Irvine and Bixby Ranches in southern California, for example, 
is intended to provide for the needs of future generations and is a part of 
the continuing stewardship of the Patterson family management group. 

Volume III! The Family Recalls the Past and Confronts the Future 

Volume III. The Patterson Ranch. Past and Future; The Family's 
Perspective, is devoted to the reflections of the third and fourth 
generation of Patterson family members. The variety of these interviews 
reflect the quite different personalities and temperaments of George 
Washington's two sons. Will and Henry, who apparently contemplated a 
division of their undivided landhol dings prior to their deaths, a decision 
which was never consummated. It was traditional in most large landowning 
families for the eldest son to assume management responsibilities following 
his father's death. This was true in the case of George Washington's eldest 

son. Henry, who succeeded him in 1895 at seventeen years of age and 
subsequently with Will Patterson's oldest son. Donald, who assumed 
responsibility for ranch management in the period after 1961. Donald 
Patterson's interview, taped by the Society of California Pioneers prior to 
his death in 1980. provides interesting observations on both his father and 
grandfather and the nature of their lives at Ardenwood. 

Perhaps the most insightful observation corroborated by many others in 
these volumes was the respectful and cooperative relationship between Will 
and Henry Patterson, who "never had a disagreement" and consulted one 
another on every major decision to be made concerning the ranch. Although 
the two sons differed in temperament and personality and were not what one 
might call close, they accommodated these differences pragmatically, with 
the quieter Henry running the ranch and his more outgoing brother Will 
dealing with the public. Their mutual respect and deliberate way of 
reaching consensus decisions in addition to their division of labors, both 
running the ranch and defending the ranch's interests in the South Bay. 
resulted in a profitable landhold. Ardenwood dominated the regional 
agricultural economy through the production of row crops (lettuce, 
cauliflower) and other high quality produce. Will and Henry were excellent 
farmers, good businessmen, and outstanding citizens, who extended and 
consolidated their father's agricultural presence in southern Alameda County. 

The interview of David Patterson, Will's youngest son, who assumed 
management responsibilities for the ranch following the death of his older 
brothers, Donald and John (known as Jack), provides a frank assessment of 
the difficulties which a family agricultural enterprise faces when it 
suffers the loss of its patriarchs in a period of transition. During the 
period in which Donald Patterson ran the ranch, Henry's daughters. Sally 
Patterson Adams and Marjorie Patterson, were not actively involved in 
decision-making, this role having been assumed largely by John Brooks, a 
real estate developer who was close to Donald Patterson and both anticipated 
and orchestrated the development process. 

The interviews with Donald's sons. George and Wilcox. provide 
considerable information concerning the ranch and their father. None of 
these memoirs, however, sheds additional light on the process of decision- 
making between the city, the Pattersons, and John Brooks, although it is 
likely that the public records of the period (1980-1984) would be helpful to 
historians interested in understanding the development process. The next 
stage of land use clearly mandated turning over of substantial portions of 
the ranch for residential development as rising land values and the shortage 
of available land for homes resulted in a new Fremont and a transformed 
Northern Plain. 

Following Donald Patterson's death in 1980, David Patterson continued 
to manage the family farm as the city entered into a development agreement 
with Brooks. Despite serious rifts within the family, which included an 
abortive attempt by two of William Patterson's grandchildren to bring suit 
against their family to obtain the value of their undivided interest in the 
ranch property, the family held firm against this challenge. When the two 


young people hired the nefarious Kelvin Belli to sue the Patterson family 
and were defeated in court (1981). it prompted the Pattersons to move 
rapidly to incorporate as Patterson Fremont Management, Inc., (PFM) and to 
set up a series of limited partnerships to manage the land in order that one 
or more minority family members could not, through undivided ownership, lay 
waste to the family's plan for future ownership and management of the 
property. It was this incident which convinced the Pattersons that the days 
of consensus decision-making as it had existed with Henry and Will had 
ended. By 1982 the Patterson Ranch had converted to a true business 

Interviews of Sally Patterson Adams and her husband. Dr. John E. Adams, 
shed light not only on the personages of Henry and Sarah Patterson but also 
provide an alternative recollection on how decisions were reached during the 
1960s and 1970s, as the transition was made from agriculture to development 
by individuals and forces outside the family. Sally Adams provides an 
intimate portrait of growing up at Ardenwood. John Adams, an ardent 
preservationist, casts a skeptical eye on the chain of events which led to 
the ultimate transformation of the ranch, contending that the demand for 
change was orchestrated by a prevailing coterie at City Hall rather than by 
population dynamics or other inexorable forces. Adams clearly believes that 
the ranch could have continued in farming had the family been given the 
opportunity to make this choice through timely dissemination of information 
and discussion of alternatives to development. 

Interviews by the fourth generation of Pattersons are informative for 
their explanation of the transition from ranch management by individuals 
towards a corporate form of business organization. Bruce Patterson provides 
insights about his father. Jack, as well as the strongly independent natures 
of the W. D. and H. H. Patterson families. In this regard, interviews by 
the fourth generation of Pattersons make clear that the testamentary 
dispositions of their grandfathers, William and Henry, as well as their 
parents, has resulted in a current generation of Pattersons spread 
throughout the state and country, of different economic means and lacking 
common objectives for Ardenwood. This, in turn, has resulted in growing 
differences of opinion stronger than those developing during the tenure of 
the third generation. The implications of land being sold to outside 
developers and the first cash distributions to family members both raised 
expectations and produced further disputes, rather than silencing them. 
Certain limited partners began to question the decisions of those family 
members serving as general partners and to urge a liquidation of remaining 
ranch assets. In general, these disputes follow family lines. 

Interviews with other members of the PFM Board include those by former 
president Robert Buck, a Patterson son-in-law and attorney who currently 
serves as PFM's legal counsel. Buck provides yet another perspective on the 
events leading to the Ardenwood development, particularly the Kaiser land 
sales and the creation of the Patterson Properties business enterprise 
during the 1980s. 


Leon Campbell, another son-in-law serving as PFM's executive vice 
president, recounts how he and Buck were called upon to assume management 
and investment responsibilities for the Patterson family. As the vast, 
undeveloped acreage appreciated in value, situated within one of the most 
rapidly growing parts of the Bay Area, they completed tax deferred 
exchanges, putting the family into income-producing properties which PFM 
managed and operated. As they assumed their posts in 1985, Buck and 
Campbell were increasingly called upon to mediate between decisions which 
had been made prior to the Pattersons' complete awareness of a political 
process which had developed apart from them and future policy issues which 
loomed ahead, such as those of wetlands, the subsidization of agriculture, 
and the Town Center development. 

These business recollections are paralleled by those of Donald 
Patterson's other son, George Patterson, who provides a sensitive internal 
history on the family at Ardenwood, and Abigail Adams Campbell, daughter of 
Sally Patterson Adams, on her grandparents, Sarah and Henry Patterson. 

Taken together, the several interviews by the fourth generation of 
Patterson family management underscores the dichotomy of events which have 
transpired in Fremont's North Plain during the period since 1980 and 
particularly since 1984. when the initial land sale to Kaiser Development 
Corporation was instituted. Hardly conclusive in their entirety, these last 
interviews restate the younger generation's perspective on their fathers and 
grandfathers, as well as their own perceptions about the rapidly changing 
nature of the real estate which they have been requested to monitor in the 
future. These changes have rendered the personal managerial tradition of 
the Patterson family largely unworkable, although considerable nostalgia for 
the "old ways" still exists, which often precludes certain limited partners 
from adhering to a general partnership organization. In many ways the 
family runs each other rather than running a business, a not uncommon aspect 
of organizations with strongly paternal origins. The challenge ahead will 
be to forge a new consensus to accommodate an era promising even greater 
alterations in the Patterson Ranch and the East Bay. 

Conclusion and Acknowledgements 

In conclusion, this oral history of the Patterson family and ranch, 
1851-1988, has much to contribute to the general history of southern Alameda 
County and is particularly informative on the transitional years between 
1945 and the present, which are largely omitted in the historical 
literature, by drawing on the reflections of those who were the primary 
actors during those years. 

The Regional Oral History Office of The Bancroft Library at the 
University of California. Berkeley, has provided an ideal method for 
understanding the linkages between the Patterson family, its agricultural and 
ranching enterprise, and actions taken by city, county and state 


organizations in response to the pressures of rapid urbanization occurring 
in the East Bay during the postwar period. These interviews with the 
surviving senior members of the Patterson family and key individuals 
associated with the family agricultural and business operations over the 
past fifty years not only underscore the enormous changes taking place in 
the area during the lifetimes of those interviewed, but they also indicate 
how and why these changes were implemented. Often it appears that matters 
of great significance were reached by informal agreement rather than formal 
debate both within the family and perhaps outside of it. These interviews 
reflect a simpler time, prior to the advent of citizen-sponsored initiatives 
and environmental impact reports, a period when many leaders shared common 
assumptions concerning the value of growth and development to 
municipalities. Few could have comprehended the scope of growth which was 
to transform the Bay Area so dramatically during the postwar period and the 
reactions which it would produce. 

The Patterson family is proud to have its history included in The 
Bancroft Library's treasury of interviews with major figures in the history 
of California and the West. The three-volume oral history project 
represents a substantial historiographies! advancement towards the 
development of a comprehensive history of the East Bay and its progenitory 

I should like to thank the staff of the Regional Oral History Office at 
Berkeley, particularly Division Head Willa Baum and Project Director Ann 
Lage, for the dedicated effort which they have made in bringing this project 
to fruition through the recording, transcription and editing of these 
interviews. The trained oral historians on the ROHO staff, whose careful 
research and sensitive interview techniques are clearly manifest throughout 
the project, have clearly set the tone for the entire project. My long-time 
friend. Dr. Knox Mellon, former head of the State Office of Historic 
Preservation in Sacramento, who skillfully directed the nomination of the 
Ardenwood Regional Preserve to the National Register of Historic Places, has 
also been pivotal in finalizing this project. Dr. Mellon's liaison as a 
consultant to the Regional Oral History Office and ROHO's strong ties to 
state and local historical groups both assure that the project meets 
specific needs as well as serving the larger scholarly community through the 
questions it raises and the information it preserves. 

This oral history project substantially advances earlier studies 
carried out by the East Bay Regional Park District, which were designed to 
analyze the property exclusively in terms of its archaeological 
significance. By recording the reflections of two generations of Patterson 
family members about life and work on the Patterson Ranch, the project also 
relates centrally to the history of Fremont and to the entire East Bay which 
otherwise might be lost forever. 

Through the incorporation of interviews with members of the Patterson 
Ranch labor force, water district officials and a broad spectrum of Fremont 
city officials and politicians, as well as interviews with other key 
individuals now deceased, recorded earlier by the Society of California 


Pioneers, and interviews with individuals charged with the stewardship of 
the remaining lands of Patterson, this oral history project anticipates a 
full history of the Patterson Ranch and the South Bay. The subject should 
be of future value to scholars interested in urban planning, land use 
decision-making, agricultural history, the process of municipal formation 
and water issues, matters related to conservation and historic preservation 
as they pertain to the East Bay and, of course, the political matrix in 
which these issues are situated. In this regard, this project, which deals 
with life, land and politics on the Patterson Fremont Ranch, exceeds the sum 
of its parts. 

The personal and financial support of several individuals and groups 
also made the project possible. Financial sponsorship of the project has 
been provided by the East Bay Regional Park District, the Brooks Family 
Foundation, the City of Fremont, the Oliver De Silva Company, the Alameda 
County Water District, and various members of the Patterson family, 
especially David and Joan Patterson, Dorothy Patterson, and the J. B. 
Patterson Trust. David and Joan Patterson have been steadfast in their 
determination to preserve the history of the Patterson family over time and 
have supported this work at every juncture. 

The present project goes well beyond the Pattersons to focus upon the 
Patterson Ranch during the years in which it was transformed from a rural 
agricultural enterprise to the Ardenwood planned community. A "New Town" 
both in concept and in fact. Shakespeare's idyllic Ardenwood may be an 
elusive metaphor masking the difficult choices that changes in land use 
inevitably bring. 

Leon G. Campbell 
Executive Vice President 
Patterson Fremont Management. Inc. 

May. 1988 

Fremont. California 




from the 1956 Alai?eda County map 
California State Automobile Association 



from the 1987 Alameda/Contra Costa map 
California State Automobile Association 

Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley. California 


Mathew P. Whitfield 

General Manager of the Alameda County 
Water District. 1953-1977 

An Interview Conducted by 
Ann Lage 
in 1986 


1988 by the Regents of the University of California 

TABLE OF CONTENTS Mathew P. Whitfield 





Mission San Jose Family If 

Schooling A 

Engineering Jobs 8 

Wartime Service at Mare Island Naval Shipyard 9 


Hired by the Water District 13 

Apprenticeship under Ed Richmond. 1950-1953 16 

Planning for Growth: the 1955 Bond Issue 20 

The ACWD Board of Directors in the Early Fifties 21 


A Private Person 24 

Resolution 81: Blueprint for Growth 26 

Quiet Support and Leadership from Will Patterson 28 

Water. Flood Control. Development, and Growth 30 


Recharging the Ground Water through Percolation Pits 33 
Pressure to Purchase Hetch Hetchy Water from San Francisco 34 

A Controversy with Developers Conway and Culligan, 1954 37 

Water District Role in Planning for Growth 40 

ACHD and the Arroyo Del Valle 42 

Patterson Interest in Flood Control and the Reber Plan 44 

Board Member Jack Prouty 48 


Early Applications for Delta Water 52 

Working with the Department of Water Resources 53 
Ground Water Basin vs. Hetch Hetchy Water: the Primary 

Conflict 54 

Juris dictional Disputes with the Flood Control District 55 

Early Water Conservation Measures 56 

District Role in Del Valle Reservoir Planning 58 

Transporting Water over Altamont Pass 61 

Changing an Unreasonable State Contract 62 

Fighting Saltwater Intrusion in the Ground Water Basin 63 

The Aquifer Reclamation Program. 1974 66 



Enabling Legislation and Rationale for the Pump Tax 69 

Pump Tax Hearings: Outraged Reaction from Farmers 71 
A Shifting Balance of Community Power: Pump Tax Passed. 

1970 73 

Water Pump Meters 76 

Standards for Well Abandonment. Well Drilling, and 

Drainage Wells 78 
Addendum on Saltwater Intrusion and the Aquifer Reclamation 

Program 80 
Legal Action against Water Waste by Quarry Operators. 

1968-1974 84 

Pump Tax Update 88 
Protecting the Alameda Creek Watershed in the Liver-more 

Valley 90 


Fluoridation Controversy. 1969-1971 93 

Trip to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. 1972 98 
Citizens Utility Company Buyout: Community Pressure* 

Company Recalcitrance 101 

Perspective on Environmental Impact Reports 108 

Response to the Drought of 1977 109 

Relations with Cities and Citizen Groups 113 


APPENDIX A: Notes on History and Operation of Alameda County 

Water District. August 1979 118 


INTERVIEW HISTORY Mathew P. Whitfield 

Matt Whitfield was first suggested as an interviewee for the Patterson 
family and ranch project because, in his position as the general manager of 
the Alameda County Water District, he had worked closely with William D. 
Patterson. Patterson was the leading member of the ACWD board of directors, 
having served as board member since the district's founding in 1914 and as 
an active president from 1932 to 1954. He retired from the board in 1958. 
It was hoped that Mr. Whitfield could give a first-hand account of Will 
Patterson's work for the district and his modus operandi and philosophical 
approach as board member. 

As the research for the Whitfield interview progressed, however, it 
became apparent that a more comprehensive documentation of Whitfield and the 
water district would serve the larger purposes of the oral history project 
to document the transformation of the Patterson Ranch as a case study of 
southern Alameda County in transition from an agricultural community to a 
residential and industrial suburb of the metropolitan Bay Area. The 
interview became an oral history of Matt Whitfield and of the Alameda County 
Water District during his term as general manager. 

Matt Whitfield went to work for the Alameda County Water District in 
1950 and served as its general manager from 1953 to 1977. Hired as a local 
boy. personally known by board member Dr. Grimmer, Whitfield managed a 
relatively small water district, which had been created to safeguard the 
local water supply and service a community that was primarily agricultural. 
By the time of his retirement, the district had expanded to service a 
burgeoning metropolitan area. He had worked with the district's board of 
directors to face the problems of rapid development and increased demand for 
water. The water district's timely response to demands of urbanization made 
possible the growth of the community whose water needs it served. 

Whitfield's oral history recounts the milestones of the district's 
development: the 1955 bond issue; Resolution 81. which set up terms for 
development of water delivery systems in new subdivisions; ground water 
recharge and protection programs; the decisions and negotiations leading up 
to receipt of water from the State Water Project's South Bay Aqueduct; the 
controversy surrounding the pump tax on agricultural use of water from 
underground aquifers; and community furor over fluoridation. 

It documents Matt Whitfield's low-key management style and his direct 
way of working with the district's elected board of directors, with 
officials of local governments, and with building contractors. It 
illustrates the contrast between the relatively informal operation of the 
district in the 1950s and the days of public hearings and environmental 
impact reports by the 1970s. 

In addition, Mr. Whitfield was able to give a thoughtful portrayal of 
Will Patterson in his role as president and director. Whitfield's 


predecessor apparently had functioned less as a general manager and more as 
trouble shooter in the field. During his tenure. Patterson, as board 
president, had performed many of the managerial duties himself. During 
Whitfield's term, he withdrew from this type of active management, but until 
his retirement, he continued to hold a leadership role on the board and was 
very supportive of Whitfield as general manager. 

In the course of research for this series, we uncovered in The Bancroft 
Library a 1955 interview of William Patterson discussing his role as Alameda 
County Water District founder, director, and president. It is included as an 
appendix to this volume. 

The following interview with Matt Whitfield was conducted at his home 
in the Mission San Jose district of Fremont on May 29, June 5, and June 26, 
1986. Mr. Whitfield was most cooperative in assisting research and 
selecting topics for the interview, and in the careful review of the 
interview transcript. Tapes of the three sessions are available in The 
Bancroft Library. 

Subsequent interviewing for the Patterson project revealed a high 
degree of respect for Mr. Whitfield among those in the community who worked 
with him. This respect is further evidenced by the district's recognition 
of his leadership and service in dedicating the Mathew P. Whitfield 
reservoir in the Mission San Jose district on September 27. 1986. 

Ann Lage 

Project Director 

September. 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 



Your full name 

Date of birth 

(Please print or write clearly) 

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Place of birth 

Father's full name 

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Mother's full name A/3TH" 


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Where did you grow up 1 

Present community 

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Special interests or activities 



[Interview 1: May 29. 1986]#0 

Mission San Jose Family 






Today is May 29th. 1986, and this is the first interview with 
Matt Whitfield about the Alameda County Water District. We 
wanted to start with some personal background and background 
about the area. Before we recorded, you were telling me a 
little bit of history about the Gallegos water system. 

It was owned by the Gallegos family. Juan Gallegos, who came 
over here from Costa Rica. They somehow acquired most of the 
properties around Mission San Jose. 

This is the area we are in now? 

No, they didn't come this far down yet; they came down towards 
Irvington and the Mission San Jose area. They had vineyards. 
They had a little water system of their own in Mission San Jose, 
which is now a part of Fremont, the Mission San Jose district. 
After the water district annexed Mission San Jose which was 
around 1940 sometime, the water district took their system over. 
They paid them a small amount because I don't think they had 
more than fifteen or twenty customers [laughs]. As I remember, 
my great-aunt lived down the other end of town, the opposite end 
of town from the Gallegos, and that's where the water came from. 

So she got water from them. 

##This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 117. 

Whitfield: Yes. I think they had about a one-inch line, so on Saturday 
night not too many people could bathe at once [laughs]. 

Lage: Did this private delivery system continue until Mission San Jose 

was annexed? 

Whitfield: Oh. yes. Most of the people in town had their own wells, but 
the Gallegoses had water that came from springs, and they 
supplied probably fifteen or twenty customers in town. 

Lage: Let's go now. after that little aside, to talk about your 

background, your family. You started to tell me where your 
family came from. 

Whitfield: You want to start back with my grandparents? 

Lage: Well, not in tremendous detail but tell what your roots are. 

Whitfield: My mother and father were both born in Mission San Jose and 
lived there all their lives. 

Lage: Give me their names. 

Whitfield: My father was Mathew Joseph, and I'm Mathew Paul Whitfield. My 
mother's name was Katie Boggini; that was her maiden name. In 
fact, her real baptismal name was Henrietta. That was because 
Mrs. Gallegos was her godmother when she was baptized in the old 
wooden church, St. Joseph's, up there. That's a Costa Rican 
name, but she never went by that, she always went by Kate. 

Lage: Was she related to Mrs. Gallegos? 

Whitfield: No. she was just a godmother. The reason she was a godmother 
was because my grandparents came from Switzerland. First of 
all. my grandfather came over here to work in the Gallegos 
Vineyards up in the Mission San Jose area. He didn't bring my 
grandmother with him. He had one child, my Aunt Mary, who was 
only six months old when she came from Switzerland. He worked 
for the Gallegoses so my grandparents lived on the Gallegos 
property that's now owned by the Sisters of the Holy Family. So 
my mother was born on the Gallegos property. 

Lage: Were your grandparents Swiss- Italian? 

Whitfield: Swiss-Italian, yes, from the Italian part of Switzerland. 

Lage: How about your father's roots? 

Whitfield: Let me say that in my mother's side of the family there were ten 
children. They're all deceased now. The last one just passed 
away about eight months ago. Then on my father's side of the 

Whitfield; family there were eight children. There's three of them living 

now; I have three aunts that are living. Tess. who's ninety-one; 

and my godmother, Irene, who is eighty-seven; and the youngest 

living is eighty-four, Winifred. 

They were all raised in Mission San Jose and went to the 
local schools. All my father's sisters except one went to San 
Jose Normal when it was just a normal school and took up 
teaching. They were teachers after they graduated, in the 
general area of Fremont and Newark. 

Lage: They're the ones you told me knew Tillie Logan*, who also went 

to San Jose Normal. 

Whitfield: Yes. I'd say that Tillie is in the age group of the older of my 
three aunts. 

Lage: It must be unusual to find many people who have roots here for 

that length of time. 

Whitfield: No, because one of my grandmothers was twelve when she came 

here. The other one from Switzerland was seventeen. So that 
goes back. I think my grandmothers would be over 120 biological 
years old if they were still living. 

Lage: Now how about your father's family? Where did they come from? 

Whitfield: My grandmother, Teresa Nolan, came from San Francisco. Her 

family moved up into the Sheridan Road up by Sunol. There was a 
colony of Irishmen up there. My grandmother's maiden name was 
Teresa Nolan. 

Lage: Was she Irish? 

Whitfield: Yes, she's Irish. Then my grandfather came from England. He 
went from England to New Zealand and left New Zealand and 
somehow get into the town of Niles. So he was English. So I'm 
a quarter Irish, a quarter English, and half Swiss- Italian. 

Lage: Well, a nice mix. As I was looking at the water district 

records it seems as if your father worked for the district. 

Whitfield: Yes, my father worked in the operations department. He put in 
waterlines and meters and all that kind of thing. That's when 
they had about three people working for them. 

*See interview with Tillie Logan in this series. 

Lage: It seemed that way. And he was paid almost as much as the 

general manager, fifty dollars less a month. 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, the pay scale was very low then. In fact, when I 
was hired talk about pay the board of directors didn't know 
what to do about what kind of salary I should get. I had been 
making $429 a month in the late forties when I was available to 
work for them, so that's what they gave me. But it was just 
slightly under what the general manager was making. 



Whitfield: Do you want to talk about my education, or ? 

What was the community like here as you were growing up as a 
young boy? 

Lage: Your education, but also 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, let me say that all my father's and mother's 

families went to the Old Mission school up here in Mission San 
Jose, which subsequently became the second temporary city hall 
for the city of Fremont. That's the same grammar school I went 
to. It was in operation from 1915 to 1955. and then the state 
condemned it. 

Lage: As earthquake ? 

Whitfield: Yes. Then Ed Huddleson bought it. He was the one who purchased 
the Witherly property where the Ohlone College now stands. So 
the city rented space in the old school for several years before 
they built a city hall of their own. 

Lage: It was a public school? 

Whitfield: It was a public school. I went there. 

Lage: Was it small? 

Whitfield: Yes, there were four classrooms, you know, and multiple classes 
for one teacher. In fact, my Aunt Tessie taught there in the 
year of 1919. She taught some of my mother's brothers and 
sisters when they were younger. 


When were you born? 

Whitfield: I was born in 1917 in Mission San Jose. 

Lage: Then what about high school, where did you go? 

Whitfield: I went to Washington High School. In fact, some of my aunts and 
uncles went to Washington High School. It was at another 
location about five blocks from where it is now. That's where 
Tillie Goold and all the Logans went. In fact, my aunts used to 
ride an old horse and buggy down there every day to go to high 
school, from Mission San Jose. 

When I went to high school there, Washington High was the 
only high school between Hayward and San Jose. Then this whole 
area you see, Fremont's made up of five little towns, and then 
there is Newark; then Decoto, and Alvarado, which are now a part 
of Union City. Each one of those little towns had an elementary 
school. Then, of course, after the incorporations they all went 
into city unified school districts. There's three different 
unified school districts here now. 

Lage: There was just the one high school, though, then. 

Whitfield: It served the eight little towns around here, yes. 

Lage: Did they have a bus; did you take a bus to school? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Did you have brothers and sisters? 

Whitfield: I had one sister. She passed away in 1958. I have two nieces 
and one nephew, my sister's children. 

Lage: We are skipping over this quickly, but I just want to get a 

general view of your background. 

After Washington High 

Whitfield: I went to San Jose State and I took pre- engineer ing because in 
those days San Jose State wasn't that big. First of all, my 
sister was taking teaching. My aunts, Tessie, Irene, and 
Winnie, went there and they became teachers. I was very young 
when I got out of high school; I was only sixteen, so I wasn't 
sure what I wanted, so I signed up for teaching. I was in there 
two weeks; then two of my buddies that went with me all through 
high school signed up for pre-engineering. I kind of liked what 
they were doing so I switched over to engineering. We could 
only go there two years, so I then transferred. 


It was just a two-year school? 

Whitfield: In the engineering. It was just pre-engineering; it was four 

years for teachers and ether professions. Then I transferred to 
the University of Santa Clara and went there three years. I 
graduated in 1939. with a bachelors of science in mechanical 
engineering. That's the extent of my education, other than some 
courses that I took and that type of thing. 

Lage: When you were here in the local school district, did a lot of 

the children go on to college? Were there teachers that 
encouraged you to do that? 

Whitfield: Well, they encouraged me, yes. Of course, one thing see. none 
of my mother's brothers or sisters went. In fact, my father 
always said his education was he graduated from the fourth 
grade. None of my mother's brothers or sisters or my mother 
went. Well, the younger daughters and son went to high school, 
and the older ones didn't. One thing about it was that one of 
my father's brothers, the only one of the boys that ever went 
part-time to college he went to the University of Santa CLara. 
he was a football player but he died from spinal meningitis 
when he was about 19 years old. So I always thought that if I 
ever went to college I'd like to go to Santa Clara. 

Lage: But his sisters went to college to become teachers. 

Whitfield: Well, three of the sisters became teachers, and one was a 

milliner; she worked for a hat place in San Jose. But none of 
the boys my father's brothers went on to school. 

Lage: Did your family encourage you to go? Was that a goal? 

Whitfield: Yes. very much so. It was struggle because we didn't have much. 
You know, my father ran the ranch up there, and it was pretty 
close pickings sometimes. 

Lage: Now what ranch did he run? 

Whitfield: Well, he ran the property all of which at one time belonged to 
the Gallegos. The main part was the gardens: there were 
seventeen acres of gardens. Most of it is now owned by the 
Sisters ef the Holy Family. 

Lage: Has it been preserved? 

Whitfield: Oh. yes. The Sisters have their novitiate up there and their 
convent. It's a beautiful place. 

Lage : 

Is it something people can go and see. or is it ? 

Whitfield: Oh. if you wanted to go. I work very closely with them. I ran 
their festivals for years. 

Lage: This was a sideline, running their festivals? 

Whitfield: Oh. yes. I'm a Catholic, and I used to run them. Well, we had 
a wonderful time, yes. It's was an annual fair, raising funds 
for them. I was kind of their advisor on things when they were 
building up there. My father used to go up and help. too. 

Then there were a hundred acres of prunes. In fact, some 

of it was right up here on Palm Avenue, twenty-seven acres. I 

started my professional life as a prune picker, [laughter] On 

my knees, picking prunes for my father, yes. 

Lage: So your father managed that ranching operation? 

Whitfield: Yes, he ran all the ranching operations for them. 
Lage: Was that later after he worked for the district? 







No, that was before. He left there in 1941. I think, and then 
he went down and worked for the water district for about four or 
five years. Then he took over a service station and ran that 
until he retired. In fact, the service station was right across 
the street from the water district yard, which was about as big 
as my backyard. 

My goodnessl Times have really changed, 
notice it more. 

In this area you 

Yes. Well, when I was growing up there were just these little 
towns. You knew, maybe five or six hundred people at the most. 

And then just open space, farms ? 

Farms, orchards, a lot of row crop, not too much irrigation up 
in this area like there was down in the valley in Centerville 
and in through there. But the orchards had to be irrigated, the 
prune orchards once or twice a year. I think they had about 
four acres of apricots, toe. 

Was that irrigation system based on wells? 


Engineering Jobs 

Lage: What kind of jobs did you have after college? 

what year? 

You graduated in 

Whitfield: Nineteen thirty-nine. Let's see. the first j ob I had was well. 
in fact, when I got out of Santa CLara there were eleven in our 
graduating class of engineering. I was the only one that had a 
job because in these days there weren't too many jobs around. 

Lage: This was Depression time. 

Whitfield: Yes. So this fellow I think his name was Cochran had called 
up Dean Sullivan at Santa Clara and asked if they had any young 
engineers that might want a job. So he asked me if I would be 
interested. It was just a one-man operation; he worked out of 
his house. He did design work. It was in industrial gas 
burners and that kind of stuff. I took the job at $115 a month. 
I was with them for, oh, a year, about a year. He went out of 

Then I called Dean Sullivan and asked if there was anything 
else. There was another one-man operation in San Jose and his 
name was Erstead, He had invented and built a burlap bag 
turning machine. You know, when they sew the burlap and then 
they cut the bags out. Then they have to be turned so that the 
seam is inside. When I saw that machine [laughs], it was an 
inventor's nightmare. I thought, "fiov am I ever going to figure 
what this thing does?" 

Lage: Now what would have been your job as an engineer? 

Whitfield: I did a little design work, then I did drafting. 

Lage: Relative to this machine? 

Whitfield: That was the only thing he had. 

Lage: Did he want you to kind of refine it? 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, he had ideas but did a lot you see. in those days 
when you got out as an engineer you usually went to work doing 
drafting work. There weren't any of these big plush jobs at 
forty thousand dollars a year. 


Were you a particular kind of engineer? 

Whitfield: Mechanical. He was a very difficult man to work for. He'd go 
off on a tangent, you know, yell his head off. But he had 
reputation of being rather strange in San Jose because he'd go 
into one of these supply places and they'd practically throw him 
out all the time. [laughter] 

Lage: That must have given you great experience to prepare you to work 

for a board of directors later. 

Whitfield: Well, none of them were like him, thank goodness. But, then. I 
wasn't very happy there. Then Dean Sullivan called me and said 
there was an opening up at Pacific Gear and Tool. Well, the 
chief engineer up there had graduated from Santa Clara as an 
engineer, too. That was at Pacific Gear and Tool. 

At Pacific Gear and Tool, all the sens went to the 
University of Santa Clara and took engineering. One became a 
Jesuit priest. So they always had the "in" at Pacific Gear and 
Tool if you were a Santa Clara graduate. I went to work for 
them. I spent the first year or year and a half just drafting. 
Then I got into some designs. What they did was gear work and 
speed reducers. Have you see pictures of these big oil well 
pumps, the things that pump up and down? Well, they made the 
big gear drives to drive those. I did design work on these and 
that type of stuff for four years. 

Then in 1944, I was deferred because Pacific Gear was doing 
mostly national defense. 

Wartime Service at Mare Island Naval Shipyard 

Lage: The draft must have picked up about that time. 

Whitfield: Yes. it had. I worked for Pacific Gear until '44. I was 

deferred. Then this fellow, another Santa CLara graduate who 
was there before me, we were both talking about going into the 
navy, but we had a wonderful boss to work for and we didn't want 
to leave him in the lurch. I said, 'Veil, you're a senior to me 
so you go first." [laughs] Then I waited about almost another 
year, and then I signed up. I got a commission in the navy as 
an ensign. 

Then they sent me down to the University of Arizona at 
Tucson for a two-month indoctrination course. I was down there 
two months and then I was transferred back to Mare Island up at 
Vallejo. I spent the duration of my service up at Vallejo. 

Lage: So you never got overseas? 


Whitfield: No. I never got any experience at sea. I was assigned to the 
ship superintendent, which involved ship repairs and replace 
ments in the mechanical and electrical equipment area on 
auxiliary vessels, and I learned an awful lot because I had 
never been exposed to such a variety of equipment before. 

Then I was transferred up in the planning department. 
What we had to do was there'd be two officers assigned to each 
ship. One would be for the hull repairs, and one would be for 
machinery and electrical. I was machine. But our job was to 
get everything done while the ships were in the yard for a 
specific time period. We had to report weekly on the progress 
te the captain whe was the repair superintendent. 

Lage: It had some relationship to engineering but not ? 

Whitfield: Well, it was good practical experience of learning about 

machinery and mechanisms and all because on a ship there's 
practically every type of machinery and equipment aboard. 

I'll never forget the first time I went up to the ship I 
was assigned to. It was the Ell Dorado, a flag ship for landing- 
craft operations. I had done seme design work at Pacific Gear 
on some of the units that were involved. They had a CICi a 
communication information center. You see, this ship would go 
out and direct all the amphibious ships' operations. They were 
putting in this CIC, this communication information center. I 
walk in this compartment, as big as this room here, and there 
were wires hanging all over the place. [laughs] "Oh, Gedl If 
it's my job to get those wires hooked up, forget it." But it 
worked out. 

Then I was transferred, after being there about a year. I 
was transferred up into the planning section under another 
captain. There were civilian planners assigned to machinery and 
hull work, but they had officers over them. We used to go out 
and meet ships way out at sea. and then we'd have conferences 
with their officers. They'd have their lists of repair and work 
and alterations that they wanted done, and we would make 
decisions en the way in as to what we could and could net do. 
Say, if they were in for thirty days or sixty days, we would 
decide what materials were available to do it and authorize 
certain work to be done. 

Lage: It sounds like good training for the job at the water district. 

Whitfield: Yes, it was very enlightening and gave me some good practical 

experience. The only thing is I was only an ensign and we used 
to meet sometimes with commanders and captains, four stripers, 
yeu know. 






And tell them what you could do for them? 

Yes, yes. In fact, we had a very senior captain who was over 
the planning section, my boss. Captain oh, I can't even think 
of his name. He was a nice guy, though. Some of these 
officers, you know, like commanders, they'd resent the fact that 
an ensign would say, "I'm sorry, sir, we can't do this." A 
couple of them said, "Well. I guess we're going to have to go 
over your head." I said, "Fine." [laughs] 

In our office we had two desks facing each other, and one 
would always be the mechanical man for officers that worked in 
our department, and one would be the hull man. When a captain 
rang, the planning superintendent or the repair superintendent, 
it was a continuous ring so you always knew when a captain 
called. So we got back to an office from this excursion after 
reviewing all the job requests. When I went in, I sat down at 
my desk, and I was there about half an hour and [making a 
ringing sound] it was the captain, the planning superintendent. 

He says, "Whit, come on in. I've got seme friends of yours 
in here. I went into his office where there were several of the 
ships officers. I thought. "Oh no, I'm in trouble now." So he 
said. "Captain so-and-so wants to know, you turned him down on 
such-and-such. Why?" I went through about ten different 
things, you know, and he'd say, "Why did you do it?" "Well, we 
don't have that equipment available. It is too short a time," 
or whatever the reason might be. He knew all these other 
officers. He turned to the captain, 'Well, Bill, that's the 
story. " 

[laughs] That's nice to be backed 


Oh. wonderful. It certainly gave me a feeling of courage. I 
tell you that, yes. 

So after the war you came back to Washington Township? 


How eld were you then? Would it have been '45? 

Yes, it was 1945, and I was then 28 years old. 

I didn't tell you about my job after Mare Island. I went 
to work for A.B. Chance Company. They manufactured high voltage 
electrical equipment, switches, tools, etc., in San Francisco. 


This was after the war, then? 


Whitfield: Yes. that was in '47. Their home plant was in Centralia. 

Missouri. When they first moved out here, the union pulled them 
out en strike. They pulled five companies out on strike, and 
they were one of them. Well, they hadn't even gotten 
established out here. 

Then when I was with them, after a couple of years, they 
did the same thing again, so A.B. Chance Company just made up 
their mind; they said. "Well, we're net going to fight this 
anymore." They had just started to build up some sales 
territory and all that so they just decided to move all the 
production work back to Centralia. Missouri. So I went back 
there with them for about three weeks te familiarize them with 
the San Francisco operations since they had not done this kind 
of work before. 

Lage: Did you ever think of moving back there? 

Whitfield: No. I was their methods engineer in San Francisco, and I did 

some design work, too. But then when they took everything back, 
they just left an assembly shop. No. I stayed with them while 
they were in the transition while they were moving. Then I was 
just in charge of the assembly department for a time. 

They wanted me te come back, but I'd never been to the 
Midwest before. When you lived in Centralia, Missouri, you 
either worked for A.B. Chance Company, or you raised corn and 
soybeans, or you had a little store in town. It wasn't very 
big. But they were a very wonderful company to work for. 



Hired by the Water District 

Whitfield: So I was in between jobs, and I think I've told you before that 
Dr. Grimmer, who was en the board of directors [of the water 
district] when I was hired. Dr. E.M. Grimmer was our family 
doctor. He was a fishing and hunting buddy of my father's. We 
were going up to Winchester Bay in Oregon on a fishing trip, 
both families, and I was driving Dr. Grimmer's car for him. 

Whitfield: He asked me what I was doing. I told him I was in between jobs. 
We got talking about it. He said, "Well, you know, we've been 
thinking about hiring a young engineer for the water district 
because the present general manager is getting way up in years, 
and we know things are going to start growing around here." He 
said, "We've been talking about hiring someone. Would you be 
interested?" I said. "Yes, I'd be very much interested." 

When we got home, he said, "Well, I'll call Will 
Patterson." who was president of the board, "and talk to him 
about it." So I went down and had an interview with him. Then 
they said, "Maybe we ought to have the rest of the board" well, 
I knew some of the ether beard members anyway. 

Lage: Did you say you talked with the two of them? 

Whitfield: Yes. We went down to Mr. Patterson's together to talk about it. 

Lage: That was a long time ago, but do you remember any of the conver 



Whitfield: They knew I was an engineer, and I brought them up-to-date on 
what I had been doing and what my experience was, what my 
educational background was. I didn't knew Mr. Patterson before 
that but Dr. Grimmer knew me well. But they knew me, they knew 
the family. Mr. Patterson knew my father. 

Lage: Was Mr. Patterson really a part of the community? Other people 

I've talked to spoke of the family as if they were sort of 

Whitfield: They were to some degree. In fact. I didn't even know of the 
Patterson family. I lived in Mission all the time, and they 
were down in the north plain area. Of course, in those days 
everything was spread out. and there were just individual little 
towns. They weren't recluses or anything, but they didn't 
participate in functions in the community. They helped out on 
things, charitable things and all that. 

Lage: But your father did have seme contact with him? 

Whitfield: Yes. my father knew Will Patterson because of having been in the 
farming business. 

Well, the interview was just generalizations. "Mould you be 
interested in it?" I reemphasized that I never had much 
experience in design or anything in the water works business. 
There wasn't too much questioning of me. I think they were kind 
of pleased to find that they found a young engineer who would be 


I wonder if they were happy to find somebody from the community? 

Oh. I think so. 

Knowing Dr. Grimmer was a big help? 

Oh, yes. There was only one board member that I didn't know, 
and that was Louis Amaral. He was from the Alviso district, 
down the other side between Centerville and Alvarado. Then I 
met with the board of directors and had another preliminary 
discussion. They asked some questions; then they said, "Well, 
we'll have to give it some thought." 

Lage : 

So I waited around a while. 
Westvaco in Newark. 

What was it? 

I had an offer to go to 

That was a chemical plant. I went down and applied down there. 
In fact, dark Redeker. who has been on the water district board 
since 1966, worked for Westvaco. Anyway, I went down, and I was 




interviewed. They didn't have any openings down there, but they 
had an opening for plant manager up in Pocatello, Idaho. I 
wasn't too interested in going there, but it was a job. So I 
waited around a couple of months. 

So I waited, and finally I met Dr. Grimmer once, and I 
said, "Hey, I haven't heard anything." Oh, he said, "Yes, well, 
the real problem is we don't know what to do with Ed." I said. 
"Well, what do you mean?" He said, "He's getting old. We're 
kind of a little squeamish about bringing someone in and letting 
him know that he's going to be retired or something like that." 

Ed Richmond is mentioned as being involved in water since 1906. 

Whitfield: Oh, yes. You see, the Alameda County Water District took over 
the plant in Alvarado from the Oakland Water Works. You 
remember reading about that? They had several wells in Alvarado 
which pumped out of the water basin. Ed Richmond operated that 
plant for the Oakland Water Works. So in 1930 when the water 
district took the plant over, they took Ed over also. They made 
him general manager. 

And he'd been there ever since. 

Whitfield: Yes. He was in his late seventies. 

Lage: I see. They felt squeamish about retiring him. 

Whitfield: Yes, because they didn't have any retirement benefits. He had 

worked hard. He physically worked; he put pipes in and all that 
stuff. He was very conscientious, but he was until you got to 
know him a little hard to work with. They had another engineer 
who was retired from Southern Pacific, Herb Harrold. He was 
secretary of the board. In fact, he was a trustee of the high 
school when I was there. 

Lage: But he was an engineer, not a board member? 

Whitfield: Yes. he was an engineer. He was retired from the Southern 

Pacific. See, in those days, they didn't have any maps of where 
the pipes were, anywhere. Everything was in Ed Richmond's head. 
So they hired Herb Harrold to come in and get the information 
from Ed and put it en paper, on drawings. 

Well. Ed could be in a bad mood seme day [laughs], and he 
didn't want to be bothered with Herb, and he wouldn't go out 
with him to show him where the pipes were. So when I got there 
I got in the middle. 


Apprenticeship Under Ed Richmond. 1950-1953 

Lage: How did you deal with that problem with Ed Richmond? Did you 

have a better time with him? 

Whitfield: Well, let's go back to this was the board before I got hired. 
So we met again with the beard of directors. They said. "Ve 
want you to come to work for us. but we just don't know what to 
do with Ed." 1 said. "I'll make a suggestion if you really want 
me to come to work for you. Appoint me assistant to the manager 
and I'll get in. learn all I can as fast as I can." That's what 
I did. [Hired September 20. 1950.] 

In these days, they wrote water bills out by hand. 
Sometimes that's what I had to do, doing that. 

Lage: What kind of staff did they have besides Ed Richmond? 

Whitfield: They had Ed Richmond. Herb Harrold was paid by the hour, and he 
was secretary of the board. Then they had Jewell Amaral. who I 
went to high school [with]. 

Lage: Who was the board member's daughter? 

Whitfield: No. he was her uncle. That was Louis Amaral. 
Lage: Was she clerical staff? 

Whitfield: Yes. There was her and Marie Santos. I knew all her family; 

they were from Mission. There was a total of eight. That's all 
that was in the office, but there was a total of eight employees 
when I went to work for them. I was one of them. 

So that's what I did. I went in, and I did everything Ed 
asked me to do, except a couple times. You know. I always 
wanted to get out in the field and see what was going on. He 
had me locked in there too much of the time. 

Lage: Was he jealous of letting go of his j ob by training you. do you 


Whitfield: No, I don't think so. I don't think so. But one day there was 
a big water main leak over in the underpass at Niles. We always 
had a problem with that darn pipe over there. I was in the 
office. It was billing time, and I was doing bills. So I 
waited about four or five hours, and Ed didn't come back, so I 
got in the car and went over. 


He said. "Vhat are you doing here?" I said. "I've come to 
see what's going en. what the problem is?" "You're supposed to 
be back there doing bills." And I said, "Well. I'm going t 
stay and watch to see what's going on," "Well. I want you to go 
back." I said, "Listen, I'm net going back. I was hired to 
learn what's going on in the district, and get educated in the 
field of water engineering. I'm going to go out and see what's 
going on from now en." He said, ''Okay." [laughs] And after 
that everything was fine. 

Lage : So that was resolved without your having to take it up with the 


Whitfield: Yes. Oh, I w ouldn 1 1 take it up w ith the board. Ithinkyou're 
right, though. I was very lucky because, when I worked for this 
guy Er stead down there in San Jese. I learned that at times I 
was going to run into people who were hard to get along with. I 
felt that I could have enough patience to stay long enough to 
learn something. 

When I was up at Mare Island we had Captain Burris, who 
was the repair superintendent. He was a pusher. We had to have 
a conference every week and a progress report of what was going 
on on our ships. I never had any compunction in answering him. 
I'd tell him the truth. If you were behind, you were behind. 
"Why are you behind?" "Well, we can't get this, we can't get 
that." So I had learned to work with him. He was very gruff, 
and most of the guys were scared stiff of him. It didn't bother 

In fact, [laughs] when I was up in the planning section, we 
had a ship come in that had main propulsion gear problems. This 
required setting up an inspection group to resolve the problem. 
The group was composed of two officers representing the repair 
superintendent, two officers from the Design Section, a repre 
sentative from the gear manufacturer, and myself. At that time 
they were in the process of changing the planning superinten 
dent. Commander Moore, who was the design superintendent, was 
filling in as acting planning superintendent. So whenever you 
had a gear problem with the main propulsion of a ship, you had 
to report it to Commodore Lee back in Washington, D.G. 

Well, the question came up of who was going to call and 
make the report. Commander Moore called me in and wanted me to. 
He said, "Would you be qualified to call and explain it?" 
"Yes." He said, "Well, you've got to go down and talk to 
Captain Burris about it." He called Burris and told him I was 
coming down. We had a repair superintendent and a machinery man 
and a hull superintendent. Their offices were together, and 



Lage : 





they had a window right between where they could talk back and 
forth. So the window was open and this other captain was Bill 
something or other. He was a younger man. 

Anyway. Captain Burris says, "Sit down. Whit." [laughs] 
I said. "Yes. sir." He said. "Your Commander Moore tells me 
you're a little bit too bashful to call Washington. D.G." I 
said. "Well. I don't knew why he said that. He asked me if I 
would do it, and I said sure. I can't understand me being too 
bashful or scared to call a commodore back in Washington, D.C.. 
when I speak very frankly to you." He turned to the window and 
said. T3ill. did you hear what this young upstart said." He put 
his head back, and he laughed. So I had a good experience, and 
I was well prepared. 

And you learned that you do have to sort of assert yourself. 
Yes, once in a while. 

Was the district board involved just with day-to-day problems, 
like leaks, or were they deciding to plan for some of the 
growth? Was there an awareness that there was going to be a lot 
of growth? 

Oh, yes. 

I'm thinking about when you first came on, the first couple of 

We had the Conway and Culligan problem in the period between 
when I came there and 1955. 

You're already general manager, though, when that happened. 

Yes, I was. But that's what started us. The reason Patterson 
and Grimmer wanted somebody in there with an engineering 
background was because they knew it was going to hit. 

Tell me mere about that, 

Can you remember discussions about 

Well, they always said, 'Ve've got to plan because the develop 
ment is going to be coming down this way, and it's going to come 
pretty fast." And it did. Say after '55 and in there, we were 
putting on three or four thousand new customers a year. When I 
went there we had two thousand customers. 


So there were day-to-day problems but then there were long-term 
ones too? 


Whitfield: The first big problem we had Ed Richmond didn't get along with 
the various fire chiefs. In fact, my father was a fire chief, 
the first volunteer fire chief in Mission San Jose, but he never 
had any difficulty with Richmond. But, in fact, he knew Ed 
Richmond pretty well. 

But. anyway, the first thing that had happened was you 
know, the fire hydrants you see out on the street are two- 
nozzle-type. Well, in the early days, in a small district 
sometimes they put in a wharf hydrant which was just a four-inch 
pipe coming up with a valve en top. That would satisfy for the 
area they were in. In those days, the fire districts paid three 
dollars- a- month rental for a fire hydrant, but the water 
district paid for putting the fire hydrants in. Ed was always 
trying to save money, so he was always trying to get by with 
just putting in the wharf hydrants. 

Joe Fashote, who just passed away a couple of years age. 
was the fire chief in Newark. He knew my father quite well, 
too, because they were both fire chiefs. 

Lage: This was a volunteer fire chief? 

Whitfield: Yes. at the time. Ed had a big tiff with Joe Fashete because he 
was supposed to put in, in certain streets in Newark, I think it 
was four hydrants. Well, Ed decided that he wasn't going to put 
in the standard hydrants; he was going to put in wharf hydrants. 
Apparently, he was going to put in three-inch wharf hydrants. 
Joe Pashote said that if he did we won't pay the rent. They got 
in a tiff and Ed just stopped the job. 

So they had a public meeting in Judge Norris' court down 
there with Joe Pashote and some of the other fire chiefs. 

Lage: And representatives from the district, the water district? 

Whitfield: Yes, the board of directors and me, and I guess Ed Richmond was 
there. I had to catch a plane I was going to a meeting in Los 
Angeles, a water district meeting and so they left it on the 
basis that I would get together with Joe Pashote and talk about 
it. [laughs] Of course. Joe was adamant with Ed Richmond, but 
he wasn't with me. 

So I went down, "Joe, really, what's the big to-do about, 
what's the problem?" I said. "Nothing toe big it can't be 
solved." tod dammit," he said, "that old stubborn so-and-so. 
He wants to put in all wharf hydrants. I said, "Well, what do 
you want?" He said, "I should have standard hydrants, or I want 
four-inch ones." "There's no problem there. Where do you want 
them?" So we agreed on them. 


Lage: And did he get what he wanted? 

Whitfield: Sure. 

Lage: Because it was a reasonable request? 

Whitfield: Sure. There was no reason to fuss about it. Pashote and I were 
buddies all the time. [laughs] 

Lage: The board didn't usually get involved in little things like 

that? Except in this case they had to have a hearing about it. 

Whitfield: Well, because. I guess, Pashote must have complained to board 

But then after that. Mr. Patterson then found another 
consulting engineer, a Stanford graduate. Will Patterson went 
to Stanford. Will Patterson had three boys and they all went to 
Stanford. So whenever he was looking for information about 
engineers he always went to Stanford. So he got Thad Binkley. 
who was a consulting engineer. 

Lage: Did he stay on with you for a while? 

Whitfield: Yes, he was with us quite a while. 
Lage: But it was just on a consulting basis? 

Whitfield: Yes, on a consulting basis. He did a lot of the engineering for 
our percolation pits and all that kind of stuff. 

Lage: Was he a specialist in water? 

Whitfield: Yes. In fact, he ran his own water company over in the 
peninsula over there, too. He specialized in water. 

PI anni ng f or Growth; The 1955 Bend Issue 

Whitfield: So then we started thinking in terms of planning for growth. 
The only bond issue that the water district ever had was in 
1930. a quarter of a million dollars to buy out the Alvarado 
plant. The Oakland Water Company, or the People's Water 
Company it was named both at one time had acquired the 
prescriptive right to pump eight million gallons of water a day 
from Alvarado into Oakland. There was a thirty-inch line that 
went to Oakland. When they were going to sell out, our water 
district didn't want them to sell it to anybody else, who would 


Whitfield: then have a prescriptive right to pump it out. Se they floated 
a bend for a quarter of a million dollars, and we paid that off 
ever the period that I was there. 

Then it was decided, because seme of the towns weren't even 
connected with pipes, and we had no major mains anywhere 

Lage: Many people were getting water from wells, isn't that right? 

Whitfield: Yes, wells. For storage we only had the hundred-thousand gallon 
tank up at Mission San Jose and a one- hundred-thousand gallon 
reservoir over in Miles, in the Niles Canyon area. New they've 
get eighty million gallons of storage. 

Knowing we didn't have storage and we didn't have adequate 
wells and all that, in 1955 we had a bend issue. That's when 
the planning started it preceded '55. 

Lage: Planning for the future needs? 

Whitfield: Yes, yes, and for the major expenditures. Se we had a 

$4,297,000 bond issue, which was the biggest bend issue ever 
floated down here. They were general obligation bends paid out 
of water revenue. If you have a general obligation bond, you 
have the backing ef the taxes although we never used taxes. We 
paid for it out of water revenue sales, like a revenue bend. 
But revenue bonds you pay a higher interest rate. 

Lage: Did you do a lot of campaigning for that, or was it 


Whitfield: No, it wasn't. I went out and did all the promotional work, 
went out and talked to the chambers of commerce and whoever 
wanted to listen. It was successful. 

The ACHD Beard ef Directors in the Early Fifties 

Lage: Let's go back just a little bit to earlier in the 1950s. I'm 

thinking about the board at that time. What kind ef people? 
You mentioned Bernardo, Amaral, and then there was Patterson, 
and Grimmer, and Prouty. What were their backgrounds? 

Whitfield: Well, Dr. Grimmer was purely medical. He was a physician. In 
fact, for years there was only Dr. Grau over in Niles and Dr. 
Holman in Centerville and Dr. Grimmer here. Patterson was in 
business and agriculture, a big land holder. He owned land 
where Del Valle is [in Livermore Valley]; I think he had about 


Whitfield: three thousand acres up there and about three thousand acres 

down here. Then Louis Amaral was one of the fanners that farmed 
a lot of Patterson's property. He leased it eut en shares. 

Lage : Did he have his own ranch at all or was he mainly ? 

Whitfield: No, I think he leased everything. He and his brother had a 
garage down in the Alviso district where they both lived. 
Later, when he got out of farming, he was in the insurance 
business. Manuel Bernardo years back was the constable around 
here, and then he went into farming. He owned about twelve or 
fifteen acres of apricots down in Centerville. Jack Prouty was 
a schoolteacher, originally. 

Then, when the war came along. Bailey was the next big 
farmer, next in size to Patterson. 

Lage: What was his name? 

Whitfield: Lloyd Bailey. He had a lot of property, too; he was a very 
wealthy man. 

Lage: Was he involved with the water district? 

Whitfield: No, but somehow Jack Prouty figured he was going to get into the 
farming business. I don't know what the relationship was with 
him and Bailey, but he supervised a lot of Bailey's operations 
for years. He never did go back to teaching. 

Lage: So these were mainly men of substance on the board, or is that 

not a good generalization? They were elected. 

Whitfield: They are elected, yes. What do you mean? 

Lage: Well, men of means. They had a fair amount of money? 

Whitfield: Well. I don't think Bernardo did, no. 

Lage: They had ties to agriculture basically. 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Did they take a real hands-en attitude towards the water 

district or did they pretty much leave it in Richmond's hands? 

Whitfield: Well, in the days before I got there, when Ed Richmond was 

manager, it was my understanding that Mr. Patterson did all the 
negotiating or making agreements and all that. He did all that 
type of thing. 


Lage: From just looking briefly at the minutes f board meetings this 

morning. I do notice a change when you come on as general 
manager. [Appointed general manager September 10, 1953.] 

Whitfield: I hope for the better! [laughter] 

Lage: You are much more involved. You are shown in the minutes far 

more than Richmond is; he's barely mentioned. When you come on, 
the minutes note a 'General Manager Whitfield this and General 
Manager Whitfield that." 

Whitfield: He didn't participate. When they had their board meetings 
before, well, they never had any agendas so 1 talked to Mr. 
Patterson. I said, "Would you like me to prepare an agenda?" 
Well, that worked out fine. I would give them write-ups in 
advance, you know, a little explanation of what was coming up. 

They never had anybody to really help them in this; Herb 
Harrold never had much push. He was an older man. you know. 


They didn't have a real manager, it sounds like. 

Whitfield: They didn't. They had a good pipe man, and a good pump man and 
a good installer, and a very hard worker. He knew how to tell 
people how to do things, and that's what he was. 

It sounds as if Patterson took more of a managerial role before 
you came on. 


Whitfield: Right, he did. 



A Private Person 

Lage: Since we want to develop a little information about William 

Patterson, can you recall any conversations with him or dealings 
with him? Was there any problem with his giving up this 
managerial role when you came on? 

Whitfield: No. it was just a smooth transition. I think he was very 

relieved because Patterson was getting older, too. He'd been n 
it since 1914. 

Lage: That's right. That's a long time. 

Whitfield: But he was a wonderful man. I loved the guy. He was so laid 

back and once I got to know him I knew that, boy, if I ever need 
a friend to defend me in the water district, he'll be there. He 
let you know that he had confidence in you and you felt very 

I was very lucky in working twenty-seven years. I think I 
served under about twenty different boards of directors. I only 
had one board member who gave me a bad time threatened my job 
and all that. 

Lage: That is lucky when you can say that. 

Whitfield: Yes, because it's political. When you work for elected 

officials you serve at the pleasure of the board. I had no 
contract. A couple of times some of the board members would 
say, *X)h. I think we ought to have a contract with Matt," I 
said, "If you want one, it's all right with me. I don't care 
for one." I said. "I'd rather j ust serve at your pleasure. If 
you don't want me. I don't want to be here." 


That made them feel comfortable. 



Whitf ield: Did Tillie Goeld tell you about the Pattersons? 

Lage: Not about the Pattersons but I talked to her about farming in 

the area. 

Whitf ield: I meant about Will Patterson, personally. 

Lage: Well, not really. I mean, she didn't knew him at all according 

to her. Her farm was in that same area. Mr. Goold said they 
lived in a different world, a completely different social world. 

Whitf ield: Yes. 

Lage: And he [Mr. Goeld] seemed to sort of steer clear of the 

Pattersons so as net to create any problems. 

Whitfield: Well, you know, one example of a let of people thought it was 
terrible Will Patterson had a beautiful home. All this cherry 
weed banisters. 1 used to go down there and meet with him. But 
when he passed away, he left it in his will that the whole thing 
was to be burned down, 

Lage: I heard that. None of the family wanted to live there. 

Whitfield: Yes, none of the family. He did not want like the other house, 
I guess he didn't want people traipsing through it and making a 
public thing out ef it. 

Lage: Didn't he ever assume that anybody would want to live in it, a 

non-family member. 

Whitfield: I think what really concerned him was that these old buildings 
ultimately become public buildings. 

Lage: You don't think he would have liked what's happened to the other 

house [the G. W. Patterson home]? 

Whitfield: No, because he was a very private person. 

Lage: So he probably wouldn't like us running around getting oral 

histories about him. 

Whitfield: Oh, I don't know. You probably wouldn't get any personal 

history from him about himself, but I'm sure he would support 
what you're doing now. When John Caswell wrote the history of 
the water district, Mr. Patterson thought that should be 







A lot sf the family has historical interest. Donald Patterson 
did some eral history interviews. He taped himself; he taped a 
couple people in the community. Dave Patterson new has an 

I've only met Dave a couple times. He was younger. Jack 
Patterson, who was about my age, was Will's third sen. He 
passed away rather young. 

Did you knew Donald Patterson? 

Oh, yes. Don was very active before and after his father passed 
away, coming ever to talk about the water district. He was on 
the water committee of Fremont. 

What would he have dene with the water committee? 

It was the water committee of the chamber of commerce, and they 
had a subcommittee on whether we should have ground water 
reper eolation; they had a committee that was slanted against the 
ground water. We had a lot of opposition to spending money to 
recharge the ground water basin. Donald Patterson, like his 
father, was a great supporter of the ground water projects. 

Did Donald Patterson, do you know, take a role in running the 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Resolution 81; Blueprint for Growth 

Lage: We had talked about trying to get a picture of William Patterson 

and how difficult it is to do that. You mentioned you might be 
able to tell of an incident that occurred that would show 
something of his style. 

Whitfield: I mentioned to you that I felt very comfortable with him. and I 
always felt that I had his support if I ever needed it. That 
time came when I recommended to the board that we change our 
policy on resolution 81. 

Lage: First, tell us about resolution 81. 

Whitfield: In 1955 we adopted resolution 81. which took about six months to 
prepare. That was the future format and the bible on how we 
were going to pay for things: who was going to pay for water 
mains, whether there was going to be reimbursement, or oversize, 
and all that. 



For the new developments? 

Whitf ield: Far anybody that came in and wanted service, for developers and 
all that. 


Or industry, too? 

Whitf ield: Yes, for everybody, but primarily for the new developments 
coming in. 


Now, who developed resolution 81? 

Whitf ield: Well, it was dene jointly between Thad Binkley, Morris Hyman. 
our attorney, and myself. Morris Hyman is now president of 
Fremont Bank. 

Lage : 

Whitf ield: 

Did the board give you any direction, 
what they would like to see? 

a policy direction, en 


No. We talked to them about what we were going to do: First of 
all, the developers were going to have to pay for certain-sized 
mains, and under certain conditions they'd get reimbursement. 
Then, when we needed oversize, if the subdivision needed a 
twelve-inch line to serve it, based on hydraulic calculations, 
and then we decided that we want to put in an eighteen-inch 
line, then the subdivider would have to put the eighteen-inch 
line in. After we saw the bids and all that, then we would 
reimburse him for the difference in cost between the twelve and 
eighteen, under certain conditions. 


Whitf iel d : 

That seems fair enough, 
their share. 

You were trying to see that they paid 

Their share, yes. So we developed this policy. Then we tried 
to figure out the details. If you had a street, and the 
developer hooked up to one side, well, they'd have to pay for 
that side. If the other side wasn't part of their subdivision 
then we would set them up for reimbursement of half of their 
costs for putting in the water main. Then we had it where you 
had a three-sided lot or a four-sided lot [laughs] or a five- 
sided let, the whele thing. 

So this is a very detailed policy? 

Whitf ield: Yes. 

Lage: And then that came before the board for approval? 

Whitf ield: Yes. They got advance copies of it. Subsequently-- 


Lage: They approved of it. I assume? Did they vote on it, were there 

any hearings? 

Whitf ield: No. there were no hearings; we reviewed it with them at a 
meeting and they then adopted resolution 81. 

Lage: But they didn't hold public hearings. It wasn't controversial. 

Whitf ield: I think it would have been controversial the other way around 
if we didn't have a policy because a lot of the farmers and 
property owners, everybody says, "Well, you know, these 
developers are going to come in and get everything free." In 
fact, I had many compliments about it because once a developer 
got in here and I always said one thing, "We're going to tell 
you right up front what you're stuck with, and we're going to 
tell you what you're going to get back." 

The reimbursement they set up for reimbursement for ten 
years. If they got it all back, fine; if they didn't, they 
didn't get any more. But in some of the other districts where 
they worked they weren't sure what they were stuck with. What 
they want to know is, "What am I stuck with financially before I 
get into this thing?" They don't want someone coming around 
afterwards saying, "Hey, you've got to put in $10,000 more of 
this in there." So most of the bigger developers always 
complimented us. They would say, "Well, we may not agree that 
we should put all this in. but we know what we're going to be 
stuck with and you don't stick us with anything extra." 

Lage: Were they required to pay more than most places around here? 

Whitf ield: Well. East Bay MUD [Municipal Utility District] and all those 
didn't have these charges like we did because we didn't have 
anything to work on. 

Lage: Well, you were building in new areas. There must have been a 

corollary in Santa Clara County, I would think. 

Whitfield: I think Binkley got copies of some extension plans that other 
entities had, and of course, he had been in the water business 

Quiet Support and Leadership from Will Patterson 


I've been taking you off the track here, 
something about Will Patterson. 

You were saying 


Whitfield: Subsequent t that resolution we found that the growth was 

coming in more, that we were going to have to begin making them 
pay for larger sized pipes and sometimes not getting reimbursed 
until later on. 

Lage : How would they be reimbursed when another developer came in and 

shared the pipe? 

Whitfield: When anybody hooked onto a pipe that was put in by other than 

the water district funds, there would be a charge, a front-foot 
charge, say, for a six-inch main or ten-inch or whatever it is. 
So that went into reimbursement funds. Now, it didn't go 
directly to the developer that put that pipe in, it went into 
one big pool. At the end of the year we knew how much a credit 
balance we owed each developer, so it was prorated based upon 
the credit balance that they had coming. So even though I put 
twelve hundred feet of pipe along this street, and even during 
the next year if no one hooked up to that pipe, if someone 
hooked up to a pipe in the ether side of town, I'd still get a 
part of that money. 

Lage: So any future growth in the area would contribute te that 


Whitfield: Yes, rather than have to keep track of whose money it is we did 
it this way, which worked out fine. 

But anyway, subsequently we had te change the policy to 
make it mere severe on the developers. We had prepared the 
plans to put into effect I think this was probably in June or 
something like that, but my recommendation was that it was to be 
adopted, but net te be put into effect until August or Septem 
ber, and then we were going to insist on having written 
contracts all the time. My rationale for delaying until August 
or September was that I had negotiated with people. They'd come 
in with their drawings, and I would tell them what they have te 
put in and all this kind ef stuff. 

When I briefed the beard on it. seme of them. Dr. Grimmer, 
for some reason, decided "No, let's not wait. Let's just cut it 
off like this," [slaps his hand] "and make it effective 
immediately." I had maybe a dozen developers that I had talked 
to, or maybe ten or something like that. I just thought it 
wasn't fair to impose this upon them when they may have had all 
their plans, financial plans, made. Mr. Patterson sat back, he 
never said a word. Everybody else talked, get more vociferous: 
"Well, we can't let them, blah blah blah " 



Then there was a long silence, and somebody turned to Mr. 
Patterson and said, 'Will, what's your opinion?" He said, 
Well, it's very simple." He said, "Matt has explained to us." 
He asked, "How many people have you talked to?" And I told him. 
Tlow much money do you think it involves?" And I told him. He 
said. "Well, that's my opinion. I agree with Matt. We've gotta 
be fair about this thing." Without any fanfare, it passed 

You mentioned that Mr. Patterson seemed sort of a serious person 
on the surface. Not full of smiles and net a gladhander. 

Whitf ield: No. he was a gentleman, but he wasn't a politician- type. He was 
just a very sedate gentleman. 

Lage: You said something about his sense of humor. 

Whitf ield: Yes. Well, maybe I shouldn't tell you this one. but I hope 

you've got a sense of humor. At the time, Marcella Hewett was 
the secretary to our board. I think that it was on this same 
occasion; one of the comments Mr. Patterson made about why we 
shouldn't enforce this policy immediately was he said. "I think 
we should just stick it to them gently." [laughter] And I 
thought. "My, that's unusual for Mr. Patterson to say something 
like that." .So the next time 1 saw him. I said. "Mr. Patterson, 
we've got a real problem. The first problem we've had with you 
since I've been with the water district." "What's the matter. 
Matt?" I said, "Remember the comment you made about sticking 
it ?" [laughs] He said, "Yes." and he kind of smiled. I said. 
"Mrs. Hewett wants to knew how you want that phrased in the 
minutes." And he laughed. I'd never seen him guffaw before, 
[laughter] That's the only one that I can think of. 

Water, Flood Control, Development, and Growth 

Lage: Did you detect Patterson's attitude towards development and 

growth? Did he have any sense this change was a great thing, er 
was just an inevitable thing? 

Whitfield: I think he would have preferred that the status quo remain, but 
I think he was pragmatic enough to know that it wouldn't, and he 
wasn't going to fight it, 


Did he sell off any of the lands while he was still alive? 

Whitfield: Yes. 



Oh. he did? Into development? 

Whitfield: Yes. He was on the flood control board, but I have never had 
any indication on anything that he ever voted on or anything 
that he was thinking of his own interest. I'm sure in the back 
of his head he was, but he never said anything about, "I don't 
want that to happen to my land," or anything like that. 

Lage: Well, the flood control project certainly had a let to do with 

allowing development. 

Whitfield: Oh, sure. 

Lage: And probably especially on his land. 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Was the water district involved with flood control in any way? 

Whitfield: No, we cooperated with each other. The only problem we had with 
flood control, at one time, was with some of the city fathers 
and ether people in the community that weren't in favor of 
spending all the money we were spending on recharging the ground 
water basin. They wanted maybe more Hetch Hetchy water. They 
tried to impose zone eight over eur district. 

Lage: Now you're going to have to clarify zone eight here. 

Whitfield: Well, the flood control district is county-wide, but they're 

broken down into various zones of flood plains. Then when they 
float a bond issue, it's assessed against that zone. At one 
time, they wanted to have a whole zone five that covered all 
Livermore Valley and our district, but there was to much 
politics in that. There were a lot of politicians who wanted to 
say something about it. 

But there was a feeling that they would prefer to have 
zone eight under flood control, under the manager of the overall 
flood control district, who was more politically inclined than 
we were. Then they wanted instead of us contracting directly 
with the state of California for the south bay aqueduct, then 
zone eight would have contracted. 

Lage: Then they would have become a water district. 

Whitfield: Yes. Our board and our attitude was, "Why have another layer of 
government?" In other words, they would have bought water from 
the state and sold it to us. So why have another political layer 
in between, with more expense. Then you have them controlling 
where the water goes. 


Lage: Now when did that come up? 

Whitf ield: That came up prior to '62 when we were negotiating contracts for 
state water. 

Lage: I see. Maybe we will talk about that again mere next time. 



Recharging the Ground Water Through Percolation Pits 

Lage: We've brought up a lot of things that were happening in the 

fifties, but let's look at them more directly. 

Just when you came into the district or just prior to it, 
wasn't the Shinn Percolation Pit opened up? 

Whitfield: Yes. that was in '49. That was opened up where they took water 
from the natural runoff and any releases that came from 
Calaveras Dam were diverted. That was at '49. They had opened 
it up the year before I came in. 

Lage: And they diverted this natural runoff into an old quarry? 


Whitfield: Yes, an eld abandoned quarry. 

Lage: And that allowed it to percolate down? 

Whitfield: Yes. The Shinn Pit, that was one of the first quarries that 
started. It's right up back of Miles. 

Lage: Was Shinn connected with that quarry, or was it named after the 

first president ? 

Whitfield: It was the Shinn property. The whole area belonged to Shinn. 
Lage: He was the first president of the water district. 

Whitfield: Yes, Joseph Shinn. 

Lage: Was that a common way of dealing with water problems, or was it 

a new solution that this district found? 


Whitfield: I think Santa Clara County had gene into it years back and in 
southern California there was a lot of recharging. The old 
channel of Alameda Creek was the main source of water to 
recharge the ground water basin. Now. when they put the main 
flood control channel down there we were concerned that they 
might install a concrete lining in it. We made our position 
clear on it to the Corps of Engineers, who were doing the work. 

Lage: The Corps of Engineers did like to concrete things. 

Whitfield: Oh, yes. because then you can confine it and have less area to 
worry about. 

Lage: Did that negotiation present any problem, or did they listen to 


Whitfield: No. no, there was no real problem. We made our position clear 
all the tim e. 

Pressure to Purchase Hetch Hetchy Water from San Francisco 

Lage: When Fremont became incorporated, did that bring a new layer of 

problems to you. or was it easier to deal with just one city 
instead of the five little towns? 

Whitfield: Well, with the five little towns there wasn't really any dealing 
with them. We floated the bond issue before Fremont came in. 
and the people voted for it. I guess they felt like we did, 
that we needed to look to the future. One of the anecdotes 
about Louis Amaral when we were talking about importing water 
from the state plan, he would say. "The only amount of water we 
will ever need is a ten-inch pipe flowing down Alameda Creek 
year around." That wouldn't be a drop in the bucket. [laughs] 

Lage: Was he the one who wanted Hetch Hetchy water? I came across the 

notes in the minutes, and I thought it was Amaral saying we want 
Hetch Hetchy water and forget this ground recharge. Was that 

Whitfield: Well. I don't remember. 

Lage: It was a little bit later on. 

Whitfield: Or Jack Prouty? 

Lage: No. it wasn't Jack Prouty. 




Lage : 



There's always been a big to-d about that, 
wanted us to get more Hetchy water. 

The city of Fremont 

Maybe we should talk about that, now, as one of the main issues. 
It probably went on mere than just in the fifties. Was this a 
continuing tension? 

Well, at one time, before we had enough pipes put to connect it 
up, Irvington, where Dr. Grimmer lived, was supplied by Hetch 
Hetchy water. We didn't have any storage for it. We had 
isolated the areas where we didn't have any pipes where we had 
Hetch Hetchy water. In fact, this area here, this subdivisen 
here, was all Hetch Hetchy water from a connection sn Mission 

I see. So you brought it direct, purchased from San Francisco. 

Yes. But then subsequently we got water mains installed around 
it, and then we took the areas off. which was always a complaint 
then because Hetch Hetchy water was softer. I'll never forget 
when we took this area this was before I lived up here off 
Hetch Hetchy water. The people came down to protest, and one 
very attractive lady got up. She was complaining about how hard 
the water was, and she said, "I just wish you could come up 
sometime and see me trying to take a shower." [laughter] That 
about brought the house down. 

They really noticed it when you changed from Hetch Hetchy water. 

Yes, because Hetchy water was softer. Well water has more 
minerals in it. It was about two hundred and something parts 
per million with total dissolved solids. 

Then we put in the Bernardo Softening Plant over there 
which was controversial. We went to an election on that, too. 

Why was that controversial? 

Whitfield: Well, because some people wanted us to spend it on Hetchy water, 
and some people didn't want soft water. 

Lage: But could you have purchased enough water to satisfy the 

district's needs from Hetch Hetchy, from San Francisco? 

Whitfield: I don't think we could have. 

Lage: And what about the price, was that higher? 


Whitfield: Oh. the price was higher, yes. Very much higher. You see. one 
of the reasons why we rebelled all the time about going all 
Hetchy was that the other entities that buy water from San 
Francisco have no say in the rates they pay. They come under 
the San Francico Public Utility Commission. They don't come 
under the Public Utilities Commission of the state of 
California. So wherever the San Francisco Public Utilities 
Commission sets the water rates, that's what you've got to pay. 
You have no recourse, no political recourse by voting for 
supervisor or anything like that. So we could have another 
municipality deciding or predestining what you're going to do. 

Lage: They probably have first claim on the water as well. 

Whitfield: Yes. right. 

Lage: But that was a continuing thing. People would rather you didn't 

put so much into the percolation pits and 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, there were some people adamant against spending 

money to recharge the ground water basin and wanted all Hetch 
Hetchy water. 

Lage: What about candidates that ran for the board of directors? 

Whitfield: Some were in favor of using mere Hetch Hetchy water and less 

ground water. After they got on the board because they didn't 
like what we were doing, and when they got in and learned about 
it, then they saw the rationale and supported the ground water 

Lage: How were they educated? Was that part of your role? 

Whitfield: They were just educated by attending the board meetings to see 
what we were doing and asking questions. 


Did you ever see them individually to show them around? 

Whitfield: Oh* yes. if they wanted me to. I always offered. You know, if 
you want to come in and talk about things, I'd be very happy to 
spend the time with you or take you out and show you. 

Lage: And most, when they saw the overall picture, agreed with what 

you were doing? 


Whitfield: Yes, they saw the light. In fact, if you read this history* the 
ending is very complimentary about hew the water district is 
operating, yes. 

A Controversy with Developers Co re? ay and Culligan, 1954 

Lage : Let's talk about this Conway and Culligan issue which was about 


Whitfield: Yes, it was before Fremont was incorporated, not too long before 
that. I guess we were down in the old office we rented space 
in the county building, the one en Martha and Peralta Boulevard 
that's gone into a nursery school now. They built the court 
house out here. There was a big to-do about where that should 
go out here. It was a bunch of politics, you know, somebody 
wanted it in their various areas, but Dr. Grimmer owned the 
property down there. He said, "Well. I'll settle it. I'll give 
them the property." And he did. That's where it settled. But 
I think that's where we were at the time. 

We get a phone call from this guy, Glassbrook or something 
like that. He was from Oakland. I had never heard of Conway 
and Culligan before. They were from over in San Mateo. I think 
it was San Mateo, somewhere on the peninsula. He called me up 
and he said, 'K)h, we're going to put in 350 homes en the 
Stevenson property in Irvington where the old dairy is. I want 
to step by and see you and see about putting in water mains and 
getting water." I said, "Fine." 

Lage: Did the Stevenson property belong to the same Stevenson that 

became mayor? 

Whitfield: No. I think this was the cousin; this was Max Stevenson. That 
area is new called Irvington Square. It's out of Irvington 
towards Warm Springs. 

He get in my office, and I don't know how he dropped the 
hint that they were net used to paying for putting in more than 
two-inch lines. I said, 'We've get to back up a little bit. We 

*Larrowe, Martin, "A Short History of the Alameda County Water 
District: A Story of Survival in the Metropolitan Bay Area." 
(Research paper for History 4900, California State University. 
Hayward, 1978) 


Whitfield: don't put in two-inch lines anywhere." He didn't like that. I 
said. "I can't tell you what mains you're going to put in until 
you bring a map in so we can lay it out and do the hydraulics on 


Whitfield: Fortunately they had filed a tentative subdivision map with the 
county planning commission, and they had hearings on that. They 
always had to put en the maps who was going to be the water 
purveyor. ACWD was on the maps; and that's where we get them, 

They had two wells on the property; they were irrigation 
wells. Then there was a Hetch Hetchy pipeline right down in 
that area. 

So Conway and Culligan came over and said, "Well, we're not 
going to spend all the money to put the pipes in the sizes you 
want. We'll form our own mutual water company. We've got two 
wells of our own and" they inferred later on "we've had a 
discussion with San Francisco, and they'll give us a connec 
tion." Well, we've always had an understanding with San 
Francisco that they wouldn't serve in our district, unless we 
gave approval. So I took that with a grain of salt. We got 
together with the board, and they were having another hearing at 
the county board of supervisors. They were down there in full 
force, down in Oakland. That was before they had a courthouse 
in Hayward. Beth Conway and Culligan were there and their 
attorneys. I made a presentation about it's in our district and 
we have the facilities and all that. The supervisors decided 
that there was already a record en the map. and they weren't 
going to allow them to change it. 

Lage: So did it end there or did you go on about it for a while 


Whitfield: No. it ended. 



So the threat was that they would secede, sort of? 

Whitfield: Well, a mutual water company is one where it's owned by the 
property owners in it. and it's run by them. 

I see. Now what were they unwilling to ? 

Whitfield: They thought that they were going to just come over and tell us 
what size pipes they were going to put in. We just told them 
they weren 1 t. 


Was this a case where your board had to back you up? 


Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage : Did they all back you up? Did Stevenson come in en that, the 

future mayor? 

Whitfield: I can't remember whether he was involved in that. 

Lage: But you did have run-ins with him another time, is that right? 

Whitfield: Well, I didn't have any direct run-ins, and I don't think I want 
te mention his name in this regard. But I think I told you that 
Jack Prouty, who was an ex-directer of the water district, had 
property down there by Jack Stevenson. 

Lage: Down in this same area of Irvington Square? 

Whitfield: No. off Prune Avenue. Prouty was one of the people that was 
kind of backing flood control to handle zone eight, tee. Not 
officially, but I think Jack was because they had a lot of 
water committee meetings down at Prouty's house. 

Lage: Now was this the same water committee Donald Patterson was on? 

Whitfield: I don't think Donald was on it then. 
Lage: A chamber of commerce committee? 

Whitfield: Yes. I don't think he was on it then. But I got a call at 3:30 
one afternoon inviting me te come to a meeting. I said, "What 
meeting?" So I went down and, it was about the same kind of 
thing, you know. 

Lage: Elaborate a little bit mere about what were the issues there. 

Whitfield: Well, one ef the issues was that they I think we had the same 
thing, toe. when Western Pacific came in down in the Warm 
Springs area, and they wanted water down there. A big tract of 
land. I think it was about the same time when the city of 
Fremont got the idea that maybe they should take ever serving 
water. The city went out and retained a consultant engineering 
firm, "Engineering Science," who I knew pretty well. He came 
dewn and interviewed me. He said, [laughs] "I just can't under 
stand them thinking that they can come in and set up a whole 
water district for the city of Fremont and handle it as 
efficiently as you guys do." So he wrote it. He didn't 
recommend it. He recommended cooperation with the water 
district. That was an actual approach the city took because 
they hired a consultant engineer for a feasability study. 



So there were a lot of feelings. Do you think there was the 
sense that they wanted more service to subdivisions and less to 
farmers, was that part of it? 

Whitfield: I don't think se. no. 

Lage: Because the farmers must have been in favor of this ground water 


Whitfield: Oh, they were, because some of their wells were going salty. 

Lage: And the people who did mere drinking of the water were probably 

the ones who wanted the Hetch Hetchy. 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, you see, you couldn't afford Hetchy water to put in 
the ground water basin because, you know, it was a hundred and 
something dollars an acre foot. 

Water District Role in Planning for Growth 

Lage: Last time I asked you about planning, and you mentioned that it 

was the cities that did the planning and told you what the needs 

Whitfield: Oh, yes. When we floated our bend issue in '55. the industry in 
this area was completely disbursed throughout the area. I think 
Fremont was right: they took it all and put it down in the Warm 
Springs area. You know, that's where you should have an 
industrial complex. You dan't want industries splattered all 
over. So we just took the position that, you knew. fine. What 
we did is I forget where our first reservoir was going to be. I 
think it was going to be over in Miles somewhere so when they 
put it down there we put our first reservoir over here off of 
Washington Boulevard above the railroad tracks. Seven and a 
half million gallons, that was the first reservoir we put in. 

Lage: What's the name of that one? 

Whitfield: Middlefield Reservoir. 

Lage: It's to service that industrial area? 

Whitfield: Yes, so that we'd have some water to head down that way and now 
we've got another eighteen-million-gallon one down there. You 
know where Mission Boulevard makes a turn before you hit the 680 


Freeway? Well, we built an eighteen-million-gallon reservoir 
down there. Right up here, on Paseo Padre, they're finishing a 
twenty-one-million-gallon one now. 

Lage: So you more or less followed what they were planning as far as 

growth and the areas for growth? 

Whitfield: Yes. Our board has always taken the position that we're not in 
the land-use planning business for municipalities. It's up to 
them to decide what they want; the people decide, and we'll 
provide the facilities. 

Lage: Did you have people, though, making projections about what 

future needs might be in terms of population growth? 

Whitfield: Oh. yes, continually. In fact, they're just finishing another 
update ef future needs. 

I'll never forget, when we get involved in the Arroyo Del 
Valle Dam up there in the site up in Livermore, we hired Sid 
Harding, who was an old water expert who taught at UC California 
in the irrigation department. He was about seventy-five years 
eld. One day Hyman and I were talking about, "What are we going 
to do after twenty-five years?" He just kind of sat back, he 
says, "Well, what makes you two fellas think that twenty-five er 
thirty years from now a ceuple of guys just as brilliant er more 
brilliant than you will figure it out for the next fifty years?" 
Taught me a lesson. You know, if you plan out twenty-five years 
with a master plan fer the future, if you can cover for twenty- 
five years, you're doing all right. 

Lage: Sidney Harding did an early oral history with our office A 

Whitfield: Oh, did he? 

Lage: He has a little section in it on his work with the Alameda 

County Water District. 

Whitfield: Yes, he was a great man. He was very well respected in the 
state as a water expert. 

Lage: He seemed to be involved all over. Now what did he do for you; 

he was a consultant engineer? 

*Sidney T. Harding. "A Life in Western Water Development." 1967. 


Whitfield: Yes, he did a lot of the studies of the hydrology f the Arroyo 
Del Valle and all that. 

Lage: Did he de any negotiating with other entities? 

Whitfield: No. 

ACWD and the Arroyo Del Valle 

Whitfield: I think I told you. but maybe you want to wait, but the Arroyo 
Del Valle wouldn't be there except for us. 

Lage: Why don't we talk about that next? 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, we knew the state was coming through with the south 
bay aqueduct program for us. But the timing was slow. They 
didn't have any bond issues floated then. Our salt water 
intrusion was getting worse. Harvey Banks was director of the 
Department of Water Resources at the time. So we were. well, 
good friends, and he was an outstanding guy. 

So we went up and met with the state people. The plans 
showed a tunnel being drilled through Brushy Peak that's the 
Altamont area to bring water in, which was going to take a long 
time and be very expensive. We said, "Ask Harvey if he could 
have seme of his staff just de a cursory study for us of a small 
temporary aqueduct coming over just for our purposes." When 
they got into that they decided that they found it more feasible 
than putting the tunnel through. 

Then when we got into the Del Valle. when we applied for 
the unappropriated water of the Del Valle. the Department of 
Water Resources had disregarded the Arroyo Del Valle as a site 
for terminal storage. But when we got into it, then they 
decided to come back. There was some cloud en the geology of it 
that wouldn't make it feasible. Then they found out that they 
didn't research it enough, and they decided to build that dam 
themselves up there. 

Lage: So the state built the dam at Del Valle? 

Whitfield: Yes. in the state water plans. They were going to put one down 
at Evergreen in San Jose for terminal storage instead of up 

Lage: This probably made it better for yeu. 


Whitfield: Oh. yes. And then we got the advantage of capturing the local 
runoff. We didn't put up any capital for it. We agreed on a 
storage charge so that the local water that they save and 
release when we can percolate it, they charge us so much per 
acre foot for just storing it in there. 

Lage: But you've got the water rights from the Arroyo Del Valle? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Along with Pleasanton Township County Water District. 

Whitfield: Yes. At the time, see, Binkley and Hyman were also consultants 
for the Pleasanton Township Water District. 

Lage: Oh, I was wondering how you worked so well with them. 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, they called us and asked if we had any objection if 
they hired them, and then Binkley and Hyman asked us if we had 
any objection. We said no. It would be better because we have 
common problems: they've get a ground water basin that they 
have to protect up there. So we figured that rather than to 
litigate how much of the runoff from Del Valle is theirs, and 
how much in ours, we would come to an agreement en it so they 
get a share and we get a share. 

Lage: Was it hard to reach that agreement, to come to some fair 


Whitfield: No, because the attorney and the consultants were familiar with 
both sides. 

Lage: And wasn't there some question about ground water problems for 

the people down the stream there, too? Did that come up? The 
people downstream from the place you took the water on Arroyo 
Del Valle? 

Whitfield: No. no problem because we applied for the unappropriated waters. 
See. if someone has a right to the water, you can't get it. But 
when you apply for water in the state of California to export it 
somewhere, you apply for the unappropriated, that water that 
isn't being used. 

Lage: Is it hard to get? What is the application process involved? 

Whitfield: It's really a formality as far as the Del Valle was concerned. 
Sometimes there are bitter battles over taking water from one 
area to another. You know, like the Owens Valley down there in 
southern California. 

Lage: Or like the Alameda Creek over to San Francisco. 

Whitfield: Yes. But. see, in those days there wasn't any entity really to 

Lage : But you didn't run into that type of problem in bringing water 

over from Livermore? 

Whitfield: No, no. I think the water district gets about 4,000 acre feet a 
year on there. 

Lage: Was Del Valle, the site of the reservoir, part of the Patterson 

ranch over in Livermore? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Now, would that have been said to the state or to the county? 

Whitfield: Oh, to the state, the Department of Water Resources. 

Lage: But was there any reason it was chosen? Did the fact that it 

was Patterson's private property have anything to do with why 
they chose it? 

Whitfield: No. 

Lage: It just happened to be a good site? 

Whitfield: It's a good reservoir site, yes. And there is seme runoff in 

No. in fact, that wasn't the best thing in the world for 
Patterson at the time because I think it's right in the middle 
of his property. 

Lage: Yes, that's what I've heard, too. It sort of took a chunk right 

out of it. 

Whitfield: But he never fought it. He just figured it was the right thing 
to do. 

Patterson Interest in Flood Control and the Reber Plan 

Whitfield: Of course, channelizing the Alameda Creek may have been a mixed 
blessing for him also. You know, the farmers way down on the 
flood plain used to get a lot of new top soil down there from 
the runoff when it floodecLh 

Lage: Yes. that's right. I've heard that, and Patterson was among 

them. So the flooding benefited the ranch operation. 


Whitfield: To some extent, but from the standpoint of damage that the 
flooding did when it broke the levies before, there's an 
economic balance point in there somewhere. But the development 
would never have occurred in this area if that old creek hadn't 
been channel iz e d. 

Lage: Did you have the sense that it was being channelized so there 

could be development? I mean, was that behind the campaign to 
get people to accept it? 

Whitfield: Yes. to some degree. 

Lage: Because weren't the local people taxed to fund the flood control 


Whitfield: Yes. In fact, Mr. Patterson was on the flood control board. He 
was during the regime when it was built. 

Lage: Let's discuss briefly the Reber Flan* and then maybe we'll stop 

for today. 

Whitfield: You had asked me what the Reber Plan was and why Patterson 

supported it. I think one of the main reasons he supported it 
was because the intent was to put this barrier across the 
southern end of the bay and make a fresh water lake. That would 
have precluded all the saltwater intrusion into our ground water 
basin, which he had a vital interest in because he was a big 
farmer, and he was pumping a lot of water. 

Lage: So he was a big supporter of it? 

Whitfield: Yes, he was. He knew Reber personally for years. 

Lage: Did you get involved in that at all? 

Whitfield: I went to a lot of meetings, hearings, on it, yes. 

Lage: Who was holding hearings about it? 

Whitfield: Well, they weren't hearings, there were just meetings explaining 
it. I'd been to a couple where Reber was the speaker. 

* The Reber Plan was developed in the 1940s by John Reber, a 
self-taught engineer. He proposed to divide San Francisco Bay 
by a series of earthwork dams topped by highways and railways. 
The result would be two large freshwater lakes at the north and 
south ends of the bay. The plan was endorsed by the Alameda 
County Water District in 1947. 


Lage: What kind of a person was Reber; was he an engineer? 

Whitfield: N. I dn' t think he was. 
Lage: Was it John Reber? 

Whitfield: John Reber. yes. I forget what he did. It was some field you 

wouldn't expect him to evolve from, into the Reber Plan, though. 
But he had a lot of people supporting him. I don't know whether 
Patterson supported him financially or net, but he supported him 
for a long time until Reber just wouldn't give in on anything. 
He had this master plan for metropolitan airports and lakes, 
navy shipyards and all that stuff. 

Lage: So the fresh water lake down here was just one aspect. 

Whitfield: I think that was probably what got and I'm just surmising but 
that probably get Mr. Patterson so interested in it because the 
saltwater intrusion started back in the 1920s here, into the 
upper aquifer. Then when they developed a centrifugal pump they 
could pump from a greater depth, and it started to ceme in worse. 

Lage: Was the Reber plan seen as sort of a overall solution to their 


Whitfield: Yes. We've always said that you never could afford te build a 

storage facility as large as the ground water basin we've got in 

Lage: Net subject te evaporation, either. 

Whitfield: Yes. and it's safe from radiation, toe. te a greater extent than 
open-surface reservoirs. I think that was the main reason why 
Patterson was behind it. But when they got to the nitty gritty 
on it and Reber just wouldn't back down on any of these aspects, 
then you could see the handwriting on the wall; it didn't have a 
chance . 

Lage: Did any public agency take it up or endorse it that you know ef? 

Whitfield: I think eur water district endorsed it. I don't know whether 
the cities did or not. 

Lage: It would have taken a tremendous amount of cooperative effort 

since it included the entire bay. 

Whitfield: Yes. Now you see the recent judgment that came out from the 
appellate court or the federal courts on the Water Resources 
Control Board that they never set the standards for protecting 
the delta high enough. That's a landmark decision for the 
courts to step in under another jurisdiction and tell them. I 


Whitfield; think they didn't tell them te revise it, but I think legally it 
comes up within another year for review and revision and the 
court warned that they'd better think more in terms of the 
quality of water in the delta now. 

Lage: That's right. Your district gets delta water, doesn't it? So 

that would be a direct concern here. 

Whitfield: Well, it comes from way up there. 

Lage: Further up? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: I asked you about the Seito well, which was an issue about 1954. 

Whitfield: Yes. In those days, we went out and rented wells that were 
drilled. We had three or four of them that we rented. The 
Seito well was down in Newark off Mayhew Landing Road. You 
knew, some of the well water is naturally soft in this area. 
It's a phenomenon in the ground water structure or geology that 
softens the water. Soito's. we found, was a seft-water well, so 
that's why we leased it. 

Lage: Didn't the farmers in the area feel that when the district 

pumped out the Soito well, they were going to start getting salt 
in their water? 

Whitfield: Yes. or we were going te pump the water table way down. They 
wanted us te pay for them having to pump their water mere. 

Lage: Amaral was involved in that. Was that near the Patterson 


Whitfield: No, it's only about a thousand feet out of the center of old 
Newark, I'd say. 

Lage: So Amaral, at that point in the minutes, said he wanted te rely 

more on Hetch Hetchy water instead of drawing out of the Soito 

Whitfield: I think his intent then was te buy more from Hetchy. 

Lage: Yes, instead of endangering the ground water. How did that get 

resolved? Patterson wanted to pump, and actually he lost, 
according to the board minutes. Patterson wanted to continue to 
pump the well, and the beard voted 3-2 not to pump it. 

Whitfield: Oh, did they? I have no memory ef this. [laughs] 


Board Member Jack Prouty 
[Interview 2: June 5. 1986] i 

Lage: Today is June 5th, 1986, and it's a second interview with Matt 

Whitfield. We were going to start with a couple of windup 
things from last time. I had run across the portion of the 
minutes that talked about when Jack Prouty was asked to leave 
the board because he moved out of the district. You were going 
to give me some background on that and Patterson's role there. 

Whitfield: Yes. The problem was that Jack Prouty had moved out of the 

district, and the legal opinion was that he could no longer be a 
board member because of the fact he moved out. (Subsequently 
that land has been annexed.) 

The attorney for the water district was concerned because, 
if he was was not legally on the board and he voted on anything 
that might have involved a bond issue or something, that might 
invalidate the action of the board. So the president ef the 
board, John Pi hi, asked Hyman's legal opinion. He researched it 
and he concluded he checked with other attorneys and concluded 
that you cannot be a member ef the board if you don't reside in 
the district. 

Lage: Prouty didn't agree with that interpretation? 

Whitfield: He didn't agree with it, no. 

Lage: Earlier you were giving me a little background about Prouty' s 

position on the board. 

Whitfield: Jack was a friend of Joe Eastwood, and anytime we asked for an 
idea of what Joe's opinion was, he always used to say, "Well, 
maybe Joe Eastwood won't like this," or you know. 


Tell me more about Joe Eastwood. 

Whitfield: Joe Eastwood II owned Pacific States Steel over in Miles, which 
in those days was the major industry out here besides West Vaco. 

Lage: So he was an influential community man? 

Whitfield: Yes. I think they had about four or five hundred employees. 
Joe Eastwood was a very interesting man because his father 
founded Pacific States Steel over on the Peninsula, and then 
they moved to San Francisco. He was an independent steel 
company and you had to be plenty rugged to succeed in the steel 
industry, you know, with big Bethlehem Steel and all those. He 
was a very forceful man and very outspoken. 


Lage: Is this father or son that we're talking about? 

Whitfield: Oh. this is Joe Eastwood I never knew his father, but there's 
another Joe Eastwood who survived his father. After that they 
went out of business. 

Lage: But the Joe Eastwood we're talking about is probably the second. 

Whitfield: Yes, he was the main man over there. 

Lage: Then you mentioned to me that there'd been a problem in the 

flood of '55? 

Whitfield: Yes. That was before the Corps of Engineer channelized the 

Alameda Creek from Niles Canyon to the bay. The flood was so 
spontaneous it overtopped our levy into the Shinn Pit. and it 
went out in two directions then. It went down into the steel 
mill and flooded them partially out. It also flooded the Shinn 
subdivision over in that area, which was a fairly new 
subdivision. People, in fact, had just moved in that summer, 
and that winter they got floating around over there. 

Lage: I read in the minutes about some of the people who came to the 

board meeting to complain. It sounds as if you were put on the 
hot seat there. 

Whitfield: We had a couple of public meetings in the old courthouse down 
there over it. It was a hot and heavy thing. 

Lage: Was it a case where it could have been avoided through the water 

district ? 

Whitfield: No. There was nothing to do because the flood was one of the 
big floods we had. We had one. I think, in '54 and one in '55. 

Lage: That was a big flood year everywhere. 

Whitfield: Yes, everywhere. The channel was of a minimal size, and that's 
one of the reasons why when we had talked previously about the 
interest in getting the Corps of Engineers to come in and 
channelize the creek, which they did. 

Lage: I know there was reference in the minutes to the fact that the 

flood control bonds had been voted down previously. Then were 
they voted for after that? I mean, did that provide the impetus 
to pass those? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: So Joe Eastwood would come to the water district? 


Whitfield: He would come occasionally or call up. In fact, I got to be 
good friends with him after the flood situation. He used to 
call me up and [laughs] say. "Hey, Matt, now tell me honestly 
what the hell's going on over with the water district?" So I'd 
tell him. I said. "What do you think's going en that I won't 
tell you?" 

Lage: Did he have a particular interest in the direction the water 

district would take? 

Whitfield: Oh. yes. 

Lage: What kinds of concerns would he have, aside from the flood? 

Whitfield: Well, ground water. He was all for the ground water recharge 
because they were relying on wells over there for their plant. 
Then they started to get smatterings of salt water intrusion. 
So that was his main interest. Then, after that* he took an 
interest in it, yes. 

Lage: So Prouty saw himself as something of a go-between for Eastwood? 

Whitfield: I think, yes. There was friction between John Pihl and Prouty 
on the board they're both deceased now because Prouty felt 
that he was being bypassed. He couldn't be his own official 
conveyor of information through this Joe Eastwood. [laughs] 

Lage: You didn't mention on the tape that Pihl was manager for the 

steel company, so he was a more direct representative of 
Eastwood. Did Pihl generally, then, represent the point of view 
of industry on the board? 

Whitfield: Oh. yes. Well, he represented everybody. 
Lage: He didn't have a particular point of view? 

Whitfield: No, but he ran for the board after the flood. 

Lage: Was this attempt to have Prouty leave the board any kind of a 

personal vendetta, or do you think it was just strictly that 
legal question? 

Whitfield: Oh. no. The main thing was a legal question, You can see the 
logic of that. You can't go on operating if Prouty's on the 
board illegally, and it might invalidate our bonds or something 
like that. Or maybe make them more expensive to sell if you 
have that kind of a cloud hanging over the district. 


I notice that William Patterson was, I think, the only member 
who voted not to put Prouty off the board. 


Whitfield: Did he? I don't remember that. 

Lage: He voted no. Do you remember his feelings about this, or his 

role in it at all? 

Whitfield: Well, I think you hit it pretty well. He was very much of a 
peacemaker type of man. But I don't recall that he voted 
against it. 

Lage: That's what the board minutes show, and then he spoke up for 

harmony on the board. He hoped to avoid any more incidences 
that didn't show harmony. 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, I think that was probably in all my time with the 
board the most delicate, undesirable thing to have to do. 

Lage: Kind of a personal thing. 

Whitfield: Yes, because we all knew Jack. Jack was on the board when I was 
hired, and he was well-known in the community. 

Lage: What was his business? 

Whitfield: He was school teacher in the Irvington school district. I don't 
know whether he was a principal down there or not. I think he 
may have been. Then when the war came along somehow he got in 
with Lloyd Bailey, who was another big landowner and a big 
farmer not quite as big as the Pattersons. Somehow he helped 
Bailey run his operation for several years. 

Lage: Patterson mentioned also at this meeting that Prouty had given a 

great deal, donated things to the district; he particularly 
mentioned that he donated water rights from a certain well. 

Whitfield: Prouty had? 

Lage: That's what he said, that he'd given more to the district than 

anybody else, and he mentioned a well. 

Whitfield: Oh, I know. The Olive Avenue well. Well, I don't know that he 
donated it. I don't think he donated the lot to us. He may 
have, but I don't remember it. That's still in the system, off 
Olive Avenue. 



Early Applicants for Delta Water 

Lage: Why don't we go onto the state water project and how the 

district fit into that? 

Whitf ield: Well, the state water plan was long in formulating. There was a 
lot of study and design work and all that. The district, before 
I came to work in 1950, had applied for unappropriated water at 
the delta. This was long before the state water plan became a 
reality. We had the idea that we would build our own aqueduct 

Lage: Oh, I see. So the idea was to apply where water is available 

and then in the future, if you need it, you have the rights? 

Whitf ield: You apply for a certain amount of unappropriated water, but 

anybody that has water rights on that stream or body of water 
has prior rights. You can't appropriate. 

Lage: So you put your bid in for some delta water? 

Whitf ield: I think they went in in the forties and applied for 

unappropriated water of the delta, with the idea that maybe we 
would build our own aqueduct. Then the state plan came along, 
so then we took the position, well, if the state's going to 
build one we won't have to. 

Lage: Did the water district have a representative in Sacramento? 

Whitf ield: No. We used to go up and meet with them. 

Lage: Did you lobby for or support legislation having to do with 


Whitfield: We took action in favor of things, endorsed things, yes. 


Working with the Department of Water Resources 

Lage: Did you have a pretty good relationship with the Department of 

Water Resources? 

Whitfield: Yes. Harvey Banks [the director of the Department of Water 

Resources] was an engineer. Thad Binkley, who was a consultant 
engineer for the district in those days, was, I think, a 
classmate of Harvey's over at Stanford, so he knew him 
personally. Then we got to know him quite well. He was a good, 
straightforward, straight- shooter type of guy. 

Lage: Not a politician type? 

Whitfield: No. The subsequent one. Bill Warne, was more politically 

Lage: Now, how would that be evidenced? When you say someone's 

politically oriented, how does that affect the way you deal with 

Whitfield: Well, I don't think you deal with them any differently except 
that you have the feeling you're dealing with a big operating 
politician, as compared to Harvey Banks, who was a very smart 
man. He knew engineering, and he knew the projects. 

Lage: Maybe he knew his business better? 

Whitfield: I don't think Warne understood as much about the state water 
plan as Harvey Banks did. Harvey Banks is still a consultant 
engineer for many districts. In fact, he's been consultant 
engineer ever since he got out of the Department of Water 
Resources. But I think his character and reputation in the 
state had a lot to do with the state water plan going through. 
I think Warne was back in Washington for I don't know how many 
years in some capacity or other prior to coming with the state 
of California. 

Lage: He and Banks were both interviewed by our office.* 

* Harvey 0. Banks, California Water Project. 1955-1961. 1967. 
William E. Warne, "Administration of the Department of Water 
Resources, 1961-1966" in California Water Issues. 1950-1966. 


Whitfield: Well, don't let him read what I said. [laughter] He's not 
there anymore. 

Lage: No. then Gianelli came in? 

Whitfield: Bill Gianelli was a young engineer when this all started out. 

Lage: Was he with the Department of Water Resources as a young 


Whitfield: Yes. And John Teerink. It was very interesting, the attorney 
they had was a very brilliant man, and he was totally blind, 
Russ I can't remember his last name. He was amazing. The 
contract is about an inch and a half thick, and he had his 
Braille copy. Boy, he'd enter in the discussions, and he'd flip 
a page and quote what it said and all that. 

Ground Water Basin vs. Hetch Hetchy Water; The Primary Conflict 

Lage: New, in the mid-fifties, there seemed to be a lot of discussion 

in the district about state water as one of the options or 
directions you were going to take. In my research I picked up a 
statement from [former Fremont mayor] Jack Stevenson, which must 
have been in the newspaper, that the district seemed lukewarm 
about Feather River water. Did they feel you weren't going 
after it hard enough? 

Whitfield: I think what happens sometimes is people get excited about 

something, and they think they're all for it prior to knowing 
what the facts are. I think the district has always taken the 
conservative approach: we want to pursue avenues, but we want 
to know what we're doing before we commit ourselves, before we 
go out forcefully endorsing it. and I think that's always been 
the district attitude. 

We had the Hetch Hetchy lines going all through the 
district, and we had connections to them. There was some 
faction that wanted us to forget the ground water basin. The 
only conflict we had in our district was ground water basin vs. 
Hetch Hetchy water. Of course. Hetch Hetchy water was much 
softer, less mineral content and all that, but more expensive. 

Lage: The state water system meant ground water recharging? 

Whitfield: No. not necessarily. 

Lage: You could bring it in as a surface distribution? 


Whitfield: We have a ten-million gallon a day treatment plant up on the 
hill with South Bay Aqueduct water. 

Lage: And that's for surface distribution? 

Whitfield: Then since I've been retired, probably in the last five years, 
they bought another location for another treatment plant up 
there, because there's more capacity in the aqueduct. But 
southern California does both ground water recharge and surface 

Lage: So were these two separate issues? I guess it was never tee 

controversial that you would get the state water, r was it? 
Did some people say, "Forget the state water project?" 

Whitfield: Well, there were some people who were against the state water, 
yes. But our main conflict was ground water vs. Hetch Hetchy 

The problem with Hetchy water was that it costs more. 
There were times when saltwater intrusion was getting worse, and 
the board would say, 'Veil, let's go take more Hetch Hetchy 
water." But if you took more Hetchy water, then you had to 
raise rates, so then they'd back off. A board director in a 
community as small as this was never wants to raise rates, you 

Lage: They seem very conservative fiscally. 

Whitfield: Yes, right. So we finally got over that hurdle. 

Jurisdictienal Disputes with the Flood Control District 

Whitfield: Now where we got in a difficulty here on the South Bay Aqueduct 
was with plans of the flood control district. The flood control 
district has zones, run-off zones and all that. Herb Crowle, 
the public works director of Alameda County, and others, were en 
the side of creating zone eight, which would have been all this 
area down here. 

Lage: Zone eight of the flood control district? 

Whitfield: Yes, but it never went through. 

Lage: Did Crowle want to combine it with water distribution? 


Whitfield: No. he wanted a set-up like zone seven in the Livermore Valley. 
They do conservation work, and they import water from the state 
water plan up there. 

Lage: And do flood control. 

Whitfield: And do flood control. Our district doesn't do any flood 

control. But if they created zone eight, it would mean that 
there would be another layer of government between us and the 

Lage: I see. Zone eight would have contracted for water with the 


Whitfield: Yes, that's what they wanted. That would mean that we would 
have nothing to say about anything. Flood control would 
contract with the state, and then they would set rates for us, 
to sell it to us. The board never would go along with that. 
Why put somebody else in there responsible for determining your 
rate structure? 

Lage: That's right. Why did Herbert Crowle support that? Would he 

have had more authority in zone eight? 

Whitfield: Oh, sure. 

Lage: Any other local politicians that supported it, city politicians? 

Whitfield: Yes, there were some people. 

Lage: Again hoping to have a say over things? 

Whitfield: Yes. I think there are certain people in the community who took 
up the idea, and maybe some of the cities too, and particularly 

Early Water Conservation Measures 

Lage: Did the proponents of zone eight have a different approach to 

water policy less ground water recharge or any of these issues 
that we've talked about? 

Whitfield: They may have been swayed more by less ground water recharge, 

but the only problem is, Ann. with that issue: the ground water 
basin is like being just a little bit pregnant; you're either 
going to have salt water in it or you're not. So the steps that 
we've taken have been necessary to keep salt water out of the 
ground water. In the earlier years and the late forties it was 


Whitfield: just local run-off that was diverted into pits to recharge the 
ground water. Then we got some releases. In 1936. we got 
releases from San Francisco in accordance with the Bailey 
formula again. The Bailey formula was determined when Spring 
Valley Water Company in San Francisco built the Calaveras Dam on 
Calaveras Creek, a major tributary to Alameda Creek. 

Lage: The Bailey Formula went way back to an early court decision, 

didn't it? 

Whitfield: Yes. What that did in essence was. when you put in all these 
factors of humidity and rainfall and all this I never did 
understand it but you come out with a figure that will tell you 
how much water would have percolated from the Alameda Creek into 
our ground water basin had the water flowed uninhibited by the 

Lage: That's really an interesting figure. 

Whitfield: Yes. It's a simple feature, but I never did understand the 
formula. I never had to calculate it. But then in the mid- 
thirties the ground water level went way down, and salt water 
kept coming in worse and worse. Mr. Patterson went to San 
Francisco and negotiated with Tom Espy and George Pracy. He was 
the general manager, chief engineer. 

Anyway, they worked out a deal where if we took over some 
of the free water obligations that San Francisco had inherited 
from the Spring Valley Water Company, in the entire community, 
they would give us some advance releases. They gave us many 
thousand acre-feet of water. We used to have a hydrograph on 
the boardroom it's taken down now back to 1913, and you could 
see the water level going down, down, down, and then when they 
started releasing this water, up, up, up again. That was one of 
the district's first conservation efforts. 

The first conservation thing was buying out the Oakland 
Water Works at Alvarado to prevent that eight million gallons of 
water from being exported. Then the next one was the San 
Francisco releases. They used the original Western Pacific 
borrow pit, where they dug out the gravel when the Western 
Pacific came through this community to make the road beds for 
the railroad tracks. San Francisco had a thirty-six inch water 
line that went down Per alt a Boulevard. The water district ran a 
pipe over into the pit and that used to percolate thirty million 
gallons of water a day. Of course, that was clear water with no 
turbidity in it at all. 

Lage: That was Hetch Hetchy water? 


Whitfield: No. it came from the Calaveras, the local run-off that was 
stared in their reservoir. So those were the main steps in 
trying to eliminate the saltwater intrusion. In other words, 
they tried to get the water level up to sea level, so the 
gradient wouldn't be inland; it would reverse the flow and 
prevent salt water from entering the ground water basin. They 
succeeded in doing that. 

Lage: Then when was the next crisis period? Was there another real 

crisis during the thirties, or were you planning ahead enough? 

Whitfield: The planning that they did was to get everything that was 

available within reason because the district didn't have the 
finances to build big projects. Before the South Bay Aqueduct 
came in, we didn't know what chance we had because there were no 
real bond issues in this district. 

District Role in Del Valle Reservoir Planning 


This is another question that came up in the research. You 
hired Sidney Harding I think we talked about that last time in 
'57. In his oral history, he talks about his role in working 
with the state. Was he an important person in the negotiations? 

Whitfield: Yes. he was. He helped with them. 

Lage: Did he have anything to do with those key decisions, which we 

need to get into, about the way the water would come from the 
aqueduct instead of through the tunnel? 

Whitfield: Well, he was the consultant on the Del Valle Dam for us. You 
see, we had applied for the unappropriated water of the Del 
Valle watershed. We thought that maybe the state would put in a 
regulatory storage dam. They would bring water from the delta 
in the wintertime and store it there, and then it could be 
released in the summer here. 

But for some reason, their geology indicated that it wasn't 
a suitable site for a dam and they decided not to make it a part 
of the state plan. But, since the district had applied for the 
unappropriated water, we had an interest in seeing the dam built 
there, and he did the calculations and all that and represented 
us in Sacramento with the Department of Water Resources. 

When you apply for unappropriated water, you have to keep 
making reports every so many years on what your progress is. 
That keeps your application alive. So we just decided to push 
it a little harder and go up to talk to the Department of Water 


Whitfield: Resources with Harvey Banks and others. Harvey decided. "Well, 
since you guys are interested, why don't we go back and take 
another look at it?" They went back and did some more geology 
and found that it was a suitable site. 

Lage: So they have built the dam. Do they use it to store the South 

Bay Aqueduct water? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: What about Thad Binkley? He was a long-time engineer with you. 

How did he fit in with Harding? 

Whitfield: Well. Binkley helped us negotiate the contract, and he did a let 
of our actual design work for physical facilities of 
transmission, reservoirs, and that kind of thing. In the early 
days, we had a limited engineering staff. 

Lage: When did you start developing more of an engineering staff? 

Whitfield: Before '58 we only had about three engineers. We gradually just 
kept adding. 

Lage: As you expanded? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: In fact, one of the things Harding mentions is that he broke off 

his contract because it wasn't enough engineering help for him. 
This is in his oral history. 

Whitfield: You mean, with us? 

Lage: With you. That he contracted for a certain amount of time but 

he got out of it earlier because the district hadn't provided 
the proper engineering support for him. 

Whitfield: I don't think Sid had a staff. I think Sid did all his own 

Lage: Well, that's why he was complaining about it. [laughs] 

Whitfield: That doesn't stand out in my mind. My recollection is that the 
work that he had done had been accomplished. 

Lage: Well, he did make it sound as if he completed his basic goals. 

He worked with San Francisco he said, and then on Del Valle and 
then also in negotiating with the state. 


Lage: Another thing he mentioned was that he seemed to find that he 

had less to do with the board of directors and more to do with 
the staff, you. I assume. That surprised him that the board 
didn't deal with him more. Do you recall? 

Whitfield: They didn't deal with him. He'd been to a couple of meetings, 
explained things and stuff like that. 

Lage: It didn't seem strange to me. It would seem 

Whitfield: Unless Sid had been used to working with bigger organizations. 

Lage: With boards that were more active in day-to-day management. 

Whitfield: The board in general was net active. The only one that was 

really active in the day-to-day business was Mr. Patterson not 
in a pushy way or anything, just as a businessman interested. 
He used to stop and see me a couple times a week. He'd say, 
Veil, Matt, how are things going? Anything new come up that I 
don't know about?" I'd tell him. 

Lage: Did he have a pretty good grasp of the technical aspects of it 


Whitfield: Oh* yes. We had board members that just loved grilling 

engineers, but he wasn't that way. His was always a very gentle 
approach, and you always respected him for that because you knew 
he was truly interested. 

Lage: He didn't have a critical approach. It seems like mere of a 


Whitfield: It was always supportive, yes. 

Lage: Would he ever ask questions that put you en the spot, do you 


Whitfield: Sometimes things that he would bring up at the board meetings 
and ask me a question were things that we talked about in the 

Lage: That he felt others needed to hear? 

Whitfield: Yes. 


Transporting Water over Altamont Pass 











My notes show here that in '59 they began constructing the South 
Bay Aqueduct. You have told me that initially the water was 
going to be transported through a tunnel and that your district 
suggested a change from that plan. 

Yes. Well, back in the planning stages of the South Bay 
Aqueduct, the plans called for boring a tunnel through Brushy 
Peak, which is in the Altamont Pass area. We were talking about 
some way of getting something to us faster than anticipated 
because of the lowering of the water table. We asked Harvey 
Banks if he would prepare a preliminary design of a pipeline 
coming up over the hill to bring water down into the Livermore 
Valley and let it run down the stream. So he said he would. 

Then when they got into that, that's when the state 
Department of Water Resources concluded that it was more 
feasible, economical, from the power standpoint and all that, to 
run the thing over the hill than to build the tunnel. 

So water would be pumped up the hill? 
natural steam bed near Altamont Pass? 

Then did it go into a 

Yes. In '62, when we first got the water, it came over the hill 
and into the channel alongside the Altamont Pass highway. That 
channel normally takes care of the runoff from those hills. 
It's about twenty miles from there down to Fremont. So the 
water meandered down this channel 

Just through a natural system. 

It came down the Niles Canyon. 

All the way here without stopping at Del Valle? 

Yes, because the Del Valle wasn't finished yet. 

Now is that still used or did they change that after Del Valle 
was built? 

Yes. We were taking our water at the turnout at the base of the 
Altamont Pass. They just shut that off. Then, when the 
aqueduct came further south and came down you know where the 
Vallecitos Pass road is? Well, it's up in the hills on the 
other side here. You know, the Vallecitos is the backroad that 
goes te Livermore from this area. You've heard of where PG&E 
built the nucleonics plant up there? 




Whitfield: Well, it's right in that general area up there. So we decided 
for percolation purposes rather than pay for more aqueduct to 
bring it down, to take our water at the Vallecitos turnout. 
That's where we've been getting the percolation water ever 
since. But that happened a couple of years after we first took 
water from the Altamont turnout. I think we ran it down through 
the Livermore Valley maybe three or four years. 

Lage: It sounds like a very good emergency procedure, simple. 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, it was the only way we could get it. 
Lage: When did you actually get the state water? 

Whitfield: We got it in '62. We were the first ones to get water from the 
state plan. 

Changing an Unreasonable State Contract 

Lage: You mentioned to me that the district shaped the way contracts 

with the Department of Water Resources were written. Tell me 
about that. 

Whitfield: That was after Harvey was gone and Bill Warne was in charge. 
There are several contractors with the state for state water. 
Each contract with the various water districts was the same 
they wanted them all uniform so they wouldn't have to interpret 
different things and each contract had what is called a Table A 
in it. This specifies for the next so many years how much water 
you're going to take. So you start out with a lower amount, so 
many acre-feet for the first year, and you keep increasing it 
based upon what you think your needs are going to be over the 
next fifty years. 

Since we were primarily going to be using ours for ground 
water recharge, and with the uncertainty of weather conditions, 
we were concerned about the inflexibility. You had to take as 
much water as you had in your Table A for that specific year. 
The way the contract was written, and everybody else had signed 
it except us, you had to pay for your water in that year. If 
you didn't take it. then you could have the opportunity of 
taking it just the next year, but not beyond that. 

Lage: So if you had wet weather for a few years, as you usually do. 

kind of in a cycle 










We'd lose the money all the time. yes. So we held out. We 
wouldn't sign the contract until they changed it. 

Now, how did those negotiations work out? 
Well, Mr. Warne didn't like it too well. 

Did you deal with him directly or with an attorney for the 

No, the attorney and I convinced him. 
all the state contracts have changed. 

Now 1 understand that 

That's interesting. Why do you suppose the other districts 
didn't try for the same thing that you did? Was it not as 
important to them? 

Let's see, Santa CLara County uses ground water percolation and 
southern California does. I don't know why they didn't. Maybe 
they didn't see it as a critical item as we did because we 
weren't a very rich district down here. We just couldn't see 
ourselves having to pay for water for an illogical reason. 

Now, would this have been something that you and the staff would 
have noticed and pushed, or someone on the board? 

No, we did. We did all the negotiating on the contract. We 
kept the board apprised of where we were and what our problems 

They were supportive of that, I'm sure. 
Oh, yes. 

Fighting Saltwater Intrusion in the Ground Water Basin 

Lage: This discussion of state water leads into a longer discussion of 

the saltwater intrusion problem. You've given us some 
background on that problem over the years. 

Whitfield: The saltwater intrusion, as I remember, started about in 1920. 
That was before centrifugal pumps came in. The water was 
primarily used for agriculture. As time went on, the water 
tables started to go down. You could only pump a certain height 
with the pumps they had. Then they developed the centrifugal 
pumps, so then they pumped down deeper. 










I've also read that they changed to different crops that 
required mere water. 

Yes. right. More irrigation, yes. I think in the early days 

there was more dry farming, you know, wheat or barley and that 

type of stuff. Then they went to row crops, like peas and corn 
and cauliflower. 

And lettuce. That takes more water. 

But then, as I say, the only things that were done to help 
alleviate the problem was to buy the Alvarado plant, which 
eliminated Oakland's prescriptive right to pump eight million 
gallons of water a day out of the ground water basin. Of 
course, that was 1930, way before my time. 

Then the next thing was getting the advance releases in the 
thirties, getting it from San Francisco to put in the Western 
Pacific pit. I thought maybe you would be specifically 
interested in the fact that that pit was the first quarry dug 
out here, by Western Pacific for the roadbase for putting the 
railroad tracks through here. 

Did that mean the pit was dug down into the water level. 

Yes. Well, if the water level was down it may have been below 
the pit. It wasn't a deep pit; it must have been about two- or 
three- thousand feet long and about seven hundred feet wide or 
something like that. It was just a V dug down. All that 
Western Pacific did was just dig enough gravel for their own 
purposes. Then the Shinn Pit was dug. The Shinn Pit was the 
first commercial gravel pit operator. Then the Ford and Bunting 
pits on this side were done about the same time. 

Also for a commercial purpose? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Were the quarries out of business when you took over the pits? 

Whitfield: Well, the Shinn Pit belonged to the Shinn family. Mr. Shinn had 
been on the board. 

Lage: He was the first president, I think? 

Whitfield: Yes. They had signed an agreement that the district could use 
that pit. It was a fifteen-year agreement for, I think it was, 
seven hundred dollars a year or something like that. Then we 
had an agreement about the Western Pacific and that expired, but 
they let us use it for several years afterwards. 


Lage: Now, was there a feeling among some people that you couldn't 

really control where that water was going to go, that some of it 
would waste to the bay? When you recharged the ground water, 
how did you know it was going to stay in the aquifers? 

Whitfield: That was quite a question in a lot of peoples' minds. 

Lage: Was it among the engineers? Were knowledgeable people 

questioning that or just ? 

Whitfield: No. 

Lage: How did you know it wouldn't just drift out to the bay? 

Whitfield: Well, by studying the ground water geology, the ground water 
basin geology. We had a couple of studies made there. There 
may be in fact, there was some contention that one of the 
aquifers went clear across to the peninsula. But there was 
nobody pumping over there at the time. 

Lage: It's an interesting geological feature. 

Whitfield: Yes. One of the problems with the ground water issue was that 
there were not too many people, even engineers, that understood 
much about it. Engineers understand surface distribution 
systems, reservoirs and all that, but you have to have some 
knowledge of geology too. I learned all I knew about it from 
coming with the water district. 

Lage: The geologist may be the one who can tell you what you need to 


Whitfield: Yes. The only time I knew anything different was when my father 
drilled a well about two thousand feet up here in the prune 
orchard, dug down and got water. You know the interesting part 
of that? My father believed in the old weegie stick. The well 
driller wanted to drill it down by the creek. I think they did 
drill, and they got nothing, so my father told him, "You go up 
in the corner." And he got water. 

Lage: And did your father use the weegie stick? 

Whitfield: Yes. 


Lage: Do you know anyone else who's done that? 

Whitfield: I've tried it. 

Lage: Does it work? 

Whitfield: I don't know. I never drilled a well to see. [laughing] 









But have you ever felt the tug of it or had an experience with 

Oh. yes. The interesting thing about this well that my dad 
drilled was that they hit a pocket of natural gas down there. 
Every irrigating season when they first started the pump up. you 
could put a match you know, the bottom part would be water and 
the top part would be natural gas and it would burn for three 
or four days. 

Goodness! It sounds like it could be dangerous. 
Well, it wasn't that high an explosive. 

It seems that with ground water recharging you had a public 
relations problem in explaining te people how you can let water 
seep into the ground and be sure that you're going to have it to 
pump out. 


I want to ask you about the California State Department of Water 
Resources Bulletin 81 issued in 1960. How did that come about, 
and did it have an influence? 

This area is one of the classic examples in the state of salt 
water intrusion and depletion of the water basin. The state was 
interested in it, and they were studying this area for a long 
time, the geology and all that. Their studies were one reason 
we knew that we wouldn't lose much water through the percolation 
pits. They culminated their study with Bulletin 81. which 
covered all the ground water problems, how much water was 
available and that type of thing. 

So was that a useful thing for decision making? 
Oh. sure. 

The Aquifer Reclamation Program, 1974 

Lage: I have a date of 1974 is that accurate? when you started the 

aquifer reclamation program? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Why don't we talk about that? 


Whitfield: Well, subsequent to getting state water in and bringing the 

water table up to sea level, we started the aquifer reclamation 

We went down along the extremities of the district towards 
the bay and drilled wells to start pumping out the salt water 
that was in the upper strata where it had to be pumped out and 
discharged back into the bay. 


Through channels, surface channels, or pipes? 

Whitfield: Through channels, flood control channels. I don't think they 
had to lay much pipe, but there were drainage ditches. 

Lage: So they'd actually pump out the upper 

Whitfield: They pump salt water out and dump it back into the bay. The 

point is, then, to bring the water level up in the forebay area. 
The forebay is the main part of the gravel where most of the 
gravels are contiguous. By bringing south bay aqueduct water 
in, we brought the level up, but to keep the salt water from 
coming back in again, you've got to keep pumping, and you've get 
to keep recharging what you pump out. [See diagram, page 82.] 

Lage: Because otherwise water would be sucked in from the bay? 

Whitfield: It would suck it back in from the bay, yes. 

Lage: Was there any construction done? 

Whitfield: No, no barriers, no. 

Lage: Was that ever a plan, to build some barriers? 

Whitfield: No. It was thought of but just disregarded as being 

Lage: Salt water was pumped out, and then was the south bay aqueduct 

just allowed to percolate in, or did you have to force it into 
these wells? 

Whitfield: Well, they put in injection wells now. That's another stage. 
That's what they're doing now. 

Lage: I see. Has that been successful? 

Whitfield: Yes, I think it has. Of course, I've been out of it for eight 
years. It's doing its job. Incidentally, I saw in that local 
paper that comes out from the San Jose Mercury did you see that 
article about Ardenwood Park? 




Whitfield: They're having a problem with salt water in the ground down 
there. Some of the trees are dying and they're wondering 
whether they can keep the farm going because the salt water and 
boron is getting down in there. 

Lage: I thought that this salt water plan was working. 

Whitfield: Well, it isn't absolutely perfect. There are certain spots 
where there are problems. 

Lage: It sounds like it's a difficult problem to solve. 



Enabl ing Legi si atien and Rationale for the Pump Tax 

Lage: The other issue that came up with the state water that sounded 

like a very interesting controversy was the issue of who pays 
for the state water the pump tax or replenishment assessment. 

Whitfield: That was very controversial. 

Lage: First of all, it seems, there was enabling legislation at the 

state level in 1961. 

Whitfield: That's what gave us the ability to even impose a pump tax. 
Lage: Was that particularly designed for this district? 

Whitfield: Well, it's applicable to the Alameda County Water District. But 
for southern California there is the same kind of legislation. 
They have the ability to do that. I think when our attorney 
drafted the thing he used that as a guide. So there are others, 
but it has to be passed by the legislature for specific areas. 

Lage : 

Who was your attorney at that time? 

Whitfield: Morris Hyman. 

Lage: So you developed the idea that this was going to be a necessary 

way to pay for the water? 

Whitfield: Because there were predominantly farmers on the board, they 
weren't very enthusiastic about a pump charge. You see, the 
claim as the area grew was that it was the municipal water users 
that were causing the problem: they're using all the water. In 
reality, the farmers back in the beginning, they were the only 
ones who pumped it out. They pumped for years and years, and it 
lowered the water table. 


Lage: And the city also pumps? 

Whitf ield: Yes, the city pumps now but net very much. They've only got a 
well over at the lagoon and the lake over there. But. in the 
early days, the farmers were pumping up predominantly the 
largest quantities of water. 

Lage: And not paying anything, except the price of their wells? 

Whitf ield: No, the only thing they're paying was the ad valorem tax because 
there's an ad valorem tax for the conservation aspect of the 
water district. But everybody in the district pays that. 


Lage: So you had the ad valorem tax, which everybody paid, and that 

was for conservation? 

Whitf ield: It went way back when, yes. 

Lage: Then you had the charge for water used by surface distribution. 

Whitf ield: Yes, but that's see. the water district has really three 

divisions: water importation; water conservation, percolation, 
recharge; and water distribution. Now the predominant pumper is 
the water district because as we have grown we are pumping more 
water from the ground water basin for municipal distribution. 
So the water district is the predominant pumper of water. 

Lage: For surface distribution? 

Whitf ield: Yes. Well, we're getting ahead of ourselves. 

Lage: Yes, let's start at the beginning. 

Whitf ield: The only reason that there were attempts to convince the board 
that the pump tax is a logical thing is that there's no 
relationship between an ad valorem tax on assessed valuation and 
water consumption. In ether words, if the farmers had 
relatively cheap land, they're paying relatively cheap ad 
valorem taxes yet they're pumping most of the water. 

Lage: Whereas industry might have a 7 

Whitf ield: Well, it's still not just because, you know, it's just like a 

service station, what you pay for is what the pump says you pay 
for. You've used that water. Then there was a condition in 
there where a lot of a given size with a well on it paid a flat 
ten dollars, or something like that. 


Lage: Now was this after you passed the pump tax? 

Whitfield: No. that was in the act itself. 

Lage: Oh, I see, in the enabling legislation. 

Whitfield: Yes. The only reason they finally acquiesced to push for the 
legislation was that let's see. Yes, they had I'm trying to 
remember the sequence. I think the minimum charge was ten 
dollars, and for some time we went along without any meters. 
They had to fill out forms estimating what they used and that 
didn't work out so well. Then they had the act amended again so 
that by that time the cities were incorporated they would 
limit the agricultural cost for water to eight dollars per acre 

Lage: Oh? Now who amended that or who made the move to amend it? 

Whitfield: The board did. The only way to get agreement on the board to 

impose the pump tax was by limiting the amount the farmers would 
pay. Otherwise the farmers were fighting. 

Pump Tax Hearings : Outraged Reaction from Farmers 

Lage: That's what it sounds like from the minutes of these two 

hearings. You had a tremendous amount of public reaction. 

Whitfield: Oh, yes. All of the farmers, "We've owned this land all our 

lives, that's our water, it's under our property," and all that. 
Well, they are entitled to a certain amount of that water, but 
you know, different farmers pump for different crops. As an 
example, somebody has two hundred acres and maybe they farm one 
crop a year, and somebody has two hundred acres and maybe they 
farm six or seven crops a year. Well, you're going to have six 
or seven times the amount of water used. 

I got accused of being on both sides. Somebody would yell 
at me because I was for the pump tax. and some would yell, 
"You're holding it back." 

Lage: In this first hearing, several people called you on the report 

you'd written and seemed very unhappy with your report. 

Whitfield: Oh, I'm sure there was disagreement on the quantities of water 
that different operations use agricultural, industrial, 
municipal and all that. I wasn't very popular. 


But both sides were after you? 


Whitfield: Yes. I was accused of being on both sides. 
Lage: Which side were you really on? 

Whitfield: I was on the pump tax side. yes. And. you know. I'd been born 

and raised in this community, and my mother and father were, and 
they didn't think it was too nice for a local boy to impose a 
pump tax on all these old friendly farmers. But farming has 
always been subsidized to some extent by the federal government 
or something like that. 

Lage: What does this say about the strength of the farmers in the 

community that they were able to fend off the pump tax for quite 
a while? In the sixties. I'm surprised they still had that much 
strength. How do you explain that? 

Whitfield: Well, there was still a lot of farming going on. 
Lage: Were they people with a let of political ties? 

Whitfield: They're just farmers. Oh, I'm sure they had political ties with 
local politicians, yes. 

Lage: Now what about your board members? Let's see who I have here at 

that time? 

Whitfield: You've got Amaral 

Lage: But the president was Humpert this is in '64. 

Whitfield: Bill Humpert. He was an insurance agent. He used to be a game 
warden and then an insurance agent. He was from Irvingtoru 

Lage: Did he have sympathies with the farmers? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Then we have Tony Alameda. Tell me about Alameda. 

Whitfield: Of course, he worked for L.S. Williams, who was the second 

largest farmer and he had a packing shed here in Centerville. 
Tony ran his operations, hiring the Mexicans to pick and harvest 
the crops and all that kind of stuff. Of course, he was against 
the pump tax. 

Lage: Yes. I could see that. Then there was Bernardo. 

Whitfield: Bernardo. Well, you know, most of the farmers around here were 
old-time friends of his. He used to be the constable of our 
area for years. He had twelve-acre orchard of apricots down on 
Baine Avenue. 



Lage : 



It's hard for me to remember exactly who took the strongest 
position, but I know Alameda was against it. 

Then also at that time Borghi and Redeker were on the board. 
They voted for the pump tax, it seems. My notes show that on 
May 12th, 1964, Alameda and Hum pert opposed the tax this was 
after the two hearings Borghi and Redeker favored the tax, and 
Bernardo was absent. 

Yes, [laughs] that was convenient. So they couldn't impose it. 

Right, because they didn't have enough votes to impose it. 
was the pump tax finally imposed? Net until '70? 


Yes. We had a number of public hearings. For a while we didn't 
even have public hearings, I don't think, but the way the 
legislation was written, every year by a given date the board 
had to order that a survey, a report, be prepared shewing the 
water sources, water levels, etc., if the board wanted to 
consider imposing a pump tax for that year. 

Then you'd have a public hearing en the report. Half of 
the people that spoke at the hearing probably had not read the 
report. They just wanted to holler and convince the board that 
it's unjust and all that stuff. Then when the community grew 
and more people kept moving in, there was considerable change. 
The farmers all alleged that they didn't cause the problem: it 
was the industry and pumping water for all the new houses. But, 
in those earlier days, that wasn't true. 

The pumping wasn't really for the new houses? 

The farmers were still pumping a substantial amount of water, 
yes. But the proportions changed over the years. Now, I'd 
probably guess about seventy-five percent of the water is pumped 
by the water district for municipal distribution. 

A Shifting Balance of Community Power; Pump Tax Passed, 1970 

Lage: So. by 1970, you think the change in the community, the balance 

of power, say, made the difference? 

Whitfield: Right. 

Lage: It would seem that the 1964 vote against the pump tax was the 

most controversial decision, wasn't it? 


Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage : Was there any move electorally to replace the board with those 

more sympathetic to the pump tax? 

Whitfield: I don't think so. 

Lage: Just kind of a natural evolution? 

Whitfield: This board that's in there now, they've been in since, oh, 
sometime in the sixties. 

Lage: Oh, really? You mean, there's that much continuity on the 


Whitfield: Yes. Oh, except the one that's relatively new en there now is 
Carl Strandberg. He's an ecologist. He got on as a water 
conservationist and ecologist. 

Lage: Does he have training in ecology? 

Whitfield: He's taken some courses, and he says that he writes some of 
these books. He knows many people in that field. 

Lage: Again, we're a little off the subject, but I think it's 

interesting because I wanted to talk about environmentalists and 
how they related to the district, which happens probably more in 
the seventies. Does he have a particular point of view about 
the water conservation program here? 

Whitfield: Oh. yes. he's all for it and supports it very much. 

Lage: Does he have any policy ideas that you would object to? 

Whitfield: No. 

Lage: What types of things does he propose? 

Whitfield: Well, just somewhat far-out things. 

Lage: How does he get elected? 

Whitfield: He's a conservationist, he's an ecologist and environmentalist, 
and he writes books. 

Lage: I imagine incumbents tend to get elected in a district like 

this. It's probably not a hot issue, who's running for the 
water board, would you say? 

Whitfield: No. 


Lage: Has it ever been? Do you remember any controversial elections? 

Whitf ield: It never no. I think maybe when John Pihl ran for the board 

everybody was concerned that he was going to raise hell because 
of the flood. I think I've mentioned to you before that I've 
seen people come on the board of directors who were against 
rehabilitation of the ground water basin, and they're not on 
the board very long before they're a staunch supporter of it. 

Lage: [laughs] Once they become educated. 

Whitf ield: So, you see, in the last ten years policy has been pretty well 
carved in granite. There's not much you can de about changing 
it. We've got so much invested in the ground water basin it 
would be crazy to try to abandon it now. It would be the wrong 
thing to do because we're saving just from local runoff we get 
maybe about twenty-five thousand acre-feet a year on the 
average. One year will be less, another greater. 

For the distribution system, we've still got Resolution 81 
that sets forth how the developers pay for storage and all this 
stuff. There doesn't seem to be any criticism of that anymore, 
except the only problem I used to have was the little 
developer. He'd say, "Oh, that's all right for the big 
developer, they can afford it," I'd say, "Well, that's the 
policy whether you're big or small." 

Lage: Was it a lot harder for the small one to afford it, then? 

Whitf ield: Well, sometimes, yes. 


Did you have dealings with Jack Brooks? 

Whitf ield: Oh, yes. I had many dealings with him, yes. 
Lage: Did he understand your needs? 

Whitf ield: Yes. He was one of the biggest developers around here. He'd 
come in and negotiate with me sometimes and then later on as 
they got bigger, he'd send other people. He was a very 
cooperative person. He just would come in and say, "Well, what 
are we stuck with now?" "Resolution 81." [laughter] 

Lage: So maybe it was easier to deal with the larger developers. 

Whitfield: Yes, excepting Conway and Culligan. They were large developers, 
but they just thought they were going to come over here to their 
country cousins and push them around. 


Water Pump Meters 

Lage : Interesting. Anything else about that pump tax that we should 

talk about, any other ? 

Whitfield: One of the big flaps was over the flat charge the board had 

imposed on small lots. The little guys would complain about it. 
so the beard just eliminated that charge. 

Lage: And eventually they went to meters to actually measure the water 


Whitfield: Oh, yes. Then they cried about having to supply their own 

meters. That was another one of the stalls because, you know, 
they were not too cheap. The board finally decided, well, we'll 
pay for the meters and put them on. Yes, so that was another 
sticky wicket. 

Lage: That was later, after '70? 

Whitfield: Before they put in the meters. They first imposed the pump tax 
without meters. There were some weasel words in the legislation 
that they could see a way to avoid putting in the meters. 
Temporarily you could, for certain reasons, delay the time when 
they went on. 

Lage: And then you went on the farmer's estimate of how much water he 


Whitfield: On the estimate, yes. We used to get into arguments with them 
because they had to give an estimate of what they were going to 
use and then a final ization of what they did use. And they 
didn 1 t 

Lage: It was way off-base? 

Whitfield: Yes. You know, we had charts showing how much water peas would 
take for an acre, corn would take, potatoes and all that stuff, 
and they argued over it. They very seldom would agree with the 
figures we used. 

Lage: Did this cause you any trouble, personally, I mean, or trouble 

between the board and the staff, since the staff seemed to be in 
favor of the pump tax and even had gone so far as to urge the 
board to get enabling legislation passed? It's kind of an 
interesting situation. 

Whitfield: Well, let me say this. We knew that ultimately it had to go in. 
We knew it had to go in. It was just when it would be 
politically astute. So we never pushed it that hard. In fact. 


Whitfield: in talking about it. I don't think we got in any arguments with 
the board. We'd just talk about it outside and that type of 

Lage: You just kind of waited for them to come around? 

Whitfield: Yes. 



Standards for Well Abandonment. Well Drilling, and Drainage Wells 

Whitf ield: Another thing we did do to help stem off the salt water 
intrusion was to deal with abandoned wells. There were 
abandoned wells that could deteriorate and the casing could rot 
and let the salt water come down from one aquifer to the other. 
So we get together with the cities because they have the power 
to pass an ordinance for well abandonment and well-drilling 
standards and all that. We wrote the standards, and then we 
agreed to issue the permits and inspect them. There's a fee for 
that that the well driller has to pay. or the property owner 
that's filling the well. 

Lage: So you would inspect well drilling? 

Whitf ield: Yes. and well abandonment. But the city had the enforcement 

Lage: How did you deal with abandoned wells? 

Whitf ield: We would find the log of the old well. The cities made it a 

condition of their building permits that if there was a well on 
the piece of property they had to agree to abandon the well in 
accordance with the specifications. What they did was see, 
here's the ground level here. We were fortunate in that we got 
copies of all the old well logs from one of the old well 
drillers that drilled most the wells around here. 

They go down and clean the old well out if it's dirty. 
Then they go down and they know where the gravels are in the 
stratas. and they go down with a tool and slit the casings; then 
they pack the well with cement, so that salt water could not 
leak down around the cement plug and couldn't get into the lower 

Lage: That must have been an expensive process. 


Whitfield: Yes. The developers had to do it. In the old days, when they 
had the Oakland wells down there in Alvarado, there were a lot 
of wells that we went in and plugged ourselves. 

Lage: So that was a known technique to plug the wells so they wouldn't 

pollute the aquifers. 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Something I wanted to ask you, going back to the fifties, was 

about the problem of drain wells. 

Whitfield: Oh, yes. We had no street drainage systems in our towns, so 

when development started we should have fought it more than we 
did, but I think it was a political thing because the develop 
ment couldn't start without drainage the county let them put in 
drainage wells in certain locations to drain the water off the 

Lage: Down into the ground water? 

Whitfield: Into the first aquifer of the ground water. The concern there 
was that the contamination from the streets could get into the 
ground water basin. Those wells have been all plugged up now. 

Lage: That was something that you were against, but sort of allowed to 

happen to a degree? 

Whitfield: The beard should have taken a more firm position about it, but 
it was the beginning of development out here. 

Lage: What was the alternative? Well, the flood control district 

would have been the alternative. 

Whitfield: Yes, but they didn't have it yet. 

Lage: But is that how the drainage problem was solved, by getting 

flood control here? 

Whitfield: Yes, when they created zones for the different areas out here, 
for flood control only and drainage and that type of thing. 


Addendum on Saltwater Intrusion and the Aquifer Reclamation 


[Begin Interview 3: June 26. 1987] ft 

Lage: Today's June 26th, 1986, and it's our third and final interview 

with Matt W bitfield. You had given me an article last week 
about saltwater intrusion at the Patterson Ranch, Before the 
tape came on today, you and I talked a little bit about what 
might be done to solve this problem. I want you to sort of 
clear up the process of how saltwater intrusion is prevented. 

Whitfield: Yes. The water district first started getting releases of water 
in the Alameda Creek which is the main contributor recharging 
the ground water basin. That's all through the Miles, 
Centerville, and Alvarado areas. That's where originally nature 
recharged the ground water basin from the local watershed. 

Lage: Just percolating down through the creek bed? 

Whitfield: Through the creek bed, and that was the natural phenomenon that 
occurred. Then people pumped the water out and the level went 
down. That's how from excess pumping years back, the salt water 
from the bay started coming in to the upper strata, which is 
about a hundred feet below the ground surface. Then it came up 
into what they all the forebay. which is the recharge area all 
along Alameda Creek. As pumping continued and they got 
centrifugal pumps and pumped from the deeper second strata, then 
the salt water came from the bay up over the lip and came in the 
forebay area and went back into the lower strata. 

The recharge is accomplished by taking water from the 
Alameda Creek, either natural runoff or imported water from the 
South Bay Aqueduct, and pumping it through the levees into the 
pits. The pits are big lakes, maybe twenty or thirty or forty 
acres, and then that water percolates. The water surface that 
is seen in the pits is the natural water table in the ground 
water basin. 

Lage: So the water just sinks down through the gravel in the pits. 

Whitfield: The gravel in the stratas. In what we call the forebay area 
along the creek, that's where all the gravels are contiguous. 
Then they stratify out from that area in the ground water at 
different levels of gravel which are separated by impervious 
aquifers, or layers of clay but it's all recharged from up here 
along the creek. 


Lage : 


I think we'll include with this interview a diagram, such as 
this. [See diagram page 82.] That will explain this more 

Tell me more about the aquifer reclamation project in 1974. 
What did that do? 

Well, we had some studies made and we [laughs] I keep talking 
"we"; it's net "we" anymore. They drilled test holes before you 
get to the bay out there, in various areas, after geological 
studies, and found where the aquifers were and good places to 
put the water and to put the wells to pump the salt water out of 
the upper strata. Because if you stopped the salt water from 
coming in the upper strata, then it won't reach into the ferebay 
area and get into the lower strata. 

So these wells are pumping water into channels which 
discharge the salt water back into the bay. But the theory is 
if you pump the salt water out, you've got to replace it with 
something. So the objective is to keep the water in the 
f orebay, or in the general Alameda Creek area in the gravel, at 
sea level so that the salt water can't come in. 

So you pump the water out and then the water you put in the 


Whitfield: Is what gees into replacing it, yes. 

Lage: So it's a very natural process. 

Whitfield: And it not only replaces it, but it takes into account the 

consumption as people pump water out of wells. It used to be 
predominantly agriculture, which is now very minimal there's 
hardly any agriculture there now. Industry pumps, but the water 
district itself is the major pumper for its domestic water 
distribution system. 

Lage: The article about the Patterson Ranch just raised the question 

in my mind f why they're facing this problem of salt. It 
appeared to me that it had been taken care of with the aquifer 
reclamation project. 

Whitfield: Well, the project isn't a hundred percent yet. But, as we were 
talking, there can be pockets of salt water in the stratas and 
if there's no pumping in that area, the water won't move in the 
strata. The water won't move if no one pumps. If it lies 
dormant for some time and then they started pumping in an area, 
then it may move water from one place in the strata. It'll flow 
towards the direction where it's pumping. 



4 \ 

100 I 


c .200 


o -400 








Courtesy of the California 
Department of Water Resources 


MAP 1 


Whitfield: I think one of the things that are mentioned in that article is 
that they've got boron in the water also. 

Lage: Right. 

Whitfield: Boron is very detrimental to plant growth. We had an area up 
here in the Niles area above the fault the fault goes through 
Irvington and down there in the Niles. It's an impervious 
barrier and it's about eight or ten or twelve inches thick. 
Above the fault there were some pockets of boron up there. 

Lage: Just naturally occurring? 

Whitfield: Yes, it's a natural phenomenon in the mineral content of the 
water. Now, they did mention that there was boron in that 

Lage: Right, that that was another problem besides the salt. 

Whitfield: Yes. I don't know, maybe one of their answers is there. I 

don't know which strata they're pumping from. You know, these 
are all on the Patterson Ranch, and there's a lot of those wells 
that may be older wells that they tried to rehabilitate to use. 
Maybe those were some that were salty. 

Lage: It could be. 

Whitfield: I don't know whether they could drill other wells in their area 
somewhere. If they hooked up to the municipal distribution, 
that's pretty extensive water for irrigation. 

Lage: Yes, that was the other alternative. 

Whitfield: The only ones that can afford that is the Glad-A-Way Gardens 

that grow all those gladiolas. Sometimes they have hooked onto 
our system. We'd give them a connection to the system, but it's 
metered. Of course, that gladiola production is a very 
lucrative industry to be in. 

Lage: So they can purchase the water? 

Whitfield: Yes, because the water costs well, I don't know what the rate 
is now, but maybe $150 an acre foot. For water you pump out of 
the ground, maybe $50 an acre foot. 


Legal Action against Water Waste by Quarry Operators. 1968-1974 

Lage : Let's turn to another major issue in the seventies. Actually, I 

think it started about '68. That's the problem with the 
quarries pumping water out of your ground water basin. 

Whitfield: Yes. Of course, our recharge problem, recharging the ground 

water, is in direct opposition to the quarries approach because 
they came in and for years they just dug down to a certain 
level. Then, as the land got more expensive and they were 
running out of gravels, they started going down deeper. Well, 
the water table was down in those days. But when the South Bay 
Aqueduct came along we had a major supply to start recharging 
the ground water basin. Then we started raising the level in 
the ground water basin back to the state of nature. We called 
it the "state of nature" theory of what the average elevation in 
the ground water basin was. 

Lage: How did you determine what that "state of nature" was? Did you 

have good records en it? 

Whitfield: Oh. yes. We had records going back to 1913. There used to be a 
hydrograph, you know, a chart, in the boardroom. We plotted 
every month and we had certain wells that we plotted. 

Lage: So you had good records going way back, then? 

Whitfield: Oh. yes. So we arrived at what the "state of nature" was from 
those records. These go back for many years. Well, back to 

Lage: What were the quarries quarrying? 

Whitfield: They were quarrying sand and gravel. 

Lage: Was their operation disrupted when you raised the water table? 

Whitfield: They get dredges in so they could quarry in the water, but then 
you can only dredge so far down. Then they started pumping the 
water out of the pits and dumping it in Alameda Creek, wasting 
it into the bay. That was directly contradictory to our purpose 
of raising the ground water to sea level for use. plus to 
rehabilitate the strata to get rid of the salt water. 

Lage: So they were taking water you'd pumped in. and pumping it out. 

How did you discover that they were doing this? Was it common 


Whitfield: Oh. yes. You could see the big pipes ever there with their 

pumps running twenty- four hours a day. We put up with that. We 
tried to work with them and negotiate with them. They weuld 
say, "Well, we're going to do this and then we'll cut back," and 
all that kind of thing. 

Lage : Were there several different companies? 

Whitfield: There was Niles Sand & Gravel, and Rhodes and Jamiesen, and PGA. 
Pacific Coast Aggregates. But PCA had more land, and they just 
moved into higher lands and quarried in there. They were not 
out of business yet, but they had lands where they could quarry 
without pumping water. They pumped a little, but net 

Lage: Rhodes and Jamiesen and 

Whitfield: Rhodes and Jamieson and Niles Sand & Gravel, yes. 

Lage : 

Lage : 



Kaiser is mentioned, also, in the minutes. 

Whitfield: Well, yes, their pit is the only one on the south side of the 

creek; all the rest are on the north side. Their pit straddled 
the fault, east and west, so they had a high water table. They 
were the first ones that dredged up there, because the ground 
water above the fault was about thirty to forty feet higher than 
below the fault. So Kaiser was not involved in pumping water 
into the creek. They were practically out of business. 

Lage: Before it became a problem? 

Whitfield: Yes. There were just the two of them that pumped substantially. 

Rhodes and Jamiesen and Niles Sand & Gravel. 

Yes. So we filed a lawsuit. We hired a special attorney who 
handled the case. Then we had Harvey Banks, who was the former 
director of the Department of Water Resources, who was very 
instrumental in getting us state water. That was the main 
purpose of the state water project recharge of the ground water 
basin. He had retired from the DWR, so we hired him as our 
consultant, and he was one of our chief witnesses, plus Stan 
Sayler, at that time my assistant chief engineer. 

Was one of the approaches to get the quarries to pay for the 
water they were pumping out? 

Whitfield: No. 


That wouldn't solve the problem? 


Whitfield: The water they pumped out was completely wasted. It couldn't be 
put to beneficial use. It wouldn't help the ground water basin 
if they kept pumping the water out. even if they paid for it. 
We could only get so much water from the state. Our Table A in 
the state contract stipulates how much water we take each year. 
The fact that we got monetary return on it would not solve the 
problem. We didn't sue them for money; we were suing them to 
stop their pumping. We felt that the overlying landowners had 
the right to the ground water basin. 


Lage: There seemed to be some tie-in with the city here. The initial 

things that I noticed in the minutes in '68 and '69. you were 
going te request the city to enforce the use permits. Do you 
remember that at all? That was before the suit was filed. 

Whitfield: The quarries were in operation before the city of Fremont was 

created, before they incorporated. I think in the newer permits 
we got in there that they could not pump water that wasted te 
the bay. 

Lage: Do you remember if the city cooperated with that? 

Whitfield: Well, they weren't too anxious to. Very frankly, they weren't 
too anxious te get their foot in that pie. 

Lage: Pretty controversial? 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, it was kind of political. 

Lage: Did the quarries have a let of political power? 

Whitfield: Some, yes. One of them thought he had a lot mere political 
power than he had. 

Lage: Was this the Niles Sand and Gravel Company? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Was that a local company? 

Whitfield: Well. no. Guy Qouser ran the thing; he was a part owner, but 
there were other investors in it. 


Whitfield: Let me just tell you what happened at the trial. 

You mentioned the "state of nature" theory that was very 
important. How did you develop that? 









We had the experts, and we were in court quite a while. We were 
very fortunate to have Judge Lyle Cook, who was very interested 
in understanding the technicalities of what was being explained. 
We were fortunate to have him because knowledge and expertise in 
the ground water basin, in those days, was limited to a few. An 
average civil engineer had no background in it at all, but you 
learned through actually being involved in it. It's 
complicated. It's like any other technical thing; they have 
their own terminology. 

But everything that he didn't understand he asked about. 
In fact, he had very high respect for Mr. Banks, Harvey Banks, 
and several times when Harvey had explained something the judge 
would ask, "Mr. Banks, would you mind going over that again for 
me? I want to make sure I understand it." Judge Cook even came 
out in the field to see the pits and get his own visualization 
of what was going on, He saw the pumps going and the water 
running down the creek and going out to the bay. 

How about the witnesses for the companies? 
Mr. Banks? 

How did they counter 

Well, they had some civil engineers who could design a pipe and 
that kind of stuff, but they didn't have much assistance in this 
problem. The fact is that the problem existed and to waste the 
water even in those days, wasting water was not the socially 
acceptable thing. More now than then. 

They had engineers who testified, but Harvey Banks was so 
knowledgeable. Harvey Banks was up there when they wrote 
Bulletin 81 and all the studies, and he was very familiar with 

He knew your district well? 
Oh, yes, yes, he did. 

Did it become a question of public interest vs. the private 
property interests? I noticed in the minutes they talked about 
hiring the law firm, and they picked a firm that was expert in 
eminent domain. 

Yes, John Rogers. 

Did that bring up the interests of the entire district here vs. 
the individual property owner? 

Yes, the public interest, yes. Who has the right to the water? 
That's the question. What right do you have to property? Do 
you have the right to go down and dig a hole, or dig pits, and 
by so doing waste another natural resource? 


Whitfield: They're quarrying gravel, which is a natural resource, to sell 
for profit. Now. people need water, so it's a question of the 
right to use your land to obtain the benefits of a natural 
resource, when in so doing you take another natural resource 
which is more valuable you could probably do without gravel, 
but you never can do without water and waste that to the bay 
for the purpose of profit. 

Lage: It's an interesting issue. 

Whitfield: Yes. Frankly, we had a very sharp attorney in John Rogers. He 
was more versed in eminent domain, land and appraisal, but he 
did his homework. 

Lage: Then there was another suit, the countersuit of the quarries 

against the district? 

Whitfield: Yes, for their damages. Rhodes and Jamie son dropped it. Our 
suit was over damages to the ground water basin. Rhodes and 
Jamieson stipulated and they decided not to go pursue that 
avenue, but Niles Sand & Gravel did, and then they had to pay I 
forget what the settlement was for the water that they had 

Lage: Oh. they did pay for it? 

Whitfield: Yes. I forget what that figure was. 

Lage: But then they sued you for damages and lost that in 1974. 

Whitfield: I guess that's the one that they lost. 

Pump Tax Update 

Lage: I also noticed I think it was 1970 they went to the state 

legislature to try to get an amendment to your replenishment act 
or something. Do you recall that? 

Whitfield: The quarry operators? Oh. yes. because they were pumping water 
and using water from the ground water basin themselves, in their 
own well. When we got the legislative act through to allow the 
district to impose the replenishment assessment that's our pump 
tax. commonly known we had a lot of agricultural interests and 
some of the board members had backgrounds in agriculture. When 
the act was formulated, one board member took the position that 
he wouldn't vote for sponsoring the legislation unless the 
farmers got an $8 maximum. So then when that happened the 
cities, particularly Fremont, got the bee in their bonnet. They 





figured that since they were a public agency, they should get 
the benefit just like the farmer. So some of the board were ex- 
city councilmen so they acquiesced in that. 

They got the $8 maximum also? 

Yes. Then the quarries wanted that same benefit. With the 
relationship not being too good over the quarry problem anyway, 
[laughs] the board said. "No way." 

The beard seemed pretty unanimous in most of its dealings, I 

Whitfield: Well, that's right. 

Lage: The pump tax was an exception. 

Whitfield: That's a ticklish thing. You know, you're in an old community: 
it was farmers. It was a farming industry when it started; that 
was the only industry for years. You have that heritage, and 
the farmers had the idea, "Well, that water is under my property 
and I have unlimited use." 

That just isn't true. It's true throughout the states. 
It's only in recent years in the last twenty years or so that 
seme of the people have realized the value of the ground water 
basin, because the average citizen can't see it. Like our 
customers' water, you know, it doesn't matter where the water 
comes from you pull it from the ground water basin, and the 
aquifers and they just don't If you see a big surface lake, you 
know, that's a big bucket of water, but I don't see anything; I 
see ground. 

Lage: I noticed that even the pump tax, after about "72, didn't seem 

controversial. Then the board, again, was unanimous every year 
when you were assessing the tax. 

Whitfield: Well, but the law as written calls for the board to pass a 

resolution of intent every year before a certain date stating 
that they intend to charge a replenishment assessment, if they 
are going to charge a replenishment assessment in that year. 

Lage: And that became kind of a routine matter. 

Whitfield: Well, because that's what the law said. You have to go through 
a public hearing, publish a report and all that. The first one 
we had was held at the old Washington High School Auditorium, 
where there might be three hundred people. 

Lage: Then I came across one where nobody showed up. The public 

hearing was declared closed, [laughs] 


Whitfield: That's right. That's as it's been for a long time new, although 
the replenishment assessment, the pump charges, have gone up 
considerably. When we first imposed it. I think it was just $10 
an acre foot. I think it's up about $60 or $70 now. I'm 
talking about when I was there, so 

Lage: It may be higher yet. 

Whitfield: Probably. Ann. you know what you ought to do is ask Ruth to 

give you a copy of one of the replenishment assessment reports. 
That will tell you how much water we've imported, how much we've 
percolated, how much was pumped out by industry and agriculture 
and all that, and how much overdraft there is. It will give you 
a good background, I should have thought of that before because 
that will give you a whole background. 

Protecting the Alameda Creek Watershed in the Livermore Valley 

Lage: Let's leek at the situation in the Livermore Valley. I had 

remembered seme litigation that you didn't recall [Larrewe. p. 

Whitfield: I don't think we went through litigation in the Livermere 

Valley. We worked through the Regional Water Quality Control 
Board because Livermere came under their jurisdiction. 

Lage: I noticed in the minutes that one time somebody suggested you 

look into a lawsuit, and then there's no further mention, so 
maybe it never got that far and you continued to work through 
the regional beard. Did you get a lot of support from the 
Regional Water Quality Control Board? 

Whitfield: Yes. We started early en to attend the Regional Water Quality 
Control Beard meetings. You know, back in the eld days, you'd 
drive inte the entrance of the city of Pleasanton. and they had 
their settling ponds from their sewage treatment, and you had to 
held your nose to drive by. 

They contained their sewage in settling ponds. Then as 
time went en and they started building treatment plants, they 
came under the jurisdiction of the Regional Water Quality 
Control Board for the quality of the effluent that they pumped 
inte the creek. We were always opposed to lax standards. We 
always worked with the board's staff to get the most rigid 
standards. What we were fearful of in those days was that these 
little towns in the Amador Valley would be interested in 
promoting industry. The whole area drains into the Alameda 
Creek up there, and eventually we'd get their wastes down here. 


Whitfield: We figured that someday maybe a plant of the magnitude of 

General Mtors would decide they wanted to settle in Livermore 
or in that area. There's no way that the politicians, or even 
the Regional Water Quality Control Board, would turn them down, 
unless water quality standards were in place. 

Here in Fremont the industrial wastes go into sewer 
systems, but our sewer system dumps into the bay. 

Lage: Yes, and their sewer system dumps into Alameda Creek, is that 

the idea? 

Whitfield: Yes. We get the benefit of all their sewage effluent. We 

figured that if a plant would go in, aside from bacteriological 
considerations, if their discharge was high in boron or high in 
something that you just couldn't tolerate, where would we be? 

Lage: Right, any type of toxic waste. But this was before there was 

so much concern with toxic waste. 

Whitfield: Yes, there was a lot of opposition to controls, and, in those 
days, really the Regional Water Quality Control Board didn't 
have too many teeth, legally, but we were always a staunch 
supporter of them. 

Lage: Did they work well with you? 

Whitfield: Oh, yes. 

Lage: So those things didn't come to a head because the Regional Water 

Quality Control Board kept the standards strict, is that 

Whitfield: Oh, yes. They kept them strict. In fact, they passed 

Resolution 91-126 that set the standards, and there was a lot of 
opposition to that. We weren't the most respected people in the 
Livermore-Amador Valley. 

Lage: Then this same short history [Larrowe, p. 17] mentions the 

district joined in opposition to a scheme of Kaiser Sand and 
Gravel to turn an abandoned gravel pit near Pleasanton into a 
solid waste garbage dump, supported by San Francisco. 

Whitfield: That's right. 

Lage: I guess San Francisco saw the site as a potential city dump. 

Whitfield: No, no, because San Francisco gets water from the Sunol Valley. 


Lage: The histry say a the project was supported by San Francisco. 

They needed a solid waste garbage dump facility. And that 
Kaiser didn't obtain a permit because of opposition of the 
Sierra dub and the Alameda County Water District. 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, my memory isn't as good as it used to be. but San 
Francisco depends on some Alameda Creek water, too. They used 
to take water out of Alameda Creek at the water temple in Sunol 
and transport it through a thirty-six inch line that went under 
the bay to San Francisco. 


Whitfield: You put garbage in an abandoned quarry that is all connected 
with the ground water basin, and where does the contamination 
go? It goes into the ground water basin. 



Fluoridation Controversy, 1969-1971 

Lage : Why don't we turn to the fluoridation issue. That seems 

like an ongoing controversy for a couple of years, anyway. De 
you remember how that came up? 

Whitfield: Well, there were a lot of proponents of fluoridation. 

Lage: They seemed to start the issue by bringing a petition to the 

board in favor of fluoridatien. 

Whitfield: Yes. In fact, I got my introduction to the flouridation issue 
up in the Livermore Valley, when the California Water Service 
there was considering fluoridating the water. That's a private 
corporation, like Citizens Utility Company down here. I learned 
that they were having a hearing on the fluoridation issue up 
there, and I was going on vacation on a Friday so I went that 
way. That's where I got my first baptismal fire about the 
controversy in the fluoridation issue. In those days, whenever 
you had a fluoridation issue, they came out from all over, 
organized groups. 

Lage: From out of the area. 

Whitfield: Te fight it, yes. A lot of people just don't believe in 

additives. They don't mind chlorination, that's sterilization, 
but additives are adding minerals or whatever it might be. In 
other words, they could say it could be a Communist plot. You 
know, you could put anything in the water you want if you want 
to wipe out a city or something. 

Lage: Well, did you find that opposition when you wanted to soften the 

water, for instance? Doesn't that involve putting things in the 


Whitfield: Well, that changes the composition of calcium and magnesium. It 
changes fern calcium hydroxide or something I've forgotten new 
inte magnesium or something, which is net hard. 

Lage: But da people object? That's an additive, toe. 

Whitfield: It really isn't an additive. It isn't what you de is you run 
the water through a zeolite, which takes eut certain minerals. 

Lage: I see. You're removing minerals. 

Whitfield: You're removing, you're net putting in. But there was 

controversy on the softening plant, toe. because in softening 
you use the zeolite process, which is a resin type of thing. 
You filter it; you've get big tanks you can run it through. 
Then you backwash it with salt water te recharge the zeolite. 
Well, people get the idea that you're putting the salt inte the 
water, which you're not. 

But when you de that process, if you soften it too much if 
you soften it te zero then you do produce sodium in the water. 
So we had doctors in the heart business that's where the 
problem of sodium comes in. you knew, for people because ef 
heart problems they can't have too much sodium for blood 
pressure and all that. Well, we had doctors who were 
representing the American Heart Association write letters that 
if you kept the salt content below a certain level that it 
wouldn't be a problem. 

Lage: Was there an organized group here in the area that opposed that, 

the softening plant? 

Whitfield: Not an organized group. 
Lage: But just a few individuals? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: And then flueridatien came up. It was first mentioned in '69. 

and then there were two elections in '70 and '71. It sounded 
like the district was very evenly divided over it. The 
elections were very close. 

Whitfield: Yes. Well, the board took a neutral position on it. If the 

people wanted it, and we could get the necessary financing, then 
we would de it; if the people didn't want it, the district 
wouldn't do it. which was sensible. There were no real 
proponents or opponents on the board. 

Lage: I see. They were more or less neutral, then. 


Whitfield: Yes. They were criticised for that. Some said, "Well, you 
should be the leaders and tell us what we should have." 

Lage: I noticed that in the first election in '70 they didn't put any 

pro and con arguments on the ballot, and then for the second 
election they were directed that they needed to de that. 

Whitfield: I think so, yes. 

Lage: And also put a district argument, but I never did see an example 

of what that district argument might have been. Do you think it 
was a pretty neutral argument? 

Whitfield: I can't remember. It might have been. 

Lage: What were the people like who came to the beard on both sides of 

those issues, do you remember? 

Whitfield: The ones that were against fluaridation were really rabid 

activists. Some woman would get up from Pomona or wherever it 
is, "I had my aunt, it ruined her kidneys, and she died from 
it," Then they'd come in and say, "Well, you know fluoride is 
rat poison, used to kill rats," and all those far-out things. 
"Communist plots." "Kill people." 

The softening controversy wasn't that intense. But let me 
tell you this, John Black spearheaded the opposition to 
f luoridation. 

Lage: He was a local person? 

Whitfield: Yes. I think he still lives around here. I haven't seen him 

for a long time. But he was not rabid like these other people. 
He was contained and sensible, no hollering, with these far-out 
accusations and all that. 

Lage: He didn't go with the Communist plot theory? 

Whitfield: No. In fact, I enjoyed working with him because he was just a 
smart man. He just believed in the theory that there should be 
no additives to water. 

Lage: Just better net to take a chance? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Then who were the people who actually actively worked for 

f luoridation? 


Whitfield: Well, the parents with little kids, who believed that if you 

start the kids young enough on it. fluoride does inhibit tooth 
decay. I don't knew, they've never run a dental survey since we 
did it t see what the effects are, but 

Lage: I've read reports that shew very much decreased tooth decay. 

Whitfield: Do you mean about our district? 

Lage: No. not your district, just in general. 

Whitfield: Oh. yes. But I mean there were no local studies made. See. how 
they discovered flueridation in certain states, they have 
natural fluorides in the ground water, in their water. But they 
noticed it because I think it was on an Indian reservation where 
the teeth got all mottled and discolored from too high 
concentrations of fluoride, but none of them ever had any 
cavities. So that's why you keep it down to a certain amount, 
so you don't mottle the teeth. 

Lage: As a person responsible for running the water district, did you 

think there was a problem that errors could be made, or ? 

Whitfield: You mean in operation? 

Lage: Right. Did you have any doubts about whether the district could 

control the proper amount? 

Whitfield: No, because they had developed equipment. We visited plants 

that had had it. To my knowledge, I've never even read in the 
paper about any overdoses of fluoride. Up on Olive Avenue we had 
an individual well that had an individual fluoridatien thing en 
it, and one of the controls did go f looey, and we found out 
about it right away and shut the thing off and drained the 
lines. That only took half the day. That's the only time we 
ever had a problem. 

Lage: At what point is fluoride put into the water system? 

Whitfield: At the wells or treatment plants. See, most of our wells 

they're just getting finished drilling five more wells down at 
Howry and Peralta Boulevard. That's the Mowry well lot. The 
ether one is just across Mowry. on the north side of Peralta. 
where I guess they've got about eight wells, and that's above 
the fault because the benefit there is you don't have to pump it 
up so high. So they've got separate fluoridation injections 

In fact, the Mowry and Peralta-Tyson well fields are 
where the major softener plant is. 


Lage: Did you have personal pressure on you as a result of all this 


Whitfield: Oh. I got accused of being on both sides. 
Lage: As usual? [laughs] 

Whitfield: Oh, yes. I never took any positions. Somebody that I know 
would ask me what I think. "I think it's the thing to do." 

Lage: But it wasn't your role to take a public position or to try to 

lead public opinion or something like that? 

Whitfield: No, I didn't take it because the board of directors wouldn't 
take a position on it. I got by with it, I was still there 
several years afterwards. 

Lage: Right. [laughs] Well, that final election was '71. Then I 

noticed you made available a faucet that was going to be 
unf 1 ueridated? 

Whitfield: That was one of the hearings we had, and a person asked, 'Veil, 
is all the water to be fluoridated?" We said, "Yes, it would 
be." "Well, what am I going to do if I don't want it. Then you 
are forcing me to go buy bottled water." So one of the board 
members came up with the idea, "Well, we'll put a free faucet 
over at the softening plant." So we bypassed and ran a pipe out 
outside the fence and installed a faucet. 

Lage: So people could get unf luori da ted water? 

Whitfield: Yes. 


Was this a metered faucet? 

Whitfield: We never installed a meter. I said, "You know, it would cost us 
more, and very frankly. I don't think anybody's going to use 

Lage: They probably didn't after the first couple of months. 

Whitfield: I asked the plant operators up there if they were seeing anybody 
using the faucet. l \)h, once in a while." It was just an 
argument, you know, to say, "Well, you're forcing me to buy 
bottled water." So we'd just say, "Well, get your jug and go 
over to the softening plant and get free water." It's good 

Lage: You've had enough experience with that now. You could give some 

good advice. 


Whitfield: Well, the only advice I'd give anybody that runs a public agency 
is don't I used to get churned up when I was younger, and I 
just learned that the things that I feared that would be hard to 
handle were never as bad when they happened. I figured I don't 
want to give myself ulcers. I learned that after serving under 
twenty-one members of the beard. 


Twenty-one members you served under? 

Whitfield: Yes. But I learned early in that game to save my energy and my 
abilities for the important things, win the big battles and lose 
the little ones. 


And not fret over those little ones? 

Whitfield: Yes. because a let of the little ones are a matter of opinion; a 
lot of them aren't a matter of strict engineering. 

Lage: Probably a let of the big things that you did weren't 


Whitfield: Well, the ground water basin. We had people, the farmers and 

everybody, yelling te get rid ef the salt water, get mere water 
in and all that. And a lot of people were averse te using the 
ground water. "Should we take more Hetchy water and less ground 
water?" and all that. But. you know, the ground water basin is 
an invaluable natural asset. You couldn't build a water supply 
like that for less than billions of dollars. 


Yes. No evaporation. 

Whitfield: Yes, that's right. And the ether argument is for radioactive 
fallout. The ground water is more protected than an open lake 
that has surface. Like near the Chernobyl plant [site of 
nuclear power plant], they have a big lake there that serves all 
of the city of Kiev. I was in Kiev once. 

Trip to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. 1972 

Lage: I noticed in 1972 you went te Russia and all of Eastern Europe. 

What was that about? This is off the track, but 

Whitfield: President Eisenhower started, after he was president, a People- 
to-People program. It was just the concept, and it wasn't 
financed by the federal government or anything, but he pushed 
for that. So the American Water Works Association, which we 
belonged to, decided to ge on one ef these People-to-People 


Whitfield: We went t* England and the Soviet Union. We went to Leningrad. 
Moscow. Kiev, and Budapest. We had some entree to the water 
departments. Even in Russia, or the Soviet Union you knew, 
everybody refers to the Soviet Union as Russia, but there are 
seventeen republics: Russia is only one of the republics. Kiev 
is a capital of the Ukraine, which is another republic. But you 
read in the paper, and you hear commentators, and all you hear 
about is Russia. 

Lage : Yes. Was the focus of the trip to meet with the water depart 

ment people? 

Whitfield: Yes. Going through water treatment plants and other facilities. 

Lage: Did you see anything that surprised you, or anything we should 


Whitfield: No, the only thing that's very noticeable in the Soviet Union is 
that on the exteriors of their water treatment plants or their 
water facilities, they don't spend much money for architectural 
refinement, for beauty. They spend the money for the quality 
inside. Inside they're immaculate, and they have very modern 
techniques. The thing that surprised me there was that they had 
so many women, and this was back when was that? In '72 I went? 

Lage: Right, '72. 

Whitfield: Yes, there were so many women. A lot of the operators in 

treatment plants were women. The first thing in Leningrad, I 
saw a utility truck you know, like a PG & E truck with an all- 
woman crew. 

Lage: Of course, that wouldn't be so unusual now here. 

Whitfield: Yes, but over there the women you see really were pretty hefty. 

Lage: How about the engineers, were they women? 

Whitfield: I think we met a couple, yes. 

Lage: But it wasn't as striking as the workers? 

Whitfield: No. 

Lage: Did you run across any ground-water-based districts? 

Whitfield: No, we didn't get involved. Everything was on surface 

distribution treatment plants, from rivers. I saw the Blue 
Danube, and the Blue Danube wasn't very blue; it was polluted. 


Lage: That must have been an interesting trip? 

Whitf ield: It was. We had an interesting group that went. I think there 
were thirty-six of us. Through the American Water Works and 
people that were up in the water industry, they had made 
contacts, and we had prior appointments. 

Lage: Now would Fremont be the kind of community at all where you'd 

get some raised eyebrows about your going to the Soviet Union? 

Whitfield: No. It was in the paper. 
Lage: No reaction? 

Whitfield: No. 







It wasn't in the fifties, of course. The McCarthy period was 
gone, but sometimes you do find even now 

Well, even now there is sensitivity about supervisors and city 
councilmen going on junkets. Our board of directors is careful 
when they go to the American Water Works convention, or the 
Irrigation District Association convention [it's now called 
AQUA]. Our board was always very sensitive about announcing 
that they were going to a convention, so they always referred to 
them as conferences. [laughter] Then I used to go. and I'd pay 
all the bills and get reimbursed. 

The bills for other people? 

For the directors, for their dinners. When they'd take their 
wives with them, we had to allocate certain costs for their 
wives. But the water district was very fortunate, it was never 
a real political type of thing, like some are. 

Back in the early days, we had an editor of the Township 
Register, which was a predecessor of the Argus now, who was very 
rabid in trying to sniff out expenditures. We'd get criticized 
once in a while, but very seldom. 

Well, it seemed like it was a fairly conservative district, 
didn't have a group of people taking advantage 


It used to be that at the board meeting they authorized going to 
convention; they authorized certain directors. Now they don't: 
they just put in the budget, and it's an approved item. 


Lage: Well. I ran across one item in the minutes where Carl Strandberg 

was denied approval. He was going to a UC workshop, and it was 
said he didn't need to have a technical background; he was a 
policy maker. Apparently, the workshop was oriented towards a 
technical background, and they denied him. 

Whitf ield: Well, he used to go to a lot of meetings and put in an expense 
account, but they weaned him of that. 

Lage: He's still on the board? 

Whitfield: Yes. His desire was to be a technical author. He had many 

ideas about water conservation and recharge and pollution. He 
came up with many ideas; the board kind of suggested that before 
he bring some of these ideas up to talk them over with Matt. 

Lage: What about this anti-pollution committee he seemed to be 

involved with? 

Whitfield: Well, he's written books en pollution. I've read a few ef them. 

Citizens Utility Buyout; Community Pressure. Company 

Lage: Let's talk about the Citizens Utility Committee. I mentioned, I 

think before we went on the tape, that it seems fairly well 
covered in Larrowe's short history, but I'm sure there are 
things that you remember about that long controversy. Why don't 
you give an overview of the problem first? 

Whitfield: Citizens Utility is a private stock company. One thing about 
them, they pay excellent dividends so they're a good profit- 
making organization. They're nationwide, and they're in the 
sewer business, the telephone business, the water business, and 
I don't know what else, but it's my understanding that they had 
an approach of going out and buying out small water companies, 
then operating for some years and then selling out to a public 

Lage: I see, t the larger district. 

Whitfield: Yes, because the publicly owned utilities have become more 

prevalent in the last twenty-five years. I can say that the 
service Citizens Utility Company gave was poor. 

Lage: Really bad? 














Yes. We used to get calls. Some of the girls would refer them 
to me, and I had to explain. 

Calls from the ? 

From the customers in the Citizen Utilities section. 

Now, what area did they cover? 

They covered Niles and Decoto; Miles is part of Fremont, and 
Decoto is now part of Union City. 

I see, so it went across city bounds. That complicated it 
further, probably. 

Yes. But they wouldn't respond to any complaints. 

What kind of complaints would there be? Quality of water ? 

Dirty water, mud in the water, lousy tasting water. 

What about water pressure? 

Water pressure. After we took them over, we found a lot of two- 
inch lines where their maps said they had four-inch lines, and 
one-inch lines where they said they had two-inch lines. 

Were they pumping? Is that where their water came from? 

Yes. They only had the 
They couldn't buy Hetchy 
Raker Act since it's com 
That act prohibited them 
corporations. They can 
agencies flood control 
have a secondary supply 
for fire protection, and 
water for a fire. 

one source, the ground water basin. 

water because Hetchy is governed by the 
ing from federal lands in Yosemite. 

from selling to profit-making 
only sell to municipalities and public 
and water districts. So they didn't 
of water. They had hardly any storage 

they never had capacity to pump enough 

We'd get a lot of complaints, "Would it do any good if we 
went to your board of directors?" "Well, you're welcome to 
come, but the board has no jurisdiction over " They wanted us 
to do something about it. We said the only thing to do is to 
call the health department. 

But there was an effort made to get you to buy the Citizens 
Utility Company, and apparently there was some disagreement 
about price. 

Oh, there was a substantial disagreement. We. unfortunately. 
got a judge in that case that was anti-publicly owned utility. 


Lage: This was the judge setting the price for the ? 

Whitf ield: It was a condemnation suit, and he was the one that heard the 
suit. He made a statement in his opening remarks, I don't 
remember the very words, but the essence was that he was against 
these publicly owned utilities going around willy-nilly and 
buying out well-run private water companies. 

Lage: This was his initial statement? 

Whitf ield: Yes. 

Whitf ield: 

Whitf ield: 

Sounds as if he should have disqualified himself. 

I told our attorney, "Why can't we ?" No, he didn't want to 
that. We didn't have a special attorney on that one. 



So that judge was the one that determined what price you had to 

Yes. We had three experts. We had Barttlec Wells, and Bookman 
and Edmonston, and I can't remember who else, who joined to give 
us a valuation. We thought we don't want just one. There are 
several different ways you could evaluate it: price new, less 
depreciation. There are several methods. The judge wouldn't 
let any of our experts testify, excepting the only testimony he 
would hear was the replacement cost new, less depreciation, 
which is the most expensive one. 

First of all, the Public Utilities Commission was on the 
spot because they were getting all these complaints from Irene 
Vincent and all of them. She'd go up there and raise hell. 
They wanted us to take them over because they didn't say this 
publicly, but that would get them off their backs. So we met a 
couple times with the Public Utilities Commission. 

One approach would be you could go to the Public Utilities 
Commission and have them set the price. 

Why didn't you take that approach? 

Whitfield: Well, we thought they were too prejudiced in favor of the 
utilities that they regulate. 

Lage: I see. They regulate the private companies. 

Whitfield: They regulate private companies, profit-making companies, but we 
don't come under the Public Utilities Commission. The publicly 
owned ones come under a board of directors. In other words, the 
theory there is, the privately owned ones do not have any 


Whitfield: publicly-elected members running the company, whereas our board 
of directors is in charge of running the district and they're 
elected. So if the public doesn't like it. they can elect 
somebody else. With private companies, you don't have that 
alternative. That's why you have a Public Utilities Commission. 
with members appointed by the governor. 

Lage: Hew did you find the local officers in the Citizens Utility 

Company? Did you have to deal with them? 

Whitfield: The local people were just puppets. They had Catherine Meyers, 
whom I've known since I was a kid. She ran the place over 
there, and she had no authority to do hardly anything. 

Lage: So you couldn't negotiate with her on the price of the company? 

Whitfield: Oh, no. We negotiated with the president of the company. 
Lage: How did you find him? 

Whitfield: Arrogant. Yes. He said, "We've got no problems out here; we 
have no complaints." Just blatant. I almost said, "You ought 
to come over and listen to my phone sometime." The funniest 
call I ever had was from a beauty operator in Miles. Apparently 
they shut the water off in her block. She called up, and she 
was just livid. Well, she called Citizens Utility and they 
wouldn't pay any attention, so I got her call [laughs]. 

She said, "What am I going to do? I've got the dye on this 
woman's hair, and the water's shut off." I said. "All I can 
suggest is you come over to one of our faucets and get some 
water to wash her head." I said, "We have no jurisdiction over 
them." [laughter] I think she was dying this woman's hair red 
or something. 

Lage: Oh, it must have come out wonderfully. 

Whitfield: Well, it was going to be true red. 

Lage: You mentioned Irene Vincent, and the Larrowe history mentions Al 

Redd as being on this 

Whitfield: Al Redd. yes. he's passed away. He lived up in Niles Canyon. 
Lage: Were they pretty forceful individuals? 

Whitfield: Irene was. Al was very laid back, quiet; he had ideas, but 
Irene was the one that held things together. 


Lage: What kinds of things would she take on? 

Whitfield: She'd have coffee klatches and meetings. In fact, they wanted 
someone from the water district to have a community meeting in 
Niles and Decoto, so we had them and I was elected to do the 
talking. We had a few board members in the audience. 

Lage: Now this was before the takeover? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: Was this to explain your options to them? 

Whitfield: Yes, just what we would do if we took them over. 

Lage: I see. They had to pass a bond issue? 

Whitfield: Yes. That's the one where they had to pass two bend issues 

because the first one wasn't large enough. It only provided for 
two million or three million or something, and the costs were 
greater than that. 

Lage: It ended up costing you more than you had anticipated? 

Whitfield: Yes. We went to the general obligation bond on the first one; 
the second one, we went to a revenue bond, paid out of water 

What I had to tell them first of all, we knew that if we 
didn't take them over. Citizens Utility was probably going to 
spend a lot of money to put in a new system because they were so 
run down. Consequently, if we waited until they did that, then 
it would cost us much more money to take them over. We 
explained that to them. 

Then there was a controversy as to whether the water rates 
should be the same in the area we would take over as in the 
remainder of the district. The board concluded, and I think it 
was logical, that it should not be the same because those people 
all had been paying low rates for their service. Not everybody 
had bad service in Citizens Utility, but the ones that had the 
worst were the ones that screamed the most. You know, maybe 
they had a one inch line in front of their house or something. 
So we had to tell them what our rates would be, that they would 
be higher than what Citizens Utility was charging them. 

Lage: I see. You were going to have to raise their rates. 

Whitfield: See, one of the reasons we had objections was because some of 

those people didn't have problems with their water, and Citizens 
Utility always had a lot lower water rates than we had. The 


Whitfield: reason for that is that we would take a lot of our revenues and 
reinvest them in replacing old pipes and putting in bigger ones, 
building reservoirs and all that kind of stuff. 

Lage: They gave theirs to their stockholders. 

Whitfield: Yes. that's right. 

Lage: Did it work out that the people who lived in that area paid most 

of the price for the district to take it over? Or did the whole 
district have to absorb it? 

Whitfield: No, we created a separate improvement district. In other words, 
we set an improvement district like the first bond issue we had 
in 1955 was over the entire district. That was for $2.9 
million; that was in the early fifties. That was the biggest 
bend issue ever floated in this area, and it was passed the 
first time. 

Then, as time went on, we've had other areas that have been 
annexed. The Warm Springs area was about fifteen hundred acres 
so we had a bond issue for them to pay for their facilities. 
Then we created an improvement district including Niles and 
Decoto and the area in between, because that was served by 
Citizens Utility. 

Citizens Utility has a map they file with the Public 
Utilities Commission that shows what their service area is. 
They threatened to sue us for invading their service area 
several times. In certain areas that we served, it was 
questionable whether it was in their service area or ours. We 
had facilities near there. 

But I forget how much higher the water rates were in that 
area than they were in the balance of district. There was no 
reason why the balance of the district should subsidize them 
over there, because they had the benefit of all the lower rates 
all those years. [The purchase of the Citizens Utility system 
occurred in 1976.] 

Lage: Well, then, would their rates have gone down by now, or are they 

still paying off their improvements? 

Whitfield: Oh. they're still paying off, but I don't know. I have never 
specifically asked Roy Coverdale, the district manager, if the 
water rates are the same as in the rest of the district now. At 
that time, the differential water rate situation was of 
considerable concern. Some people in the existing district felt 
that they should be able to vote on this Citizens Utility take 
over. Some people in Citizens Utility area thought that they 


Whitfield: should vote on our other bend issues. The area that Citizens 
was serving was within the water district boundaries, and they 
had the legal right to vote for directors. 

Lage: Oh, they did? Even before they were 

Whitfield: Yes, because they were in the district. That's because of the 

ground water basin. You see, the surface area that was included 
in the district originally was the area overlying the ground 
water basin. 

Lage: I don't understand, then, how Citizens Utility got a foothold. 

Whitfield: Because we didn't get into the water distribution service until 
1930. That was only because of taking over that plant in 
Alvarado, the Peoples' Water Company, the old Oakland Water 
Company, said one of the conditions for the purchase was that we 
serve their customers in Alvarado and Newark. 

Lage: Then did Citizens Utility buy water from you? 

Whitfield: No, we didn't have a pump tax in those days. They were pumping 
from the ground water basin. But when the pump tax went into 
effect, then they had to pay it. Now, the people that lived in 
Niles and Decoto were charged our ad valorem taxes. But, in 
those days, the ad valorem tax only went for water replenishment 
and ground water rehabilitation. 

Lage: So they did get some benefit from it. 

Whitfield: Well, in other words, the water that Citizens Utility pumped 

from the ground water basin under Niles and Decoto was partially 
being paid for by the ad valorem taxes, before we had a pump 
tax. Then, when the pump tax came in. Citizens Utility had to 
pay the pump tax. 

Lage: I can see why the citizens over there, the consumers, were 

confused they paid taxes to you, but when they called you to 
complain, you said you had no jurisdiction. 

Whitfield: They never pressured me enough to give them the long 

explanation, but I'd have given it to them. But this woman who 
called about the redhead with her head getting redder, she 
wasn't interested in theories or technicalities. [laughter] 


She just wanted you to get down there with a bucket. 


Perspective on Environmental Impact Reports 











In the seventies when the EIRs. the Environmental Impact Review 
reports, came into the law. how did that affect you? That must 
have affected your procedures? 

It just cost you more money because you have to go out and hire 
a consultant to write an EIR. 

Did it change your decisions, or make any other substantial 
chan ge ? 

The things that they have in EIRs are exactly what we do all the 
time anyway. We're very conscious of being a nuisance, like 
digging up streets and all that. The street is where you have 
the legal right to put utilities, even private utilities have 
that right. But EIRs didn't change us much. If you're building 
a reservoir and you have access roads, you've got to water the 
roads down so you don't create dust. We've always bent over 

So a lot of it was on procedures, net basic policies? 

No. They put it in the environmental reports what we were 
always doing, the things that we watch out for. 

You had to have more public hearings? 

Was there much interest in the hearings? 
before on the pump tax, for instance. 

You'd had hearings 

There was hardly any interest in the EIRs when we had a hearing. 
You have to publish a notice that you were going to have a 
hearing en an EIR. 

Can you think of any issue that was handled differently because 
of the EIR process? 

Well, it slows you down a little bit because you've got to get 
the EIR written, and you've got to have the reviews and the 
hearings and all that. And I think there's a condition in there 
for emergency types of things that you can do by notice or 
something, but I don't remember the details of that. But all it 
does is slew you down in accomplishing your plans. In other 
words, if you plan far enough ahead (but sometimes you can't 
plan that far ahead)-- 


Whitfield: Legally, the water district didn't have to go to bid. We'd 

adopted the policy that for projects over a certain cost we'd go 
to bid. Then you'd get a consultant engineer and in three years 
from now you've got another project very similar. You hire 
them, and they take the EIR and rewrite the thing with the same 
stuff in it. just change the name. 

Lage: It's more just procedural paperwork, as far as you can see? 

Whitfield: Yes. It may be that there are public agencies and 

municipalities that were doing things without being more 
conscious of the public relations type of thing. 

It would cost you depending upon the magnitude of the 
jobs so many thousand dollars to have it written. For certain 
jobs, you can make a negative declaration and you file that. We 
had a lot of those. They were smaller jobs that you didn't have 
to go through all this mishmash with the EIRs. Usually the 
negative declaration was done by the water district staff. 

Lage: For smaller, non-controversial kinds of things? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Response to the Drought of 1977 

Lage: We just briefly mentioned the drought last time, but it sounds 

as if there might be something of interest there. 

Whitfield: Well, it was interesting because the district was put on the pan 
by Sacramento. 

Lage: That was '76 and '77, wasn't it? 

Whitfield: Yes, '77. Everybody was going into water conservation and water 
rationing. Everybody was doing that. Because of our ground 
water basin, we didn't have that kind of a problem. The board 
didn't want to put in rationing, so I kind of talked them into 
the fact that, you know, we can't be the only one in the Bay 
Area that doesn't have water rationing. 

Lage: Were you afraid that other districts would come and buy your 

water, or what did you ? 

Whitfield: We had approaches from Water Resources, or somebody. The real 
problem started over in Marin County, where they, for years, 
were always opposed to any improvements over there. They voted 
down bond issue after bond issue for building up their water 


Whitfield: supply. I can remember when they were building the roads over 
there, and they had a big article in the paper where these 
ecologists were out laying down in front of the bulldozers so 
they wouldn't bulldoze all the trees down and all that kind of 

But they were their own problem. So then the East Bay MUD 
[Municipal Utilities District] volunteered to run water from 
their system over the Richmond-San Rafael bridge. I don't knew 
who paid for that; I think Marin County got a grant or some 
thing. We were asked one time by the Water Resources Control 
Board if we would be willing to share our water with others. We 
said. 'Veil, we'll wait until the time comes when somebody asks 

I went to a hearing. It was over in Marin County some 
where. I forget which governmental state agency was hearing it. 
We had adopted a tentative rationing policy. 

Lage: And this was more for public relations, is that it? [laughs] 

Whitfield: Yes. But the board said they would adopt the policy, with the 
idea that it would not be initiated for a time. People were 
really worried, though, because we had done that. We had little 
old ladies calling. "Oh, I've got an azalea plant or 
rhododendron out there." She said, "I just sneak out at night 
and I take a bucket of water and water my azalea, and I'm afraid 
I'm going to get arrested." 

What we had done was we would charge a surcharge for any 
water that they would use over their allocated ration. 



Was the rationing level higher than it was in the East Bay 

Whitfield: Oh, it was comparable. I think it doubled the amount of money 
you paid for the water over your ration level. We didn't have 
any shut- off ability. 

Lage: Well, neither did the East Bay MUD. 

Whitfield: No, it was comparable to those. 

Lage: Did you feel your supply was in no danger? Was the state still 

giving you your full amount? 

Whitfield: Yes, we were getting our entitlements. 

Lage: Did you foresee a future problem if another year of drought had 



Whitfield: No, we didn't. 

Lage: So things were still working pretty well. 

Whitfield: One night, one of the board members came in I forget who it 
was and decided that we should just delay indefinitely the 
mandatory rationing. And they did. This get into the news 
papers, and it got to Sacramento. [laughs] 

Lage: Then what happened? 

Whitfield: Well, we never imposed the mandatory rationing. But they were 
terribly upset because here's the rest of the state with 
rationing and we're just saying we're not going to set a time 
for putting in the rationing. Then we got into a problem 
because even under the voluntary rationing, the water sales went 
down, so our revenues went down. So, consequently, we had to 
raise rates a little bit. 

We had people coming in with all kinds of ideas on how to 
save water, you know: brushing your teeth in a glass and don't 
let the water run in the sink, and flush your toilet only so 
many times a day. 

Lage: Well, there was so much publicity that even though you didn't 

have a problem people were conscious of it. 

Whitfield: Oh, and then one board member got the idea of selling water 
rationing some water rationing idea. So we bought these 
plastic bottles, and we put in our newsletter and everything, to 
put these in the back of your toilet so that it'll save maybe a 
gallon of water each time you flushed. That didn't appeal to 
anybody. We were charging, I think, a dollar for it. Then we 
decided to give them away, and so we had a lot of people do 

So that got all in the newspapers, and the state people 
were saying, "You know, you're buying state water, and you 
should ration it like everybody else." We said, 'K)ur 
consumption has gone down." So then I went to a meeting in 
Marin County. It may have been a Water Resource Control Board 
meeting. None of our board members went. I had to explain why 
we didn't set mandatory rationings. 

Lage: How did you handle it? 

Whitfield: Oh, I can't remember. I just told them, "Well, we didn't think 
it was that serious in our area." 'Veil, what about saving it? 
If you have that much water, why can't you sell it to somebody 


Whitfield: else?" I said, "When the time comes and it's a feasible project 
to help somebody out. we'd probably do it. But we're not facing 
that issue until that time comes. 11 

Lage: If yeu didn't use a certain amount of water, wouldn't it end up 

in the bay? And if you saved a great deal of water and you're 
still getting your input from the state ? 

Whitfield: But we got that condition changed remember I told you that on 
Table A where they said. "If you don't use it in one specific 
year when you're supposed to, then you only have the next year 
to use it." Well, we got that eliminated. 

Lage: I see. So you wouldn't have to take the state water. 

Whitfield: No. so we could build it up and we could take it in subsequent 
years. I think all the state contracts have changed that now. 
I don't know why they didn't do that in the first place. 

Lage: Anything else about the drought? It sounds as if it made your 

water conservation program look good. 

Whitfield: It did, yes. In fact, I think our people should be complimented 
because they really took it seriously. They were worried about 
what was going to happen. 

Lage: Has that lower level of consumption remained? 

Whitfield: It's gone back up some, but I think it's still effective. 

Lage: I think everyone's mere conscious than we used to be. 

Now are there any other issues that you think we've missed? 
That was about all I have en my list. 

Whitfield: Well. I'm telling you. you reminded me of a lot of them that 
I've forgotten. We've been talking about the fifties and the 
sixties. But I was thinking about the little water companies, 
the private ones we took over earlier, like the Centerville 
water system. Before the water district got into water distri 
bution, Centerville had the Pierce system and the Dusteberry 
system. Then there was a Hirsch system in Irvington that we 
took over. 

Lage: When would these have been? 

Whitfield: They were all taken over before I came, and I came in October 

Lage: So slowly the district has enlarged its service area. 


Whitfield: Yes. They took over the smaller, privately-owned companies, 

Relations with Cities and Citizens Groups 

Lage : To wind up, let's look at some of the general questions that 

have come up as we were talking. We've looked at how you dealt 
with the city of Fremont in various instances. What about 
Newark and Union City? Did you have many dealings with the city 
councils there or city departments? 

Whitfield: Fremont was probably the one that was more aggressive in trying 
to push ideas on us. You know, I told you about Conway and 
Culligan and some of the Warm Springs area and that kind of 
thing. In the city of Fremont I think seme of the officials 
were more in favor of using Hetch Hetchy water. In fact, Don 
Dillon, who lives up a block and was a councilman, was in favor 
of Hetchy water. He was against the ground water basin. I 
guess he was one of the original council men. 

The city staff at that time were way ahead of their era. 
They were high class municipal management and engineers. 

Lage: People you had respect for? 

Whitfield: Well, what I'm saying they were too aggressive when they first 
came in. They were pie-in-the-sky stuff, and they were pushing 
for Hetchy water. 

Lage: Could you mention any names? Would it have been the city 


Whitfield: Yes, Bob Coop. 

Lage: What about [assistant city manager] Larry Milnes? Was he there 

from the beginning? 

Whitfield: No, he's the second one. But he is a top man. He's sharp. He 
came from over in the valley; he was well-versed in ground water 
replenishment because they do it over there. So he backed the 
ground water. 

Lage: He seems like a really good public servant. 

Whitfield: Oh, yes. Whenever we had any problems with the city or he had 
anything, we'd give each other a buzz. Never a problem. 

Lage: That's the way you like to see it work. 



Yes. that's the way it should work. Management shouldn't take 
all this stuff politically. I stayed out of politics. dark 
Redeker's en our board, and I'd known dark Redeker for years. 
He's a chemist. He was on the city council in Newark, and a 
former mayor. Frank Borghi is from Decoto. He was a trustee of 
the Washington High School District for years. Let's see. those 
are the only people that have been involved in politics before. 


Did that affect how they dealt with things on the board? 
fact they came from a political background? 


Whitfield: They're old-timers from those areas. A lot of old-timers know 
them, and they used to needle them every once in a while. 
They'd come in and want to check en this and that. 

Very frankly, all the board directors that came on. every 
body always was taken over to support the recharging of the 
ground water basin. 

Lage: That's what it sounded like. I noticed when you retired I 

didn't write down who made the comment, but one of the comments 
was complimenting you for educating them. 


Lage: You mentioned outside committees of experts at one time and how 

some of them were difficult to work with. Then you particularly 
complimented the League of Women Voters for being good to work 

Whitfield: There are a lot of people who think they know how to do things, 
but the League of Women Voters have their water committee, and 
they used te meet with me regularly. We'd have a meeting and 
they'd ask questions, and I'd answer them. They were interested 
in trying te understand. They were never a pushy group; they 
were a bunch of nice ladies with good heads on their shoulders. 

Lage: Would they be wanting to take stands on bond issues or take 

stands on flueridatien issues? Is that why they'd come to you? 

Whitfield: I den't think they took a stand en fluoridation. I don't think 
they even took a stand on the Citizens Utility thing. 

They were an educational group, and they listened. They 
were trying te find out if there were things that they would 
oppose or endorse. 

Lage: The final topic I had planned was the board of directors, but I 

think you've pretty well made comments on that, unless there's 
something you want to add. 


Whitfield: I don't know whether I mentioned this, but the sanitary district 
just went to a vote on whether their directors should run at 
large, or whether they should be from districts. Our board 
never went for districts. They never thought of it very 
seriously, but when someone retired or died or something on the 
board they tried to pick someone from that area where he was 

Lage: So it was fairly well distributed? 

Whitfield: Yes. We've had two men from Irvington in the past. We've 

always had someone from Alvarade or Decote at least since I've 
been on here. 

Lage: So they had a sense of the districts, but no district elections. 

Whitfield: No. They ran at large, so you'd vote... 

Lage: Did they usually run unopposed, or were there contests? 

Whitfield: Oh, there were contests. In fact, after I retired I ran, and I 
lest by fifty-eight votes. 

Lage: You wanted to get into the policy-making side? 

Whitfield: Well, I kind of thought I wanted to keep my finger in the pie. 

Lage: It would have been very different, I would think, having 

somebody with your background and sense of all the technical 

Whitfield: The fellow that beat me was Joe Damos. He's a local fellow, an 
engineer. He's with East Bay MUD. I was pleased to see that he 
get in because he's an engineer. They've never had an engineer 
on the board. 

Lage: How about your retirement? Was there a particular reason for 

picking the time you did to retire? 

Whitfield: I just felt that I had been at it long enough. Stan Say lor, who 
was my assistant engineer, I felt was very qualified to take 

Lage: And you recommended that he be chosen? 

Whitfield: Yes. 

Lage: At least from the board minutes, that didn't seem to be contro 



Whitfield: They gave him a more difficult time than they gave me because I 
was a native and an old-timer. I knew most of these people for 

Lage: Made it easier. 

Whitfield: I was very fortunate, though, in the quality of directors. We 
were particularly fortunate that we never had any activists on 
there. I think the only one that came on the board with a 
particular purpose was John Pihl, who was an excellent man. He 
was kind of hard headed, but once he got confidence in you. 
things worked out fine. 


Transcriber: Anne Schofield 
Final Typist: David Pollock 


TAPE GUIDE Mathew P. Whitfield 

Interview 1: May 29. 1986 

tape 1. side A 

tape 1, side B 

tape 2. side A 

tape 2, side B 





June 5, 1986 
side A 
side B 
side A 
side B not recorded 

June 26. 1986 
side A 
side B 
side A 

tape 6. side B 










August 1979 

Alameda County Water District was founded in 19H to protect the Niles Cone 
Ground Water Basin and to conserve the waters of Alameda Creek. The District's 
original objective was to prevent further appropriation of Alameda Creek water 
supply for export to San Francisco. 

On March 31, 1930 ACWD purchased the Alvarado Pumping Station for $250,000 from 
East Bay Municipal Utility District to reduce ground water pumping. ACWD then 
found itself in the business of distributing water as well as conserving it. 
With the purchase of the Alvarado Tract ACWD also contracted to serve the water 
needs of the people of Alvarado and Newark. Once the district'was in the 
distribution business it expanded by purchasing municipal water systems of the 
towns within its service areas. By 1950 ACWD was the major distributor of water 
in Washington Township. 

1911 ACWD organized 
1930 Purchase of Alvarado Pumping Station 

1938 Purchase of Irvington Water System 

1939 Purchase of CentervJlle Water System 

19*0 Purchase of Gal legos (Mission San Jose) Water System 

19l9 Filed for rights for surplus water from Alameda Creek 

1951 Mission San Jose area annexed 

1955 Warm Springs area annexed 

1956 Filed for rights for surplus water from Arroyo del Valle 
1958 New office center opened 

1961 ACWD signed contract for South Bay Aqueduct water 

1962 First delivery of South Bay Aqueduct 

1963 VII Hills annexation 

196*4 Contract with San Francisco for water supply 


Page Two 

History of ACWD August 1979 

1967 Office complex enlarged 

1971 Manuel J. Bernardo Softening Plant 

1972 Fabridam No. 1 

197*4 Aquifer Reclamation Program starts 

1975 Fabridam No. 2 

1975 Mission San Jose Water Treatment Plant 

1976 Purchase of Citizens Utilities Company Niles-Decoto System 
1976 New Chemistry Lab Building 


Service Area - Fremont, Newark and Union City, 96 Sq . Miles 

Population 195,000 

Customers 50,886 as of May, 1979 

Water Sales $6,880,766 (June 1978 - May 1979) 

Personnel 119 Full-time, 10 Part-time and Temporary 

Miles of Pipe 5^6 Miles (1978) 

Average Daily Consumption - 26.5 MGD (July 1978 - June 1979) 

Maximum Day Consumption - 5*-0 MGD (July 13, 1979) 

Ultimate Sources of Supply: 

Niles Cone Ground Water Basin Yield 20,000 AF per year 
State Water Project *2,000 

San Francisco Water Department 1 . 00 _ 

72,000 AF per year 

Sources of Distribution System Production in 1979-80, projected: 

Ground Water 15,525 AF 

MSJWTP 8,037 26* 

SFWD 7.810 25% 

31,372 AF 100$ 
or 28.0 MGD 

Page Three 

History of ACWD August 1979 

Detailed information on the District's existing production and storage facilities 
is shown on the attached appendices. 

Reflection of the District's growth is shown in the following comparisons of 
meters installed in the system. 

June, 1969 30,669 

1970 32,5^7 

1971 34,339 

1972 36,537 

1973 37,911 

1974 38,812 

1975 40,1*41 

1976 41,984 

1977 ^7,065 (including ID #5 3,403 meters) 

1978 48,905 

1979 51,112 

The District's total budgets for the past ten years have been: 

1969-70 $ 3,921,626 

1970-71 4,708,770 

1971-72 5,486,196 

1972-73 6,875,498 

1973-74 9,439,157 

1974-75 7,462,464 

1975-76 10,138,795 

1976-77 12,244,768 

1977-78 13,897,841 

1978-79 16,182,697 

1979-80 20,433,377 

The breakdown for the 1979-80 budget (which includes funding for future projects) 

Conservation General Fund $ 5,601,340 

Distribution General Fund 8,700,487 

I.D. No. 5 786,177 
Major Facilities Improvement 

Program 5,148,569 
1.0. No. 5 Capital Improvement 

Program 196,804 

Customer Connection Charges and Estimates are shown on the attached sheet. 
Other rates and charges include: 

Account Establishment Charge $ 11 

Meter Installation Charges (5/8") 70 

ii n ii it it it (V 1 ) 1 90 

Delinquent Water Service Charge 10 

Returned Check Charge 8 


Page Four 
His troy of ACWD August 1979 

The resolution spelling out rates and charges is attached which includes rate 
schedules for service inside the District, outside the District, for exclusive 
San Francisco Water Department users, for ID 5, for batteries of meters, private 
fire services and public fire services. 

Replenishment Assessment (for ground water pumped) - 

Agriculture and City Recreation Uses: $ 8 per acre foot 
Municipal, Industrial, Other Uses: **1 " 

The present Board of Directors, with lengths of service is: 

Frank J. Borghi, Jr., President - February 8, 1962 to Present 

Harry D. Brumbaugh, Vice President - March 22, 1966 to Present 

Clark Redeker, March 2, 196*4 to Present 

John Gomes, May 12, 1966 to Present 

Carl Strandberg, November k, 1969 to Present 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley. California 


Wallace R. Pond 

The Pattersons and the Incorporation of Fremont 

An Interview Conducted by 
Ann Lage 
in 1987 


1988 by the Regents of the University of California 






Third Generation Pharmacist in Alameda County 126 

Chairing the Study Committee for the Incorporation of 

Fremont 127 

Opposition to Incorporation from Large Landowners 
Efforts to Promote Incorporation 
Meeting with Will and Henry Patterson: "In the Best Interest 

of the Community" 
In the Wake of Incorporation: Development, Traffic, and 

City Politics 136 




Wally Pond, a third generation pharmacist in Alameda County and 
prominent civic leader, was suggested as an interviewee in this project 
for his recollections of the role of the Patterson family in the 
incorporation of Fremont. In the wake of the rapid postwar development, 
community leaders of five small unincorporated towns of Washington 
Township began in the early 1950s to discuss unification and incorporation. 
Mr. Pond served as chairman of the study committee for incorporation. 

In his oral history. Mr. Pond notes that the major opposition to 
incorporation came from the large landowners and that winning the support of 
the Patterson brothers Henry and Will was crucial to gaining the trust of 
this important group. He then recounts the visit of the incorporation 
committee to the Patterson Ranch and the response of the two brothers. 

Mr. Pond's interview is of interest not only because of its information 
about the Pattersons, but also for the insight gained into the Washington 
Township community in the postwar years and the attitude of community 
leaders toward development and change. He also relates how the boundaries 
of Fremont were set, explaining why the Patterson Ranch was divided between 
Fremont and Newark, and provides some insight to the competitive 
relationship between the cities of Newark and Fremont. 

Mr. Pond has been interviewed previously on his role in the 
incorporation of Fremont. The tapes of that interview are available in the 
Fremont Public Library. The following interview was conducted at Mr. Pond's 
home in Fremont on April 10, 1987. Mr. Pond reviewed the transcript, making 
no substantive changes. The tape is available in The Bancroft Library. 

Ann Lage 

Project Director 

September. 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room ^86 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please print or write clearly) 

c & R . P D 

Your full name 

Date of birth /ft * Cf if 2 Place of birth Ke^S^Y ^; 

Father's full name f\ 1*1 fa Q V Q 

Occupation H * AM A <-\S 

Mother's full name AJ 2- ^< L- 


Occupation ~0U$-&t*/ I 


Where did you grow up ? / *> U /"*/ 6-T*) */ (_ f-QjS A* O^T ) 

Present community i ^^ A7 Q ^T" 



Special interests or activities 


Third Generation Pharmacist in Alameda County 
[Date of Interview: April 10, 1987] tf# 

Lage: You started to mention that you are a third-generation Californian, 
so let's start with that as a background. 

Pond: Well, yes I am. I'm kind of proud of that. My grandmother was born 
in California. Her folks came in covered wagons. I think they 
arrived in California in 1853, if I'm net mistaken. We always called 
my grandfather "the foreigner"; he came from Vermont. [laughter] He 
toe was a pharmacist, so I'm a third-generation pharmacist in Alameda 

Lage: They came to Alameda County? 

Pond: They came to Alameda County in 1898. There were three buildings en 
the University of California campus: North Hall. South Hall, and 
Bacon Hall. North Hall was gone when I was there, and either South 
or Bacon is gone now, I don't know which one. 

Lage: Only South Hall is left. 

Pond: The steam trains used to come into Berkeley in those times. 

Lage: Did your family have a tie with the university? You went there, is 
that right? 

Pond: Yes, just for two years. I took a pre-med after I finished pharmacy 
school. Then I met a woman, and that took care of those plans I 

Lage: You were born in Kelseyville, though. How did you get to Kelseyville 
from Alameda County? 

Pond: Well, my dad went to Woodland Grammar School, Berkeley High, and 

pharmacy school. He bought a drug store in Kelseyville in 1910. In 
1911 he married my mother. In 1912 I came along, and I spent the 
first four years of my life in Kelseyville, the second four in 
Berkeley, and at age eight I arrived in Fremont (or Irvington, as it 
was then). 

Lage: Se you've really been essentially raised in this area. 

Pond: The Bay Area all my life, really, except for the first four years. 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or segment of a tape has begun 
or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see page 140. 


Chairing the Study Committee for the Incorporation of Fremont 

Lage: We're skipping way ahead here, but give us a little background on the 
incorporation of Fremont when it occurred, and what your role was in 

Pond: Well, after I got through pharmacy school. I worked mostly in Oakland 
and Berkeley. I was in the service for a while, and then I returned 
to Fremont in 1950. I bought my dad's drug store. This, of course, 
was after World War II. It was a time when rapid development was 
taking place; we were recovering from the war. and everything was go. 
go. go. You could see it was going to happen out here although we 
never dreamed it was going to be like it is. But we started to talk 
about the city, just in general, somewhere along 1950 or so. 

Lage: Who were the people talking about it. the chamber of commerce folks? 

Pond: Well, just everybody in general, in a casual way. Somebody would 
say, "Well, gee whiz, with this growth we're going to have to do 
something. Maybe we should think about incorporation." Well, this 
was all very casual; nothing was done until the Niles Chamber of 
Commerce had the CORO Foundation, which I believe comes from the 
University of California, do a survey. As I recall, it didn't cost 
them anything because it was mostly done by graduate students as part 
of their work. That was the first official thing ever done. The 
CORO Foundation report came back and said that every one of these 
towns could incorporate independently, but the wiser course would be 
to incorporate as a single unit, which is what we finally did. As a 
result of that a meeting was called by the Niles Chamber of Commerce. 
We met at Washington High School, and I was elected chairman. 

Lage: Chairman of the Incorporation Committee? 

Pond: At that time it was the Incorporation Study Committee. It wasn't a 

committee for incorporation. We proceeded to work on the boundaries. 
I had a boundary chairman, chairman for a name, chairman for taxes, 
and two or three other chairmen. We were proceeding with the study. 
We got some very helpful ideas from the University of California; I 
don't know what department published it, but it was called 
"Incorporation or Annexation." if I remember correctly. That was our 
original bible, you might say. 

Lage: Another study that ? 

Pond: No. it wasn't a study; it was something that was done on a general 
basis for any city. It wasn't directed to Fremont at all. It was 
just information that could be used any place in the state, even 
today, although things have probably changed a lot from then. It 


Pond: was designed for when you want to think about incorporation are you 
better off annexing? In other words, it gave the pros and cons of 
things you need to look for. 

Lage: Sounds like Institute for Governmental Studies work to me. 

Pond: It could have been. Anyway, once again, that was out of the 
University of California We used that. 

The incorporation studies began probably in 1952. Then 
somewhere along the line, maybe '54, Hayward filed annexation I 
should back up for a minute. Our original plan called for 
incorporation of all of what is now Newark, Union City, and Fremont. 
Then somewhere along the line Newark decided they didn't want any 
part of it and decided to form their own city. They figured they had 
all the industry down there, and they would be tax-rich, and we would 
be tax-poor. They made one big oversight, and that was that PG&E had 
more assessed valuation than all their industries combined, so we 
w eren 1 1 tax-poor. 

Lage: PG&E was located in Washington Township (now in Fremont). 

Pond: Yes. It still has a sub-station down there. There's a big sub 
station, and all the power lines go into that station; they still do, 
like spokes to the hub of a wheel. 

Lage: And that provided as much taxes? 

Pond: Yes, so our tax rate has always been lower than Newark's. I don't 
know about recent years, but all the early years our tax rate was 
lower than Newark's. 

So I tried to get Newark to be a part of it, but no way. And 
then Hayward filed to annex part of what is now Union City. So we 
separated ourselves from Union City because we figured that if 
Hayward and we were involved in Union City it would result in 
litigation and delay our incorporation for years. 

Lage: I see. If you had a controversial section. 

Pond: That's right. We'd have to suspend the plans until this was 

resolved, and you know how these things can go on. So we dropped 
Union City. The boundaries were determined by school district, which 
would be Decoto school district and Alvarado school district. 

You see, our own incorporation map was done without charge by an 
engineer, Bill Dutra his name was, and he said the simple way to do 
it would be to just follow the boundaries of the school districts. 
Then we wouldn't have to do any surveying because the description was 
already there. So that's what we have. We have five towns, but six 


Pond: school districts because there is an Alviso school district which is 
between Centerville and Alvarado, or was at that time. So we just 
followed the boundaries. 

Lage: Did Alviso go with Fremont? 

Pond: It did. It is part of Fremont. 

Lage: The Newark area had its own school district? 

Pond: Newark had its own, and Decoto had one, and Alvarado had one. Union 
City didn't exist at that time; it was Decoto and Alvarado. 

Lage: So you dropped Decoto and Alvarado. 

Pond: That's how we got down to the present boundaries. 

Lage: Let's make this specific to the Patterson Ranch. On the phone I 

asked you why the Patterson Ranch was divided in two between Newark 
and Fremont. You told me that was probably because that's where the 
school district lines went. 

Pond: I would guess that. It would have to be that way. Yes, we followed 
school district lines in forming the boundaries of Fremont. 

Lage: Now, was there a lot of controversy about accepting the idea of 

Pond: Not really. The fact that it passed by two to one, I think, is 

indicative of the general acceptance. Two things happened. First of 
all, there was a lot of growth, and people knew that we were going to 
have to do something someday, somehow. And we were only a study 
committee, not a committee for incorporation; we determined the 
wisdom of incorporation. But when Hayward filed that annexation of 
part of the property that we were going to take into Fremont, they 
did us a great favor because that scared hell out of everybody, if I 
might say so, and anybody who might have been against it was now for 

Opposition to Incorporation from Large Landowners 

Pond: The only people who were against it were a number of the large land 
owners. As chairman I was, of course, ex officio member of all 
committees. There was one man who wanted to create Fremont by a 
circle surrounding each of the little settlements or towns and a 
connector along the highway, and leave the rest of it open spaces 
belonging to nobody. 


Lage: And that would leave the ranches out? 

Pond: All the ranches out. And he wasn't a rancher, he was a dentistl I 

argued, let's leave everybody in and let them ask to be excluded. At 
the hearing before the board of supervisors about three different 
groups asked to be excluded, and none was accepted. 

Lage: What groups would they have been? Can you recall? 

Pond: I can only recall one, and that was the McClure family whose property 
is on top of the mountain up there on Mission Peak. They requested 
to be out because their land was all hill land. But our point was 
that it would be very difficult to exclude because we had a 
description of school districts, and they were in the school 
district, so therefore they ought to be in the proposed city. So 
nobody was excluded. 

I think, but I'm not positive about this, that PG&E also 
protested; it was also disallowed. Then, when Newark incorporated, 
Leslie Salt said, 'We'll support your incorporation if you leave our 
ponds out, and we'll even give you some money toward it," because 
they didn't want their ponds in a city. Newark accepted that, so the 
ponds are in Fremont. So if you cross Dumbarton Bridge, you ga from 
here through Newark and back into Fremont. 

Lage: How was Fremont able to get its boundary, then, to include the ponds? 

Pond: We followed the lines right around, and what Newark excluded we took 
in. There was one tiny section of land that Newark wanted. As 
chairman of the committee I opposed that, so the supervisors left 
that out of Newark's plan. Then when we were incorporating and we 
proposed it, we included it in our plans and Newark opposed it, so it 
got left out of ours, too. 

Lage: So it's still county? 

Pond: It was county for a while, but then Newark made a masterful stroke. 
They incorporated a lot of land to make it impossible for Fremont to 
incorporate it. It really paid off for them because that land is now 
New Park Mall. So that was the no man's land that is somebody's land 

Lage: It sounds like there was a lot of rivalry between Newark and Fremont. 

Pond: There was in those days. 

Lage: But that didn't exist between the five towns that formed Fremont? 

Pond: Not really, no. Newark was the only one that wanted to be really 
independent. None of the rest of us said, 'Let's do it on our own 
and forget the rest of them." 


Lage: Was the opposition that you did have based on fear about taxes? 

Pond: Yes. 

Lage: They were afraid their taxes would go up? 

Pond: That's right. We might have had a tough election, except Hayward did 
us that wonderful favor. So it passed by a two-to-one margin, and 
every single precinct voted it in; nobody could say they got brought 
in. Some of them were just barely in, and some of them sizeably in 
by three, four, or five to one. like up in this area. But every 
single precinct voted it in; nobody could say they were forced in. 

Efforts to Promote Incorporation 

Lage: Tell me about your efforts to win cooperation from the ranchers. You 
mentioned to me that you were part of the committee that called on 
the Pattersons. I assume you called on other ranchers, too. 

Pond: We called on other ranchers. One of our programs was to try to get 
them involved, and we were successful. Michael Overacker. later our 
second mayor, was one of the leaders among the ranchers; we talked 
him into running for the city council. With him running for the city 
council, it was hard for some of his rancher friends to oppose 
something that he wanted to be a government official of. 

Lage: The city council election was at the same time as the incorporation? 

Pond: Yes. It has to be. We also voted for one more thing, and that was a 
city manager form of government, which doesn't have to be, but we 
voted for it. It was on the same ballot. Do you want the city 
incorporated, which council men do you want, and do you want a city 
manager? Those three propositions were on it. 

Lage: Did you run for council? 

Pond: I was on the council. I figured I was a shoo-in because I'd done all 
the work for the incorporation, but I came in fifth. [laughter] 

Incidentally. I was not the chairman of record at the time of 
incorporation. I know how to organize, and I did organize it. I 
think I did a good job. but when it came time to promote the thing, I 
was dragging my feet. I could do a better job now, but even then. 
why. I'm not the promoter. I don't promote as well as I organize. 
So some of the fellows came and said. "Pond, how about giving way to 
Stuart Nixon?" Stuart Nixon was a newspaper editor at that time, but 
he's in public relations today. So he's the one who did the 
promoting and selling. 


Pond: It's too bad that more things don't work that way. I did what I 

could do best: that was organize the thing and get all the material, 
put the package together. Then I resigned, and he refused to accept 
the nomination unless I was nominated as co-chairman. So I did what 
I did best, he did what he did best, and we worked as team all the 
way through. Too often somebody wants the glory; you've seen it 
somebody like me will do all the work, and then a guy like Stuart 
Nixon will come in and take all the glory and never mention the other 


Lage: He wasn't like that. Also, I think it's a credit to you that you 
recognized your strengths. 

Pond: Well, that's right. And my weaknesses! Yes, one of the fellows 

said, "Pond, you're not doing so good right now; you're dragging your 
feet." I said, "I know. I need to get bailed out of this thing!" 
He said, "I have a suggestion." I said, "What is it?" He said, "I'd 
like to propose Stuart Nixon as chairman. Would you accept that?" I 
said, "I'd be very happy to." Because I knew I was in over my head 
at this point. 

Lage: What was required for the promotion effort? 

Pond: Selling it to the people. To get out the vote. That's a different 
type of thing, different type altogether. I know more about it now, 
but the other guy was a professional. 

Lage: Tell me what you remember about approaching the Pattersons. Why you 
did approach them, first of all. 

Pond: Well, we had to approach a lot of the key landowners. You'll have to 
look up what the requirements were, but as I recall, a petition had 
to represent a certain percent of the landowners representing a 
certain percent of the assessed valuation, or some formula like that. 

Lage: This was the original petition 

Pond: The original petition. It may be changed, but at least I do know 

that there were two requirements so that neither the small home owner 
nor the big ranch owner could overrun each other, sort of like our 
Senate and House in our government. You couldn't get a bunch of 
small property owners to dictate to the big landholders, who were 
fewer in number. We needed to get signatures of a certain percentage 
of voters and a certain percentage of landholders. So to get the 
percentage of landholders, we needed the big landholders. We would 
have needed 50 percent of the small people, because their properties 
were so small, if the big owners didn't want to come in. We wouldn't 
have been able to get that many signatures, I don't think. In fact, 
it is doubtful that 100 percent of small property owners would have 
had a sufficient assessed valuation to make the petition legal. 


Lage: So at that time you still had some really large holdings in the 

Pond: Oh. yes. Large holdings. Patterson was one; Huddleson up there was 
another; Overacker was another; Bailey was another. There are 
probably ethers that I'm not thinking of right now. 

Williams was another. Lee Williams was a prominent farmer. He 
was interested enough to be willing to serve on our committee, but he 
had to drop out because of illness. I can still recall one meeting 
when someone said. "Well, let's see if we can get Lee Williams to get 
back into this thing," and I said, "No, we'd do him no favor. He's 
got a bad heart, and I don't want any part of contributing to his 
death." Little did I know that at that time he was dying of a heart 
attack; that night he died while we were in our meeting. 

Lage: Oh. my goodness. He actually owned a lot of land, then? I know he 
had a lot of leased land that he farmed. 

Pond: Yes. he owned a lot of land, and he rented a lot of land. The firm 
he founded. L.S. Williams, is still in existence. That's about the 
size of that. 

Lage: I interviewed his son. Gene Williams, as part of this project, 
talking about the farming, particularly on the Patterson Ranch. 

Meeting with Will and Henry Patterson; "In the Best Interest of the 


Lage: Tell me what you recall about going down to meet the Pattersons and 
what their response was. 

Pond: Well, it was a little thing, and yet it was a big thing. A group of 
us went down there one afternoon to see the Pattersons, the two 
brothers. Will is the one I remember the most. He was prominent, and 
he was active in the community, on the water board [Alameda County 
Water District] for years. We weren't invited in the house. There 
was a good reason for it, I guess, because there were ten or more of 
us who went down there to talk to them. The only ones I can think of 
that were there are dead, except that Stuart Nixon and Bruce Michael 
were probably there. Bruce Michael was on the first council, and 
Stuart Nixon I've already mentioned. A number of other people were 
there, but I can't recall who. Anyway, we thought it was very 
critical for us to convince the Patterson brothers that they should 
support it. 

Lage: Were you hoping for support to the extent of signing of the petition? 


Pond: Correct, because they had fairly large holdings, you know. So we 
explained to them what was going on and what was going to happen. 
They were pretty visionary, and they could see what going to happen, 
too. We were only there about a half hour. I guess. 

Lage: Sitting on the porch? Was this on the porch of the old Will 
Patterson home, do you think? 

Pond: I don't know which home it was. As I recall, it was white. And we 
weren't sitting, we were standing. There was a rail around it, and 
there was a curve to one end of it; it didn't square off, it curved 
around. That's all I can remember. 

Lage: It's not terribly important; I was just trying to visualize which 
house it was. 

Pond: Anyway, after we made our points and they'd asked several questions, 
finally Will Patterson said, and this is why it was so short, I 
think, he said, 'Veil, my brother and I have discussed this, and we 
don't believe that incorporation is in our best interest, but we do 
believe it's in the best interest of the community. Therefore, we 
support it." 

I suppose there was hand-clapping then, but I don't recall itl 
There was certainly relief on our part because this was the key 
thing; if the Pattersons supported it, we were in a "go" situation. 
We had the Pattersons. I don't know if Overacker had yet decided, 
and this could have influenced Overacker to run for the city council. 
So this was a very, very key decision one of the major landholders, 
a prominent landholder, supporting it. 

Lage: And they did it seemingly on the basis that the community interest 
was at stake. 

Pond: That's right. The community would be better off for it, even though 
they themselves would not be. 

Lage: Do you think that was true, that it wasn't good for the ranchers? 
It's hard to predict what would have been. 

Pond: Well, you knew growth was coming. It's hard to say. Certainly, the 
Patterson Ranch of today is nowhere what it was then. It's gone. 
But what would it have been like? With all the growth coming in and 
surrounding it, I strongly suspect that would have probably been 
taxed enough in those days, and it maybe still is, property was 
taxed for its highest and best use. 

Lage : Even in the county areas? 


Pond: That's right. So if there was development around it. their assessed 
valuation was going to go up. It isn't going to be assessed for 
agricultural property; it's going to be assessed for homes. They 
probably, this is purely conjecture on my part, would have had to 
sell it off piece by piece anyway to pay their taxes. So I'm not so 
sure they wound up worse off than they otherwise would be. 

In fact, probably better because this way the decision was made, 
and it was peaceful. If they had decided against it and we 
incorporated anyway which may have been delayed some years if they 
had opposed it; this is one thing that could have happened, a delay 
but eventually it would have to have been incorporated, and 
development would have taken place. They would have been in a 
constant struggle against developers, taxes, etc., and their peace of 
mind for the rest of their lives would have been destroyed. So I 
have an idea that they probably came out ahead even though Patterson 
Ranch in effect is destroyed. I think it would have been destroyed 
anyway although the time table would have been different. 

Lage: And who can say what the time table would have been. 
Pond: That's right. 

Lage: But it does appear that they were enough a part of the community and 
the current scene to know what was happening. 

Pond: They're to be admired for that decision. They could have made a lot 
of trouble for this area, and for themselves, and kept their ranch 
together for a much longer period of time if they chose to do it. 
They chose not to. 


I have an idea they probably considered its impact on 
themselves. The many things I speculate on they probably thought 
about too. because they weren't stupid men. Particularly Will was a 
far seeing man. and he might have realized, too, that the things I'm 
saying might have happened could have happened to them. It was never 
stated by anybody. Who knows what a man's mind says? But 

Lage: They didn't really discuss with you; they listened to you and then 
they gave their answer. 

Pond: They said they'd already discussed it. It's inconceivable that men 
of that caliber would have not thought about this side of it: what 
if we don't support it; what if we oppose it; what happens? I'm sure 
they explored it, the two of them sitting there talking about it. 
Maybe had advice from other people, I don't know. But I'm sure they 
must have considered all the ramifications, whichever their decision 


Lage: Do you know what kind of arguments you would have presented to them? 
I'm sure you don't remember precisely what was said to them, but can 
you think of what approach you would have taken? 

Pond: Well. no. of course I don't remember what was said. Well, two 

things. The approach would be, it's going to happen anyway. We have 
an opportunity now to make our own decisions more effectively if we 
do it now before other people come in and start making them for us. 
You can't stop development. It's coming. 

I can go back, and so can the Pattersons of course, to when 
there was all farms between Hayward and San Leandro. San Leandro was 
called "the cherry city." San Lorenzo was nothing. Development 
after World War II was moving out in this direction. I could see it. 
Anybody with any foresight could see it, and I'm sure they saw it. 

So I'm sure we used that type of argument, and probably appealed 
to their community pride and loyalty, which is something that they 
responded to even though they had decided already. [laughs] 

Lage: They'd probably thought of that. 

Pond: I think if we'd made a bad argument they'd have said, "Well, let's 

think it over." In other words, they may have said, "Well, no, based 
on what we've heard today," to themselves, you know, "maybe we 
weren't making the right decision." Although they had decided what 
they wanted to do, I'm sure if we hadn't presented some good 
arguments, the meeting wouldn't have lasted just a short period of 

And incidentally, at this time I was not the chairman anymore. 
This meeting occurred when Stuart Nixon was the chairman. 

In the Wake of Incorporation; Development, Traffic, and City 

Lage: When you were on the council, the first city council, was there an 
effort to sort of take care of the ranchers or the agricultural 
interests or, was most of the thrust toward designing for development? 

Pond: I have no real recollection of taking care of the ranchers. We were 
aware of the ranchers' problems, but most of the problems were coming 
with the developers coming in and wanting to file on land and getting 
the city underway. We met at midnight to establish city laws because 
that's when government starts; when county government ceased to 
exist, we had to meet at midnight to enact all the county ordinances 
that applied to us. 


Lage: To get the basic legal structures in? 

Pond: Well, you could put a wrecking yard next to a beautiful home because 
zoning laws ceased to exist. Speed limits ceased to exist. Criminal 
law, of course, still remained the same. But the building codes 
ceased to exist. All this we adopted at midnight on January 23. 
1956. All the county ordinances by reference: the county building 
code shall be ours, the Sheriff's Department shall be our police 
department. The fire department was different; we had our own 
volunteer fire department, so they were incorporated as the Fremont 
Fire Department. So all these were dene. 

We hired a city clerk, which the law required. This was arranged 
through our advisers who helped us, and they supplied the city clerk 
for us. We didn't pay the city clerk; we paid the firm, Kroeler and 
Associates, who developed it for us. One of their employees was our 
first city clerk; she was part of the package deal. 

Lage: Of course, the Nimitz Freeway, that was put in in '53. that probably 
had a lot to do with bringing development down. 

Pond: Did that go in that early? 

Lage: That's the date I have. Or maybe it was just started then, but most 
everyone I've talked to refers to it as '53. 

Pond: It was done in segments. I can remember it first coming out as far 
as Hayward, and then finally it went out to Fremont Boulevard, I 

Lage: Well, the people who tell me about are talking about when it came 
through the Patterson Ranch, and that would have been one of the 
earlier portions, further north. 

Pond: Jack Parry could tell you precisely because when the freeway went 

through there he went to he gets the bit in his teeth, he goes! He 
went down to find out how much they paid for the land because he had 
Berchem Meat Company, which is right down near where New Park Mall is 
now. He wanted to know how much the state was paying these people for 
this land they were taking. The state said, "No way, that's 
privileged information." So he took them to court. Pleaded his own 
case, no attorney. Finally the state came to him one day and said. 
"Mr. Parry, you can look at anything you want to see." He said, 
"That's not what I want. I want it to be established that anybody 
has the right to do it." And it was so determined. So that's why 
I'm telling you Parry could tell you precisely when that was going 
through there 1 

He's a former mayor. He and I are good friends, although I 
don't like his bulldog attitude. 


Lage: But that's probably what won that lawsuit. 
Pond: That's right, that's right. 

I can remember when the freeway was first extended from Hayward 
to Fremont. After you left Hayward, you were all alone! You've been 
down Highway 5, you know how that is. That's the way the freeway 
from Hayward to Fremont was back in the fifties when they first 
extended it. 

Lage: You never dreamed it was going to be all clogged up like it is now. 

Pond: Then, of course, digressing just a moment, when 680 ended at Mission 
Boulevard right out of the pass here, when that first opened, Don 
Dillon, another mayor, predicted what was going to happen. The 
traffic backup was so far it was unbelievable. Everybody was going 
on this freeway, but when they got to the end, it stopped. Just like 
when you have an accident like they have from time to time on the 
bridge. Stops everything. Just the other day, what was it, a five- 
mile backup? Well, that was a little one compared to what this one 
was. The ones in the knew came down through Niles Canyon, when they 
could get there because it was backed up way beyond that. 

Lage: When was this? Mere recently 

Pond: More recently. I can't tell you exactly when that was, but Don 

Dillon is the man who can tell you on that ne. He's another mayor. 

Lage: Well, have you been happy, just to kind of wind this up, with what 
incorporation has wrought? 

Pond: Yes, I have been. There's good, and there's bad. Just like a 

marriage. It isn't all sweetness and light. There are problems in 
every marriage. Anybody that says no is lying. 

Lage: Or hasn't been married. 

Pond: That's rightl Or one completely dominates the other. In a healthy 
marriage, you're bound to have little struggles, little things from 
time t time, and we've had seme pretty good ones here. One was over 
where the city hall was going to be. Maybe you've heard about that 

Lage: Briefly. 

Pond: We had some battles on that. I forget how many times, it was three 
or four or five votes before we finally got a two-thirds majority to 
accomplish it. So we've had that problem. 

We've had the pro-growth, the no-growth, and the in-betweens, and 
that's where I am. I've tried to be friendly to all sides, and I 


Pond: think I have been. Some of them won't talk to each other, but I've 
always been able to. Sometimes they say. "Pond, you do it. I can't 
talk to those people." But I've always tried to be friendly, 
socially at least. 

Lage: Civility always helps. I think. 

Pond: I was in business as a pharmacist. The old story is don't argue 

politics when you're in business. I adhered to that, but that's not 
the whole truth. You can discuss politics. On the civic center, for 
instance, I'd say, "Remember, don't forget to vote on our coming 
election. " 

"Oh, I intend to. " 

"I hope you'll vote for our civic center." 

"Oh, I intend to. " 

"Fine. I appreciate it." 

"No way 1 " 

"Okay, that's your decision." 

But to the people that said, "Well, I haven't made up my mind," 
those are the ones I zeroed in on. I didn't try to change anybody 
whose mind was made up. That's where you get in trouble. 

Lage: You have to know people. 

Pond: You have to understand that if a person's mind is made up, you're not 
going to change him, you're going to make an enemy. 

Lage: What was the objection to the civic center? Cost? 

Pond: No, the big objection was that one of the landlords wanted it on his 
property, where Ohlene College is now. We felt it ought to be more 
central. First we didn't even get a majority, then finally our votes 
got a majority, then a more sizeable majority, and eventually we had 
to get two-thirds, you see. We just had to keep pushing at it and 
pushing at it. Finally made it. 

I shall be ever grateful to the Pattersons for their part. It 
was just a little meeting, but their support, although it wasn't 
active in that they didn't go out and speak in behalf of it. but 
their decision to support it by going along with it and signing the 
petition certainly benefited the whole community. It was a real 
statesmanlike movement on their part. 

Lage : Very good. 


TAPE GUIDE Wallace R. Pond 

Date of Interview: April 10, 1987 
tape 1, side A 
tape 1. side B 135 

Transcribed by Leslie Johnson 
Final Typed by Shannon Page 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 


John Brooks 

Consultant to the Patterson Family: 
Master Planner, Developer, and Politician 

An Interview Conducted by 
Ann Lage 
in 1987 


1988 by the Regents of the University of California 

ca. 1980 





Family and Youth in Alameda County 145 

Training in Engineering and Law 147 

Launching a Career as a Developer 149 

Involvement in Democratic Party Politics 152 

Association with Wayne Valley 154 


First Purchase of Patterson Ranch Lands, 1952 157 

Working with Will, Henry, and Den Patterson 159 
Designing Systems and Working with Government to 

Facilitate Development 162 

The Incorporation of Fremont: Conflicts with Newark 165 

III PLANNING IN FREMONT, 1950s-1960s 168 

Community Divisions over Timing of Growth and Development 168 
A Cooperative Relationship with Planning Director Roy Potter 170 

The Planned District Concept: Planning and Politics 173 

Involvement with the Alameda County Flood Control District 176 

Genesis of the New Town Concept in the North Plain Area 180 


Purchase of Tract by Singer Housing 182 

Fremont's Moratorium on Development in the North Plain 183 
Singer's Lawsuit and Negotiations for a Settlement Agreement 185 

Arranging Land Swaps with Newark 189 
Parties to the Solution: the Courts, the Community, and 

Singer Housing 191 

City of Fremont's Pressure for Development of the North 

Plain 194 
Preparing and Promoting a Master Plan for Patterson Ranch 

Lands 195 
Reaching a Consensus on the Balance between Open Space 

and Urban Development 198 
Mel Belli' s Representation of Dissident Patterson Family 

Members 202 

Will Patterson and the Woodpeckers 205 



Over the past thirty-five years, John "Jack" Brooks has worked with three 
generations of the Patterson family. His recollections are a crucial element 
in the story of the evolving land-use patterns on the ranch lands since the 
1950s. They also provide a great deal of insight into politics and planning 
in the city of Fremont. 

In his oral history, Mr. Brooks recounts his first meeting with Will 
Patterson and the first purchase of ranch lands for housing development in 
1952. The Patterson purchase was Brooks's introduction to the Washington 
Township area, where he became the most prominent developer and a community 
leader whose skills as planner and in politics shaped the growing city of 
Fremont. His recounting of his close relationship with the director of 
Fremont's city planning department and the evolution of the planned unit 
development and planned district concepts are of particular interest. 

Brooks discusses the 1971 purchase by Singer Housing Company which he 
headed as president of the tract of lands that included the George 
Washington Patterson home and the eucalyptus grove. This is the tract which 
became, after years of litigation and negotiation, the Ardenwood Regional 
Preserve. Brooks, a key figure in the negotiations, gives his perspective 
on the process of reaching agreement with the city of Fremont. (The 
perspective of the negotiator for the city, assistant city manager Larry 
Milnes, is given in an excerpt from a 1982 interview with Milnes, included 
in the appendix to this volume.) 

Brooks served as consultant to the Patterson family in the 1980s and 
was responsible for preparing and promoting the master plan for Patterson 
Ranch lands which eventually was adopted by the city of Fremont. His 
explanation of the delicate balancing act required to satisfy the pro- 
growth, no-growth, and low-growth forces within the community and within the 
Patterson family attests to his well-acknowledged skills as a master 
politician as well as a master planner. 

The interviews with Jack Brooks were conducted in his office in 
Fremont. California, which is sited on the former Patterson ranch lands sold 
to Brooks in 1952. They took place on November 5 and November 20, 1987. 
Mr. Brooks made no substantive changes in reviewing his transcript. 

Ann Lage 

Project Director 

September, 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 

Your full name 

Date of birth 

Father's full name 

Mother's full 



University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 

John Brooks 


Birthplace Oakland, CA 




Barbara Mathews Brooks 

Your spouse 

Your children William Mathews Brooks and John Brooks, Jr. 

Where did you grow up? Oakland, CA 

Present community 


San Francisco, CA 

Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Healds College 
Degree in Law from Lincoln University Law School 

Occupation (s) 

Real Estate Developer and Investor 

Areas of expertise_ 

Real Estate 

Other interests or activities 

Organizations in which you are active_ 


[Interview 1: November 5. 1987] ## 

Family and Youth in Alameda County 



B rooks : 

Brooks : 

We want to start with some personal background, just to set the 
scene where you were born and raised, and particularly if there 
are things in your background that helped shape the direction you 

I was born in Oakland, California, on September 16, 1923, so I've 
been a resident of Alameda County for my whole life. My parents 
were both born in Alameda County. Our children are the fifth 
generation born in the same little city of San Leandro because my 
wife's people have been there that long. 

My goodness. When would that date back to? 
Oh, it goes back to the 1800s. 
As early as the Patterson family. 

Yes, about the same time. Her side of the family came to San 
Leandro at that point in time, and each generation was born in the 
same city. I was born just across the border, on the Oakland side 
of the line from San Leandro. 

What did your father do as an occupation? 

I had a father and a stepfather. My father was in the 
steam fitters' union, president of the union at one time, 
number of years. My stepfather was a naval officer. 

for a 

#$This symbol indicates that a tape or segment of a tape has begun 
or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see page 207. 


Lage: I understand you went to the Maritime Academy. Did that have 
anything to de with your stepfather's influence? 

Brooks: Yes. it did because during part of his career, he was an instructor 
in engineering in the navy, and he became aware of the US Maritime 
Academy it's different than the state academy in King's Point, 
and he recommended to me that I take a look at it. I thought it 
was pretty good free education 1 So I'm a graduate of King's Point. 

Lage: Where is King's Point? 

Brooks: King's Point is in New York. The federal academy is in New York. 
Most people don't know that there are four federal academies: 
naval, army, air force, and maritime. 

Lage: I jumped ahead there, getting you clear up to the Maritime Academy, 
but what about education in general? Public school? 

Brooks: Public school. High school in Oakland. Castlemont High School. 

Of course, I went to the academy shortly after leaving high school. 

Lage: Did your early education or high school show any of this interest 

in politics that you took up later? Were are any extracurricular 
activities that were related? 

Brooks: No, not really. I worked all the way through high school. I 

worked nights in a parking lot, parking cars, and I worked in the 
summer, as was typical of this area, in the local canneries. The 
local canneries provided summer jobs in southern Alameda County in 
those days. Now the canneries are mainly gone, but that was a 
major source of employment then, in the late thirties. 

Lage: How far would you have to come to find a cannery in those days? 
Into San Leandro? 

Brooks: Well. I worked in two in Oakland. One was in upper Oakland, near 
west Oakland, and I later worked in one just across the line from 
San Leandro. Do you know where Fifth Avenue is? 

Lage: Yes. 

Brooks: One of the major canneries was at Fifth Avenue. You know, where 
that old yacht harbor thing is. The other one was at 98th Avenue 
in Oakland. So rather than a lot of extracurricular activites in 
school, I spent a lot of my spare time working. 

Lage: That wasn't so unusual then, during the Depression days. 

Brooks: It was fairly common in those days because that was right at the 
end of the Depression period. 



Training in Engineering and Law 

When you went te the Maritime Academy, was this with the idea of 
getting into engineering? 

Brooks: Yes, I asked to attend the engineering portion of the school, and I 
was assigned that portion. 

Lage: Any reason for that choice? 

Brooks: I had an interest in engineering throughout my teenage years. 

Lage: Did the building of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges and the 

excitement surrounding that have anything te do with your decision? 

Brooks: No, I think probably the factor that was most important was that my 
stepfather was an instructor in engineering. 

Lage: Now tell me about the academy. 

Brooks: Well, I came to the academy. Of course, it was during the war 

years, and like all the academies, they had shortened the courses 
from four and a half years to two and a half years. The Maritime 
Academy, like the Naval Academy, has a midshipman program where you 
attend the academy and then you go to sea and then you come back 
and finish at the academy. So during that period, the war years, I 
served as a midshipman on various ships in combat zones. Because 
of the midshipman status, I was promoted at sea to an officer's 
status, then when you come back te the academy you revert back to 
your midshipman status. 

Lage: That must have been a hard transition! 

Brooks: Then, upon graduation from the academy, I was commissioned in the 
navy as a naval officer specializing in engineering and served in 
the navy throughout the Pacific. I served in the navy as a 
midshipman in the Pacific before I went back to the academy. I 
also served in North Africa and India as a midshipman. In fact 
you're toe young to remember as a midshipman I landed on 
Guadalcanal. After being commissioned I again served in the navy, 
in the amphibious forces. 

Lage: And the war was still going on at the time? 

Brooks: Yes. We'd make landings throughout the islands and the Philippines 
and Okinawa, the usual war stories. 

Brooks: After I left the navy I went back to engineering school and got a 

degree in mechanical engineering from Heald's College. During that 


period I worked as a ship's officer in San Francisco at night and 
went to school in the daytime. 

You may not know it. but the law requires that every ship have 
an engineering officer aboard while they're in port, and on all 
merchant ships all the regular officers are off every night and 
weekends when they're in port, so they put a relief officer on. So 
through engineering school I worked at night as a ship's officer 
and went to school in the daytime. Then later I did the same thing 
again while I went to school to get a law degree. 

Lage: That sounds like a very good sideline to have. 

Brooks: Yes. you make a reasonably good living while going to school. And 
it was a good job too because most of the time as a ship's officer 
you're not doing very much so you have a lot of study time. 

Lage: Right. You just have to be there. 

Brooks: You have to be there. You have to move a ship once in a while, 
from one port to another, but that didn't occur often enough to 
interrupt your study time. 

Lage: Where did you get your law degree? 
Brooks: Lincoln University of San Francisco. 

Lage: And what did you have in mind with the law degree? Were you 
thinking of becoming an attorney or just a general education? 

Brooks: I was more interested in a general education, but during the period 
I was going to law school I seriously considered becoming an 
attorney and practicing law, but near the end of the period I was 
in law school. I went into the development business and no longer 
desired to practice law. There were several mental changes during 
that period. 

Lage: I imagine the legal training has come in handy, though. 

Brooks: Yes, the combination of the legal training and the engineering 
training has been very valuable because most of the development 
business is made up of those two areas. 

Lage: So without really knowing exactly where you were heading, you ended 
up getting the right degrees. 

Brooks: Yes, I was fortunate to get the right training at the right time. 
I also think that the training at the academy was particularly 
important, particularly in the area of teaching self-discipline. 


Brooks: which you have to apply in business, so that the training at the 

academy was. I think, very important in teaching you to discipline 
yourself to get certain things done at a certain time. One of the 
sayings they have at the academy is that you do the hardest job 
first and the easiest job last. That has been kind of a rule I've 
followed throughout my life. 

Lage : You just mentioned something that was intriguing and that was the 
mental changes you went through, ending up in the development 
business. Why don't we talk about that a little bit? 

Brooks: During that period I thought, "Well, I'll practice law." In fact, 
at that point in time, while I was going to school, I was working 
part-time as a law clerk in a legal office. It happened to be a 
criminal practice, and I found that very interesting. 

Lage : Was that in Oakland? 

Brooks: In Oakland. I found that very interesting and at that point in 

time I said, "Well. I think this is the kind of thing I would like 
to do." Then I changed jobs really and got into the development 
business during my last year in law school. So I completed law 
school and just stayed in the development business. 

Launching a Career as a Developer 

Lage: How did you happen to make the change into the development 

Brooks: While I was still in the navy, the ship came to San Francisco. We 
were in for repairs, so we were here for a couple of weeks. So 
while I was still in uniform, I went down and took an examination 
and received a real estate broker's license. I didn't really use 
it for a number of years, but then an opportunity came while I was 
in my last year in law school where these two contractor- 
developers, a father and son, needed a part-time real estate 
salesman. So they hired me. Of course I made more money doing 
that than I did as a law clerk. By the time I finished law school 
they asked me to become a partner, so I became a partner in the 
development firm and the construction company. 

Lage: What was the name of that firm? 
Brooks: Leonardo and Son. 

Lage: I always find it fascinating when I'm talking with people how this 
combination of intent and chance come together. 




Brooks : 

B rooks : 

Brooks : 


Brooks : 



Now. when you got your real estate license, what were you thinking? 
Did you see that things were going to be happening here? 

I said, 'Veil, someday I'm going to get out of the navy, and I'm 
going to have to do something. 11 I've always been kind of oriented 
to study. When I was in the navy I had books with me; I studied 
engineering books. I had a friend a lady friend, by the way who 
was a real estate broker that I visited while I was ashore during 
that period, and she had a book about real estate. So she gave me 
the book, and I took it to sea with me, read it and studied it, and 
having read the whole book, the next time I came back I said, "Why 
net take the test?" [laughter] 

And that kind of moved you along the path you took. 

You must have liked the real estate business when you did get into 

Oh yes. I really liked the development business, and I could apply 
my educational background to it. That went very well, and the two 
partners I had almost turned over the whole operation to me. 

Was the son also older than you? 

Yes, they were both older. I was a young kid that they thought, I 
guess, was willing to work and do things and come up with some 
imaginative ideas, so they kind of stepped back and said. "Do 
whatever you want. " 

That's a great opportunity, 
contractor's license? 

Then when did you get your 

Well, as a result of that association, working in the business, I 
was able to get a contractor's license. So that was back in '52 or 
'53. someplace in that area. 

Did you eventually buy that business? 

Yes. The business got larger, and they were kind of small 
operators, and it made them very nervous that they kept expanding. 
So they came to me with a proposal. They said, 'Ve just want to go 
back and be little tiny developers." So on a very friendly basis. 
I bought them out. We were friends. There wasn't any problem. We 
were friends at the time we were partners and after we were 


Lage: They just didn't want the big vision that you must have had. They 
didn't want to get involved in it? 

Brooks: Well, they saw that they were getting bigger and bigger, and they 
had trouble relating to the size. 

Lage: Well, tell me what you were thinking of at that time. I understand 
there was a tremendous boom after the war. Did you see this coming 

Brooks: Well. I didn't necessarily think in terms of a tremendous boom. I 
just thought it was a good business. It was a challenging 
business. I think that was the most important part of it; it was 
challenging to be able to get things done and create things. As a 
young man I was more interested in that challenge and just doing 
things, creating things. So that's what really motivated me more 
than whether there was going to be a big boom or not. 

Lage: You weren't analyzing demographics and all that at the time? 

Brooks: No. Then as you go and mature in the business, you begin to get 

into those other areas. At the beginning stages you're focusing en 
just what you're doing and the challenge of trying to solve the 

Lage: When did you marry? In this period? 

Brooks: I married right as I was getting out of law school. By the way, I 
married the gal that was my girlfriend in junior high school. 

Lage: Oh really? I wondered because you said you lived so close by. 

Brooks: She was my girlfriend in junior high school, in high school. We 

didn't see much of each other during the war years. Then after the 
war years we got together, and we've been married ever since. 

Lage: That's wonderful. What was her maiden name? 
Brooks: Matthews. Her name was Barbara Matthews. 

Lage: That's why there're Matthews in your family. Isn't your son 

Brooks: Yes. In fact, her father was a real estate broker and did a 
considerable amount of development work also. 

Lage: Was she the one you were dating who was in real estate? 

Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: Okay, now we're clear on this. 


Brooks: I guess you're aware of San Lorenzo Village? It's just south of 
San Leandra It was a major development during the war years. 
That was one of the projects that her father put together. 
Unfortunately, he died in the middle of the war. 1944. But she 
took over his business at the age of eighteen and continued to 
operate it until just a few years ago. She was very, very 
successful in her own business. 

Lage : This was in real estate, as a real estate broker? 

Brooks: A real estate insurance broker. Very successful and operated 
completely independently. We operated our two businesses 
completely independently with no crossover. 

Lage: That's very interesting. So she didn't get involved helping you 

Brooks: No. She ran her own thing, and I did my own thing. That's 
probably why we're still married 1 

Lage: And you stayed in separate areas? 

Brooks: Yes, she had her offices in San Leandro. and I had offices in 

Fremont, then later in San Leandro, separate from hers, and then 
back to Fremont again. 

Involvement in Democratic Party Politics 




Brooks : 

I want to get some indication of when you got involved in 
Democratic Party politics. 

I began to get involved in politics shortly after I got into the 
building business, and really in just the local area, the local 
city council things and billboard things. Then gradually I began 
to get more and more involved in the state things, like Pat Brown's 
campaign for governor, the first time he ran. and Alan Cranston's 
campaign. The first time he ran for controller, I was his chairman 
for Alameda County [1958]. Then that just kept growing into state 
politics and then national politics. It was just kind of a natural 
thing. I kept getting more and more involved. 

Now, was it related initially at all to your interest in 
development? I mean, did you get involved in city council politics 
in order to influence development decisions? 

Not really, because you don't really influence them that much. 
was, I think, kind of a challenging thing I hadn't done, 



Lage: I can see yeu love challenge! 

Brooks: Then later I became the northern California chairman of the party 
[January-September, 1971]. 

Lage: So you really made your mark in a lot of areas. 

Brooks: I ended up as state chairman for the Kennedys and for any number of 

Lage: Did this continue to be a challenge? 

Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: How about this last election? 

Brooks: I've kind of stepped back at the present time. I still 

participate, but on a lower-key level. You know. I'm getting older 
and I'm saying, "Well, it's time for the young guys to really get 
out and do the work." [laughter] My oldest son is very much 
involved in politics, so I assist him, 

Lage: Is he behind the scenes? 

Brooks: No, he's out in front. I try to stay behind the scenes now! 

Lage: He's running for office? 

Brooks: No, he has no interest in running for office, but he has an 
interest in being involved, as I was. 

Lage: Well, maybe we'll get into the politics more later. There must be 
some relationship, or some way that it influenced or helped you to 
make things go the way you wanted them to go. 

Brooks: Well, I think it's very difficult to identify the relationship 

between business and politics because in the process of politics 
you get to know a lot of people, and as you know more people it's 
helpful in business, but you can't identify a direct relationship 
where knowing this particular person helped that particular thing. 

Lage: Of course, knowing how things work helps. 

Brooks: Yes, how all the machinery works is very, very helpful. 

Lage: In talking to Bob Buck [of Patterson Properties. See interview in 
this series] that was one thing he brought up, in terms of your 
contribution with your involvement in their corporation. 


Brooks: Well, I think I've learned how the whole system works. I've served 
on a number of commissions and committees, so I know how the state 
thing works, how the federal thing works, how they work locally. 

Lage: It doesn't hurt. 
Brooks : No. 

Association with Wayne Valley 

Lage: Let's get back into the building. You were associated with Wayne 
Valley for a long time. 

Brooks: Yes, Wayne Valley and I became partners in about 1954, I guess. 
Lage: After you had bought out Leonardo? 

Brooks: Yes. I operated independently for a while. Then we became 

partners, and we were partners until we merged our companies with 
the Singer company in 1974. 

Lage: And then that ended your association? 

Brooks: No. I remained as president of the Singer Housing Division and 

became president of the national division which included a number 
of housing companies across the country, from Florida to California 
to New Orleans. It's every place. 

Lage: And you headed up their entire housing division? 

Brooks: Yes. I was president of their entire housing division. 

Lage: It must have been completely different, deal ing with Florida and 

Brooks: No, the basic business is the same. Integrating with an industrial 
company that's oriented to industrial operations is a difficult 
kind of thing to make mesh. 

Lage: Singer hadn't been in housing before? This was completely new? 

Brooks: Yes, this was a completely new business for them, and it was 

considerably different than the industrial type of business that 
they were used to. 

Lage: Didn't they drop out of that after a few years? 


Brooks: Yes. I stayed as president for about three years and then said, "I 
think it's time to retire and do something different." Then, a 
couple of years following that, they decided to get out of it, so 
they sold off the various divisions. 

Lage: Well, that's another story in itself. Would you want to make any 
comments about Wayne Valley? I noticed he passed away fairly 

Brooks: Yes, he passed away about two weeks ago. He was an unusual man. 

very intelligent, a very good businessman. He had seme problems in 
relating to people. He was friendly, but he was very direct. He 
said what he thought, and he was very honest, but because of those 
characteristics he had trouble relating to a lot of people because 
he was toe direct. 

Lage: He was blunt with people? 

Brooks: He was blunt and to the point, but he was a very good partner. We 
had a very good relationship. I don't think during the whole time 
we were partners, twenty-plus years, we ever had a serious 
disagreement. When something would come up and we might have 
different points of view, quite often we'd just say, ''Okay, what 
are we going to do? " and we'd flip a coin to decide. That's a 
great way to decide how to operate a business. [laughter] I would 
say 90 percent of the time when we had differences of opinion, he'd 
say, "Okay, go ahead and do it your way." 

Lage: So he was blunt. Could you be blunt with him? 

Brooks: Oh, certainly. We were very direct with each other, 
good communication. 

We had really 

Lage: He was the one that first got involved with the Raiders 
[professional football team], is that correct? 

Brooks: Yes. He was part of a group that went down and got the original 

franchise, and then he brought in partners to the franchise, and I 
was one of the partners that he brought in to make up the franchise 
group. Then later, I guess it was about 1976 or in that area, 1 
and Al Davis bought Wayne Valley out because he and Davis could not 
get along because they're both very blunt personalities, 
[laughter] They just didn't get along at all. 

Lage: And did that take place with continuing friendship between you and 
Wayne Valley? 

Brooks: Wayne and I remained friends 


Brooks ; 


Brooks : 


And Davis and I are very good friends. Our two wives are very good 
friends. In fact, my wife and his wife travel together quite a 
bit. They went to Asia last year and to Italy last year together. 
So we're very good friends, but I still had a good association with 
Wayne. We still owned investment properties together. I still 
have some joint ownership even with the estate now. We had a very 
good relationship. When Wayne was ill and couldn't get around too 
much, he'd get on the phone, sometimes for an hour, an hour and a 
half, and just talk. 

I think that tells us something about your relationships with 
people. I'm sure this issue between Wayne Valley and Al Davis was 
a hot one. 

Oh. it was a very hot one. [laughter] 
definite dislike for each other. 

They really had a very 

And then to be able to continue a separate relation with each one 
says something about your abilities. 



First Purchase ef Patterson Ranch Lands. 1952 

Lage : Let's talk now about Fremont and its growth and development. What 
do you recall about the Fremont area in the postwar period when you 
first got involved in this area? 

Brooks : In the postwar period there was no Fremont, first of all. 
Lage: Right. That's why I said Fremont areal 

Brooks: I was developing properties and building houses in Hayward, and I 
was looking for some more land, and I didn't even think about 
coming down to this area, which was called Centerville in these 
days it was way out in nowhere, in the boondocks but one of the 
things I did was I put a little squib in the real estate board 
bulletin that they send out to the various brokers saying that I 
was looking for some development property. 

An old gentleman I'm trying to remember his name; he was a 
broker here in Centerville called me and said, "I'd like to show 
you a piece of property." I said, "Where is it?" and he said, "In 
Centerville." [laughing] I said, "I'm not really that 
interested." He said, 'Veil, come on down." He was a nice, 
friendly fellow, so I just kind of came down to accommodate him, 
and I didn't really have that much interest in being that far out 
from where there was other activity. So I came down and he 
introduced me to Will Patterson. 

Lages Oh? Now, when would that have been? 

Brooks: That would be about 1952 or 1953. I think it was '52. 

Lage: Tell me about that. That's intriguing. 

Brooks: Well, he introduced me to Will Patterson. Will's three sons, Don, 
Jack, and David, each had a hundred acres right back here. 


Lage : Not en the Patterson Ranch? 

Breaks: Well, it was part of the Patterson Ranch then, but it had been put 
in their name. 

Lage: But when you say. "right back here" 

Brooks: Right at the end of this street that you're on. 

Lage: Okay. I'd never thought of that as part of the Patterson Ranch. 

Brooks: Yes. the Patterson Ranch started two blocks down from where we're 
at right now. [Mr. Brooks's office, where this interview took 
place, is at the intersection of Thornton and Cabrille Avenues in 
Fremont, east of Highway 880.] 

And so I went over and met Will Patterson. We began to talk, 
and he said. "Well, you know, these parcels that my three sens have 
we'd like to do something with." We began to talk about hew we 
could do it. At that point it didn't have any access to a major 
street, so I said, "In order te do something, we need te buy this 
little strip of land in order to get back to it." It's the strip 
of land you're sitting on right now 1 Then, ever a period f five 
or six months of talking, we structured something, an agreement. I 
bought this little piece of land to get back to it, and we just 
started gradually developing it over a series of years. 

Lage: Were you discussing this with his sons too? 

Brooks: Donald would attend some of the meetings, but not all of them. I 
met David and Jack during that period because they came out 
especially to meet me because their father requested it, to talk to 
me about what my plans were and what I thought, but David and Jack 
weren't really directly involved in any of the negotiations. 

Lage: But it was their property rather than Will's? 

Brooks: Yes. Donald, as I recall, owned it outright and David's property 
was in a trust for his benefit; that is. his father was trustee, 
but it was going to expire in the near future. I think Jack also 
owned his outright, but he kind of left it up to his father to do 
what he thought was right. 

Lage: That's earlier than I'd realized that the family became interested 
in developing some of their property. 

Brooks: See, we look at the family as two sides: Will and Henry, and this 
was Will's three boys that really got started here. 


Working with Will. Henry, and Don Patterson 

Brooks: So we started a relationship with that, then that relationship 
continued, and I formed a rather close relationship with Will 
Patterson. He was a nice gentleman, an older man. 

Lage: Yes, tell me more about him. 

Brooks: He was a real gentleman from the old school; in ether words, very 
interested in what happened to the community. As you probably 
know, he was president of the water board [board of directors of 
Alameda County Water District]. He used to drive around in a jeep 
with a great big white dog. He'd be on one side, and the big white 
dog would be sitting on the other side, on the seatl He'd come 
by not to this office because the original office I built, a small 
office, was out in front of this office, where the street is new 
and he'd come by on an average of once a week or so with his dag. 
He'd come in and sit down and talk for an hour or so. Sometimes 
I'd drop over to his house and see him. So we had a very good, 
friendly relationship outside of any business relationship. 

Lage: Did he seem pretty aware of the coming of development? 

Brooks: Yes, he was very knowledgeable. He was a very knowledgeable and 
intelligent man, but a very gentle kind of man, very kind and 
gentle. But he was a good businessman. 

Lage: What kind of an arrangement did you strike on this particular area 
that we're talking about? 

Brooks: Well, we bought some property and had a contract for a series of 
options on the balance because he wasn't sure and I wasn't sure 
that, you know, anybody would ever buy any houses in this area. So 
we said, "All right, we'll buy a portion and try and see what 
happens, and then if we can make it work, I'll have a series of 
options to continue. " 

Lage: But they didn't get involved in sharing in the development at all? 

Brooks: No. They were land sellers, really. They did not participate in 
the development in any way. 

Lage: But when he'd come by to sit and talk with you, was he interested? 

Brooks: Oh, he was interested in the development and how it was being done. 
He was very interested in the whole process: what you were doing, 
hew you were doing it, the whole process. 


Lage: I guess I get the picture from others that Henry was more the 
farmer and Will was kind of out in the community and into his 
mining enterprises. 

Brooks: Well, there was a big difference in the personalities of the two. 

Henry was a very strict kind of person who wasn't really a friendly 
person, and when he talked to you he didn't say very much. He was 
very direct in what he said but said very little. [laughter] 

Lage: But you listened to those few words? 

Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: Did you talk to him about the property? 

Brooks: Well, later on. subsequent to that time, then I talked to both 

Henry and Will. Henry said, "Veil, here's another portion of the 
ranch that the whole family owns that we may have an interest in 
doing something with." So I had a number of meetings with beth 
Henry and Will. In fact, we concluded an agreement, although it 
wasn't signed, just before he died. 

Lage: I see. Before Henry died. 

Brooks: Yes. And he died rather suddenly. That agreement never went into 

Again, Henry was a good guy to deal with. He just wasn't as 
open and outgoing as Will was. 

Lage: Kind of reserved. 

Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: Did he have as much interest in the development as Will? 

Brooks: No. I didn't see him as of ten and, you know, he j ust wasn't as 

Lage: But he didn't object to the idea of developing part of the ranch? 
Brooks: No. he didn't object. 

Lage: Some ef the pictures we've been given are that Henry really wanted 
just to farm. 

Brooks: Well, very few people know, and probably a lot of the family don't 
know, that Henry and I sat down and worked out a complete contract 
for a portion of the ranch before he died, with Will and Henry 


Lage: What portion would that have been? Was it every large one? 

Brooks: Yes. it was. The portion where the Ardenwood Regional Park is now. 
what we called at that time Tract 0. 

Lage: So that portion would have been developed a let earlier had Henry 
not died? 

Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: Was the flooding controlled at that point? 

Brooks: Alameda Creek wasn't constructed, and it had the flood problem. 
I'd worked out an engineering solution for that, which I had 
tentatively approved by the governmental agency to do a diversion 
kind of engineering project where we diverted the flood waters, 
with a series of ditches and dikes, around the property. We had 
worked out a tentative engineering solution to the flooding 

Lage: So was that all part of the contract? 

Brooks: Yes, it was all part of the whole program. Then, of course, about 
that period the Nimitz freeway was proposed also, and that worked 
into the whole engineering problem of the freeway needing some fill 
materials and so forth. So that was coordinated with the whole 
pro gram. 

Lage: Why did you decide to come way down here? You said your first 
reaction was it was too far from the center of action. 

Brooks: That's a hard question to answer. I thought, you know, "Maybe 
there's some potential there and maybe it's worth trying. 11 And 
Will and Donald both were so good to work with, and they said, "We 
know that these problems exist, so let's try to structure something 
that will relate to them. We'll try it, and then we'll do the 
options, and we'll be somewhat flexible. If things go well, then 
we'll move faster, and if they don't go well, we'll move slower." 

I thought they were sincere in that, and they were. They were 
very flexible. In the beginning period, there were lots of ups and 
downs, but they would adjust, regardless of what the contract said, 
because I don't think anybody ever looked at the contract after it 
was signed. They'd look at things as they were occurring, and we'd 
adj ust to them. 

Lage: That's interesting. And it did go well. I assume. 

Brooks: Yes. With Will and Don and Henry, a handshake was much better than 
a written contract. If you got a handshake from them, you were 


Brooks: much better off than having a written contract! If you ignored the 
contract and just dealt with them as things occurred, you were much 
better *ff. 

B rooks 

B rooks 

What kinds of adjustment had to be made? 
kind of thing? 

In payment schedule, that 

Well, things would go faster or slower, and we'd have tight money 
periods and loose money periods. As you did the detail 
engineering, there 1 d be changes in the plans where you'd have to 
take more or less land or reduce the size of one piece and make 
another piece bigger. So these kinds of problems that would flow 
with the economy and with the engineering problems. In these days 
there was a whole host of engineering problems because the whole 
area was mainly undeveloped, so you had to go out and start from 
scratch and solve the various engineering problems. Access and 
drainage problems and sewer problems and water problems. You had 
to face each one of those and find a solution to it. 

Now, we're talking about the period before incorporation? 

Designing Systems and Working with Government to Facilitate 

Lage: Were you one of the first developers in the area, then? Or the 

Brooks: One of the first. The only one that came down about the same time 
that I can recall was a fellow named Jim Myers who developed 
Glenmoor. He came down about the same time. 

Lage: How did you deal with problems like the sewer problem? 

Brooks: Well, you j ust begin to design systems. Sometimes interim systems, 
temporary systems, that would work until a whole master system 
could ceme into place. All the Patterson land wasn't even in the 
sewer district. 

Lage: Didn't you have something to do with getting people signed up for a 
sewer district? 

Brooks: Yes. Well, at this end of the city there were two sewer districts: 
Union Sanitary and the Decoto districts. They were two small 
districts, serving small areas, but the land in between them was 
kind of no-man 1 s-land. 


Lage: They didn't need sewer districts on the farm. 

Brooks: So I get the sewer districts together, and they decided they'd be 
much better off with one big district than two small ones. But in 
order to merge the districts, they had to get all the land in 
between. So I went to all the property owners involved and all the 
farmers and got a petition to annex to the Union Sanitary District, 
and then the Union Sanitary District annexed the Decoto District t 
make it one big district. 

Lage: And you were the force behind that? 

Brooks: I did all the work on it. You see. when I first came down here. 

the Union Sanitary District had one part-time employee. They only 
had one employee. He worked half a day! That was the whole 
district. So they didn't have any staff at all. So in order to 
get it dene, somebody had to do it. The one employee they had was 
an older man, kind of semi-retired, you know, who would spend half 
a day 

Lage: The district kind of ran itself, it sounds like. 

Brooks: Yes. In working with their board, which was local merchants and 

farmers, I laid out the whole plan to them. They were receptive te 
it, but they didn't have any staff to implement it, so I just went 
out and did it. 

Lage: How about the Pattersons? Did Will Patterson do any of the 
politicking on this? 

Brooks: No. Except for being cooperative in annexing a substantial portion 
of the Patterson property, signing the petition for that which 
both Henry and Will together did; it wasn't just Will alone other 
than that they said, "Well, if you can get it done, fine. We will 
not oppose you in any way. If anybody asks us, we'll tell them we 
signed the petition." 

Lage: But they didn't go te talk to their neighbors. 

Brooks: What I'd do is I'd work during the day and in the early evenings 

I'd just go out and visit each landowner or each farmer and explain 
the whole program to them and have them sign the petition. After 
doing that for several months I had enough signatures on the 
petition so that the annexation could take place. 

Lage: What about the drainage problems? What did you do there? 

Brooks: Before the major Army Corps of Engineers project, the whole area 
was subject to flooding. 

Lage: Even this far in? 


Brooks: Well, it was from about two blocks down, all the way north, and 
then all the way east, swinging around, even above this area. 

So I designed a series of interim systems to bypass 
floodwaters for the various things I was working on. Of course the 
governmental agency knew that the Army Corps of Engineers project 
was going to come along some day. They weren't sure of the timing, 
but it had been worked on for some twenty years prior, and like 
most governmental projects, they start the studies and twenty years 
later maybe they'll start some work, [laughter] So they were 
aware that there was an overall commitment that some day in the 
future there'd be the Alameda Creek project. So I did a series of 
interim projects that would take care of special, localized 

Lage: And these were diversion canals? 

Brooks: Diversion canals, dikes, and a whole series of things. Bypass 
kinds of systems. 

Lage: Did you feel pretty comfortable that those would take care of the 

Brooks: Oh, sure. In fact, I sat at the drawing board and did them myself. 
Lage: So there's your engineering background coming into play. 

Brooks: I took the basic plans to the governmental agencies involved and 
had their engineers say, "Yes, this will work." Then we did the 
detailed engineering drawings from that. 

Lage: And then who paid for the work involved? 

Brooks: I did. 

Lage: You did, as the developer. 

I talked to Matt Whitfield as part of this project [see 
interview in this series] and he mentioned some of the early 
drainage solutions weren't very good for the water basin. I think 
this was runoff into the 

Brooks: Well. Matt Whitfield was. you know, general manager of the [Alameda 
County] water district and they depend a lot on percolation, so if 
water is laying on the ground, for his specialized interest, if it 
percolates into the water basin, you know, it's good for them. 
When I take a piece of land, I isolate it so that it will not be 
subject to flooding, it would not have surface waters going into 
the ground. But the water district never had any serious objection 
to what we were doing. In fact, they were very cooperative. 


Lage: But I thought there was something about diverting runoff and 

letting the runoff go into the water basin. He was fearful of 
contaminating the water basin, I thought. 

Brooks: Well, he's always been fearful, but on the projects I was doing, 

that was not an issue. No, Matt Whitfield and I have been friends 
for years and years and worked together on various projects for 
years and years. 

Lage: Did you find that the water district was adaptable? 

Brooks: Oh. very cooperative. They've always been very cooperative. 

Historically, they've been cooperative, and they're probably one of 
the best districts to work with of any district. Matt ran the 
district in a very practical, businesslike way and was very 
straightforward as far as engineering solutions were concerned. He 
did not get involved in inserting politics into engineering 
solutions, which some districts do. 

Lage: And, there again, you had the Will Patterson tie with the water 

Brooks: In the early period Will Patterson was with the water beard, but 

through much of the development of Fremont and after. Will left the 
water board and then he later died. [William Patterson served en 
the Board of Directors of the Alameda County Water District from 
its founding in 1914 to 1958. He was president of the board from 
1932 to 1954. He died in 1962.] 

The Incorporation of Fremont; Conflicts with Newark 

Lage: We're talking about dealing with governmental agencies and that 
should bring us to Fremont's incorporation. Before it was 
incorporated, who were you dealing with? 

Brooks: The county. The county had authority, except for the local 

districts, like the water district and the sanitary district. The 
county had planning and development authority. 

Lage: How receptive were they to your plans? 

Brooks: There weren't any real problems. The county was, I'd say, very 
receptive to the plans I brought to them. 

Lage: How did you feel about incorporation? Was this something that you 
wanted to see happen? 


Brooks: Well. I was one of the incerperators, one of the leaders en the 
incorporation committee, so it's obvious I favored it. 

Lage: What were your reasons? You hadn't had trouble working with the 
county. I knew that was one of the arguments for incorporation. 

Brooks: I just felt, and I think there was a general feeling in the 

community and with the chambers of commerce, which I was very 
active on. that the time had come to have some really local 
government and not government at the other end of the county and to 
join these communities together. It was like joining the two 
little sanitary districts together, making one good district out of 
it. The same thing applied to the city. So I was very active in 
that incorporation movement. 

Lage: Was there a particular thrust? Was land planning something that 
they were concerned about in planning for incorporation? 

Brooks: Oh yes. that was one of the big thrusts. There were some disputes 
with the county because Newark had incorporated first and they 
wanted to include a great portion of the Patterson Ranch in their 
incorporation, and the local leaders from Fremont get the 
supervisors to reverse that in a mysterious kind of way! 

Lage: Tell me more about that because I wondered 

Brooks: Well, they had it all lined up in all the 

Lage: Newark was first? 

Brooks: Newark was first. 

Lage: And at the time they incorporated, did they try to get the 
Patterson Ranch? 

Brooks: Yes. They had that all en their incorporation plans. 

Lage: And why was that omitted, if Fremont didn't have its plans in place 

Brooks: Well, seme of the local leadership from what would become Fremont 
just didn't think that Newark should have that portion of land in 
Newark. So they were able to politically convince the local 
supervisor it shouldn't be included, and he convinced the rest of 
the members of the board and excluded that property from Newark. 
It has been a problem between the two cities over the years. This 
continued because Newark really thought they got cheated out at the 
last minute in some mysterious way, because they didn't realize 
what was happening until the actual vote was taken by the board! 


Lage: Newark is a very tiny city, and the Patterson Ranch would have made 
it much bigger. 

Brooks: It weuld have been much larger if the political maneuvering hadn't 
taken place. 

Lage: Can you tell me more about what was behind the political 
maneuvering? Were you involved in it yourself? 

Brooks: Well, I was involved in it, along with several ethers. You knew, 
there were some thoughts at that point of time of incorporating 
Fremont. It was thought that would be a logical property for 
Fremont to have and not Newark. That was kind of a separate, 
opposing group. You know, it became kind of a little challenge 
between the two groups. 

Lage: And one had the ear of their supervisor. 

Brooks: They both thought they had the ear of the supervisor, but the way 
it wound up, at the last minute, the vote went against Newark. 

Lage: Who was the supervisor? Do you remember him? 

Brooks: I'll try and remember his name. I can't remember his name offhand. 

Lage: Now, did the Pattersons take a position on that? 

Brooks: No, they did not get involved with that at all. 

Lage: And here it was their land. 

Broeks: Yes. No, they did not get involved with that at all. They pretty 
much stayed away from local politics through the years. Will was 
interested in the water district and some politics, but the family 
pretty much isolated themselves from local politics until just 
recently, in the last couple of years. 

Lage: Now, I'm still curious. Was there something about the Newark scene 
that made you, who had some interest in developing the Patterson 
Ranch, feel it wouldn't be as good? 

Brooks: Ne. that did not enter into it because the big portion they were 

talking about nobody even thought about developing. It was at the 
far end, so far removed. But the group in Fremont that was 
thinking about incorporation and beginning to work on that problem 
just didn't think it properly should be in Newark! 

Lage: They just wanted the land. 

Brooks: Yes. [laughter] It was like the old cowboys and Indians, I guess 
you'd call it, and if you can take it over, it's yours. 



Community Divisions over Timing of Growth and Development 
[Date of Interview: November 20. 1987] *f 

Lage: Last week we talked about the incorporation of Fremont and I asked 
you whether there was a no-growth sentiment involved in that. You 
said, "It's not so much 'no-growth 1 as 'let's plan things better. 1 " 

Brooks: Yes. that was the motivation behind the incorporation. I 

understand. Have planning transferred from the remote county area, 
where there was only one representative of this area on the beard 
of supervisors which controlled the planning, zoning, and whatever 
happened, to a local group in the form of a city council that could 
deal with the local communities. 

Lage: Now they talk about Fremont, "the planned city." They pride 
themselves on that. Was the initial impetus to plan growth? 

Brooks: Yes, that started immediately after incorporation. Of course, it 
was part of the motivation for incorporation. So almost 
immediately following the incorporation, the city employed some 
outside planning professionals to develop various plans for the 
future growth of the community. Those plans were finally adopted. 
Although they've been amended a number of times, the concepts 
incorporated in those plans are still the concepts being used for 
planning and growth in Fremont. 

Lage: That's pretty unusual in a young city. 

Brooks: I look upon the amendments more as adjustments to the original 
plan. The original plan is really still intact. 

Lage: That's interesting. I had heard that there was, in the fifties and 
sixties at least, a strong division on the council and even in the 
community between a no-growth sentiment and a move-ahead plan. 



Lage : 
B rooks : 

Brooks : 

Brooks : 

B rooks : 

B rooks ; 



Throughout the history of Fremont, there've always been these 
factions. One faction comes into power that slows growth down, 
then another one comes into power and speeds it up, and it's gene 
back and forth. But it really relates to the timing for growth 
more than the general plan developed. You know, growth more or 
less followed the general plan. The timing questions were the big 
questions, and then also some of the interpretations to implement 
the plan. 

Hasn't the plan been cut down somewhat, in terms of density of 
housing and 

Well, it's been cut down somewhat in the number of people that will 
eventually live in Fremont. The various areas have the same 
general kinds of uses, but less intense. 

I've heard that this division was even in the social clubs, 
must have been a lot of tension involved. 


Yes, it existed throughout the community. The chamber of commerce 
had one position, and the more affluent people, for example in 
Mission San Jose, had another opinion. 

Were they more "slow down"? 

Yes, more affluent people in the community wanted to raise the 
drawbridge so that nobody else could come in. You know, if they 
had some vacant land next to where they lived, they wanted it to 
stay vacant for their own use. If they had a vacant parcel behind 
their house, they would prefer to see that vacant. 

Did it divide along party lines, Republican and Democrat? 

No, net really, 

Not really. The party lines made almost no 

How does the Fremont area line up in terms of parties? 
heavily one or the other? 

Is it 

It was heavily Democratic for most of its history, but if you look 
at the voting records, it's gradually becoming more and more 
conservative, although whether they're registered Democrats or 
Republicans doesn't really indicate the sentiment. 

But the vote does. 

The votes have indicated that the community is becoming more and 
more conservative, moving more and more to the right from the left. 

That's a bit off our topic, but do you have some thoughts about why 
that' s happened? 


Brooks: Well, because people located here originally with barely enough for 
a down payment on a house and sometimes borrowed some money from 
parents, and the value of properties has increased very 
substantially. As a result, their net worth has increased very 
substantially, primarily because of the homes they own. As people 
get more and more affluent, and with the higher and higher net 
worth, they tend to be mere and more conservative and move from the 
left more to center. 

A Cooperative Relationship with Planning Director Roy Potter 

Lage : We talked about the planning aspect. Let's discuss how you worked 
with the planning staff of the city and how you evaluate their 
abilities. You mentioned Roy Potter in particular [planning 
director, 1958-1966]. 

Brooks: Yes. well. Roy Potter probably was the person who had the most 

influence on the present plan, although he's been gone a number ef 
years. His concepts still exist. The planning concepts he had are 
still part of the plan, and then the concepts of implementing the 
plan that were developed by Roy Potter are largely in place. 
Although they've been refined and have become much more 
sophisticated, the basic theory ef what he was talking about still 

Lage: What would have been his plan? 

Brooks: He developed the planned district [PD] and the PUD [planned unit 
development]. At that point in time most developments were just 
taking place on a standard- ordinance basis. You had certain size 
lots and streets. The planning tended to be rectangular kinds ef 
subdivisions. He was interested in creating a different kind of 
living environment and being able to create parks and open spaces 
and mere attractive streets capes. So he began to develop these 
planning kinds ef strategies that would change the nature of the 
way things were developed. Working with him we created the first 
park in Fremont. 

Lage: Was that a park created within a development? 

Brooks: It was created in a development by rearranging the lot sizes, 
taking a little bit out ef each lot and accumulating what he 
thought was really excess and not usable to the homeowner. We 
combined those little tiny increments into one large parcel. 

Lage: Sort of a commons idea. 

Brooks: Yes. He was very much for the commons idea. 


Lage : And that was the planned unit concept? 

Brooks: Yes, planned unit development. That was kind of the first stage 
because moving the political forces very far at one time is very 
difficult. So it was done in gradual stages. 

Lage: That seemed like a pretty radical idea? 

Brooks: Yes, that was a pretty radical idea, although, you knew, it was a 
very simple, unsophisticated kind of approach. 

He'd come into this office. I was located in this office at 
that time, and that wall had a big blackboard en it. He'd come in 
and we'd spend a whole afternoon, four or five hours, talking about 
what could be done and what was economically feasible. So he'd 
draw seme kind of sketch on the blackboard and he'd say, "Why won't 
this work?" Then I'd comment on why it wouldn't work. I'd say, 
"If you change it this way, then it might work." And we'd keep 
making various sketches and analyzing the various sketches until we 
came up with net only something that we thought would work as far 
as development is concerned, but something that was acceptable 
politically as well. 

Lage: That's really interesting. Would you meet with him in the very 
first stages of a development? 

Brooks: Well, it was kind of an unusual relationship because I don't think 
he did that with any other developer. He'd come in, and it was 
kind of a personal relationship between the two of us. Once we 
worked something out, then he'd try to get other developers to go 
along with the idea. In fact, most of them would net even go along 
with the PUD idea until we had dene a couple f them and they could 
go out and see it. 

Then he was able to take the planning information and the 
information I'd given him to present arguments to other developers 
on why they should do it. Then sometimes the other developers 
would check with me to see how the economics were working out, and 
I would support Roy's view because we'd worked it out together, 
[laughter] It was really kind of a partnership between government 
and private enterprise, trying to arrive at some common ground that 
would create a better community environment and then that 
partnership selling it to the other people who might be involved in 

Lage: And selling it to the council tee. 

Brooks: Yes, and selling it politically. I would sell it to the chamber of 
commerce, for example. He would try to sell it to, you know, people 
within the city. But the end result was, I think, a better living 
environment, without raising the cost of housing to the purchaser. 


B rooks : 

Did you find that this was helpful on the sales end of things? 
the public like it? 



B rooks 

Brooks : 


Well, the public, to begin with, coming out to buy a house, paid 
little attention to the fact that there might be a park down the 
street in the future. They usually focus on the need for a park 
after they've lived there for a while. So it really wasn't a big 
plus as far as marketing is concerned, but it relieved a lot of 
pressure en the city as time went en because they didn't have the 
pressures to create parks at city expense. 

Sounds like a very well-thought-eut idea. You mentioned that 
planned unit development wasn't new to Fremont, that it had been 
practiced in the East, but that this was one of the first 

Yes. it had been done in the East, but very little of it had been 
dene in the West, in California, at that point in time. There were 
some projects, and seme we looked at. Roy and I reviewed, that were 
done in the 1800s that had seme of these concepts. You knew, like 
the commons area in Boston and places like that. We tried te leek 
at these and see hew they worked ever a long period of time. We'd 
say, "This one's been there a hundred years, and people living 
there are happy, and they'd be very unhappy if you tried to take 
those benefits away from them. So it was a good idea a hundred 
years ago, and it's still working, and values have increased 
substantially because of that kind of planning there; why can't we 
use it here?" 

That was part of the discussion process and the questioning we 
went through. "Why can't that concept be used?" Then we'd get 
inte various areas and say. 'Veil, we can take the basic concept, 
but we have te modify it this way to make it fit the current 
situation and the current economics." 

Some of these things are not new. You knew, some of the basic 
planning ideas that are being used now were used by the Romans. 

That's right, we're reinventing the wheel with a let ef things. 

Yes. yeu're just picking up ideas that were developed a long time 
ago. A let ef the housing types were developed as a result of 
these discussions. The kind ef walled-in lots with entrances with 
inside gardens and that kind ef thing that have been done in 
Fremont, well, you knew, the Romans had done that and the Europeans 
still do it. 

Did some of this come out of discussion with Roy Potter also? It 
wasn't just the public spaces, but some of the design of the homes? 


Brooks: Yes. Typically, we'd come in without any agenda, just explore and 
talk far four or five hours at a time about almost anything that 
came te mind in. you know, that general area of planning and living 
environment and hew you could do a particular lot that might be 
more desirable. 

Lage: It sounds really exciting. 

Brooks: It was just a brainstorming session, and we did it pretty 

Lage: You must have had a meeting of the minds with him. 

Brooks: Well, we pretty much did. He'd come to my office, rather than me 
going te the city, because we didn't have the interruptions here. 
I'd turn off my phone. He had trouble turning off his phone and 
his staff people at City Hall. So he'd come down here, and we'd 
close the door and spend the time just reviewing these things. 

Lage: What was his background? Where did he come from? 

Brooks: I can't recall where Roy came from. He was the first planning 

director here when the city hired him. He was planning director in 
some other city. 

Lage: Do you remember how long he was here? When did he leave? 

Brooks: Roy was here, oh, three or four years, something like that. 

Lage: Oh. it was that short a time? 

Brooks: Yes. He wasn't here for a long period of time. 

The Planned District Concept; Planning and Politics 

Lage: Now. from the planned unit development you went into the planned 
district concept. How was that different? 

Brooks: Well, the planned unit development was merely how you reduce a 

series of lots, maybe the width from sixty feet te fifty-eight feet 
or fifty-five feet to create an open space, whereas the planned 
district becomes more sophisticated. You can have private streets, 
and you can vary the ordinance requirements for setbacks and side 
yards, and you combine units with common walls. You can do a whole 
series of things. With a PUD you can't change the street size. 
With a planned district you can vary the street width te 
accommodate what you're really creating. 


Lage : 
B rooks : 

Brooks : 


But the verall balance has to remain the same? 

The overall density remains the same, whereas one of the 
differences between a PUD and a PD is that a PUD has lots all of 
the same size. You deal with lots all of the same size, whereas 
with a PD you can vary the let sizes. You've just got total 
flexibility. The limitation it has is. "Dees it create a better 
living environment and do you maintain the general plan density?" 

Now. the general plan, it's net a fixed density for each 
parcel, it's in steps. The first step is what would be a regular 
development or a PUD. and then it's got a step two and three, and 
you can increase the density within those ranges by creating a 
better environment and better facilities for the people who live 
there. You do landscaping of streetscapes and common recreational 
facilities for the home owners, and that kind of thing, in a PD 
that you can't do with the standard ordinance or the PUD. 

B rooks : 

When would you have started working with the PD concept? 
are we talking about? 

How late 

Well, the PD concept grew out of the PUD. Once we got that to 
where it was acceptable, politically acceptable, then we said. 
"Well, why can't we do seme of the ether things that they've been 
doing for 2000 years?" to pick up seme ef those concepts that were 
good and had been working for that long a time. 

We said. "Well, the ordinances that require a twenty-foot 
front yard and a ten- feet side yard and a twenty-foot backyard just 
won't work. You can't apply those concepts because they're too 
confining." So the basic idea behind the PD was that you did not 
have to comply with any ef these ordinances. The PD is a separate 
zone of itself. You zone it PD so you don't have to comply with 
any ef these ordinances. You just try to take that parcel and just 
create a superior living environment. 

Now. who judges if it is superier? 
political arena. 

This must have gotten into the 

Yes. Then, once you do that, then the staff judges and makes the 
recommendation; the planning commission then reviews it. and either 
supports the staff or doesn't support them. Once the planning 
commission has their comments, then it goes to the city council f or 
final approval, and then the city council makes a judgment. So 
it's a whole series of political judgments made along the way. 

Would the council pretty much support the planning commission or 
did some of these things become controversial? 


Brooks: Well, both ways. Quite often they'd support the planning 

commission, mere often than net. but any number of times the 
council would say, "Well, we really don't like everything the 
planning commission has done, se we're going to vary that." So 
then they'd send it back to the planning commission with some of 
their recommendations, "Well, I think this should be changed and 
that should be changed," and the planning commission would review 
it again, then it would go back to the council againl 

Lage: And you would be actively there, supporting the 

Brooks: Yes, well, during that period the council was meeting one night a 
week and the planning commission one night a week. I spent at 
least two nights a week in council chambers, before one or the 
other, and quite often these meetings would go on till one, two in 
the morning. I remember one that went on till three o'clock one 
morning. They'd argue for hours and hours about these various 

Lage: Was this during the sixties that they went on that long or right at 
the initial stages in the fifties? 

Brooks: Well, from the initial stages on through the mid-sixties. Then it 
gradually began to boil down to some more or less standard Roy was 
gone by that time some standard concepts and getting back te some 
standard rules they would follow, which I think was a mistake 
because they'd taken the flexibility out of it. 

Lage: So they did stop working with these mere flexible arrangements? 

Brooks: Ne, they kept working with them but they began to develop standards 
for that kind of thing, which more or less gets back into moving 
towards, effectively, ordinance requirements againl 

Lage: I see what you mean. That seems to be the progression ef things. 

Brooks: Well, it makes it a lot easier for the political forces to deal 
with something that's related to a standard. 

Lage: Right, but it may be easier also for a developer. Now, you seemed 
te like the challenge of this more flexible approach. 

Brooks: The standard approach is a lot easier for developers also. It's 

easier for everybody involved, but it takes the challenge away from 
doing something really different. 


Involvement with the Alameda County Flood Control District 

Lage: We'll be earning back to seme of this business with the council, but 
I want to talk a little mere about flood control. We talked last 
time about seme of the interim measures that you took to deal with 
flooding, but we missed the part about the Alameda County Flood 
Control Project itself. 

Brooks: You're talking about the Corps of Engineers project on Alameda 

Lage: Right. Now. one thing I mentioned is that Will Patterson was 
chairman of the Alameda County Flood Control District, or 

Brooks: No. he was president of the water district. 

Lage: But also he had something to do with the flood centre! district 
[first chairman of the advisory commission ef the Alameda County 
Flood Control and Water Conservation District, from 1949 until 
1955. or later]. 

Brooks: No. he wasn't really involved in the flood control district. He 

was president of the water district and was the person who was the 
motivating force behind getting the water district formed. But the 
flood centre! district is completely separate. 

Lage: I knew that, but I believe he was involved in the flood control 
district also. Maybe it was an advisory board chairman. 

Brooks: He might have participated in the meetings and that sort of thing, 
but he had no official position with the flood control district. 
Because the flood centre! district didn't really get going until 

Lage: Well, there must have been something earlier to deal with it. 

Brooks: You see. all the flood control measures before incorporation were 
really controlled by the county engineering department. There 
wasn't really a flood control district as such. 

Lage: Right. That was when he was involved, when the county was in 
charge of it. 

Brooks: Yes, but that was under the standard engineering staff of the 

Lage: Right, and he was sort ef advisory board chairman, apparently. 
Brooks: Well, he may have been, but was in no official capacity. 


Lage: But when the concrete channel get put in. he was dead. I think. 

Brooks: Well, they formed a flood control district, which was somewhat 
different than the way it was handled before, then the district 
really got in and began to develop long-range plans for flood 

Lage: Now. did you get involved in that? 

Brooks : 

Brooks ; 


B rooks 

Oh, I was involved with the flood control district on a ve 
regular basis! I'd been down at their offices once a week. 

Tell me about that. What were you working toward? 

We were working towards mainly interim solutions to a major problem. 
The major problem was the flooding or the overflow from Alameda 
Creek. Everybody knew that eventually there would be the major pro 
ject by the Corps of Engineers on Alameda Creek that would eventually 
solve the flooding problem. What could you do in the interim? 

And maybe how could you speed the Corps of Engineers up? 
a problem? 

Was that 

That was always a discussion, and that was a major thing with the 
chamber of commerce and the city again. Every agency involved was 
trying to find ways to speed up the federal government! And get 
appropriations from the Congress so the Corps of Engineers would 
have the funds to do the project. 

Lage: Did you get involved with that with your political ties to 

Brooks: Well, everybody was involved. I was involved. You know, every 
time we talked to a representative in Washington, the question 
always was, "When will you get the move on this?" [laughter] So 
really everybody was working on it in the community. 

Lage: It was a major concern? 

Brooks: Yes, it was a major concern in the community. Before that, we 

almost had to leek at individual parcels and say, "Well, because of 
the flooding, what's happening to this parcel and what kind of an 
interim solution could you develop that would give future residents 
the full protection i^f the Corps of Engineers project never 
occurred?" So it was a matter of just taking a particular parcel 
and doing the engineering studies relative to that parcel and what 
could be done and what were the alternatives. 

Then I'd sit down with flood control people and say, "I think 
this is a solution and here are the engineering concepts and the 
basic numbers." We'd go over that and after discussion and 


Brooks: modifications and so forth, they'd say. 'Okay, we think that 
concept will work. Now let's refine it and do the detail 
engineering to make sure it will work." 

Lage: So you often brought in the concepts? 

Brooks: Yes. In fact. I developed most of the concepts right in my own 

office. I'd sit down at a drafting table and sketch these things 
out and make the basic computations that would give you the general 
magnitude of the numbers you had to deal with, then take those to 
them and through a discussion we'd refine it. Then I'd come back 
at that point in time. Then I'd turn it over to our professional 
engineering group, and they would refine it with refined numbers 
and refined concepts, and we'd get that approved. Then we'd come 
back and do the detail engineering for construction drawings. 

Lage: Would this be something you would have to pay for as the developer? 
Brooks: Oh sure. 

Lage: The flood control district didn't help out? 
Brooks: No, no. They didn't pay for it at all. 

Lage: Now we'll move to the Patterson Ranch again. Once all this flood 
control was in place, particularly the Corps of Engineers project, 
isn't that what allowed the Patterson Ranch to become developable? 

Brooks: That removed the flooding hazard from the ranch, but even before 

that I'd worked on an interim solution that was also acceptable to 
the flood control district. So we had an interim solution in place 
that would have made it developable, would have worked. We'd done 
detailed studies on that, and those studies were approved by the 
flood control district. But we never had to use that interim 
measure because the Corps of Engineers announced that they were 
proceeding with their project. So we could abandon the interim 
measures and go to what was going to happen in the future. When 
the Corps thing became a certainty, then we could abandon a lot of 
the interim solutions and wait for the corps project. 

Lage: It made it simpler for you. I would think. 

Brooks: Yes. It made it a lot simpler because I devoted a lot of my time 
in the days before the corps project to just the flood control, 
engineering kinds of studies I'd do myself. I'd just take maps and 
I'd draw all kinds of schemes scheme maybe is a bad word! until I 
found one that I thought would work on an engineering basis. 


Lage: What were you planning for? I interviewed an engineer from the 
Corps of Engineers and he talked in terms of fifty-year floods, 
hundred-year floods. 

Brooks: Well, for different kinds of projects there're different standard 
criteria. The flood control corps project is a hundred-year flood 
design. They have other things. Sometimes it might be a fifty- 
year flood or even a twenty. It depends on the nature of the 
project, and you design to a criteria. 

Lage: Are the home owners advised that they're living in a flood plain? 

Brooks: Well, there's no need to advise them because at the time the 

home owner arrives, the solutions to these things have been well 
worked out and they've all been engineered out to standard criteria 
so that they don't have any mere hazard than living anyplace else. 
In fact, probably in the north plain area, which was the area that 
flooded all the time, there's less hazard new because of the modern 
engineering design of flood control facilities than there are in 
many other areas, older areas. 

Lage: That channel is very wide. It looks like it would take an awful 
lot of water to run over. 

Brooks: Right, yes. Then, also, the interior designs within the developed 
areas out there have a much higher standard than ether, older areas 
within the community. 

Lage: One thing I'm interested in, part of the lands that the flood 

control district purchased from the Pattersons then became part of 
Coyote Hills Regional Park. Do you know anything about the process 
of Coyote Hills becoming a park? Apparently, there was seme 
conflict between Fremont's idea of a "new town" in that area and 
the park district's hope fer a really major park. 

Brooks: I think there was maybe some dispute on boundaries, but I think in 
concept the Coyote Hills Park, which is a series of hills right en 
the bay, had always been considered from the beginning that it 
should be some kind of open space area, which was nothing more than 
saying it should be a park area. So I think that concept existed 
from the beginning. You knew, the park comes down to a portion ef 
the flatlands and some marshlands and that kind ef thing, and there 
was seme dispute about maybe what those boundaries were, but that 
kind ef thing is a relatively minor dispute. 

Lage: And there was apparently a dispute with the Pattersons over 
purchase price. 

Brooks: The Pattersons weren't anxious to sell a major pertien ef the 

ranch, but at that point there was little choice as the agency has 
power ef condemnation, so it's a matter ef negotiation. 


Lage: Did you act as an adviser an that at all with the Pattersons? 

Brooks: Not in that area, but I got involved in reinvesting some of the 
funds that came from that. 

Lage: From the sale? 

Brooks: Yes. Really the negotiations en that were not that difficult. 

Lage: Oh, they weren't? 

Breaks: No, they were pretty straightforward. You know, the government 

agencies had appraisals, and they can't pay above their appraisal, 
and of course landowners always think their land is werth mere. So 
it's a pretty straightforward negotiation. It didn't need much 
talent to negotiate that. 

Lage: I've been reading seme newspaper clippings about it, and apparently 
some of the community was unhappy because the flood centre! project 
increased the value of these lands. The government paid fer the 
flood centre! project, but the Pattersons wanted the additional 
money for the land. 

Brooks: Well, that's a typical kind of argument. There are standard rules 
of law that apply in arriving at the appraisals, and they applied 
the standard rules of law. Some people are happy with the law, and 
some people are unhappy with the law, but that's the lawl And that 
occurs in everyday experiences. You knew, some people don't like 
the seatbelt law. They have the seatbelt law fer your car. and some 
people think the law should be rigidly enforced. There's a 
difference of opinion, but the law is whatever it is. 

Genesis ef the New Town Concept in the North Plain Area 

Lage: I was surprised, in reading about this Coyote Hills thing, how 

early the term "New Town" was used in that area, clear back in the 
early sixties. 

Brooks: The New Town term was used from the very beginning with Roy Potter, 
from the very first general plan of the city. There were five 
existing communities that made up Fremont, and in addition to the 
five existing communities, one great big open area to the north 
that was not identified as a community. He looked at that one big 
open area and said, "That should be the sixth community." So it 
got that identity from the very beginning, that that should be the 
sixth community 

Lage: And kind of have its own little center. 


Brooks: And whereas each of the other five were called "towns," and still 

are. he just picked that up and said. "That community equals town." 
You can say "community" or "town," it's the same thing. 

Lage: So way back in the early sixties he saw this as potentially 

Brooks: Yes. he saw that it should be planned as a sixth town. 

Lage: Now. was this something that the two of you worked out together or 
did he pretty much bring that up? 

Brooks: He pretty much brought that up. although we discussed it and we 
were very much in agreement en that concept. In fact, there was 
not a whole lot of discussion on the concept. He just said. 
Gentlemen, that's going to be our sixth town," and everybody 
seemed to accept it. There wasn't very much controversy on that 
subj ect. 



Purchase of Tract by Singer Housing 

Lage : Let's talk now about the development in the seventies on the 
Patterson Ranch, the controversial sale of land that is now 
Ardenwoed Park, and subsequent lawsuit. 

Brooks: The sale wasn't controversial. The Pattersons decided to sell a 

portion of the ranch, and that portion was called Tract in those 
days because I had a series of parcels and each one had a letter to 
identify it. Tract was the parcel that their homes were en. It 
had the private parks and all the trees and very specialized 
agriculture. You know, the portion that was agriculture was walnut 
trees rather than row crops. So they decided to sell that tract. 

Lage: Do you knew why they picked that tract to sell? 

Brooks: Well, I think there were a couple of reasons. Number one, it was 
immediately adjacent to the highway. It was net in the Williamson 

Lage: I see, so the taxes were high on that. 

Brooks: Yes, the taxes were high on that. Also, most of it could be served 
by sewer at that point in time. So if anything was to be 
developed, that was the logical place to develop. 

Lage: And what did they think might be the fate of the home and the 
trees? When they sold that to you, was there any 

Brooks: There were no restrictions, no restrictions. When they sold it, 
they sold it, which included everything that was on the property. 

Lage: Because I've heard two points of view from the family. Some people 
say, "We always wanted that home saved in a park. 11 And then I've 
heard other people in the community say they were afraid that they 
were going to burn that house down. 


Broeks : Well, there were no restrictions in the sales agreement, because I 
knew. I negotiated it and signed it. and I was purchaser, so I 
knew what the agreement said. There was kind of an informal thing, 
net part of the agreement, between myself and Marj orie Patterson. 
She said, "Well, if you're going to have, in the future, a park 
within this parcel as part of the development process, I would like 
to see you put the park where the home is and see if you could 
preserve the home with a park site around it." But she always made 
it clear it was net an obligation en my part. It was just she 
would like to see that. 

Lage: She had lived there longer than anybody, hadn't she? 
Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: Was she living there at the time it was sold or had she already 

Brooks: I just don't recall. She was either living there at the time it 
was sold or moved out shortly before the sale. For practical 
purposes she'd been living there. 

Lage: Now, you were with Singer by then. 

Brooks: Yes, I was president of Singer Housing Company. I had merged my 
companies; I had a whole series of companies with the Singer 
company, which is the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Subsequent to 
that merger, then, I became president of Singer Housing Company, 
which was a national real estate building company with divisions in 
Florida and Colorado and Arizona and a number of places. 

Lage: So you had your mind on a lot of things besides Patterson 

Brooks: Yes. 

Fremont's Moratorium en Development in the North Plain 

Lage: In 1969, before you purchased that land, it was rezoned from 
agriculture to residential and commercial. 

Brooks: Yes. One of the problems was that part of it was in Newark and 
part of it was in Fremont. The part that faced the highway, a 
strip a thousand feet wide from the highway back, was in Newark, and 
the balance of the property that was behind that, with no direct 
access to the highway, was in Fremont. [laughter] 

Lage: So you worked on plans for this area? 


Brooks: Yes. we developed plans for this area, and of course we had to 
process them through both cities at that point in time. 

Lage : What were your original plans? Did they involve a park around the 

Brooks: Yes. 

Lage : So you did try to do that? 

Brooks: Yes. I tried to accommodate that wish. 

Lage: Was there also anything expressed to you by the community or people 
in the community that showed they wanted a park there? 

Brooks: There was a faction of the community that wanted the whole thing to 
be a park. Then there were other factions in the community that 
just wanted to see it developed. Mainly the business community 
wanted to see it developed. There was a let of controversy at this 
point in time, and there were major differences between what the 
city of Newark wanted and what the city of Fremont wanted. 

Lage: And how did they differ? 

Brooks: The city of Newark wanted high-density housing and commercial 

development. They didn't care about a park. They didn't want any 

Lage: They wanted more tax base? 

Brooks: They wanted mere tax base, and they wanted mere housing, and they 
wanted higher density than ether areas of the city. They wanted 
that to be their high density area, and they wanted a major 
commercial development. Whereas the city officials in Fremont at 
that time really didn't want to do anything. They just wanted to 
leave it as open space 1 

Lage: Was this at the time the slow-growth faction was in power? 

Brooks: Yes, they were in power at that point. 

Lage: And how about the planning department? Were they with you on this? 

Brooks: Oh, the planning department follows the lead of the council. If 

you've got a slow-growth council, the planning department, because 
they're employees, if they're going to keep their jobs, they're 
going to respond to their bosses. So in Fremont you had one 
approach, and in Newark you had another approach, and roughly half 
the land was in each city. [laughter] 


Lage: At one point. I think, you suggested maybe Newark should annex the 
rest of it. 

Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: You must have gotten pretty frustrated working with the two cities. 

Brooks: Well, the parcel being split down the middle wasn't logical for 

either city. It didn't make any sense for either city. You'd have 
to go through Newark to get to the Fremont land. So you'd have to 
go through the Newark city limits to go back around to get to the 
Fremont land. Then, Newark had the property that faced the major 
thoroughfare and Fremont had the rear piece. Part of that logic was. 
if you take all those factors together, it probably should be in 
Newark. Well, of course, Fremont didn't want to give anything up. 

Lage: So what was the upshot? I know it ended in a moratorium en the 
development for Fremont. 

Brooks: Well. Fremont declared a moratorium, and Newark approved all the 
plans for their half. So we had a division line with everything 
approved in Newark, and a moratorium on the Fremont side. 

Singer's Lawsuit and Negotiations for a Settlement Agreement 

Brooks: I just didn't think they could do that legally, so I filed a law 

suit against Fremont. The court agreed with me and ordered Fremont 
to process our development plans. 

Lage: Were they ordered to process specific development plans or just to 
work with you? 

Brooks: They ordered them to process the plans in accordance with the 

existing ordinances and regulations within the city. Then, the 
nature of that order would almost compel you to develop it in a 
standard subdivision, not using a PD or PUD. As a result of that 
court order, we could have just gone ahead and developed the rest 
of it, then coordinated with the Newark side, which was already 
preapproved by now. 

At that point in time, the council again had changed somewhat, 
[laughter] There'd been an election in between, and the new council 
thought that it would be much better to sit down and try and 
negotiate something that made sense because that didn't make a 
whole lot of sense. I had a legal right to do it, but it really 
didn't make a whole lot of sense on a planning basis and didn't 
correspond with what Fremont would really like to see, although we 
couldn't present it. 


Lage: It also seems like it wasn't lacking toward what was going to 
happen with the rest of the land. 

Brooks: That's right. Of course, the court order also applied to the rest 
ef the land. 

Lage: And that could be developed? 

Brooks: Yes. So the council had changed, and there were some new members 
and effectively what they said, but they didn't say it in these 
words, "It's kind of ridiculous. We've gone through this whole 
lawsuit and doing this whole thing. It was kind ef a ridiculous 
process. It cost us a let ef money because the city had very 
substantial attorneys' fees involved in fighting this lawsuit " 

Lage: Of course they could have appealed it. 

Brooks: They could have appealed it, but the nature ef the court order and 
its legal basis would have made it a very difficult thing to turn 
ever en appeal. I think they realized that, and I think the city 
attorney realized that. Just by the nature ef it, it's one of 
these things that's very, very difficult to reverse on appeal. 

So then the council said that the whole process had been 
ridiculous, and it didn't make a whole let of sense, and accepting 
a development plan in accordance with our standard ordinances 
because ef the unique features ef that piece ef land is kind of 
ridiculous on the face of it, and we really don't like what Newark 
has approved either, [laughter] 

So the council then appointed a negotiating committee to 
contact me to see if they could negotiate something that made more 
sense. They appointed a councilman to that committee, Tony 
Azevedo. Tony Azevede and Larry Milnes, who is now assistant city 
manager but I think at that time he was public works director, and 
city attorney Allen Sprague. and then the city manager sat in on 
some ef the meetings, but net most of them. 

Se we started a process ef saying. "What can we do that makes 
mere sense? How can we negotiate a settlement of the lawsuit and 
at the same time do a development that makes more sense?" 

Lage: Would your settlement have to be approved by the court then? 

Brooks: No, we could enter into a settlement agreement between the parties. 
It did not require a court approval. We spent day after day in the 
city hall conference room. 


Lage: I have noted somewhere, it must be from newspaper accounts. 350 
hours. That's a let of hours! 

Brooks: I didn't keep track of the hours, but my guess would be it's in 
that magnitude. Probably 350 hours at meetings and another 700 
hours analyzing outside the meetings. [laughter] 

Lage: What a taskl How did these meetings proceed? 

Brooks: Well, we began to set out some objectives that the city of Fremont 
would like to see. First of all, they'd like to see Newark out of 
there. Hew can we annex this Newark land to Fremont? So that was 
one thing that had to be done. And then they said, "Well, we'd 
like to see a major park, not only a typical community park, but 
we'd like to see a major park that includes all the tree areas and 
the [George Washington] Patterson house, and how can we do that?" 
But yet if they did that, it would take almost all the land, so 
there wouldn't be anything left for development I 

So we said. "Well, if we arrange to have that as a park, then 
if we can do some trading with the Patterson family for seme 
adjacent land, then you will approve the adjacent land for 
development." So that involved then getting with the Pattersons 
and saying, "Will you do some trading with us for adjacent land?" 
to accommodate the overall type of plan we were developing at the 
city, and the Pattersons were cooperative. 

Lage: Did you have to meet with all the Pattersons or did you meet just 
with "Don? 

Brooks: I met with Don, who kind of represented his whole side of the 

family, and then I met with John and Sally Adams, who represented 
the ether side of the family. 

Lage: And they were all agreeable? 

Brooks: Yes. And we traded back and forth. It was a very complex kind of 
land trade thing, and then we also had to trade Williamson Act land 
too, which had never been done anyplace in the state. We were 
going to take this piece that's in the Williamson Act and this 
piece that's not, and we were just going to move the Williamson Act 
from this piece to that piece and this over here. So the relative 
acreage stays the same. There was no legal precedent for that 
anyplace 1 [laughter] 

Lage: Except the willingness to do itl 

Brooks: Yes. No legal precedent for that. The city attorney who was 

involved in negotiations said, "I can't find anything that says you 
can do anything like that, but I can't find anything that says you 
can' t either. " [laughter] 


Lage: And no one challenged it. I assume? 
Brooks: So we did it and no one challenged it. 

So through these complex negotiations and I think the people 
involved from the city all were dealing in good faith, trying to 
find solutions that would implement what the council wanted we 
arrived at a settlement agreement that accommodated all these 
things. It said you can go ahead and develop this over here, and 
we'll dedicate the forty-six acres of park, and we'll sell to the 
city the balance of the land. The city didn't have any money to 
buy it with, so then we developed the idea of an issue of bonds to 
buy it with and those bonds would be paid out from an additional 
building permit fee for everybody that was developing in the city. 

As I recall, it added $200 to the building permit fee for 
everything that occurred in the city, and these funds would then, 
hopefully, eventually pay off those bonds. 

Lage: And would pay off Singer for property they were turning ever to the 

Brooks: Yes, and then Singer took the bonds in payment for the rest of the 
land. Of course there was a great deal of uncertainty about 
whether the bonds would ever be paid off because what was the 
timing on development? When would it occur? So it was a very 
uncertain kind of payment schedule. 

Lage: How did the chamber of commerce and fellow developers feel about 
that aspect? 

Brooks: Well, the fellow developers really weren't involved, and they 

weren't too concerned. It was more a matter of curiosity about how 
things are goingl And of course, they were happy seeing a 
developer really doing something because a developer had never sued 
the city before and never had really worked out any kind of 

This was completely new to everybody. There was no real 
precedent for what we were doing any place in the state. There was 
very little law on the subject of what we were doing. We just 
assumed if there wasn't a law against it. then we could do it. 

Lage: It sounds like your history of working closely with the city 
certainly helped with this. 

Brooks: Yes. Well. Larry Milnes and I have always had a good relationship. 
He's a really tough negotiator. He doesn't give up anything for 
the city. I have a great deal of respect for him. He has told me 
he feels the same about me. I think it's a challenge to him. and 
it's a challenge to me to negotiate with him. and it goes both ways. 


Lage: You both enjoy the process. 

Brooks: Yes. So he kind of led all the negotiations on the city side. The 
city councilman was present and had comments, but Larry Milnes was 
kind of the leader on their side, and of course I was just 
representing myself. 

Lage: One of the contentions, it seemed to me. was that the area couldn't 
be serviced well at that time, that that was why they put in the 
moratorium, because of inadequate fire service and all that. 

Brooks: That was just a smoke screen. 
Lage: Was it? 

Brooks: It was obvious it was a smoke screen because as seen as we reached 
a settlement agreement, all the services were there and we could 
develop I 

Lage: Didn't you have to put in that Paseo Padre overpass? 

Brooks: Well, we were required to put in two lanes of it. That's half of 
the overpass. But whatever development took place there needed 
that traffic access, so that was never in dispute. That was never 
really a dispute. We knew that that was required, and you just 
couldn't put that many houses and people out there without a way 
for them to get there! 

Lage: And for the fire trucks to fellow them. 
Brooks: Yes. 

Arranging Land Swaps with Newark 

Lage: So after that you had then to deal with Newark, or Fremont had to 
deal with Newark. 

Brooks: Well, I also participated with that on the Fremont side in 

arranging land swaps because at that time the alignment of the BART 
and freeway [Highway 84] was established by the state, and that 
alignment isolated parts of Newark on one side and the ether side 
of the freeway in relatively small strips which would be difficult 
for the city to serve. The same thing with Fremont. The way the 
freeway ran through it. it isolated pieces of property for both 
cities so that they'd have to go through the other city to serve 
these areas. 


Brooks: That led to the logic of why not make the freeway the boundary 

between the two cities. Newark could serve everything en that side 
of the freeway and Fremont could serve everything on their side. 
They wouldn't have to go around the devious route to get to a 
little parcel within the city but disconnected from the city. So 
through that whole process, and the cities agreed, they'd swap land 
back and forth to make the freeway a common boundary between the 
two cities. Fremont to the north and Newark to the south. 


So that general concept got acceptance between the two cities 
until right near the end of the mayor of Newark said. "Wait a 
minute. I've been looking at this alignment and the eld boundary 
line is here where it crosses what was called Newark Boulevard. 
The freeway misses that line, the center line of that street, by 
fifty feet. It's fifty feet further south than an exact alignment 
that would intersect an exact point in the middle of a street." 

Lags : So you had fifty feet of dispute. 

Brooks: Yes. And he said. "I'm net going to agree to anything while that 
freeway's ever there fifty feet." The state had already 
established the alignment and were well into their design, so it 
became a major hang-up in the negotiation. It was insignificant as 
far as land was concerned. He just had a personal thing that this 
was the old line, and the center line of the freeway should cross 
the center line of that old street. 

Lage: Even though this really wasn't for you to decide? 

Brooks: But it did seriously disturb getting the whole thing complete. It 
became so serious at that point I went to Sacramento and was able 
to convince the highway department. CALTRANS now, that it was 
logical for them to move it over fifty feet, which they did. 

Part of the problem is they'd already acquired some right of 
way. so the right of way the'd acquired didn't line up with the new 
alignment 1 By that time the state had already acquired from Singer 
the right of way that they needed for the freeway, and that would 
then leave a little fifty-foot strip en one side of the freeway 
that was owned by Singer and would take another fifty-foot strip on 
the other side. So I told the state we would accept that and we 
would deal with that strip later on; that would net be their 
problem. That was an isolated strip back from the street because 
you couldn't get to it. 

Lage: It wouldn't be of much use to anyone. 

Brooks: No use to anybody, and it didn't have any access. 


Brooks: Well, with that and completing the negotiation with the state, they 
moved the freeway ever to intersect that exact point that the mayor 
of Newark wanted. So we put the freeway over and then the swaps 
took place between Newark and Fremont to resolve the problem. 

Lage: That's an amazing story. Who was the mayor ef Newark then? 
Brooks: I think it was Balentine, Jim [James E.] Balentine. 

Brooks : 

Did both cities end up happy with the swap? 

Newark got mere land. 

Yes. well, that was another problem. They wanted everything to 
come out equal, and there was no way to make it exactly equal. If 
I recall it, my argument at that point in time was. "It should be 
of equal value, not equal acreage," because they were looking at 
equal acreage. I said, "This land up here is mere valuable than 
that, so Newark should get more acreage to equate the values." I 
got acceptance of that. There wasn't a whole lot of logic to the 
argument, but it was a rationalization that everybody could accept 1 

Lage: It made people happy. 
Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: Was seme ef that land that went to Newark also Patterson Ranch 

Brooks: Yes, a portion. Not a whole lot, but there was a triangular piece 
of probably twenty acres or so that went to Newark. 

Parties to the Solution; 

The Courts, the Community, and Singer 

Lage: You also went to Sacramento on a legal matter, didn't you, having 
to do with a law that would forbid councils from reversing 
themselves on these development processes? 

Brooks : Well, I did a number of things of that sort in Sacramento. I 

served en various commissions and committees in Sacramento that 
dealt in this area. Also, when Governor Brown was in office. I 
became kind of an unofficial member ef his group and advisor, so I 
would advise him on legislation that came from the legislature that 
related to this area. Also I served as chairman ef the Economic 
Development Commission, so I did a lot ef work in that area. Which 
particular item I don't knew because I was dealing with these kinds 
of things on a pretty regular basis. 




Well, the thing I had heard about was that you were somewhat 
incensed that the city council reversed its own rules for the 
Patterson area after you'd purchased it, and then there was 
legislation that a council was bound by former agreements. 

No. not really. That all took place in the court action. 
have any special legislation adopted en that at all. 

1 didn't 

Lage: Okay. Wherever I read that or heard it, it must be wrong. 

Brooks: Well, there're all kinds of rumors of hew I went about doing it. 

Those people who like to oppose me like to tell a story that I went 
to Sacramento and had the legislature pass me a special bill and 
the governor sign it for me, but those rumors are just net true. 

Lage: So it was the court who said the council was acting improperly in 
declaring a moratorium en development in the north plain? 

Brooks: The court made the decision based upon the laws in existence at 
that time, and there was no change by the legislature at all. 

Lage: Okay. That's why we're doing this, to straighten out some of these 

Did you get some sense about the community's feeling about 
development in that area? Again, was it divided? 

Brooks: It was divided, but I think the majority of the community had no 
problems with the development of that area. I think the 
environmental groups, which were a minority, a very vocal minority, 
objected to it, and their main motivation was to get a great big 
park out there. 

Lage: Of course, that was sort of the height of the environmental 
movement then. 

Brooks: Yes. So through the negotiations and the restructuring and the de- 
annexations and changing the freeways and everything, we pretty 
much get them what they wanted. 

Lage: Did you feel that you came out with a good economic solution 
through that negotiation? I mean, did you give up a lot? 

Brooks: Well, I think I gave up some, but I didn't give up so much that I 
couldn't create an economic development. 

Lage: By that time you weren't with Singer, and hadn't the land been sold 
to another company? 


Brooks: By the time the court action came along and subsequent to that, the 
settlement with the city. I had retired from Singer, but Singer had 
employed me as their representative and gave me full authority to 
negotiate, and I'd just report to them in New York from time to 
time what the status was. I think they had complete confidence and 
faith in me. so they gave me just a blank check to negotiate what I 
thought was appropriate. After all, I'd been the president of 
their operation, a multi-million-dellar operation, for a number of 
years. [laughter] 

Lage : What was Citation Homes, then? 

Brooks: Citation Homes came much later and wasn't really involved at all at 
this stage because Singer, after I'd retired and been gene for 
several years, decided to spin off their housing division, and they 
spun off various housing divisions around the country, and the 
division that was located here locally was renamed Citation, on a 
spin-off where the employees, through a process, eventually acquire 
the company. You know, you read about these things all the time. 
I won't go into all the details of hew these things work 

Then this division was named Citation, another division in 
Colorado get another name, and one in Florida got another name, so 
there was a change in names in splitting off the nationwide 
operation to a series ef local operations that would be acquired by 
employees in the future. 

Lage: Did you have an association with Citation, then? 

Brooks: Yes. well, then Citation also did the same thing as Singer, and ef 
course Singer still owned Citation then. So I looked at it really 
as one company, and I had the same arrangement both before and 
after that technical spin-off kind of thing. 



City ef Fremont's Pressures for Development ef the North Plain 

Lage : Let's talk now about our final topic what you've done as a 

consultant for the Patterson family in the eighties. That's sort 
of a new story, I would think. 

Brooks: The Pattersons still, after all these things we've been talking 
about, owned very large acreage out there. It was all in 
agriculture. There came a point in time when we had a particular 
group on the council that were pro-growth now it gees back and 
forth and they said, "We don't know why we should have any 
Williamson Act in the city. We've get this all planned for 
development; why should we reduce our revenues to the city by 
giving these people special breaks out there so they can hold their 
land and sell it at higher values in the future?" 

Lage: That's the way they saw the Williamson Act? 

Brooks: That's what they said, that it was just a holding act so they can 
held their land and let the values rise without paying their fair 
share ef taxes, and the city doesn't participate in any of that 
value rise, and we should consider canceling the Williamson Act for 
all the parcels in Fremont. It became a kind ef sentiment on the 
council, not the total council, but at least it appeared to be a 
majority on the council. 

Of course, that disturbed the Pattersons, and Don Patterson in 
particular, who was then the manager ef the ranch for the family. 
If they were paying regular taxes, there wasn't enough farm income 
to even pay the taxes. It was a very substantial loss each year if 
they had to pay regular taxes. 

So Don came to me and said. "We've got this major problem. If 
political forces carry out what they say they're thinking ef. then 
we have a major problem. What can we do about it? Will you give 
it some thought and advise me on what my various alternatives and 
options are?" 


Breoks: Well. I talked to some city people and I get a pretty firm feeling 
that they were fairly serious, that that group was fairly serious 
about this proposal. At that point in time the chamber of commerce 
had a special committee to encourage development out there. They 
wanted the thing fully developed. They wanted additional people; 
they wanted the additional business that would create, the 
additional taxes it would generate. 

Lage: It's such a swing from just a few years earlier when they were 
putting a ten-year moratorium on all development. 

Brooks: Almost every time there's a council election there's a swing. 

[laughter] Usually it only takes one and sometimes two members of 
the council to change the majority vote because every council had 
some no-growth people and some pro-growth people, and it all 
depends on who had three votes at any particular time, who had 
three out of five. 

Lage: Now. did that make the developers, yourself included, get involved 
in these city council elections? 

Brooks: Oh, certainly. 

Lage: Supporting certain people? 

Brooks: Yes, very much involved, very much involved. 

Preparing and Promoting a Master Plan for Patterson Ranch Lands 

Breoks: Getting back to the eighties, being the sentiment of the community 
at that point in time, it appeared that this was a very serious 
threat to the Patterson family. At least Don considered it a very 
serious threat. Because he was really representing his side of the 
family, he asked me to discuss the threat and the consequences of 
the threat with Sally and John Adams. 

I made an appointment with them, went to their home, talked to 
them about it. and I gave them whatever background I could get, 
excerpts from minutes where they'd made comments like this from the 
city council, some copies of the chamber of commerce agendas, and. 
you know, various documentation to indicate what the mood of the 
community was. 

They concluded at that time that they should take some 
positive actions to protect themselves and so did Don. So Don came 
back and said, 'Will you begin to work on this thing for us? We've 
concluded that the only way we can protect ourselves is to prepare 
the property for development so that all or a portion of it could 
be sold if these things should occur." 


Brooks: So with that I did some sketch plans of what could be dene, and 
conferred with Don and, from time to time, with Sally and John 
Adams, and eventually arrived at seme concepts that were acceptable 
ta them. 

Lage: Se you were dealing with sort of a master plan for the area? 
Brooks: Yes, the whole master plan for the whole area. 
Lage: What would go in each portion? 

Brooks: Yes. The whole master plan for each area, but just in freehand 
sketch form because I was doing it all myself. I didn't want to 
get anyone else involved because I didn't want anybody to knew what 
the thinking of the family might be. The family wanted to keep 
what they were doing very confidential. 

Lage: Did the family give you any guidelines that were essential to them 
for that land? 

Brooks: Well, the only guideline was that they said they'd like to see some 
substantial portion remain in agriculture. This threat occurred if 
they could sell some substantial portion that would reduce their 
exposure, and the income from the portion they sold would help 
support the agricultural activities in the future. 

Lage: So this generation still had a commitment to agriculture? 

Brooks: Yes. They were very much committed to agriculture, and 

particularly John and Sally Adams. They wanted to see as much 
remain in agriculture as possible. Se I developed a plan with 
about two- thirds of the land in urban development and about a 
third, roughly, remaining in agriculture en an indefinite basis. 
That did net receive a very good reception from the city or the 
chamber of commerce. 

Lage: How did you present it to them? 

Brooks: I presented it that way. and they said no. 

Lage: Informally or formally? 

Brooks: Informally. 

Lage: You just checked around. 

Brooks: Informally, with both the chamber and the political forces in the 
city, because the planning staff had got kind of removed at this 
point in time. To protect themselves, the staff had employed an 
outside planner and said, 'Uive us a series of plans that range 
from no development to maximun development." 


Brooks: Well, that resulted in a series of twelve different plans with 

various intensities of development, and they just said te the city 
council and the planning commission, "Take your choice." 
[laughter] Which really led te nothing. So they didn't know what 
choice to make because there were just small variations ever twelve 
plans that went from nothing all the way te maximum. 

Lage : In a way. then, your master plan was competing with this official 
city effort? 

Brooks: Yes. mine was designated a separate number. The city just inserted 
it into the series in the middle someplace, and said, "Well, this 
is another variation and take your choice." [laughter] 

Lage: That's an interesting way to ge about it. 

Brooks: Both the chamber and the majority of the council, as I read them at 
that point in time, did net like my plan because at that point in 
time they wanted a development plan with no agriculture. They 
didn't want any agriculture. 

The chamber ef commerce at this point in time had much mere 
influence on the city council than they have presently. The 
chamber ef commerce influence goes in cycles also. It's up and 
dewn depending on elections and ether things. At that point they 
were at the high point of their cycle; they had great influence on 
the city council. 

So through a series ef meetings with the chamber, with 
planning staff, with seme ef the planning commission, some of the 
city council, we were finally able te convince them, "Yeu're mainly 
interested in the number ef people and number of houses, which are 
really the same thing, that will create business for the community 
and create a tax base for the community. Suppose we make this 
portion that we're going te develop more concentrated and mere 
intensive, increase the number ef people and the tax base, and then 
leave some land in agriculture?" 

Well. I was able te then convince the chamber and seme ef the 
planning commission and the council and some of the planning staff 
that that was a pretty good idea. So through a whole process of 
meetings and negotiations, I teek my plan and did some more 
detailed planning and showed them what could be dene, and they 
actually came up with, "We want X number of houses out there, can 
you do that?" They were using a number like 4000 or 4500 houses. 

Lage: And they were originally thinking of them spread out over the whole 

Brooks: Spread out ever the whole thing. 



Key for 1981 town development plan 

DU Intensity Scale 

! ..-.'' L 

Viage I 

Neighborhood Cluster 1 
HI Neighborhood Cluster 2 
L- . Neighborhood Cluster 3 
LI] Neighborhood Cluster 4 
Village I 

! i Neighborhood Cluster 1 

H Neighborhood Cluster 2 

Bl Neighborhood Cluster 3 

MM Neighborhood Cluster 4 


VII oe 

tSj Noighborhood Cluster 1 

lp Neighborhood Cluster 2 

F~1 Neighborhood Cluster 3 



Elementary School/Park 
(S Elementary School/Park 

5 Junior High School 

6 Senior High School 

Ardenwood Park Expansion 
High Technology Industry 

Town Center 
Secondary Commercial 

Service Street 

Visual Park-Trai Corridor 
Park & Ride 

Fre Station 





















1961 THE ALAMEDA. SAN JOSE, CA 95126- (4O6) 219-6152 


Brooks: At that point everybody was exposed to what was going on. I still 
did my basic sketches, and then I had a professional planner come 
in and kind of refine them and put in pretty pictures what ^ call 
cartoons, by the way so that they were prepared for governmental 
agencies. You knew, they put all the trees in and color them 

Lage: Yes. and make it look livable. 

Reaching a Consensus en the Balance between Open Space and Urban 

Brooks: So we reached a balance between agriculture and development that 

was acceptable to the community forces, and not only the chamber of 
commerce and the city council, but the environmental groups as well 
because they got in the act at that point in time. 

Lage: Well. I know that that's one of the ideas I've heard environmental 
groups put forth, that we should have increased density so as not 
to use up all the open space. 

Brooks: Yes. I think it was the first time in my memory that even the 

Sierra dub endorsed this, sent letters to the city council saying 
they recommended the plan. 

Lage: They recommended the plan you presented? 

Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: Did you work directly with people in the Sierra Club? 

Brooks: Yes. I had some meetings with the Sierra dub staff people and 
explained what we were doing and the advantages of what we were 
doing. I assume they took it to their board, but I didn't deal 
with the board directly. I just dealt with a staff person from the 
Sierra dub. 

So we seemed to have general acceptance for the first time in 
history from all the various elements! From all the various 
elements. From the real pro-growth elements, a lot of them 
represented on the chamber of commerce; the city council; the 
planning commission; the environmentalist groups; the historical 
groups, because we were preserving the house and the area around 
the house, and that's all they cared about; they didn't care what 
you did with the development so long as we preserved these 
historical things. 


Brooks: The Sierra dub seemed te be pleased with the fact that the areas 
that remain in agriculture we provided on the lower end. adjacent 
te the Coyote Hills Regional Park, It's a kind of lowlands, seme 
of it semi-marsh, an open space tied to the park, which would 
remain an open space in the future through an open-space easement. 

Lage: And would a tax break be given en that? 

Brooks: Well, it's still in the Williamson Act. So the Williamson Act 

remained en all the property that remained in agriculture, and the 
Williamson Act was taken off all the land that was te be developed. 
The Pattersons still have the Williamson Act en all the land that 
remains in agriculture. So they're able to farm that, but 
currently with farm prices and the rest, there's no profit in 
farming. You're lucky if you break even. But they still want te 
have land remain in agriculture, even though they may net be 
breaking even en that operation. 

Lage: Did the city make a commitment te keep it in agriculture for a 
length of time? 

Brooks: No, they divided the agricultural land into two classes: one that 
remained permanently agriculture and another class that they called 
urban reserve; it would remain in agriculture until such time as 
there was a proven need for that land to be developed for the 
benefit of the city and at such time as all the utilities and ether 
things were available for that piece. 

So they took a portion and said. "We can go either way en this. 
We'll leave it in agriculture for now, but we'll have te look at 
community needs in the future, and if the community needs it in 
development in the future, then we'll change that portion. And 
this portion down here will remain permanently in agriculture." So 
that was all part ef the negotiations between these various groups. 

Lage: And what happened te the twelve other plans? 

Brooks: Well, the other plans kind of just disappeared. When it came time 
for the planning commission and the city council to review the 
plans, the other plans were on the wall so everybody could see 
them, but they were only really discussing the one plan. 

The council chambers were filled with people. For the first 
time in my memory, not one person spoke against the plan. There 
was a whole parade of speakers from the various different factions 
within the community going up te the podium and speaking in favor 
ef it. I sat there amazed, listening to this, and said t myself, 
"When they call on me to speak, I'm going to say very little 
because I don't want to disturb anybody." [laughter] You know, 
I've been known to stand at the podium in the past in the council 
chambers and talk for two, two and a half hours at a time. 


Lage: No vender the meetings lasted until three in the morning! 

Brooks: This time I get up. and I was away from there in two or three 
minutes I 

Lage: When was this? When did it actually come before the council? Do 
you knew the date? 

Brooks: No. I don't have that date. Probably '80, '81 or something like 

It was a general plan change at that point that was approved. 
Then we followed that with a planned district that was consistent 
with that and began to refine it with all the other things that 
have to go into it, an urban development plan. We also then built 
in, which is not normal, the economics to implement it because it 
required a let of public facilities. Major streets and sewers and 
that kind of thing that would not normally be an obligation of the 
developer. So we developed economic plans to accomplish this so 
we'd have a full community from the beginning, not partially 
completed streets. 

B rooks : 

B rooks : 


B rooks : 

Local improvement districts? 

And that's why we used two local improvement districts. LID 25 and 
27, as the basic implementation. 

I'm curious, with all the planning and all the political process, 
where does the market fit in the planning process? I mean, where 
did what you felt people would buy in terms of homes come into 
play? Did people want increased density? 

Well, I've been at this business thirty-five years, and it's 
assumed I have some expertise in what the market wants, and that 
was part of the planning process. You had a plan that's 
marketable. You knew, a plan that's not marketable is no good to 
anybody; it's a waste of time. 

How do you increase yeur housing density? 

By apartments and 

Yes. we used basically smaller single-family lots and townheuses 
and apartments. 

Lage: You thought the market was ready for that kind of high-density 


Brooks: Well, you knew, it's an opinion you form, and you form it based en 
your experiences and your knowledge of the business. I assume my 
judgment was right because the development process is about five 
years ahead of our projected schedule right now. and so we've get 
geed market demand. The market demand is much greater than anybody 

Lage : The timing was good too. 

Brooks: Yes. Yes, you have to be fortunate in timing. The economics of 
the country have substantial impact en these things, and in the 
current age the world economics have impacted en the national 
economics, and that has direct impact locally. 

Lage: Was any thought given, when you were planning where to put things, 
to the value of the land for agriculture? For instance, I talked 
to Mel Alameda earlier this week and he said that the best 
agricultural land was developed, and the land that was left for 
agriculture was the least valuable soil and water. 

Brooks: Well, other things dictated that, and I think whenever you talk to 
a farmer, any land you take away from him is the most valuable, 
anything you leave him with is the least valuable, no matter which 
piece you take I But that seems to be the standard answer. 
Regardless of that, there were other planning factors and criteria 
that dictated where a development should be. 

For example, you had the Ardenwood regional park, which we 
created, and the city wanted the development adjacent to that park. 
Putting a development here and another development ever here or a 
park over here with an agricultural piece in the middle causes the 
most difficult agricultural problem because you've got this cress 
traffic and people. A further consideration was to put the 
agricultural land where it could be isolated as a unit with the 
least interference from urban development. 

Lage : That makes sense. 

Brooks: Se you had all these other factors that went into making that 

One of the major determinants, by the way, was we felt the 
agricultural area should be adjacent to Coyote Hills Regional Park 
so that you had a natural transition. You see, the Alamedas were 
farming part of the regional park land also. They had a lease to 
farm the farmable area of the park land, and this was merely an 
extension of what they were already doing, a place next to this 
large open area. Because of the nature of the park and its design, 
people don't get down to this area; it's separated by the marshland 
and then the agricultural area. 


Brooks: So it fit in the general scheme of things. The soil conditions may 
be a little bit better or a little bit worse as far as farming is 
concerned. I really don't know, but if Alameda thinks it's not 
quite as good, then I'll take his word for it. But I don't see a 
whole lot of distinctions. 

Lage: And maybe there wasn't much choice, as you say. 
Brooks: Yes. 

Mel Belli' s Representation of Dissident Patterson Family Members 

Lage: Any comments you'd have on the story Bob Buck told me about the 

Patterson family and its problems in dealing with its own members, 
the lawsuit with Mel Belli? 

Brooks: It's kind of a complex thing because the Patterson Ranch people 

look on the ranch as one piece of land. First of all, it's net one 
piece of land. The part that we're talking about for development 
was twenty-one separate parcels, all distinct, separate parcels, 
and it wasn't one ownership. I think there were twenty-three owner 
members at that point in time in the family, and these twenty-three 
members owned the whole thing but they owned varying interests in 
these various parcels. Like one owner may own ten percent of this 
parcel and ninety percent of this one. but another owner would own 
fifteen percent of this and ten percent of that. So except for 
being a family member, looking at the land itself, there was no 
common denominator of somebody that owned everything or any common 

Then, to complicate that even more. Will and Henry deeded out 
various portions of the ranch to various family members, not only 
to their children but their grandchildren, in direct deeding, and 
then also deeded out various other percentage interests to trusts 
and various ether things. It was a very complex ownership. 

Then, like any ether large family, disputes occur between the 
various owners, and disputes occur between father and son, 
daughters and cousins and uncles. So two of the grandchildren of 
Will they had very, very small percentage interest between them, 
something less than two percent decided that they could do a 
better job and they should take over the whole thing. As a result 
of that, they employed Belli to represent them. 

Well, Belli, as is a normal thing, files a lawsuit, but he not 
only files a lawsuit, but he goes a step further. He begins to 
advertise in the Wall Street Journal and ether newspapers that he 
has this total ranch for sale. Even though he represents a couple 


Brooks: of very minority owners, he is asking for offers for the sale of 

the ranch, and people are going in. making all kinds of proposals, 
and he's gathering all kinds ef information, and he's convinced 
that tie should be the developer of the ranch. 

Lage: So he felt he could make more money for his clients with a 
different development plan? Was that what it was over? 

Brooks: I don't know whether it was a different development plan. It was 
mere an argument ever who was going to control what would happen 
mere than the development plan. I don't think it was so much a 
development plan because he began to send out copies ef my plans to 
people offering it for sale! 

Of course, because ef the family relationships, that again got 
complex. Eventually it went to trial. It was scheduled to be a 
fairly long, complicated trial, but after about two heurs ef the 
trial, the Belli attorney asked the court for a recess and went ut 
in the hall and said, "Can't we settle this thing?" [laughter] 
They saw they didn't really have a case. 

Lage: I wonder why it teek them so long to see that? 

Brooks: Sometimes attorneys don't do as much homework as they should, I 
must say, and this particular guy didn't. As a rule, sometimes 
they don 1 1. 

One of the family members said, "What kind of a settlement 
would you propose?" They said, "Well, buy out the interest ef 
these two minority owners." Right in the courthouse hall negotia 
tions took place and an arrangement to buy them out was agreed to. 

I said, "There's one other factor that we have to consider, 
that you've got to dismiss your complaint, but we don't want to be 
facing this next month again. You go to Belli's office and Belli 
personally has to agree te a restraining order that he'll never 
again interfere with the Patterson family." 

Of course they said, "Well, if that becomes public, it's very 
damaging te his reputation." So we agreed that there'd be a 
restraining order and it would be sealed, held by the court, and in 
the event that he violated the order, it would be unsealed. 

Lage: A fascinating ending! So it was actually a court order? 

Brooks: Yes, a restraining order. He stipulated to it, by the way, agreed 
to it. There wasn't any dispute. The court said that we were 
requesting a restraining order, "Mr. Belli, de you want to comment 
en it?" and he said, "I stipulate te it, provided the order will be 
sealed by the court." The judge said, "Is that acceptable?" and 
everybody said yes, and that was the end of that! 


Lage: You purchased the two dissident family members' interests, didn't 

Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: Economically, how did they come out. de yeu think? If they'd 
stayed on with the Pattersons 

Brooks: They get the fair market value and. I think, above the fair market 
value of the property at that time. Of course, fair market value 
has increased since that time. It's like any ether sale; yeu buy 
it in the current fair market value and yeu take the risk of an 
increase or decrease. 

Lage: Then they had to pay Belli out of that? 

Brooks: Yes. they had to pay Belli a substantial portion of what they 

Lage: It's kind of a sad tale. 

Brooks: A very substantial portion of it Belli received as his fee for 
losing the case. 

Lage: Are yeu still a partner, then, with the Pattersons? 

Brooks: Yes. 

Lage: So you're involved as an owner, not just a consultant? 

Brooks: That's right. 

Lage: Then, after that, the family formed a corporation to de away with 
these problems in the future? 

Brooks: Well, the status of the ownership was impossible to deal with 

because you had all these separate parcels and you had all these 
separate owners and nobody owned any one parcel; everybody owned 
little percentages of each parcel, so you could not do anything 
without getting everybody to approve each item and sign, which is 
an impossible situation. They all don't live in this area. Seme 
of them live in the East, the Midwest. They're scattered all over, 
and then net familiar with what's going en. 

So that resulted in forming a limited partnership, which 
allows a general partner to take appropriate actions without 
getting individual approvals. So that was done, and that resolved 
this complex ownership thing that there didn't appear to be any 
solution to. The rest of the members of the family, except for the 
two that sold, joined as partners. 


Lage: It's mere rational. 

Brooks: Yes. It's a logical business organization, whereas the previous 
status of things was an impossible kind of business organization. 

Lage: Now, you're net a consultant en a regular basis at present? 
Brooks : No. 

Lage: Is there anything else you want t add about the processes we've 
talked about today that you think we've missed? 

Brooks: No, I think we've covered it pretty well. 

Will Patterson and the Woodpeckers 

Lage: Will you tell the story you told me last time about Will Patterson? 

Brooks: Well. I think you're thinking of the story of Will and the 

Lage: Right. 

Brooks: You knew, the woodpeckers had existed for many years, and Will 
lived in the house, and his common way of getting rid of the 
woodpeckers was to just put a shotgun out the window when they 
started pecking and shoot the gun and it would scare them away. 

Lage: And he was elderly, you said, at the time. 

Brooks: Well, he kept getting more and more elderly and less able to get 

around. He became a sem i- inv al id, in a wheelchair. At that point 
in time, you know, he began to have some problems like with the 
bathroom. I went over and remodeled his bathroom for him and made 
it an invalid kind of bathroom with all the bars and that kind of 

While doing that. I learned of this procedure of getting rid 
of the woodpeckers because I'd hear the shotgun go off. and I'd go 
in and say. "Will, what are you shooting at?" [laughter] "Yeah, 
the damn woodpeckers; they've been around here for a hundred years, 
but that's my way of getting rid ef them." But because of his age 
and inability to get around, I got very concerned about that 
shotgun alongside of his bed all the time. I said, "Will, we've 
got to get rid of the shotgun." He said, "It's the only way I can 
get rid of the woodpeckers." 


Brooks: So I said, "Well. I'll solve that problem." So I went out and 

bought a big school bell and mounted it en the side of the house 
and I ran the wiring into the house with a button alongside of his 
bed so that whenever the woodpeckers began to peck, he'd just push 
the button, the bell would ring and scare the woodpeckers away. 
Then we took his shotgun away from him. [laughter] 

Lage: And that was agreeable? 

Brooks: Yes. In fact, he gave me the shotgun. He gave me the shotgun as a 

Lage: So, really, that was all he cared about having it for? 

Brooks: Yes, that's the only thing he wanted the shotgun for, to scare 
woodpeckers away. [laughter] 

Lage: That's a good tale. 

Transcriber: Joyce Minick 
Final Typist: Shannon Page 


TAPE GUIDE Jack Bracks 

Interview 1: November 5, 1987 
tape 1 , side A 
tape 1. side B 

Interview 2 
tape 2, 
tape 2, 
tape 3, 

November 20, 1987 
side A 
side B 
side A 

tape 3. side B 




Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 


Robert B. Fisher, M.D. 

History and Politics: 
The Creation of Ardenwood Regional Preserve 

An Interview Conducted by 
Ann Lage 
in 1986 


1988 by the Regents of the University of California 


Retirement party in the restored Clark 
Hall, Irvington District, Fremont, 1984 





Early Interest in History 212 

The First Recreation Commission's Vision for Fremont 21A 
Historical Resources Commission: Earmarking Historic 

Sites for Preservation 216 

Development of City Historic Overlay District Ordinances 218 

Designating the Patterson House as a Potential Park, 1960s 220 

The Mission Peak Heritage Foundation 221 


ARDENWOOD PARK. 1971-1981 226 

The Patterson Family, Singer Housing, and the 

Preservationists 226 

Lawsuits and Negotiations: Background to the Establishment 

of Ardenwood 229 

Developing a Proposal for a Multipurpose Historical Park 231 

Lobbying for East Bay Regional Park District Involvement 234 



Importance of Citizen Action 239 

The Washington Township Historical Society Steps In 241 

Operation of Citizen Advisory Committees 243 
Political and Personal Complications for Ardenwood 

Management 249 

Recent Changes in Leadership 250 


APPENDIX Mission Peak Heritage Foundation Proposal for Historic 

Preserve at Ardenwood, 1980 255 



When Robert Fisher set up his medical practice in Niles in 1950. it 
was a strictly rural community with many of the area's pioneers still 
living and the pioneer homesteads still standing. He had brought with him 
from his New England upbringing an interest in history, an interest further 
stimulated by getting to know the area's pioneer families. Service on the 
Fremont Recreation Commission shortly after incorporation and involvement in 
the first planning for park sites intensified his awareness of the 
importance of the area's historic sites. 

Fisher's oral history recounts his growing involvement in city affairs 
and his founding of the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation, and briefly 
discusses the development of several of the city's historic sites. It 
concentrates on his central role in envisioning the George Washington 
Patterson homesite as a historic site, in working with the city and the East 
Bay Regional Park District to make the Ardenwood Regional Preserve a 
reality, and in shaping the plan that was eventually adopted for the park. 
It also recounts the difficulties encountered in restoring the historic 
mansion and the problems caused when the management of Ardenwood became 
entangled with personal antagonisms and city politics. 

While the story of Fisher's own role in these events is primary here, 
he gives credit to many other local citizens for their contributions. 
His account illustrates the role and value of citizen action in historical 
preservation and planning. 

Dr. Fisher was interviewed in the George Washington Patterson home at 
Ardenwood Regional Preserve, on September 9, 1986. After reviewing the 
transcript of his interview, he submitted a number of papers to further 
illustrate the role of the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation at Ardenwood. 
The Foundation's 1980 proposal for a historic preserve at Ardenwood is 
included as an appendix to his oral history. Other papers have been placed 
in The Bancroft Library. 

Ann Lage 

Project Director 

September, 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please print or write clearly) 

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Father's full name 

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Where did you grow up ? 

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[Date of Interview: September 9, 1986] //// 

Early Interest in History 

Lage: We're going to start with some personal background, if you don't mind. 
Just a little bit about where you were born and raised, and primarily, 
how you became so interested in history. 

Fisher: Okay. I was born in Ayer, Massachusetts, and came to the Los Angeles 
area when I was about nine months old. I took my premedical education 
at Los Angeles City College and UCLA. I went on to USC Medical School 
and had my internship at the L.A. County Hospital and Santa Fe 
Coastline Hospital there. During medical school I was in the army 
ASTP program [Army Specialized Training Program] , and after graduation 
and internship I went into the army for two years to pay back the 
education. I was in New England during the army. I had asked for 
Europe and of course got New England. [laughter] 

Lage: Give me a date. 

Fisher: The graduation was 1947, and so I was in the army until '49 and 

stationed at Fort Myer, Virginia, which is right across the Potomac 
from Washington, D.C. So with my New England family background and 
from being in New England and being interested in antique furniture 
and early New England stuff, it was sort of natural to like history. 
During our travels there, I became interested in New England history, 
and the villages, and the old homes. 

When I finished with the army I took a residency in general 
practice at Bakersfield in the Kern County General Hospital, and from 

////This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has begun 
or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 254. 


Fisher : there looked around various places to set up a practice in the Bay 
Area and found the Niles area. One of the doctors was ill, and I 
took over for a while. 

Lage: Was there a particular thing in this area that attracted you? Or was 
it all a practical proposition? 

Fisher: No, I think it was an interesting area as far as history. Remember 
that Alameda County really started there with the mission, Mission 
San Jose, the fourteenth California mission. And around it had 
developed a sort of a nucleus of all the different eras of history, 
starting with the mission, Spanish and gold rush. 

As I got to know people I began to realize that there were still 
pioneer family descendants living here in the exact spot they had 
started. In my practice I saw their homes when I made house calls, 
because in those days in a country practice you got paid in lettuce 
and chickens, and I made seven or eight house calls routinely each 
day. They would be at these old, beautiful homes in the area. 

Lage: But those days weren't really all that long ago. 
Fisher: 1950 is when I arrived here and started practice. 
Lage: But it was still very much of a country practice? 

Fisher: It was strictly rural Alameda County. There were five little towns 
in this area. Niles, Warm Springs, Irvington, Centerville, Mission 
San Jose. And it was under Alameda County government, really. Each 
town had its own little town meetings, but they were very informal. 

Lage: So you got to know a lot of the pioneer families? 

Fisher: I got to know them personally through my practice and as friends. A 
good number of them were interested in their early family history 
the Overackers and the Whipples. In fact, I lived on the Whipple 
Ranch, which is toward Decoto, when I first came here. It was one of 
the early family ranches. So as I got to know them, they introduced 
me to their friends, and I got started looking for old homes, taking 
pictures of them, and tracking down artifacts and documents. 

Lage: This was all on your own? 

Fisher: This was in 1950, yes. At that time the Washington Township Historical 
Society was down to, I think, four or five elderly people, descendants 
of the pioneer families. Mrs. Whipple was really the matriarch of 
history, and I spent hours and hours talking with her. 

Lage: Did you ever tape-record her? 


Fisher: Yes, I have tapes of most of the early families. She was perhaps the 
only active member then of the historical society. I became a 
director of that group and in the meantime had moved to Mission San 
Jose where I established my practice. The Mission San Jose Chamber 
was not a chamber of commerce but a small promotional group that was 
anxious to restore the mission and save the environment of the mission. 
So I really became very interested in that. Out of that later 
developed the plan for the restoration of the Mission San Jose, and 
the historic districts, and so forth. 

Lage: So that's a good background. You plunged right into history from 
the time you got here. 

Fisher: Yes. It started in the 1950s, getting to know these people and 
getting started. 

The First Recreation Commission's Vision for Fremont 

Lage: You had a role on the Recreation Commission at the time of incorpor 

Fisher: Yes, in 1956. By that time I had been doing things with the local 
historical groups, but during incorporation I became interested in 
incorporation, and the hospital was also forming. We started 
organizing the medical staff even before the hospital was built. I 
wrote the policy statements, bylaws, etc., for the incorporation 
campaign, hospital staff organization, and Recreation Commission. I 
guess I became the expert on ghost writing bylaws and policy statements 
for various entities. Incorporation, then, set in motion, of course, 
an entirely different type of new city. This was a unique chance 
instead of starting with an old district and working out and having 
area of slums develop in the original old part with their inherent 
problems, this city started from the outside in and actually was able 
to create a new civic center around the park and able to plan their 
recreation element. So I was interested in that aspect of it and was 
on the first Recreation Commission. 

There were several people, Will Lamareux, Mary Goodwin, myself, 
who drew up well, again, the policy statement I had worked out and 
drew up a sort of a concept of a green belt on the outside which would 
be the hills, the bay, Niles Canyon, Alameda Creek. Then going toward 
the center, which would be the central park with civic center. 
Connecting the peripheral green belt and civic center would be 
linear parks that would represent right of ways TG&E's, and the water 
district's, used as trails, bridle paths, etc. 


Lage: I'm getting a picture of a wheel with spokes, is that correct? 

Fisher: Right. That's what our wheel represents on the Mission Peak 
Heritage Foundation logo. 

Lage: This was after incorporation? 



Fisher : 



Yes. After incorporation on the Recreation Commission. There was 
a very creative Recreation Department head, Len MacViker, and we did 
a lot of scouting around for park sites. It became obvious then that 
the potential park sites were really there because of early large 
residences and acreages of the pioneer families. So the Shinns, the 
Pattersons, Gallegos, and so forth, these were areas of mature trees, 
large estates, and were ideal park sites. In a new city there was 
no money, so most of these parks would eventually come to the city 
by dedication. A developer would buy the area, and then, as part of 
their persuasion to get better density and more amentities and so 
forth, they would dedicate a certain acreage, taking a little bit 
from each lot and putting it into one single area designated as a 

Was that the plan from the beginning? 
Recreation Commission? 

Was that worked out in the 

That's the way it sort of worked out in policy, and then in addition 
there were large city parks; the Hidden Valley, the Agua Caliente 
area, that were hill areas, and of course the central park were the 
citywide-type parks. Then there was an interesting network of 
neighborhood parks. Each grammar school had an associated playground 
and an associated park called a neighborhood park. Then there would 
be a slightly larger area at junior high schools, and then finally 
the high school. Each one would have a park attached to it and 
coordinated with the playground. This really worked out as a great 

To our topic, it turned out, of course, that many of these parks 
were historic parks and were defined as such on the recreational 
element. So Shinn Park, for instance, was dedicated by the family 
as an historic park, and it became part of the system of parks. 

Was that a gift of the family or did that come in through this 
development dedication process? 

It was suggested by the Recreation Commission and the director, 
frequently, that this was a way the family could gain tax advantages, 
and it would be a family memorial that would remain. So the Harvey 
House and the Shinn House came into the park system. Originally 
Gallegos House was going to be and didn't. So many of the early 
grounds were developed that way, and that was when I first had a 
close contact with these places. 


Fisher: It was about that time that, I think, I suggested making an inventory 
in order to develop this plan for the parks and save the buildings. . 
Because they were being lost. This was a new city and the urban 
sprawl was just hitting it. This was open country and suddenly a 
city, and a city had to have housing development; it had to have 
industry. So there was this tremendous crush to get the farming 
land into development. 

Lage: Did the incorporation spur the development, or was it a response, a 
way to control what was coming? 

Fisher: It was a spur, of course, because it was the last area in the bay 

that didn't have housing, didn't have a lot of density. At the same 
time a general plan was developed, uniquely, which gave an opportunity 
to control this. It allowed utilities, and schools, fire department, 
street planning, and park planning, and so forth, a chance to keep 
pace with it, a chance to be developed right. Or course, it got 
eroded, as always, as the fight between the human interest, cultural 
interest on one hand against the industrial, and tax, and economic 
interest (to make the buck) and put as many houses as you can in 
the number of acres. 

But at least it was slowed down, and really the controversies 
in the city were based, as I suppose they are in all cities, on these 
two factors coming together. The original little group of farmers 
and druggists and local people that made up the city council even 
tually were replaced by people who were really politicians and backed 
by the developers and pressure groups and so forth. But it had a 

Lage: Yes, you developed a group to defend the historical and cultural 
interest, which doesn't always happen. 

Fisher: Yes. This was, I think, very fortunate, especially here with the 

tremendous wealth of historical buildings and history, and the sites , 
in the area. 

Historical Resources Commission: Earmarking Historic Sites for 

Lage: You mentioned that you suggested an inventory. Was that the work 
of the Fremont Historical Resources Commission? 

Fisher: Yes. First, the commission suggested that the Washington Township 
Historical Society name some places to receive plaques. I was on 
that committee and Mrs. Griffin was still quite active as one of 
those members. We did name a few; I think there were twenty or 


Fisher: thirty or something like that, that eventually would have plaques. 

But it sort of fell through; it was made up of, as I say, people 

that really weren't very active and couldn't get around and see the 

So it was redefined and a new commission appointed, made up of 
people who were frequently not only younger, but more aggressive and 
more active and able to get around and do the research necessary. 
We would first take an area and do research, book-wise, and oral 
history, and so forth, and then pin down the places as to location, 
and date it. So the Historical Resources Commission was formed by 
the Recreation Commission with approval of the council. I was the 
chairman of that group. 

The purpose, really, was straight out to find and designate 
the historic features of Fremont. This would be sites, and horti 
culture resources such as an avenue of trees (olive trees and palm 
trees) as well as structural resources, sites of some famous 
happening, etc. We started in '65, I think. It really took about 
four years to complete it with revisions and so forth. 

Lage: And you were chair of that commission. 

Fisher: Yes. It was a changing group, but I remember some of the names 

here. Bernadette Esley and Juliane Howe were the two members that 
really hung there until the end. Juliane Howe was our amateur 
photographer who took pictures, originally, and became a professional. 
She was our photographer during those years and actually went into 
the photographic art and is doing well in that now. Bernadette 
Esley was our secretary and chased down a lot of the information. 
We did a lot of interviewing, unfortunately we didn't tape some of 
them, but we were there just at the time when a lot of these elderly 
pioneers were still able to help. We did get a lot of information. 

The next step was to convince the city that these historical 
resources should be put on official city maps. This was a lobbying 
effort that the Recreation Commission cooperated on after quite 
a lot of long nights at the council. By then we were beginning to 
think about a permanent organization because we had been getting 
donations from people, and we had tapes and so forth. We divided 
up the historic resources, which were about three hundred, into 
two groups, the primary and secondary. This was based on five 
different criteria that we set up, such as historical significance; 
the architectural significance; association with an event, happening 
or people; visual impact, etc. So it had to be more than just an 
old house. These fell roughly into about a hundred and fifty 
primary ones. These primary resources we did get onto the maps, a 
separate group of five maps, with numbered designations. Then these 
became part of the recreation element map and, finally, part of the 
Fremont general plan (studies for each area of the general plan). 





Was the thought that these areas should be saved? 

These then became "flags" so that as development started in that 
area, the city staff could be alerted, "Here's something that should 
be saved." Eventually we got ordinances passed that made it 
necessary, if they were in the path of development, to review the 
primary ones by an Historical Architectural Review Board, which 
decided whether or not they should be saved. It gave a ninety-day 
holding time if they were to be torn down to have the public come 
and either offer to move them or buy them or the city buy them 
"put up or shut up" time. But at least it was a reprieve, not an 
automatic permission to destroy. 

How difficult was that to get through the council? 
development-minded at that time? 

Was the council 

At the time when we did it it was pretty good. These were still 
people that were themselves, often, pioneers, and understood the 
importance of saving these historical sites. 

So we're still in about the mid-sixties. 

Yes. The pressure by developers and the changes in the council began 
at that time. But at least these were earmarked for saving. 

Development of City Historic Overlay District Ordinances 

Fisher: Then the other two elements of the work of the Historical Resources 
Commission were the ordinances I started to say how the primary 
historic resources were covered. But in addition there was a study 
there had been about three different studies by city urban consultants 
in helping to set up the city. They were extremely talented. The 
701 study program*started about that time and spoke to other interest 
ing aspects of city planning. At that point I was involved in the 
Mission San Jose Chamber activities that had started in the 1950s, 
with Don Dillon, Lois Bottenberg, the postmistress, and Don Stransky. 
We were all interested in saving the mission and its environment. 

At that time when the 701 study was developed we had organized 
the plan for the Mission San Jose Historic District to the point that 
they actually, as part of their work up, recommended the whole outline 
of our suggestions. That included an historic overlay district 
ordinance for the Mission San Jose area. That, in addition to 
identifying the historic places and "small town complex," actually 
within a certain area made it a requirement to be reviewed by the 
HARB (Historical Architectural Review Board) not just for the historic 

*A planning program funded by federal grants through section 701 
of the Federal Housing Act of 1954. 


Fisher: buildings but for any new building or any restoration within that 
area. So not only was the historic building protected, but any 
remodeling had to be compatible, and any new building had to be at 
least reasonably compatible. 

Lage: In the area? 

Fisher: In the area designated by this overlay, which is the nucleus of 
the old town complex. 

Lage: Was this an area surrounding the mission? 

Fisher: Surrounding the mission for a few blocks. This was sort of 

patterned after Santa Barbara, although there they were restricted 
to only Spanish architecture. Here, it could be any of the eras 
of history the gold rush, and so forth because it already was that 
kind of a mixture. Later, Niles received the same treatment of an 
historic overlay district, which kept it compatible to the small 
railroad town and Essanay movie activities. [the Essanay Moving 
Picture Company was active in Niles from 1912-1915. Charlie Chaplin 
was one of the stars of films produced in Niles.] 

Lage: So these are things that were successfully put through the council? 

Fisher: Yes. Fortunately, early on. The inventory, I think, was about 

twenty years earlier than most of the cities around. So we had a 
good head start. 

Lage: You've mentioned the 701 study program. I'm not clear what that 
was. Was that developed by one of the consultants? 

Fisher: Yes. There were several studies. There was one done by University 
of California City and Regional Planning Department, and the 
original city incorporation used a company of urban consultants 
in setting up the various offices and agencies. Then this 701 study 
was sort of frosting on the cake in giving unique areas some protec 
tion. It primarily had tc do with the fact that we were dealing 
with five old areas that were really dying out, in competition with 
new people coming in and making shopping centers on land that was 
very low in cost. These old historic districts needed to be 
upgraded and compete with the new districts to survive. 

Lage: As a commercial district? 

Fisher: Yes. As a commercial district and community, or residential district, 
I think these programs developed partly out of that need. At any 
rate, that was accomplished in Mission and in Niles. Unfortunately, 
these plans were voted on. 

Lage: Voted on by the people in the areas? 


Fisher: Individual plans were voted on in the elections. The plans for 
Mission and Niles got through, and the others didn't make it. 

Lage: So you tried in each district? 

Fisher: Yes. Irvington, for instance, which is at the Five Corners, was to 
be a plaza, and the highway would have bypassed it to save it; that 
plan didn't pass. In the mission district, part of the plan was 
proposed as a tunnel under the mission plaza, and the local people 
such as the Weeds and some of the mission people who were in 
opposition to the Mission Chamber I don't know why to this day but 
they opposed it. The mission district went through a whole series 
of hopeful proposals to save the plaza area and make it a walking 
mall environment. Each one was fought, and finally some of the 
elements were adopted, but the whole concept (mission district plan) 
didn't make it. Gradually bypasses became less and less reasonable. 
Finally, it just remained as it is. We then fought the battle of a 
proposed six-lane highway, which would have wiped out the historic 
mission environment. But I'm getting off your subject. 

Designating the Patterson House as a Potential Park, 1960s 

Lage: Let's focus, then, on what the Historical Resources Commission did 
about the Patterson house and ranch. 

Fisher: All right. Like the other privately-owned large acreage estates, 
this was one of the obvious ones that we saw early on. So the 
result of having designated it on this list meant that it was shown 
on the maps, the general plan, recreational plan, as a potential park. 

Lage: Was it a larger area than the other ones we're talking about, or has 
it just stayed intact longer? 

Fisher: It was actually larger in acreage. The nucleus of the home sites, 
the two home sites [the George Washington Patterson and William 
Patterson homes] I don't remember the exact figure, but it was 
probably around a hundred and twenty acres. So this started, then, 
as a potential park on that list. 

Lage: That would have been back in the mid-sixties. 

Fisher: That would have been 1960s, yes. Early sixties, and finalized by 
its being put on the official map. It was proposed during the 
development of the park system as a potential park as well, not only 
designated historically as a primary historic resource. 


Lage: At that early time was any contact made with the Patterson family? 

Fisher: During the early times in the sixties and late fifties I made 
contact with them. 

Fisher: Don Patterson, who was the son of William D. Patterson, was actually 
in charge of the operational ranch and ran it from this office in 
the George Washington mansion. Marge Patterson, who was the 
descendant of Henry, Sally Adam's sister, had been married in the 
1940s but had separated and had lived here sporadically. She had 
two or three rooms upstairs in the old part of the house. But the 
main house was run by a caretaker, Mr. Minges, who was a retired 
Fremont police officer, and his wife. He kept up the grounds and 
protected the house. 

Lage: They were hired by the family? 

Fisher: Yes. The house was controlled generally by Marge sort of 

indifferently at the time she was away and Sally Adams, legally 
at least, but I don't think she came over. 

Lage: Was this while William Patterson was still alive? 

Fisher: No. He had been dead for a number of years. So it was just the 

family that were scattered. I don't think they really got together 
much at that time. Perhaps later they have, since the regional 
park has brought some of these people together. 

The Mission Peak Heritage Foundation 

Fisher: At that time the Historical Resources Commission was finished with 
this job, but it became obvious that they had started something 
with donations and interviews and a lot of taking down of the history 
and so forth. I think we alerted the Recreation Commission and the 
council to the fact that a lot of the houses were being lost and a 
lot of the artifacts were being lost. We had come upon large 
caches of historical documents that were destroyed just before we 
went to get them, after a pioneer had died at a rest home for 
instance. So through our request, the council asked that a group 
be formed to help preserve the houses, preserve the artifacts, and 
keep record of, actually, the city history and archival material. 
Those that were named had shown interest; Maurice Marks had done a 
lot of taping of the oral history of the city's incorporation as a 
member of our group. I can't remember all the different names; 


Fisher: there were Mary Lou Ruth; Dave Bentham; Mr. Ward Blanchart, an 

Ohlone College librarian; and Lila Hunt, our secretary, who was 
the head of the history section of the Washington Township Woman's 

They asked me to organize it, and they sent letters to five or 
six people that had shown interest at the council meetings. The 
historic resources group society, or whatever, we didn't really 
have a name at that time other than the Fremont Historic Resources 
Commission was formed. This was in 1971. It was later realized by 
the group that it wasn't only Fremont, but Washington Township, that 
had to be studied and the records kept, because Newark and Union City 
and Fremont areas all overlapped in the original history. So it was 
broadened to include the tri-city area, and it became, eventually, 
within the first six months, I suppose, known as Mission Peak 
Heritage Foundation. We tried not to interfere with the name of the 
other groups. 

The original plan was simply a consortium of interested groups. 
It had representatives from libraries, from colleges, from the 
historical societies, from schools. There were representatives from 
each one of these sources forming this new group, all of which had 
the same purpose of saving artifacts and preserving houses and keeping 
the history and publicizing the history. 

Lage: It wasn't public in any way? It was a private foundation? 

Fisher: Well, we used good judgment, I now know. Originally, there was a 

suggestion that it might be a group appointed to by the city. We saw 
trouble ahead with that politically and later found out this to be 
true on the Ardenwood project. So we remained completely autonomous 
as a private group and formed a non-profit corporation and kept it 
that way. I'm glad we did. 

The same people that had been interested in the historic 
resources went on with their interest here and were instrumental In 
babysitting houses like the Harvey House and cabin. When the devel 
oper bought it, we were able to put caretakers in there and were able 
to keep it going until it became dedicated as an historic park. 

Lage: Did you have a role working with the developers? 

Fisher: Yes. In this particular case, that's how we became friendly with 

Jack Brooks of the Singer organization. Brooks himself was a person 
who recognized these values and helped us. They paid for a fence to 
be put around Harvey House, and they tried to save the barn for us. 
They cooperated. 







Brooks was the developer in that area? 

He was the developer and understood that it was important to try and 
get these places into the ownership of the city as parks, and he was 
very cooperative in that. 

When it came time to do the same here at Ardenwood he had bought, 

1 think four hundred acres here, including the house by then he 
knew us, and we had a pretty good rapport. He drew his plans incor 
porating the saving of the house with a very small area, about six 
acres around the immediate house. Then he made linear parks throughout 
the development which would keep some of the planted areas. So that 
totaled about forty acres. 

Do we have enough of a picture of the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation? 
One thing just to be blunt about it was this an organization that 
had a -lot of active workers? Or did you end up doing most of it? 

No. At the beginning we had a lot of passionately involved, concerned 
people who were willing to fight the battle, and a lot of us burned 
out later maybe, but originally we had to be at the council until 

2 a.m. to fight the attorneys and the developers to save these places. 
It meant dirty fingernails, work on restoration, and getting out 
there and actually taking down a barn and saving it, and doing the 

So you did a lot of varied work, political things, restoration 

Political, lobbying, restoration, a lot of collecting and chasing 
down of archival stuff, a lot of research. 

Did you have a site, a library? 

No. We met at various places. We met at St. Mary's of the Palms 
for a while; we met at the library. We didn't have any headquarters. 
We eventually were recognized by council resolution as being the 
official historical organization by Fremont, Newark, and Union City. 
That helped us, because we were able to get given to us, for a dollar 
a year, the storage area at the Fremont city corporation yard, and 
we began to collect and protect this material. For instance, at 
Patterson there was a beautiful doctor's buggy that we rescued; it 
was being ruined in the garage. And a lot of the furniture that was 
donated. So, yes, there were a lot of people that were doing active 
work, very dedicated people. 


Would you mention two or three of the places that you restored? 
mentioned the Harvey House. 



Fisher: Well, at that time, of course, a lot of these came up quickly because 
of the tremendous urgency to get housing in here. It was at a time 
when there were single family tracts developing, and then suddenly 
it burgeoned into apartment complexes and took more of the land. So 
I could mention a few, Dusterberry House which is on Central Avenue, 
the Hawes House which is in Centerville, the Salz House in Centerville. 
These places we fought and lost. There were the four Walton Avenue 
houses, where there was a street that was abandoned from the central 
old district of Centerville. The city actually owned those buildings, 
and we fought to have the city keep them. This was at the time where 
we were beginning to get other priorities from the council that 
weren't favorable for preservation. The city actually knocked down 
three of these buildings themselves. Others saved the J.J. Vallejo 
adobe, Bunting House, and Chadbourne carriage house. 

The Freitas-Bunting Estate on Thornton Avenue had a series of 
"unfortunate" fires and "errors" in tree demolition. Of course, in 
the meantime the Galindo-Higuera adobe was endangered. Before the 
Mission Peak Heritage Foundation was formed, the Historical Resources 
Commission got a group of volunteers including city workers, PG&E, 
and telephone company to put up a false roof over the Higuera adobe 
by putting up telephone poles around it. For about four years 
successively we did that to save it because it was in private owner 
ship. Developers kept starting to buy the property and then they 
would go broke or something, and the owner didn't care. So we 
saved it. 

Mission Peak Heritage Foundation proposed and coordinated the 
restoration of the Shinn House on a four-acre historical park and 
continues to open it to the public. The list goes on. The Mission 
San Jose, in the meantime, of course, had a restoration committee 
we had formed. God, I don't know how we did all these committees! 

Lage: [laughter] Think of all the meetings you had. 




I was on HARB, I was the chairman of HARB, the recreation commission, 
Mission San Jose Chamber. 

Were you still practicing all this time? 

You were still an active 

Yes, I continued my practice. Also, the Committee for the 
"Restoration of the Mission San Jose" was formed about that time, 
and we started a campaign to raise funds to restore that. Somewhat 
later the SPCRR [Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad 
Resource], which is the South Pacific Coast Railroad Organization 
(local narrow gauge railroad company which started the town of 
Newark), became a subsidiary, sort of, of the Mission Peak Heritage 
Foundation. Bruce MacGregor, the author, had found an original 
railroad car that was built by Carter Brothers in Newark. The 


Fisher: Mission Peak- Heritage Foundation bought it and had to leave it at 
its site in a distant desert town. So the SPCRR organization was 
started to bring the car back and restore it and publicize Newark's 

Lage : This isn't the car in use now at Ardenwood, is it? 

Fisher: No, but the original car is back on the grounds. They've drawn up 

plans from it and will make a reproduction. At any rate, the historic 
horse-drawn railroad originally proposed by MPHF for Ardenwood is 
included in the park. Did you want to know more about Mission Peak? 

Lage: No, I think that gives us a good picture of what Mission Peak's other 
interests were and how it got started. 

Left: Entry hall of restored 
G. W. Patterson house 

Photo by Larry Milnes 

Below: Ardenwood grounds and 
G. W. Patterson house, 1968 

Photo by Robert Fisher, M. D. 


ARDENWOOD PARK, 1971-1981 

The Patterson Family, Singer Housing, and the Preservationists 

Fisher: Getting down specifically to Ardenwood, at that time there was a 
lot of instability. There was a chance that this place would be 
lost. First, the burning of the William Patterson home in 1962 had 
scared us to death because we recognized that the family had carried 
out the commitment made by the will in destroying the other William 
Patterson home. But they also had a lack of interest in saving this 
building [George Washington Patterson mansion] . 

Lage: Was there any indication of why it was stipulated in William 

Patterson's will that the house would be burned if the family didn't 
live in it? 

Fisher: It was explained to me that they felt that it was a personal house 

and that it should always be in the family. It was written in a way 
that if none of the family came back to actually live in it, then 
it would be destroyed. 

Lage: It sounds almost as if he saw the possibility that it might become 
a historical site or have another use, a public use. Is that a 

Fisher: I don't honestly know. I've never been able to explain that. While 
there wasn't a direct statement by the family that they would 
destroy this home, there was the sort of intimation that the same 
thing should happen here. If they couldn't use it and have it in 
the family, then it should be wiped out. No one else should 

Lage: I want to say here that we're in the George Washington Patterson 
house now. So when we say "here" that's what we're talking about. 





Fisher : 

Here, right. So let's say either a lack of interest, other activities 
that they were doing or, perhaps, pressure by other members of family, 
I don't know. At any rate there was the state of flux that was 
dangerous to saving the house. There was controversy as far as the 
development around it . There was controversy between Newark and 
Fremont as to boundaries. The developer [Singer Housing Company] 
had bought, I believe, the four hundred acres of the 3,000-acre 
Patterson Ranch, including the house, in 1971. 

There was also the negotiation between the city and the developer, 
in which the saving of the home and creation of the park figured 
heavily. You were aware of all that? 

Yes, but it takes time to do that. In the negotiation we knew that 
things were cooking. The caretakers were changing over, the Mingeses 
brought in the Hathhorns , who were their in-laws . It was obvious 
that this place might be lost. 

I have a letter here that I wrote to Mrs. [John] Adams in, I 
think it was as early as '71, I believe, asking permission to 
inventory the house and the attic. We knew that the attic was filled 
with stuff, and the garages and so forth. The house itself still 
contained some of the original furniture, as well as artifacts. 

So after some delay she granted us the privilege of coming in, 
sorting over the stuff, copying photographs, and whatnot. And 
taking pictures of the interior so we would have a record, inven 
torying the furniture, listing it. So that we would know what was 
there because, again, there was danger of pieces going out and being 

We found the attic to be a shambles. The roof was leaking, the 
bees were destroying the paper material, and there were rats. It 
was really in dangerous condition, so we got permission to remove 
the delicate stuff, the documents and photographs and things, to the 
city corporation yard. (By then we had an official storage area in 
the corporation yard.) We suggested that she start thinking about 
the furniture. We did get that permission and moved the business 
records and photographs for safe keeping. It took about another 
several letters and communication back and forth, and then around 
1973 she agreed that the stuff should be kept together. We got the 
final donation officially signed in '74. 

This was after the house had been sold? 

Yes, this was after the house was sold, 
by her. 

It then was not even owned 

Lage: But the furniture wasn't sold along with it, was it? 


Fisher: Yes. Sure. The whole thing was sold. Brooks [and Singer Housing] 
could have taken all the furniture. They owned the house. 

Lage: You think when they bought the house, they also got everything in it. 

Fisher: Sure. There was no separate agreement. Except for what we had set 
aside. That was, of course, the reason we did it. So fortunately, 
it was set aside, and it was donated to Mission Peak, and so Brooks 
recognized by letters that it belonged to the Mission Peak Heritage 
Foundation. Archival material was moved to storage. The more 
important furniture pieces the bedroom, living room, and so forth 
was moved to Shinn House, which by that time had been restored by 
Mission Peak Heritage Foundation. It was used over there. So the 
main pieces were saved and kept together; the other pieces were kept 
here at the Patterson House. Some of it got lost in the shuffle. 
Relatives had come in and removed it. Some of the caretakers had, 
supposedly, been given pieces, which we couldn't prove to the 
contrary. At any rate, basically most of the material was saved, 
with Brooks 's cooperation. 

Lage: Was there some controversy involving that, with Sally Adams? 

Fisher: Only later. So, the only controversy was later, I guess two or 

three years ago, with the other historical organization, the Washington 
Township Historical Society, which has always been on our necks. This 
is during the time that they were sort of influential with the council 
members. There was a majority of three on the council that were 
political buddies with this group. The Weeds and several people in 
that category stirred up things about Mission Peak Heritage Founda 
tion's use of the corporation yard, the fact that our organization 
had that and was the officially designated historical organization. They 
stirred up the question of whether or not this was the same organization 
that had been given the corporation yard [laughter] because our name 
was in the process of being changed (during its formation) . They 
stirred up the ownership of the Patterson family furniture and 
artifacts, all of which was thoroughly documented in all the records. 
But it took about two or three months of my time to go through step 
by step, show all the documentation, and prove it because the city 
staff were put on the spot and the question was raised with the city 
staff and it had to be proven. It was proven. But it just took 
energy and time, and I could have been doing other things. 

So, no, it was never controversial originally. The family 
thoroughly understood. But the recent letter written in response to 
the Weeds was written to Sally Adams from the staff in such a way that 
it said, "The furniture is yours; please sign if you agree." She 
probably had lost, by then, the original donation slips. We had to 
show her again. Everyone knows the facts now, have from the beginning. 
At any rate, what the hell's the difference? They're back here and 
they're where they're supposed to be safe and together. 


Lage: So the things that were in the Shinn House have now been moved back 
to Ardenwood? 

Fisher: That was the original idea, of course, to keep it together until 

things had settled down, and the house had an ownership. Finally, 
when the city did own it, then it became obvious that it would be 
saved. When the restoration took place, it was brought back to 
Ardenwood. And we had to replace these pieces at Shinn House. 

Lage: Then you had to find something for the Shinn House? 
Fisher: Yes. [laughter] 

Lage: Is there more to say about working with Jack Brooks on the particular 

Fisher: He is an extremely intelligent and creative developer. He is 

certainly a power in the city of Fremont and owns a good share of 
land and was always on the side of the developer. In the council, 
I would say, cleverly and intelligently and properly, as a developer 
he supported all sides. He contributed money to all the campaigns, 
so no matter who was in power in the council he was a backer. 

Lage: He wasn't identified with just one faction? 

Fisher: He wasn't, as some of the others were. So he has diplomatically 
wielded his power as a heavy developer in the area, I think. But 
at the same time he's been a gentleman and has shown understanding 
for the cultural things and supported the cultural activities of the 
area. He doesn't suck all the land dry. That's my impression. I've 
seen him in action over a period of years. So when it came to a 
cultural activity in an area, he was cooperative. 

Lawsuits and Negotiations: 

Background to the Establishment of 

Lage: There was quite a controversy about this development, the surrounding 
development here. It seemed to go on for several years and involved 

Fisher: That was part of the instability that worried us. Basically the 
problem was and this is oversimplifying somewhat that fact that 
development was outstripping the facilities to support it. In the 
North Gate area schools had not been developed; there would need to 
be, suddenly, schools built to support the large area of housing that 
was to be built on the only remaining flat land. The water department, 
sanitary district, fire department, all these had just simply not 
caught up with that. 


Lage: In this northern plains area? 

Fisher: In the "North Gate," or north plain, area. The cities recognized 

this; it was really part of Fremont, the whole strip that goes down 
to the Dumbarton Bridge. So Fremont actually put a hold on all 
development in this area. 

Lage: After Jack Brooks and Singer had purchased it? 

Fisher: After Jack had bought this. As a result, it stopped his development 
cold, and my memory is that he was bringing suit against the city to 
release that. Everyone recognized the facts and knew that this was 
what was happening, that development was outstripping facilities in 
this area. Part of the settlement between Brooks and the city of 
Fremont, as I understand it, was that the city would buy the Patterson 
house nucleus for a park, that Jack would withdraw his suit as one of 
the leverages, and the development of the other parts of Brooks 's land 
would be able to proceed. 

At the same time, the ownership of the potential park area was 
still mixed. In the first place, the strip of ranch land parallel 
to the new Dumbarton freeway maybe, oh, a thousand feet wide at one 
point, then narrowing down to three or four hundred feet was part 

of Newark. 

Lage: Do you know anything about why, during incorporation, the Patterson 
Ranch go t split like that? Is there a story behind that? 

Fisher: I don't know. I think it used the natural boundaries. Somehow 

Fremont got a corridor of land down to the point which was to be the 
Coyote Hills recreation center at the slough. The same thing has 
happened up in the Niles area; there, part of Union City is up in the 
Niles Canyon hills. That's probably to do with the political voting 
areas, also. Because it was voted in, in opposition to annexation by 

The dividing line between Newark and Fremont was through the 
south portion of the Patterson property, on the Patterson side of 
Jarvis Road. There's always been a hassle between Newark and Fremont, 
but the Dumbarton freeway was the straw that broke the camel's back. 
Putting in the freeway changed the line, because it was coming right 
across the dividing line, really right parallel to it. It isolated 
Newark from this park which by that time was being considered as a 
tri-city regional area. 

Newark felt a need to be included in the freeway access and 
wasn't. So they fought for the Lake Avenue overpass. Although it 
went nowhere [laughter], it did give an access to the park, for one 
thing, but, of course, there was access also at Newark Boulevard. 
That was one of the controversies. 


Fisher: The family itself had divided up the property so that it wasn't 
all in one ownership. I'm not sure of the details, except that, 
eventually, a corporate unit of all member of family was formed.* 


Fisher: During the state of flux with the cities, there was also reorganiza 
tion, as I understand, in ownership of the three thousand acres that 
was remaining of the Patterson property. They had been given, 
apparently, by the various wills, to various groups of the family. 
Marge, as I remember, had something like forty acres. Don owned 
some. The Adams owned part, and I think there were even smaller 
chunks. So at the time that the city was interested, I think it 
was 160 acres that actually could be bought directly from Brooks. 
The rest of it had to be negotiated with the different groups of 
family members to coordinate it and develop a 200-acre park. 

Lage: And eventually there was a trade of lands between Newark and Fremont 
also . 

Fisher: Apparently there was eventually a settlement of the suit by Brooks, 
so that the city was able to buy a consolidated piece of property 
through negotiations with the family group itself, as well as the 
Singer outfit. Brooks, by that time, I think had been coordinating 
with the family and had become a financial adviser, or at least 
part of the corporate entity. So they worked it out together. 

I think there was a moratorium of about two or three years on 
the housing development. When it finally did open up, then Brooks 
went ahead with his development toward the Coyote Hills and the 
North Gate area. The land that is now Ardenwood Park was bought 
by the city. 

Developing a Proposal for a Multipurpose Historical Park 

Fisher: Do you want to get into the regional park aspect? 

Lage: Yes, I thought that would be the next topic to cover. How did the 
East Bay Regional Park District [EBRPD] become involved? 

Fisher: The regional park district, which had been buying up large tracts 
of land for the future not for immediate use but realizing that 
it had to be kept open ground was in the process of, each year, 
sizing up the potential park sites, usually large properties on the 
ridges and so forth. In 1970, or '71, because they had become owners 

*See interviews with Leon Campbell, Robert Buck, and Jack Brooks 
in this series. 


Fisher: of Gar in Regional Park and a couple of others that were really 

oriented toward historical parks, old farms, old ranches, and so 
forth, they proposed a new category, which was to be Historic 
Regional Parks. At that time, they sent around notices to the 
cities and to the various historical societies, requesting these 
groups to nominate potential park sites that might fall into this 
category. The Mission Peak Heritage Foundation received one of 
these notices and studied it, and I think suggested five possibilities, 
including the Niles Canyon, Higuero adobe, Morrisson Canyon, Patterson 
Ranch, and Hidden Valley area in Warm Springs. 

Lage: Did you look favorably on the thought of having the regional park 
district take over some of these instead of the city? 

Fisher: Yes. Because they had proved themselves to be really creative, and 
it was publicly supported, tax supported, and it took it out of the 
local hassle for development. So it sounded like a great idea, 
especially since this particular park was our prime one, of course, 
that we were really pushing to be saved and developed. It's like 
making a budget , you put in a lot of things that you know might not 
make it, but you hope to get at least the important ones. 

From the very beginning it was obvious that this was really the 
nucleus of a historical park, because it had everything going for it. 
It was the remnant of a ranch and family mansion with its old farm 
buildings and old equipment. It was the nucleus of the "Rancho 
Potrero de los Cerritos," the grant which was Alviso's Mexican 
rancho, formerly the old pasture of the mission. It had all these 
important things surrounding it immediately and associating with 
it: the salt industry, the narrow gauge railroad, the town of 
Newark, the town of Union City site of the 1853 Alameda County 
seat of government all within a mile. And the ranch had remained 
intact three thousand acres. 

Lage: And the Indian connection. 

Fisher: Yes, the Ohlone Indian history, at the Coyote Hills portion of the 
ranch, was already part of EBRPD . So it had all these things going 
for it that could be incorporated. In promoting this, we drew up 
a plan in cooperation with the city. Larry Milnes [assistant city 
manager of Fremont] was very cooperative and interested. He was 
one of the few people who recognized the potential, and he had heard 
us so often that he knew where we were coming from and actually was 
beginning to be interested himself, a lot, in the history. He had 
done some work on the Vallejo adobe with us. 

So the city, through Larry, actually helped us. They accepted 
our proposal, printed a map, and we had an outline of a proposal. 
Our idea was a multiphasic, multipurpose historic park, but it incor 
porated all these aspects of history and the various ethnic interpretive 
sites . 


Lage: So from the beginning you had this broad concept. 

Fisher: From the beginning the whole thing was a hundred and sixty acres, I 
think, or a hundred acres, maybe, basic. The basic concept was an 
old farm, a Victorian ranch. The periphery was an area to show 
city people how things grow with relatively modern equipment, 
leased out to farmers and growing cauliflower, and so forth, as 
they have on the ranch for so long. The central nucleus, hidden 
by the trees, hopefully, still, would show the original nucleus 
of the ranch using horse-drawn equipment. It would include a 
symbolic horse-drawn narrow gauge railroad car that at one time 
ran between Centerville and Newark. It would have an area for a 
"non-archaeological" Ohlone Indian center. (The Patterson mounds at 
Coyote Hills are an archeological site.) At the ranch would be 
created the Ohlones 1 own idea of a campsite around the Willows, 
which is the little lake that remained here and is historically 

Lage: Did you have Ohlone descendants working with you on this? 

Fisher: Oh, yes. Phil Galvin is the heir apparent chief. His grandfather 

was the last chief of the Ohlone. We brought him in on it. Instead 
of a scientist from UC telling the Ohlone how they lived, it was a 
chance for them to grow their herbs, demonstrate their skills, and 
show their life as it really was. 

Lage: Had they retained a tie to that life? 

Fisher: By oral history; they had no written history, but by word of mouth, 
their tradition had been handed down, and still is, but they were 

Lage: They hadn't intermarried? 

Fisher: Yes. But there were maybe two or three full-blooded Ohlone. There 
were a lot of people like Phil, who were a quarter Ohlone, a mix 
of the various tribes, family members. So this was a chance for 
their own interpretation. 

We thought that equestrian activities were important because 
nowhere else in the area could you connect the bridle path along 
the creek with Coyote Hills, and this could be a stopping point. 
You get on your horse, bring it here, leave it, and wander through. 
I would have to look up all the ideas and plans that we had. 

Lage: You had the idea of a historical town? 

Fisher: Oh, yes. We had found that many of the historical houses in the 

area couldn't be saved, but some could be moved. If someone would 
pay for their removal, they would be saved. So, especially Dave 


Fisher: Bentham and myself felt that these were "historic orphans" that 
could be moved someplace. We had seen Bakersfield do it with a 
pioneer village and other places. At the cost of moving, which 
was tax-deductible, you could get the building saved. The idea 
was to make a little village, I think we called it Washington Village, 
a little town of rehab-ed houses that had been moved. But not just 
have them a movie set, actually have them functioning. Recycled 
into use by concessionaires, or people that wanted to make a print 
shop or a hotel, or whatever. But private enterprise on a public- 
maintained area. It had all the elements there. It would have a 
school, a church, etc. 

Lage: Now, is there -land enough for that? 

Fisher: Yes. This was to be where the William Patterson place was, because 
that was where there was a center of mature trees, there was a 
natural village green in the middle of it. Then the field on the 
other side would be a place to put the railroad activities the 
car barns, and the shop to work on the cars, the Carter Brothers 
railroading museum and restoration shop. 

Lage: Did you envision the historical farming area, with the blacksmith 
and so on? 

Fisher: Yes. The central part was strictly Victorian. It was suggested 

as only horse-drawn. Nobody could see the outside, with the shield 
of eucalyptus trees, and you could maintain the image of a Victoriar. 
place, with no tractors in tb.* place. I'm forgetting some of the 
elements that are on the list. [See appendix for Mission Peak 
Heritage Foundation's proposal for Ardenwood.] 

Lobbying for East Bay Regional Park District Involvement 

Fisher: Anyway, the idea was there, and we felt so strongly that we gave 

tours to promote this. We presented it to the recreation commission, 
to the council, and really were pushing for this new category of 
historical parks. In the meantime, East Bay Regional Parks hired 
the Overview firm, a commercial professional group, like the urban 
design group hired by the city. 

Lage: I understand it was Stewart Udall's consulting organization. 

Fisher: Yes, I believe you're probably right. At any rate, they were hired 

by the regional park to, I suppose, investigate the sites and develop 
this possibility of a historical category. In the process they did 
a lot of investigation. They went through and rated the various 
nominations, as to the land size and the property values and the 
essentials. I'm not quite sure of this, but my understanding is 


Fisher: that they formed a citizens' group, and Larry Milnes was the chairman 
of the citizens' group, and it was from, I believe, Bay Area people. 
Of course, everyone wanted to get in on this; all the historical 
societies in Walnut Creek and Hayward and so forth had their nomina 
tions and were fighting to get those categories. 

The citizens' group took a tour of the main nominations [1973]. 
These had been sort of narrowed down. We went as Mission Peak Heritage 
Foundation representatives. Dave Bentham of MPHF and I went with 
the group and showed them our nominations Morrisson Canyon and 
Higuera adobe and so forth, and especially Ardenwood. We had one of 
our docents posted in each room and took them through the house and 
grounds. We have photos of that tour. 

Lage: How large a group did you take through? 

Fisher: Oh, gosh, I don't know, there must have been twenty or thirty. 
Twenty-five, maybe. 

Lage: And were there any directors of the district? 

Fisher: There were directors. I remember Mary Jefferds was here; there were 
several people that were from various areas of the park district and 
favored their own area, of course. We wanted to have them see the 
balance of this place. I think we convinced quite a few just on 
sight., because .you just can't overlook this place, that this would 
be great. 

As a result of it, there was quite a lot of enthusiasm, but 
suddenly, I guess, the historical park category collapsed. The reason, 
as I understand it, had to do with the actual policies of East Bay 
Regional Park District. It was spelled out, and shown to us later, 
that they, by policy, cannot be responsible for restoration. Obviously, 
this involved restoration of the mansion, and the barns, etc. 

Lage: So their whole historical category was abolished? 

Fisher: Yes. In the past, I guess Gar in Ranch, for instance, I believe, 
was handled by other people, but the district leased the park. Now 
that specific category of historical regional park was dropped. 
The land and the potential for the park site at Ardenwood was kept 
on the master plan. Eventually the idea of a "Historic Preserve" 
which got them off the hook on restoration but still preserved the 
concept of a historic area was developed and went through the process 
of review involving the local citizens, the recreation commissions, 
the councils, and so forth. I think the basic concept was followed 
from our Mission Peak Heritage Foundation plan because it came out 
looking the same. 


Lage: Were there particular people in the park district staff that you 
worked with in these early years who seemed most interested? 

Fisher: I'm not very good at this kind of bigger politics, so I didn't get 
too involved, but I made several presentations when they came up 
at the park district board meetings. I really don't know the 
players here very well because there were certain people that were 
not favorable to the historic aspect of regional parks, and some 
that were. I think I had better leave it off because I'm not sure 
of my facts on that. I can't remember the general manager's name 
at the time. 

Lage: Trudeau? 

Fisher: Richard Trudeau. Trudeau was very favorable and very cooperative 
and liked the concept, and we worked closely with him. And there 
were supporters of his plans. I think that, really, he started the 
idea of historic preserve and got it going, if I'm not mistaken. 
Also Howard Cogswell. 

Lage: They needed more parks in southern Alameda County, didn't they, to 
balance the district with more parks in this area? 

Fisher: Yes, I think there had been a preponderance of East Bay Regional 
Parks in the northern part of the bay. 

Lage: Contra Costa. 

Fisher: Contra Costa, and up in Tilden. Sunol was beginning, but not 

involved. So the political balance made it favorable to now get in 
a large park here to balance the acreage. So that worked out. 

When the plans first came out they were not including some of 
the multiphasic or multipurpose elements. They didn't, for instance, 
favor a wilderness area, which is, to us, very important. A deer 
park that had been here historically from the beginning of Ardenwood, 
and a primitive area that was at the Willows the old "suzal" or 
marsh goes back to Spanish times; that is the area down here next 
to the ice house. That was a very primitive area; it was heavily 
wooded with very old trees. It was a deer park, and ecologically it 
was an environment which we felt strongly about saving as a primitive 
area, not manicuring it. 

Lage: Had it never been managed by the Pattersons? 

Fisher: It never had been. It had been kept as a wild preserve and family 
camp area. 

Lage: So it wasn't an area that had just been neglected over the years. 


Fisher: No. It was a preserve maintained by the family as a deer park, with 
all the birds and small animals that go with it. 

Lage: The park district didn't want to retain that? 

Fisher: The park district saw it in a more practical manner, I suppose. They 
saw a danger to people, I suppose liability, poison oak, and fires, 
that type of thing. So that was one of the first things that they 
eliminated in their plan. They were concerned, incorrectly, speaking 
as a doctor, with the idea that people would get diseases from deer. 
Of course, they're talking about tick fever and various things that 
are endemic to certain areas only. But they, I think, didn't want 
to take responsibility for deer. So they eliminated that aspect. 
They eliminated teaching areas of wilderness, which was what we had 
in mind. You go in there with classes and show them a real ecological 
environment that was intact. They eliminated the pioneer village, 
but in place of it thought there would be a need for a learning 
center, a horticultural, agricultural learning center that college 
students and classes could be invited to, and stay overnight, and be 
instructed. That was a good idea. 

I think somewhere along the line we started convincing them, why 
not combine that concept with the pioneer village. Use that for your 
teaching center. So they asked me to show them buildings that might 
be moved here, and we took I don't remember the year we took a tour 
of all the potential ones such as the Mowry Landing School, and 
Newark's Lincoln School, and some of the buildings on Patterson Ranch 
Road. There were some in Irvington and Union City. We took them 
all around. Some of them, at that time, were just ripe for moving, 
because they were going to be destroyed or were subject to loss. So 
the idea, I think, finally caught hold that these buildings would be 
moved, and they would be restored, and they could be recycled to a 
functional use. 

Lage: Is this an idea that's still current? 

Fisher: The idea is still there, and somewhere along the line East Bay 

Regional Park District has accepted some responsibility in restora 
tion [laughter], which they denied first. The large barn has been 
restored. As the thing moved along, it was obvious that the mansion 
itself is in danger structurally. So we started a campaign to get 
some basic structural restoration of the George Washington Patterson 
House, a Fremont city responsibility. We worked with the city to 
get a share of the new grants which were then being designated for 
each city toward historic restoration. Part of that money was 
divided between a roof for this house and for the Shinn House. Then 
Fremont city and the corporate entity, I think, of the Patterson 
family Rroup, shared the cost of paint. The Patterson House still, 
of course, needs more structural work, on the foundation. 


Lage: I don't think we've got on the tape the final arrangement, whereby 
the house itself is not part of the East Bay Park. 

Fisher: Okay. As the thing developed, a management agreement was developing 
in the LUD, land use development process, which is a preliminary 
investigation, deciding how the land was to be used, and what the 
park was to represent, what the concepts were. This involved the 
Mission Peak Heritage Foundation and various public contributions 
toward the ideas. The preliminary idea was that, since Mission Peak 
had been involved since the 1960s, they would continue the interpre 
tive decent program aspect of the house; they would continue the 
coordination of the restoration of the house that they had already 
been sponsoring and fighting for. And the city would be responsible 
for the structural integrity and maintenance, fire protection and 
security, utilities, external maintenance and restoration. The 
MPHF would be responsible for interior restoration and furnishing. 

At that time there was a horticultural organization, Saratoga 
Horticultural Foundation, which made an offer to develop a concession 
that would have taken care of the garden, the lawn area, "concourse" 
as we called it then (which, incidentally, was the other aspect of 
the original proposal. The Victorian concerts and art festivals 
that we started could be continued.) So this organization would 
develop and keep up the grounds and help in the teaching and would 
actually grow saleable products, horticultural products orchids, 
flowers, plants, etc. They would lease, I think it was twenty-five 
acres, something like that, for this purpose. Mission Peak Heritage 
Foundation, for a dollar a year, would lease the house itself, and 
run the interpretive program and the restoration program. The East 
Bay Regional Park would be responsible for the farming portion. 

Lage: The modern farming portion or the horse-drawn farming? 

Fisher: The historic farming as well as the modern crop products, sales from 
leased peripheral acreage. This of course got into the confrontation 
of things cultural versus commercial. How do you run a two hundred- 
acre park with public funds and try and contribute money for upkeep 
from something that's happening on the ranch? That's what prompted 
ideas of selling crops and firewood and creating a general store at 
the gate. Later, gate receipts should be adequate. 



Importance of Citizen Action 

Fisher: Unfortunately, eucalyptus wood sales also began to be seen as a 

source of funds. They were cut, I think, for more than just liability 
problems and perhaps disease loss of trees. 

Lage: You mean, there was pressure to log trees that perhaps weren't 

Fisher: Right. They were thinned out, and once they thinned out they began 
to suffer from wind. That's my personal opinion. There were others 
that saw the thing as it was originally with a thick, dense forest 
that made a screen. It was a landmark historically and protected 
the visitor from intrusion by the outside world. I object to land 
mark trees being harvested commercially. 

Lage: So the eucalyptus I see here are not as thick as they were. 

Fisher: By one half at least. Do you want me to describe the way that 

management agreement changed? I've been on the other end of this 
thing, and I realize that there's really a strong need for somebody 
to present the real picture. Because when you get into organizations 
like East Bay Regional Park and Fremont city, a lot of people are 
covering their tails, and a lot of people are needing to get credit 
for things in order to save their job or to promote their job, and 
history gets rewritten. When it does get rewritten it leaves out 
the grass-roots element of people getting together and having an 
idea and going for it and fighting the government fighting the city, 
fighting all these people to get it. Then when you read the little 
work-ups from regional park, for instance, or the city, it doesn't 
matter, you know, it's all the same kind of bureaucracy. They tend 
to omit the importance of citizen commitments. 



Lage: Well, that's what we should be focusing on. Not to try to get the 

whole, official history, but to fill in, even if it's not completely 

Fisher: I feel so strongly about this because, when you get an organization 
like East Bay Regional Parks and the city, you're moving ahead by 
staff very rapidly, and you're packaging things and then presenting 
them to citizen commission groups and say, "Is this okay?" You 
bypass the citizens' input, unless it's slowed down and at the 
meetings you bring up their ideas, incorporate them. In the case 
of this park, a lot of people got bypassed. From Union City especially, 
and Newark; Fremont did have its input a great deal largely because 
of what we [MPHF] were doing, because we were so involved originally 
that we got other people involved. 

Here's a for instance of actual history being rewritten by 
East Bay Regional Park District staff. I think it should be noted 
that, say, when there was an interview on TV with one of the staff, 
Dave Lewton, who says, "I came through and saw food on the table, 
a deserted place, and moved in." No way. This place had been 
babysat for ten or twelve years by MPHF members. As a matter of 
fact, what happened was that the caretakers had left in a huff 
because the city had failed to grant them a right to keep a trailer 
on the park. (When they went on vacation they wanted their in-laws 
to be able to stay and protect the place.) MPHF wrote a letter 
trying to help them to get that as a temporary measure. The city 
refused it, and they left. They left the house unattended. We 
found out about it two weeks later and came over and got our camper 
over there and stayed here for some weeks until Dave Lewton moved in 
as caretaker for the regional park. The city allowed him to stay 
here. But for that interval MPHF members were watching this place. 

Lage: When was this date? 

Fisher: This was about '79 or '80. I would have to confirm the date. 

Lage: Just prior to East Bay taking it over. 

Fisher: Yes, it was actually before they had signed the papers, I think, 

and were in the process of negotiations. The caretakers (Hathorns) 
had left, and EBRPD-Fremont got Dave Lewton to bring his family here 
and be the caretakers until things had been settled. But there was 
an interval in between where we were still, as we had been for years, 
watching, protecting the house and furnishings. 

Lage: Were the caretakers paid by the city by this time? 

Fisher: No, the Minges and subsequently the Hathorns were not paid. It was 
not a very good arrangement for the caretakers, except you lived 
rent-free in a beautiful house, and they had Christmas and weddings 


Fisher: and so forth here. My memory was that the Ha thorns had to pay for 
the utilities, and they didn't like that because they had to keep 
the grounds flooded with lights. The water was free because they 
had the well. But they earned their keep protecting the house and 
kept up the grounds very well. A lot of work. Later, of course, 
Dave Lewton was employed by EBRPD but lived there rent-free. It 
wasn't a congenial thing; when the city took over, the caretakers 
were pretty unhappy because they really weren't getting a fair 
shake, I think, for the amount of work involved. 

I bring that up as an example of rewritten history. When you 
read the East Bay Regional Park's summary of the history of Arden- 
wood there is no mention of prior MPHF and citizen involvement. 

Lage: It's manicured. 
Fisher: It's manicured, yes. 

The Washington Township Historical Society Steps In 

Lage: We were talking about the development of the management plan. 

Fisher: The plan was perhaps in the first draft. Everyone had had meetings, 
and the principals had met, MPHF had met with them, the horticultural 
group, and the city, and East Bay Regional Parks. It was pretty 
well thrashed out. Trudeau was pretty much on top of it, and Milnes 
was really negotiating the city part of it and doing a good job. 
It was pretty settled. Everybody agreed. Suddenly the Washington 
Township Historical Society [WTHS[ and politics jumped in. I don't 
remember whether perhaps this was an election coming up or something 
that stirred up the controversy, but the end result was that the 
other group [WTHS] complained that they were not being involved with 
Ardenwood. Well, frankly, they had not even been on the place and 
weren ' t involved . 

Lage; Had that organization become more active? 

Fisher: Yes, in the meantime they had built up their membership, and there 
was no controversy other than the principals involved the Weeds, 
who were in control of it. There was no controversy between the 
organizations; we had members in both organizations. People liked 
to go to both meetings. They were entirely different kinds of 
groups. They were the group that had maintained sort of a silver- 
service tea approach. They gave programs. We [MPHF] were the dirty 
fingernails, and fight-' em-at-council meeting, running Shinn House 
with docents, and things like that. 


Lage: Were they more pioneer family-oriented? 

Fisher: Originally in the forties and fifties, but by that time there 

weren't that many pioneer family members left. They had originated 
the Washington Township Historical Society, and as I said, I was 
director when there were some of the older people of the original 
group still involved. They were started by the Washington Township 
Country Club, which is a women's club. It was the women's club 
which wrote the History of Washington Township, in spite of the 
fact that the historical society claimed to have written it.* At 
any rate, I don't want to get into controversy because it's strictly 
a personal thing between the Weeds and myself. Apparently, they 
resented the fact that we started a new group at the request of the 
council, in spite of the fact that they were there at our invitation 
at MPHF's beginning. Now they wanted to be in on Ardenwood in spite 
of the fact that there had been no previous involvement or concern. 
MPHF had protected it, given tours, held annual art festivals, and 
initiated park plans. 

So this began to get sticky as far as the council was concerned, 
because the council was dominated by the same group of political 
backers. So it was obvious that something had to change, and rather 
than lose the momentum that we had, I asked that a meeting be called 
of our two groups. We met, and I presented a compromise that 
basically became a mixed advisory board instead of being Mission 
Peak Board of Directors who would control the use of Patterson 
House, we suggested a group made up of representatives from Washington 
Township Historical Society, Mission Peak Heritage Foundation, the 
Recreational Commission, a Patterson family representative, and the 
remainder appointed at large. 

Lage: This was your idea? 

Fisher: This was our proposal to compromise and not let the thing get 

stalled on political issues. So the advisory board did get passed 
with that composition. 

Lage: Now that's the Patterson House Advisory Board [PHAB]? 

Fisher: Well, we worked on both aspects, the advisory board for the whole 
park, ARPHC, and for the house, PHAB. Incidentally, to begin with 
it was the city of Fremont that was really taking over and not 

*Country Club of Washington Township Research Committee, History 
of Washington Township, published 1904-1965. 


Fisher: involving this as an East Bay regional park. They were controlling 
it, and they were leaving out Union City and Newark. I think the 
public meetings helped bring that back into focus with the proper 
balance. So when the composition was made for the advisory committee 
for the whole preserve [ARPAC], then it did include representatives 
from all cities, fortunately. That brought into it representation 
from the railroad people and other groups. 

By that time the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation pulled out. 
I can't remember why; probably they saw it getting too complicated 
with too much political pressure, and they weren't going to have 
a free hand in the proposals that they had made. So the EBRPD took 
over that aspect of it. They took over the leasing of the entire 
ranch, and then the East Bay Park District was responsible for the 
farming part as wpll and gardens and concourse. 

Lage: Now, does East Bay Regional Parks have the immediate grounds here? 
Are they in charge of the immediate grounds? 

Fisher: As far as I know now, the whole acreage 200 acres, I think is 
leased, with the exception of the Patterson house, by East Bay 
Regional Park District. The city owns and controls the house. 

Operation of Citizen Advisory Committees 



How did the Patterson House Advisory Board work out? 

The Patterson House Advisory Board was started, 
and I were appointed from MPHF when it started. 

Joanne, my wife, 

But it does more than give advice, doesn't it? What about the work 
of guiding tours of the house? 

Well, that's a long story. I'll get into it just a little bit, but 
it was obvious from the beginning that this would be a problem 
because in changing the composition of the advisory board, we got 
into a requirement that there would be two from each group, WTHS 
and MPHF, and one from the city recreation commission, one from 
Patterson family, and three at large. It was divisive, and it was 
obvious that there would not be a composition based on interest in 
the project, but based on political appointments. So from the 
beginning, appointments were made politically. Three were made from 
the people at large, which weren't supposed to be on either of the 
WTHS or MPHF groups; they were made, however, from the same group 
[WTHS]. So at one time there were five or six people from Washington 


Fisher: Township Historical Society that had been nominated by the Weeds 

and had been passed because the mayor was their political compatriot. 
It was almost impossible to get anything done. 

I wrote a policy statement, which was finally accepted, to 
outline the way we would agree to use the house; that is, a living 
museum approach, and not to have recreational events in the house 
and food in the house and all the things that had ruined the Moss 
House in Oakland and the Meek House in Hayward. The Moss House 
and so many others had been ruined by holding receptions and weddings 
inside. And the Grau House in our city, Fremont, had been just 
literally torn apart by insensitive usage, recreational wise. 

So from the very beginning the chair dominated, and the two 
people that were from Mission Peak, my wife Joanne and myself, were 
easily outvoted. In fact, MPHF nominated people, and the people 
MPHF nominated weren't even put on by the mayor. We [the two 
historical groups] were supposed to each give nominations, and 
they would okay them or not, and they didn't. 

It became obvious that this was going to be a tough fight to 
make progress because it wasn't an interest in the mansion, it was 
interest politically making points and so forth, and just lack of 
attendance. We went through a phase where we weren't even notified 
of the meetings and missed some. After we had finally got the 
policy statement and a few things accomplished, we quit in frustration. 

As replacements were made, some semblance of reality began to 
develop. But all this time had been lost and the opening of the 
house and park was coming up. I would have to look back, but I 
think once they got the agreement organized and everybody signed it, 
I think there was something like a year to get ready, and they had 
set a date of July 27, 1985, I believe, for the opening. The PHAB 
stalled and really accomplished nothing in the way of restoration. 
Their duties were to set up the docent program and do the restora 
tion; they were to raise funds. 

Lage: And they had no staff? 

Fisher: No staff, no secretary, no materials. They had to write their own 
letters; they had to buy their own letterheads; they had to have 
one of the members type up the minutes. 

Lage: That's a tall order even if everyone is working well together. 

Fisher: It was a low priority thing; the city council and city staff really 
didn't give a damn about it at first. This was a project that they 
could have cared less for. Larry Milnes was probably the sole staff 
person who carried it through the city. So there was a year nothing 


Fisher: was done, and then suddenly, when it became obvious the park was 

going to open and be a success, it was the American flag, motherhood, 
and apple pie, and nobody could fight it. Everybody agreed it was 
great; it had no political opponents and no deterrents, with the 
exception of this advisory board apathy. So it suddenly became a 
safe campaign issue, and everybody wanted to get on the band wagon. 
The Rotary club came out and worked; they had work days, and the 
politicians made their speeches about how great it was, and how 
they were the benefactors, and they didn't even know where the place 
was, most of them. 

The city had been asked for funds and wouldn't give any. When 
I say funds, I'm talking about restoration, or anything to do with 
the board activities. Finally, it came down to, I think it was 
about three weeks, four weeks, before the opening. Everybody was 
panicking; the East Bay Regional Park hadn't completed their work. 
Nothing had been done to the house with the exception of what Dave 
Lewton himself had finagled. To his credit, he really understood 
the need to oare for the house, and had lived here, and under 
stood the importance of it. But in starting some interior restoration, 
there was no research done as to what were really the original 
conditions, color, etc. There were some really stopgap measures 
that had to be done the leaks, septic tank, electrical repair, and 
house settling; lord knows what else. Dave simply diverted funds 
from the East Bay Regional Park District and had people come in from 
his organization; he got help from court cases and youth groups and 
so forth, to literally do the jobs that were the city's responsibility. 
The city did very little. 

In the process, some restoration things got done incorrectly. 
A lot of things got done that were needed (maintenance), but some 
restoration attempts merely had to be done over again, such as 
taking off all the paint on the old bedroom woodwork panels that 
were never unpainted. Walls were replaced there. 

Lage: In this room, the woodwork? 

Fisher: Yes, this room also. The woodwork was of utility redwood that was 
put in in the 1880s when they did the new house and converted this 
old parlor to a dining room. It was painted wood from the very 
beginning, and Dave brought in staff people from the East Bay Regional 
Park and took hours taking off the paint to get down to the redwood 
which wasn't supposed to be exposed. I don't want to be critical 
because he's the only one that showed interest, and he was doing a 
job that was the city's job through the PHAB, using East Bay Regional 
Park help and funds. Nothing would have been done at all, had that 
not been. 


Fisher: But at the last three weeks the board panicked, and they knew nothing 
was being done, and Dave suggested that they hire me as a combination 
restoration and docent coordinator temporarily until it opened. 

By that time also the East Bay Regional Park naturalist at 
Coyote Hills had been brought in again by different department 
heads, all overlapping and confused in the bureaucracy. They had 
done a great job of researching and had started some training courses 
for docents. Up until now, when the house was shown, MPHF had 
always used its own docents and had not regular days but had given 
at least several tours per year and had put on three "Annual 
Ardenwood Festivals," the first of which was started by Don 
Patterson. Don Patterson brought a chamber music group from Palo 
Alto in 1980, and they gave a concert on the concourse. It was a 
huge success, and they had wine and cheese. 

Lage: Was it a fundraiser? 

Fisher: It was just a nice time. The first one. Everyone had wine and 

cheese and sat on a blanket on the lawn, and it was just a pleasant 
afternoon. So we really liked the idea, and the next year we put 
it on. We had an art festival and wine tasting, and that one we 
used to raise funds for the restoration. And three successive times 
we had a musical the next time, and then finally, at the third one, 
we reproduced the original play As You Like It that was put on by 
the Patterson's children's senior class and gave the name to Arden 
wood from forest of Arden in Shakespeare's As You Like It. So that 
was a thing that we had started. 

Lage: You had developed docent programs? 

Fisher: Well, we had an active docent program at Shinn House. It was open 

twice a month regularly and then by appointment for groups, for more 
than twelve years. So we had a docent program, and whenever we 
opened this house we used our docents here. But once the park had 
to do it of course, we're talking about a tremendous difference; 
we're talking about thousands of people coming through. In a place 
like this, you have to have at least a minimum of eight or twelve 
people just to cover the house. Or else you get things lifted and 
damaged, and people bring food in and so forth. This meant a quick 
training program for a large contingent of docents. 

Lage: This is the last three weeks they're calling on you to do this? 

Fisher: Yes. Fortunately, the docent training had already gotten started 
with the naturalists, but it was a crash program also, and I think 
they had had one class, and then they brought me in, and I was 
going to take over. But it was obvious that they were on the right 


By Conn* Rusk 
Staff writ* 

Historical farm 
ready for visitors 

FREMONT If everyone who had 
role in the story of Ardeowood Historic 
Farm could be there this weekend. It 
would be crowded with Indians, Spanish 
settler* and Victorian-eta farmers - 
and more recently, city officials, park 
planners and volunteers. 

It was once the site of an Ohlone Indi 
an village, then a Spanish land grant 
ranch. It was George Washington 
Patterson's 6,000-acre pride and joy in 
the last half of the 19th century. 

Now it's going to be a public attraction 
where visitors can ride a hay wagon and 
a vintage train, tour the Patterson man 
sion, and eventually live for a weekend 
or longer to experience the old-time 
fanning life. 

The grand opening culminates 10 
years of efforts to establish the park. 

Ardenwood Supervisor Dave Lewton 
credits Dr. Bob Fisher of the Mission 
Peak Heritage Foundation with the idea 
ef the park. 

"He drew up plans for the park, and 
about two-thirds of them are in place 
now. (Fisher)'s here right now painting 
rooms," Lewton said last week. 

Officials of Fremont, Newark, the 
East Bay Regional Park District, pri 
vate citizens, area service clubs, 4-H 
Club, Scouts and the Society for the Pres 
ervation of Carter Railroad Resources 
all contributed. 

In the early 1970s, the Patterson fam 

ily sold the iit to boosing developer. 
But local history buffs and the park dis 
trict already had their eyes on the site 
and the City of Fremont blocked housing 
plans, which led to lawsuits. 

Out-of -court settlements resulted In a 
gift of 4 acres, including the George 
Patterson House, to the city, and 122 
acres were bought for park purposes. 
The final 39 acres were deeded as a 
condition of development of the 
Ardenwood Forest-New Town 

About fl.3 million in state and federal 
grants has gone into the park, plus 
173,800 in matching park district funds, 
said park district spokesman Ned 

The land and bouse are owned by the 
City of Fremont and Fremont Park Fa 
cilities Corp. The East Bay Regional 
Park District has leased the site for 25 
years, with an option for renewal 

Guiding the creation of the park has 
been the Ardenwood Regional Preserve 
Advisory Committee, which is responsi 
ble to both the park district and the City 
of Fremont 

Committee members are appointed by 
the cities of Fremont Newark and Union 
City and by the park district. 

It isn't Knott's Berry Farm 

FREMONT Don't expect Knott'i 
Berry Farm when visiting Ardenwood 
Historic Farm. There won't be cavort 
ing cartoon characters, scream-in 
ducing flume rides or blue cotton 

Walk to the park if you live nearby, 
because most folks didn't have hone- 
less carriages In the late 1800s when 
George Washington Patterson fanned 
the fertile ground north and east of 
Willow Marsh. 

Most of all, slow down when you 
visit the park and find out bow South 
ern Alameda County used to live. 

Ardenwood. named after a forested 
area of England, will be a place to 
pitch hay. saw wood and ride a farm 
wsgon that might have taken 
Patterson's product to waiting barges 

at Anderson's Landini to the north. 

Visitors can see turn-of -the-century 
.farm implements In action and oper 
ate some of the tools themselves. 

The Oakland Musenm plans to lend 
the park Its circa 1904 Best steam 
traction engine, adding to s collection 
of tractors, horse-drawn balers, 
wheat threshing machines and corn 

Pumpkins, vegetables, nuts, corn 
and fruit will be sold from a fruit 
stand once the farm's first harvest 
comes in. 

Artisans will demonstrate some of 
the fanning and homemaking skills 
used in Fitter-son's day. Visitors 
watch as bread is baked, saddles are 
made, tools are crafted by a black 
smith and porcelain and glass is 


JULY. 1985 

A nonthly publication of 
the Inter-County Parks Foundation 


Ardenwood Historic Farm Opens July 28 

Ardenwood Historic Preserve, the park dis 
trict's beautiful new facility recreating life 
in 19th Century California, will have its grand 
opening for the public on Sunday, July 28, from 
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

This unique regional park is being developed 
as a living history farm, allowing visitors to 
see and experience a prosperous estate of the 

At the grand opening, visitors will take a 
trip into California's colorful past. They will 
see draft horses at work in a wheat field, and a 
blacksmith hammering at his forge. Rides will 
be offered on a hay wagon or on a unique horse- 
drawn rail car. 

Visitors will be able to join in a square dance 
or try their hands at goat milking and wielding 
old farm tools. 

There will also be tours of the historic Pat 
terson Mansion, set amid handsomely landscaped 

grounds, which is being restored to its 1880s 
prime. Ardenwood was established by California 
pioneer George Patterson, a gold seeker who 
found his fortune in farming instead. 

The public is encouraged to bring picnic 
lunches, and dress in 1880s costumes if desired. 
There is an admission fee. 

Road construction is causing changes to the 
entrance directions for Ardenwood during July and 
August of 1985. There are two entrances to 
Ardenwood: the couth entrance from Lake 
Boulevard, which crosses the Decoto Road/Dum 
barton Bridge Freeway; and the west entrance from 
Ardenwood Boulevard (currently called Newark 
Blvd.) north of the Dumbarton Bridge Freeway. 
Visitors will need to watch changing road signs 
and look for the Ardenwood Regional Preserve 
entrance signs. The park is very distinctive 
also because of its towering eucalyptus groves. 


Fisher: track, and so they used my help in training. I helped them with 

their identifications of the rooms, furnishing, etc., and the tours, 
and so forth, until I knew that things were started. Then Frank 
Jahns was hired as naturalist at Ardenwood and took over the organ 
izing of the decent training and scheduling, and did a good job. I 
was freed up to do the restoration only, except teaching on the 
decent program. 

So it was now down to three weeks when 1 was asked to step in 
and got PHA Board's approval and presented a proposal that the 
board approved: the concept and the specific way of restoring it. 
In the meantime, I had been cheating; anticipating the need, I had 
been doing some research on the building interiors and finding out 
the paint colors, and the original paint surfaces, and things that 
you have to do before you can get going on actual restoration work. 
So I was sort of thinking that if they didn't ask me I would do it 
alone. Anyway, they did ask. 

This was a hard step, because the PHAB was controlled by 
Washington Township Historical Society, and they were against my 
doing it. And the council was going along with them. But to Harry 
McLane's credit, by that time, he had seen the intrigue and was not 
going along with the disruption from the Weeds. He had serious 
concern for the docent and restoration program; he resigned from 

Lage: Now who is Harry McLane? 

Fisher: Harry McLane by then was the chairman of the board. The people that 
had been controlling it had dropped out and appointees had changed, 
so that those that were on the advisory board were at least indiff 
erent; they weren't antagonistic, and he was able to, at the last 
minute, after about three requests from the city, get some funds. 
That, again, was I think, four weeks before opening. The council 
voted an emergency $22,000 for restoration and for hiring a coordinator 
of docent and restoration to get things moving. 

Lage: Doesn't give you much time to get ready to open the house. 

Fisher: No. So in those three weeks, by then, everybody recognized you 
couldn't open the park without the house. Before that time the 
East Bay Regional Park really, except for Dave, didn't recognize how 
important the house was, that this was the focal point, and how 
important it was to people coming. They wanted to see the house. 
So it all came together, and we worked with EBRPD staff transferred 
from other other parks, and volunteers. We worked seven days a week, 
twelve hours a day on restoration and gradually got it into shape 
so that it opened with, I think, six rooms. Not necessarily all 




Fisher ; 


Fisher : 


complete, but the basics the paint, the floors, and ceilings. The 
original Patterson furniture in MPHF storage and in use at Shinn 
House was finally able to be brought back to its original location 
in the house for opening day! 

That's impressive that that kind of work got done at the last minute. 

I think it was to the credit of everyone who worked really endlessly 
on it. This is tough work; this is the dirty fingernail work. This 
is the scrubbing, painting, cleaning, etc. 

It also is to your credit that you had done the research, so you 
knew what to tell people to do. 

Well, I had to keep one step ahead because I had done enough to 
start with, but by the time we finished that, I had to match and 
order the next paint. Incidentally, I bought all the materials, 
and then got reimbursed later. There was no time for bureaucratic 
purchase orders. So anyway, the house did open up and was enjoyed, 
and from that time on we rested awhile, and then we came back and 
did more. 

Has the response to it within the community helped any with getting 
further funds? 

No, not funds, but once we opened and people came through, it was 
presented very factually, that this historic house was in the 
process of being restored, and we welcomed help, and we welcomed 
donation of furniture and artifacts, and we showed them the thing 
in progress. As well as some of the completed rooms, we had to go 
through some of the rooms that weren't finished. 

So this encouraged help, it encouraged the decent program 
volunteers, and we began to build up that program. By then Frank 
Jahns was fully involved in a good training program. They started, 
I think, with about fifteen, and the next group was about thirty. 
So it's gradually blossomed out, with a very dedicated bunch of 
people. Incidentally, as far as I know, none of the WTHS members 
were involved with either restoration or the decent program. 

Did you have people who were here every weekend giving tours? 

I don't think people realize the numbers of visitors that come through 
this place. It starts Thursday and goes through Sunday. I know 
from Shinn House experience that to carry on a docent program over 
months and years is really tough. People have their own activities; 
getting commitments to these hours is difficult. Not many people 
are willing to do that, to be pinned down for two hours on Sunday. 


Lage: That's right, for weeks on end. 

Fisher: Right. So it's a difficult program, and they are responding to it, 
But it's a program with a lot of turnover. 

Lage: You have to continually recruit new docents. 

Fisher: And continue to educate them. The people come in not knowing any 
history of the family or the area, and they have to learn the art 
of interpretation. 

Lage: They have to learn to judge people, too, learn who to watch, and 
how to relate to their questions. 

Fisher: Yes. We started with people that would talk to the tour group for 
an hour before they let them in the house, backing up the crowds, 

Political and Personal Complications for Ardenwood Management//// 

Lage: Perhaps you can clarify something that wasn't clear to me. I don't 
see why an operation like this, a historical park, would become a 
political plum. 

Fisher: There are two aspects of it. In the initial part where nobody's 

interested, political appointments are made as favors and as rewards 
for campaigns, political favors, and so forth. Appointments serve 
as stepping stones, from minor boards and commissions to council 
and planning commission; lots of people want to put on their credit 
list, "I was on such and such board and commission for the city." 
During the time of no interest and I mean literally no interest in 
Ardenwood the fight to preserve Ardenwood was going on but without 
help from city or other historical groups. 

Once the East Bay Regional Park District historic preserve 
proposal was publicized in the papers, that it would be this great 
Bay Area facility, which would be noncontroversial, it would be a 
plum in anybody's pie that had been connected with it. It was 
recognized as a safe, positive, political accomplishment especially 
since it came right at the election time. So those people who had, 
as I say, not even known where it was, let alone been involved, were 
getting in on so-called volunteer days. They held VIP picnics, and 
they had various ceremonies connected with publicizing the park. 
The Rotary Club that had never known the place before became involved. 
Politicians, of course, were visible members. They saw the value, 


Fisher: and not only that, they were interested in service. So it was 
legitimate interest, as well as a chance to publicize their 
contributions and involvement. 

But, of course, the speeches were made, and the people that 
really did the early work were forgotten along the line. So I don't 
think any of the original grass-roots organizations that were 
involved getting it started or with the work, none of these people 
were recognized in speeches or publicity blurbs. I'm not talking 
about myself; I'm talking about when people were recognized it was 
the heads of the service clubs, mayor, councilmen, etc. that had 
done the corrals on "FUN" days (volunteer workdays) , and not the 
people that had for years protected it. But that's the way it 
works. Those were the usual two phases of such projects and now 
there's a certain balance that has developed. 

Recent Changes in Leadership 

Lage: Are you back on the advisory board? 

Fisher: No. Officially I am hired by the board. I wish I had never done 

it, but I accepted a stipend that came with the decent and restora 
tion coordinator position plus reimbursement of what I spent on 
restoration materials. As I say, I wish I had not done it, because 
I was perfectly happy volunteering for twenty years. The stipend 
wasn't that much, and not worth the embarrassment of asking to be 
reimbursed. At any rate, it's been a problem since I'm still owed 
from three months back. 

Anyway, I think the balance now is there. Harry McLane is 
chairman of the board, and although there are not a lot of intensely 
interested people on it, there are probably none that are actually 
antagonistic. The Washington Township Historical Society hasn't 
even shown up for volunteers or during the ceremonies; in other 
words, they have been completely uninvolved and have gone back to 
where they originally were before all the disruption. 

Lage: That makes it a lot easier. 

Fisher: Yes. The workable balance is, I think, there now. But the concern 
now is how much will the public influence what they want here and 
how much will be controlled by staff people of East Bay Regional 
Park and city. As long as Larry Milnes is watchdogging it, there 
will be support and proper balance from the city. Fortunately, the 
election changed the situation on the council so there's now a 



Fisher ; 


Fisher : 

Fisher : 



supportive mayor and council majority, and that is beginning to 
loosen up funds and grants and so forth. The East Bay Regional Park 
District has had a tremendous turnover, and everybody is running 
scared, and I'm a little worried about the new administration's 
attitude toward Ardenwood, with Dave Lewton out of the picture. 

He is out of the picture now? 

Yes. As of a week ago. 

He had done so much in bringing it all together. 

He had done a tremendous lot to get the historic farm organized, a 
sometimes controversial action, but he has used his own judgment, 
and he's stuck his neck out. That made a lot of enemies. 

Was he an East Bay park employee from the beginning? 

He was supervisor of the seven area parks to begin with and then 

was brought here solely as the development coordinator for Ardenwood. 

So he was brought in for this project alone to get it started. 

Then he was a park employee before coming to Ardenwood? 

He had been a park employee for a long time, ten or fifteen years, 
I think. 

Is he out of the park district altogether now? 

No, he's at the EBRPD headquarters now, but the project has been 
taken out of his hands, and now Bruce Gillespie is in charge. He 
served as manager of the grounds under Lewton and, when Lewton left, 
moved into the Patterson House with his wife as caretakers. 

Well, is the change in management a philosophical change? 
been a change in the way the park is run? 

Has there 

That's what worries me most because Dave has a keen interest in the 
historical angle. He's also a very astute manager. Management 
involves, sometimes, as I said, economic (commercial) aspects to 
make it work; that can interfere with the pure historically oriented 
interpretation and amenities. 

So I don't know, honestly, how it will be carried on. The 
district management now is not I would have to guess, but the 
management is not necessarily oriented in the same direction as Dave 
was, whereas before, he got the backing and support of the higher 
echelon in the East Bay Regional Parks District, and I don't think 






Fisher : 



that support is there anymore. It remains to be seen how it carries 
through. It can gradually be converted into a recreational activity 
park instead of the concept of historical interpretation. 

But they did have the master plan. 

They had a master plan and a management agreement with city, and 
it's protected, basically, with the concept if they continue to 
follow it. Hopefully they will. 

So it's up in the air now whether their plans for the farming center 
at the old William Patterson house site will go forth? 

No, I think that's written into the overall schedule there. All 
these things are scheduled for certain dates, and I think those 
will move forward. I think it's a matter of degree, more, how 
consistently they stick to an illusion of a Victorian farm, and how 
much they intrude utility and modern stuff in order to keep it 
economically feasible for instance, eucalyptus tree harvesting. 

From the actual farming that's being done on park lands, is there 
still a hope of selling the crop? 

They're actually doing that now; they're selling corn and pumpkins 
Who does that farming? Is that a concession? 

These are concessions. In fact, that's what it was all about before 
the Pattersons sold the land anyway. Patterson leased the farming 
operation to the L.S. Williams farming people and the walnut crop 
to others. 

Who is leasing it now; are they the area farmers? 

I think the same L.S. Williams Company, I believe, leases the major 

The ones that are using the modern methods? 

In the periphery, yes. I believe, I'm not sure about this, but I've 
seen discussions with smaller leasers growing the corn and pumpkins, 
for instance, for sale in smaller areas, demonstration areas. Then, 
of course, East Bay runs the demonstrations with concessionaires 
the wagon pulling; the railroad is by the SPCRR group; and there are 
the food concessions and whatnot. 

*See interview with Mel Alameda in this series. 


Lage: Do you know if it's an expensive park for the East Bay Regional 
Park District to actually run? 

Fisher: According to Dave, East Bay has spent more than the entire rest of 
the East Bay Regional Park funds getting this preserve started. 
That is part of the controversy. Probably the new management in 
the regional park administration feels too much has gone into this 
project. And yet I think everyone agreed, it's so unique that the 
benefits to the East Bay, or to the entire Bay Area communities 
are worth it. 

Lage: It's very striking to me that such a short time ago there was an 
actual working farm, and now, already, we're treating it like a 

Fisher: That's the whole idea. Eventually there won't be any farming, and 
this is the only patch, I believe, that's left. Now maybe there 
are some specialized concentrated types gladiolus, a "high yield" 
different kind of farming but none of the row crop farming anymore. 
So this is the last, and it's the last place anybody will be able 
to see the process as it was. High tax, land prices, and urban 
sprawl have driven the farmers to rural areas. So it is a unique 
type of preserve and park. 

Lage: So we're ending with not a real conclusion because there isn't a 
conclusion for this story. 

Fisher: Well, I think it has enough of a start so that the momentum will 

keep it rolling and if the citizens' committees can speak their mind 
and have their input, I think the right things will continue, and 
it will be here for the future. 

Transcriber: Alexandra Walter 
Final Typist: Elizabeth Eshleman 


TAPE GUIDE - Robert Fisher 

Date of Interview: September 9, 1986 

tape 1, side A 212 

tape 1, side B 221 


APPENDIX Mission Peak Heritage 
Foundation Proposal for Historic 
Preserve at Ardenvood, 1980 

To: Fremont City Council 

From: Mission Peak Heritage Foundation 

Re: Ardenwood and its future use 

September 1980 

On August 13, '980, a meeting was he'd by Larry Milnes of the City staff 
with interested organizations and agencies to discuss the future use of "Arden 
wood", the George W. Patterson Estate. In answer to his request, the Mission 
Peak Heritage Foundation is happy to forward the attached proposal first made 
in 1972 and re-evaluated by this report. 


In I960, the Historic Resources Commission developed an inventory of historic 
sites, structures, and horticulture within the City of Fremont. The Primary 
Histor ; c Resource lists and maps were officially adopted by the City Council nd 
designated on the Recreation, Area, and General Plan maps of the city. It was 
clear that Ardenwood was second only to the Mission San Jose In its historic 
community significance and pote^tia' for future generation's enjoyment. To this 
end, this unique area and ; ts resources have been protected and .sponsored by 
members of the Historic Resources Commission and subsequently by the Mission Peak 
Heritage Foundation for the past 20 years. When the William Patterson Mansion, 
also on the grounds, was destroyed at the request of the family, the Foundation 
heloed to prevent a similar fate for the G.W. Patterson House until acquisition 
by the Singer organization. That organization coordinated with the Foundation 
and Recreation Department to incorporate the important historic elements Into 
the park dedication of their development. Meanwhile, the furnishings, archives, 
and equipment of Ardenwood were donated by the family to the Foundation for 

In 1972, when the East Bay Regional Park District initiated a new park 
category called "Historic Regional Park", the Foundation proposal for the 
development of a multiphasic, cultural-recreational complex was given a high 
priority by the city, EBRPD, the Citizen Task Force and Overview consultants. 


The new* category did not survive, but Ardenwood was placed on E3RPD Master Plan 
for oossible future acquisition. Fremont's concern with the North Plain urban 
development outgrowing its facilities for sewer, fire protection, and school 
se- /ices, deferred the Singer Housing development at Ardenwood. Through a 
series of negotiations, 165 acres of Ardenwood are now under control or owner 
ship o f Fremont. Newark and Union City are aware of Ardenwood 's value as a 
leisure resource and favor development of a regional use facility. 

The MPHF proposal *or "Ardenwood Historical Regional Park" has been seen 
by the tri-city and EBRPO staffs. Hundreds of citizens have expressed enthusiasm 
for the potential of the proposal during guided tours of the estate by the Foundatlor 
For those newly elected to council and appointed to commissions, we welcome the 
opportunity to review the attached elements and maps of the proposal, as presented 
in '9/2-3, and to re-evaluate its feasibility In light of recent developments. 
Some of these developments which have an impact on Ardenwood will be discussed and 

41 c briefly listed. 

1. Single ownership and control of 165 acres of Ardenwood property (City of Fremont] 

2. Continued and alarming loss of structural and horticultural historic resources 

3. Development of Coyote Hills Regional Park and SF Bay Wildlife Refuge and 
Alameda Creek Trail System. 

k. Increased vandalism and difficulty of proper security 

5. East Bay Regional Park District Master Plan for park acquisition favoring 200 
acre "Model Farm" but disinterest in the house and other historical elements 

6. Saratoga Horticultural Foundation Proposal and UC Berkeley and Alameda School 
Districts Interests 

7. Increasing problems of usable water 

8. Restoration of G.W. Patterson House, the barn and SPC combination car 


First, let it be clearly stated. The basis of the MPHF proposal rests on the fact 
that Ardenwood has an unique qual i ty and potential . The attributes of large "open 
space" with mature horticulture, identifiable landmark trees adjacent to three 
cities and two major freeways, alone, would qualify this area for a city park, let 
alone regional recreational usage. But its unique and potential value lies ?n the 
fact that this nucleus of the old Rancho Potrero del los Cerritos, Itself filled 
with historic resources, has the close proximity and historic relationship with 
the fol lowing : 

1. Ohlone village site and the original Mission San Jose embarcadaro at 
Coyote Hi 1 Is 

2. Early town and Alameda County seat origins at Alvarado on Alameda Creek 

3. Early salt industry and commercial landings along the "sloughs" 

k. Nearby sites of the adobe homes of Alviso and Pacheco, Rancho grantees 
whose boundary ditch runs through the property. 

$. The South Pacific Coast narrow gauge RR origin of Newark town, Paddle- 
wheeler "Newark" at Dumbarton Point 

6. A surviving rural Alameda County farm operation 

Here then at Ardenwood is the unique opportunity to demonstrate and interpret 
within a park complex the whole panorama of Alameda County and California heritage. 
This legacy for future generations can only be preserved by recognition of its 
significance and the gradual development, through sensitive coordination of Its 
components and adjacent facilities. (Coyote Regional Park, S.F. Bay Refuge, Alameda 
Creek Trail System) 5 ingle ownership by Fremont should simplify development of the 
165 acre 'complex, but places the heavy burden of responsibility for preservation 
and proper utilization for the benefit of al 1 Bay area citizens, squarely upon the 
prooerty's present custodians the Fremont City Council. 


The HPHF strongly advises the preservation of thts unique resource intact. 
but sees no objection, Indeed some cost-saving advantage to the use and development 
ot its individual components through private enterprise le: Saratoga Horticultural 
Foundation, concessionaires in transportation and Washington Village, agencies, le: 
EBRPD -Model Farm, UC agricultural research and volunteer labor and funds, as well 
as grants ie: Ethnic and historical groups. This could be accomplished properly 
coordinated by its legal owners and custodians according to an acceptable time 
schedule and over-all plan. 

The Foundation foresees, in the not too distant future, the "Model Farm" 
element of this proposal as the last remaining vestige of Alameda County's 
agricultural heritage. This operation could be leased to EBRPO for develop 
ment or simply remain in Its present relation of city to local farmers, modified 
to a small degree for agricultural experimentation via UC and school district 
participation with work-educational programs. Likewise, there is a growing na*4 
to secure and protect "primitive" areas of ecological and environmental importance 
(ie: eucalyptus grove and deer park) intact and un cent am mated by man except for 
restricted study. 

It Is Important to understand and perpetuate the culture (philosophy, crafts. 
and traditions) of ethnic groups which reflect the heritage of Washington Township 
ie: The IDES Halls, the Buddhist Temples, the Spanish-Mexican haciendas, the) Japan 
ese schools proudly highlighted within Washington Village area. For the Ohlone 
a 1 i vlnq cultural center, not a reduplication of the excellent archeoloqlcal 
center at Coyote Regional Park. The Oh 1 ones, themselves, need a place where they 
interpret and demonstrate their rich heritage. The 'VI llows" "recycled" lake, 
as proposed, makes an ideal environment for the Ohlone center and Is said by 
Saratoga Foundation to be desirable for fire protection and reservoir use. 


There is a healthy and growing trend to put historic building to functional 
and self-supporting use as in O'd Sacramento and San Jose. The "Historic Village" 
concept which inspired the MPHF's "Washington Village" is well tested by other 
cities. It gives rebirth and functional life to relocated and restored "historic 
orphans" bui 'dings threatened by, or inappropriate to certain areas of urban 
development. The individual units are usually "free for the moving" which Is 
done in the case of Bakersfield by use of tax exemption benefit for services. 
They can 4e stored in "moth balled" state on location until private or agency 

The MPHF sees the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation proposal as a compatible 
use of the kO acre nucleus of Ardenwood. It was, after all, the original use of 
Patterson Ranch and offers greater and more consistent security and maintenance* 
Possible garden restoration, open air amphitheatre are interesting bonuses to 
consider. Compromise between public and Saratoga Foundation use for the G.W. 
Patterson House and lawn concourse areas, and coordination of house tours and 
public outdoor activities through the MPHF can be outlined In lease agreement 
to serve both interests. 

The equestrian area designated is not essential to the HPHF proposal although 
lr mitation of motorized vehicles in favor of horse-drawn vehicles lends to the 
vintage aura. Visitor transportation via a recreated rlorse-car railroad follow 
ing a mutually agreeable alignment through the Saratoga project but connecting 
with Coyote Regional Park and eventually the Alameda Creek Trail System remains 
an excising and compatible idea. The large barn we now feel would more appro 
priately serve as an agricultural and SPC railroad museum. An outdoor amphitheatre 
probably in the swimming pool area with public restroom faci 1 i ties -would be useful 
for public concerts and theatre as well as Saratoga Foundation seminars. MPHF 
shares the Saratoga Foundation's concern In regards to fire hazard of ovarnlqht 
camping and suggests deleting this element in favor of daytime play and picnic 
areas, especially on 'Vashington Village" green. The old farm houses could 
easily be recycled to barracks use for employees and class participants. 


At the EBRPD Board meeting of September 2, 1980, there was unanimous 
agreement among it's members that Ardenwood, with the addition of ^0 acres for 
protective buffer, should be preserved intact to function as a regional park. 
In addition to their original interest in the circa 1900 model farm, other 
historic elements of the. Mission Peak Heritage Foundation proposal are now 
being discussed as having significant interpretive and educational value ie: 
demonstration of rural crafts, agricultural equipment museum, etc. The natural 
outgrowth of a regional park that is historically oriented will eventually need 
to provide such facilities as overnight accomodat ions, food services and a trans 
portation system. To be consistent with the historical theme, we refer to those 
suggestions made by Mission Peak Heritage Foundation, providing these facilities 
in Washington Village and by use of the horsecar railroad. 

The preliminary concepts outlined at this meeting suggest the sub-leasing 
of the George W. Patterson house to Mission Peak Heritage Foundation with 
activities such as tours and concerts to be continued. Under thts arrangement, 
continued security could be provided by an EBRPD superintendent, or other employee's 
residence in the house, in place of the present caretaker system. 


The Mission Peak Heritage Foundation again proposed that Ardenwood be 
developed to its unique potential in affordable phases as an integrated complex 
of historically oriented components with Alameda County heritage as the under 
lying theme, coordinated by its legal custodian, with advice and support of 
M'ssion Peak Heritage Foundation and other interested organizations. That it 
utilize compatible private enterprise, agencies, and ethnic groups to develop 
its functional and self-supporting elements for the recreational, cultural, and 
educational enjoyment of the tri-city and entire bay area. Further, that this 
conplex by integrated and connected to Coyote Hills Regional Park and Alameda 
Creek Recreational areas by trail and a recreated horsecar railway transportation 


The responsibility for preservation and proper utilization of Ardenwood's 
potentia 1 lies with the City of Fremont. It should be Fremont's mission to act 
as coordinators of these functions or to guarantee that coordination by trans 
ferring this responsibf 1 ity to the appropriate agency. The Mission Peak Heritage 
Foundation favors the placement of the entire 165-200 acres in the capable and 
experienced hands of the EBRPD for overall future planning and management, and 
pledges it's continued cooperation and support. 

Robert B. Fisher, MD Chairman 
Mission Peak Heritage Foundation 

262 Map O f Rancho Portrero de los Cerritos, 
included in 1980 proposal 




Laurence W. Milnes 
"Ardenwood Regional Preserve and the City of Fremont" 

a selection from 


an interview with Laurence W. 
Milnes conducted in 1982 by 
Carole Hicke of Oral History 
Associates for the East Bay 
Regional Park District 




Larry Milnes, as assistant manager of the City of Fremont, was a key 
figure in the negotiations which led to the creation of Ardenwood Regional 
Preserve. The following excerpt from his 1982 interview for an oral history 
project on the East Bay Regional Park District gives the story of those 
negotiations and of the community effort to plan, prepare, and manage the 
Ardenwood site as a historic preserve. It has been included in this volume 
with the permission of Mr. Milnes and the East Bay Regional Park District 
as a complement to the interviews of John Brooks and Robert Fisher. Following 
is the preface to the 1982 interview: 


The idea for an oral history of the East Bay Regional 
Park District was born at the District's 45th Birth 
day Party in the summer of 1979. Several of the 
guests, Park founders and longtime Park supporters, 
recalled events leading up to the formation of the 
District, and it was decided that it was important 
to capture the variety and richness of their recol 
lections. Shortly thereafter the District's Board 
of Directors authorized an oral history project, and 
in early 1980 a program was launched to interview 
Park District founders, supporters, employees, and 

Mr. Milnes is the Assistant City Manager for the 
city of Fremont, and has worked diligently to pro 
vide parks and recreation for the city. For the 
East Bay Regional Park District, he chaired the 
Public Agency Advisory Committee which advised the 
District on its Master Plan. He also served as 
Chairman of the Park Advisory Committee, which 
evolved out of the citizens' role in the Master 

Mr. Milnes was interviewed in his office in Fremont 
on December 7, 1982. He carefully reviewed and 
corrected the transcript of the tape-recorded 

The oral history project was conducted by Mimi Stein, 
President of Oral History Associates, a firm special 
izing in oral and written histories. 


Ardenwood Regional Preserve and the City of Fremont 

Hicke: Okay. Since we're on these parks, perhaps you can 
tell me the story of Ardenwood Regional Preserve. 
That's part of it. 

Milnes: This is a long story. Ardenwood is conceived in 
the Master Plan as an opportunity to develop an 
historical farm park. Ardenwood consists of prime 
agricultural land and has been farmed for years as 
a major producer of truck crops, feeding Bay Area 
families. It has long been recognized as being 
in the path of development. 

The initial view the city had in its Master 
Plan was that the significant tree stands would 
be preserved as a part of a park of some sort. 
When the Park District Master Plan came along 
the Ardenwood area was seen as possibly preserved 
on a larger scale as a regional facility. Thus 
it was designated in the Master Plan. The Park 
District gave little attention to the acquisition 
of this land in its early acquisition days. Back 
in about the time that the Park District Master 
Plan was being developed, these lands were acquired 
by Singer Housing Company with the expectation of 
developing it into homes. 

The Fremont City Council, on recommendation 
by its Planning Commission, adopted a motion 
indicating the North Plain area of Fremont, of 
which Ardenwood is a part, should be preserved 
in agriculture for a period of at least 10 years. 
The feeling on the part of the Planning Commission 
and Council was the area was not really ready to 


Milnes : develop the city was not in a position to provide 
services to it at that time. The more orderly 
planning of the city would be to develop on an 
in-fill basis where its infrastructure could be 
used more efficiently. 

Singer Housing Company and other property 
owners filed a number of lawsuits against the city 
because of this intended action the Council had 
indicated. The lawsuits tied everything up for a 
number of years. Singer Housing Company and the 
city had made a number of attempts at settling the 
lawsuits between the two parties. They had all 
been unsuccessful. In 1976, the President of 
Singer Housing Company approached the City Council 
and proposed that John Brooks, former President of 
Singer Housing Company serving as an independent 
consultant in the housing field, along with his 
other activities, represent Singer Housing Company 
in negotiation. He further proposed that the City 
Council designate one of its council members to 
meet with Mr. Brooks for the two individuals to 
attempt to negotiate a settlement. 

The council asked its newest and just-elected 
council member, Tony Azevedo, to represent the city. 
The council's reasons for selecting Councilman 
Azevedo were that he was a new face on the council, 
had not been involved in any of the prior council 
actions, and thus might be able to bring a new 
and fresh look to the negotiations. Councilman 
Azevedo agreed to accept the assignment on the 
condition I would be made available to serve with 
him and to assist him in those negotiations. 

My position with the city at that time was 
as Assistant City Manager with a daily working 
responsibility of community/economic development 
manager. Thus, I had managerial responsibility 
for public works, planning, and economic develop 
ment, all three of which were really central to 
the settlement issue. 

A great number of lengthy meetings were held 
by the three parties. Out of those meetings 
evolved some common goals. The Singer Housing 
Company objective was to subdivide land and build 
houses. The city's concern included the preser 
vation of the Patterson house and significant 


Milnes: parts of the Patterson Ranch. These concerns 
interfaced with the Park District's goal of 
establishing Ardenwood Park as an historical farm 
park. The central problem was unsolvable in a 
sense, insofar as Singer Housing Company's sub 
division of the Patterson Ranch was prevented by 
the city's inability to provide services to the 
Ranch in its then-condition and location. 

Fire protection was a primary concern. The 
Dumbarton Freeway was to be built. The fire 
department by policy does not operate its fire 
fighting equipment on freeways for the reason that 
there is too great a potential for freeway blockage. 
The fire equipment then could be stopped in the 
middle of a traffic jam and not be able to get to 
the fire. Another access had to be built across 
the freeway. 

All of these concerns then fitted into a very 
logical and potentially workable solution: Singer 
owned some other lands. The Patterson family owned 
other lands which, if they were in the hands of 
Singer, could be served by the city with certain 
corrective measures being taken. One of these 
corrective measures included building a new bridge 
across the Nimitz Freeway for the Paseo Padre 
Parkway. Mr. Brooks had a close relationship 
with the Pattersons, approached them, and proposed 
a land exchange where the Pattersons would trade 
land in this area, which could potentially be 
developed, for lands which Singer owned and Singer 
had previously purchased from Patterson. Patterson's 
goal was to continue farming. 

After a great deal of analysis by Patterson 
and Singer and by the city, a settlement agree 
ment evolved whereby Patterson and Singer 
exchanged land. Singer then gave to the city of 
Fremont 46 acres of land, which included the 
Patterson Queen Anne Victorian house and the 
significant groves of trees. One Hundred Seventy 
Eight acres of land was to finally evolve under 
city ownership or control; 46 acres of land was 
a direct gift by Singer. The remaining 122 acres 
was to be purchased from Singer Housing Company 
by the Fremont Park Facilities Corporation, a 
nonprofit corporation. 


Milnes: It was agreed the purchase price would be at fair 
market value, not to exceed the sum of $22,000 
per acre. The $22,000 per acre figure was arrived 
at by John Brooks on the basis of his valuation 
and knowledge of land values as a reasonable and 
fair price at the time of the negotiation, when 
this plan had evolved. It turned out that the 
fair market value of the land was $28,000 for the 
land then in the city of Fremont and about $42,000 
for the land involved which was then in the city 
of Newark. So the $22,000 was an extremely fair 
and reasonable price. 

It was agreed in the settlement agreement 
that Singer Housing Company would accept the bonds 
from the nonprofit corporation. The bonds were to 
be paid out over a period of 20 years. The 
interest rate was to be 1/2 percent below the 
market interest rate for tax-free bonds; it was 
further stipulated in the agreement the principal 
and interest would be paid strictly from proceeds 
to the city collected as a $200 per dwelling unit 
construction tax on each new dwelling constructed 
in the city during the ensuing 20-year period. 

A further provision was that if all the 
bonds were not paid for at the end of that 20- 
year period, that is if there were insufficient 
funds flowing during the 20-year period, through 
house building permits, to pay the principal 
and interest, then at the end of the 20-year 
period the bonds would all expire and there would 
be no further obligation on the part of the city 
or the corporation to pay off the bonds. 

The settlement agreed on was approved by 
the City Council and by Singer and has in fact 
been put into action. So the city now owns 46 
acres of that land and has a long-term lease 
on the balance. It was agreed in all of the 
documents the city could transfer its interest 
by lease to another public agency such as the 
Park District. It was specified that one of the 
purposes of the city's acquiring the land was for 
Park use and historical preservation. It was 
contemplated all the way through that the land 
ultimately would come under Park District domain 
as a regional park. That has in fact now come 
to pass. 


Hicke: Was the Park District involved in the negotiations? 

Milnes: The Park District was involved to a minor extent 
only. One of the solutions searched for in the 
settlement process was to try to develop a feasible 
plan whereby the Park District might be able to 
buy the land instead of the city buying it. There 
was interest on the part of the Park District to 
do so but it was advised not to by Jack Rogers, 
as special counsel to the District in land 
acquisition, for the reason that there was liti 
gation pending between Singer and the city of 
Fremont. He was concerned that if the Park 
District involved itself in any way in negotiations, 
the Park District through some means or other might 
be brought into the lawsuit. So the Park District 
dropped any involvement, but certainly continued 
to maintain its interest in Ardenwood Park ulti 
mately becoming a part of the Park District 

Hicke: I know they're all very excited about it. 

Milnes: It's a tremendous opportunity. It's going to be 
the one place .in the Park District, and really in 
the Bay Area, where there will be this much prime 
agricultural land used as a working farm. And it's 
assured that it's going to be there for future 
generations. It's a place where young people and 
not-so-young people in the Bay Area can come and 
see actual working demonstrations of farming as 
it was done, in an historical sense as well as a 
modern sense. They can see real produce grown. 
People can see a real live cow. 

Hicke: Not made of plastic. 

Milnes: That's right. They can see a real live cow, see 
where milk really comes from and see real live 
horses tilling the soil. They can also see black- 
smithing demonstrations. 

Hicke: You mentioned the historic eucalyptus grove. Are 
they some of the first trees planted in the Bay 
Area, or why are they historical? 

Milnes: I'm not certain they were the first eucalyptus 
trees planted, but I wouldn't be surprised if 
they were. The seeds were brought over from 


Hicke: For those actual trees? 

Milnes: Yes. You see, Australia is really the home of 
the eucalyptus tree, and the seeds were brought 
over from Australia for the purpose of planting 
eucalyptus trees to be used for furniture making, 
as a source of wood for furniture. That did not 
prove to be feasible because eucalyptus is simply 
not that stable. So that experiment was not 
successful, but they did then continue to exist 
as a rather significant land form and windbreak. 
It is really quite visible right here from the 
office. If you look right out here where you see 
the six light standards at the football field at 
the high school, beyond it you'll see this distinct 
land form of tall eucalyptus trees. That is 
Ardenwood Park. 

Hicke: I see it very clearly. 

Milnes: The tree form has been identified in the city's 
general plan for some time. One of the goals in 
the North Plain area is to retain that tree form. 
And there will be trouble for anyone who wants to 
destroy it and not replace it in some significant 

Hicke: The wind brings parts of them crashing down but 
they always spring up again. 

Milnes: The Park District views them as a distinct 

liability, although they seem a real asset in an 
historical sense as a land form and windbreak. 
But from the standpoint of bringing people in, 
the District staff says that it's a distinct 
liability. The Park District staff refers to them 
as "widow makers . " Some of them do have the 
potential of branches breaking off in the heat 
of the summer as well as the high winds of the 

Another feature of the management agreement 
was the public hearings on the resource analysis 
and land use development plans to be jointly 
conducted by the Park District staff and the 
Fremont Recreation Commission. A by-product of 
that process has been a stimulation of interest 
in Ardenwood Park by two members of the commission: 


Milnes: one is John Baker, who is a past chairman of 
the commission, and another is Commissioner 
Robert Pitcher. 

It's fortuitous perhaps that this year, 
1982- '83, each of these two people serves 
independently as president of two of the area's 
service clubs. John Baker is President of the 
Fremont Kiwanis Club; Robert Pitcher is President 
of the Niles Rotary Club. Through their interest 
along with that of another resident, Keith 
Medeiros, who is President of the Fremont Rotary 
Club and Keith's particular interest in 
historical preservation the idea has evolved 
to develop a tri-city service club work day at 
Ardenwood Park. 

Planning is going on right now. The 
expectation is that on May 14, 1983 there will 
be one work day in Ardenwood Park where the 
service clubs of the tri-city area will come 
together. Each of them will be working on 
separate projects. Each of the clubs will have 
made varying amounts of financial contribution: 
buying materials, perhaps renting equipment if 
necessary for their particular project. There 
will be this one giant work day with perhaps 
200-300 community leaders who are in the 
Kiwanis, Lions, Optimist, Rotary, and Sorop- 
tomist Clubs of these three cities working on 
grassroots projects to start to put the park 
into a condition where the Park District can 
then carry it on to completion. 

This will be a one-year, one-day project, 
but it can very well and likely will lead to 
subsequent projects either by individual clubs 
or simply by participation on some sort of 
voluntary basis by individual members of the 
community who are stimulated by the potential of 
Ardenwood Park. This club project is seen as not 
only a great opportunity for the Park District to 
launch its improvement of Ardenwood Park with 
community efforts but also to build in an immediate 
constituency of supporters for the park. 


Milnes: It is anticipated that the media will be involved; 
the press will be there, television stations will 
be reporting on this massive community service 
project. The clubs will obviously get benefit 
from it in that they will be able to have some 
publicity for what the individual clubs have done 
and what they have done as a collective effort. 

Hicke: What about Alameda Creek Quarries? 

Milnes: Alameda Creek Quarries has been another interest 
ing evolution. When I came to Fremont in 1959, 
the quarry companies were hard at work mining 
that very valuable ore with no end in sight as 
to when the effort would be exhausted and 
terminated. Nonetheless, the city's general plan 
provided for the area to be an open space recre 
ational area of some sort at some time; thus the 
reason for including the quarry lakes in the Park 
District Master Plan. It was seen as an oppor 
tunity for an inland water recreational area. 

I think that even then no one anticipated 
that the quarrying would stop very soon and the 
area come under public ownership. Well, it has 
evolved, as I indicated, through the suggestion 
by one of the Citizens Task Force members. The 
District has now acquired close to 500 acres of 

The next task is to get a Land Use Develop 
ment Plan prepared for it. The Park District has 
been slow about getting that done. Again it comes 
back to a major deficiency that this area suffers. 
The area does not have a "cadre of little old 
ladies in tennis shoes" to be "squeaking" before 
the Board. So the Park District has done 
virtually nothing about making that the jewel it 
can be in the Park District system. 

Out of fairness to the Park District, I 
shouldn't say that they've done nothing. They 
have a lease with the Alameda County Water Dis 
trict for the Shinn Pond and a lease with the 
City of Fremont for part of Fremont's Niles 
Community Park. It has developed some fishing 
piers and facilities in the Shinn Pond. It also 
has the Kaiser Pit under its wing. But that's 
a minor part of the potential of Alameda Creek 


Milnes: I've expressed to the District staff and to the 

Director from this ward the importance of getting 
on with the Land Use Development Plan. Fremont 
Central Park has evolved over a period of 23 
years. The first acquisition was made in 1959: 
13 acres in the Central Park. Through a combi 
nation of actions of leasing land from the flood 
control district, passing bond issues, and 
incremental improvement , it has now developed 
to where it's probably two-thirds improved. The 
same thing can happen at Alameda Creek Quarries, 
but a Land Use Development Plan must be adopted 
first. Through the Park District's Master Plan 
and work done by Overview and the committees, a 
park planning process has evolved which is second 
to none. It works. It's very thorough. It 
ensures public input. It ensures a full evaluation 
of resources and the bringing together of all 
these into a meaningful Land Use Development 
Plan. With a Land Use Development Plan, park 
improvement and development can proceed on an 
orderly basis through private efforts, through 
public efforts, through grants. 

End Tape 2, Side A 
Begin Tape 2, Side B 

Milnes: The Park District staff has not seen fit to place 
a sufficiently high priority on developing a Land 
Use Development Plan for the Quarries for them to 
have undertaken this item of work. The tri-cities 
of Fremont, Newark, and Union City perhaps have 
been either negligent or ineffective in convincing 
the Park District this needs to be given a higher 
priority. Hopefully we will see some changes in 
that direction in future months. 

The success of and extreme popularity of 
Fremont Central Park, a park totally owned and 
developed and operated by Fremont, demonstrates 
the need and value of another aquatic oriented 
park in the regional park system in this area. 
The Alameda Creek Quarries has the potential and 
the purpose of serving that role. Meanwhile, in 
the absence of the Park District carrying out its 


Milnes: responsibilities at the quarry lakes, the city of 

Fremont is finding itself in the position of 

providing a regional facility, in effect, doing 
what the Park District should be doing. 

Here is another example of this area not 
getting its fair share of Park District resources. 
The Park District has made good strides in this 
area. I don't want to sound like they have been 
totally negligent, but I'm afraid the absence of 
the cadre of people constantly bringing this area 
before the Park District means the area is suffer 
ing and falling behind some of the other areas: 
Claremont Canyon is an example of major District 
expenditure under pressure of a local constituency. 

Hicke: I think that the Park District at least recognizes 
this, because Mr. Trudeau mentioned how much the 
people of the city of Fremont had done in contri 
buting to the park system particularly in respect 
to Ardenwood. You mentioned this just briefly 
and actually alluded to it earlier: the requirement 
for different kinds of parks for each area, such as 
recreation, wilderness, that sort of thing. How 
are we coming as far as Fremont? Would Alameda 
Creek Quarries be the recreational one? 

Milnes: Yes. Alameda Creek Quarries would be in the 
regional recreation category. 

Hicke: So that would be the most higly developed of 
these. What about Mission Peak? 

Milnes: Mission Peak is a regional preserve. It is 

strictly a regional preserve, a pristine part 
of the Park District system. People are certainly 
encouraged to use it but not abuse it. There will 
be no significant development. 

Hicke: Ardenwood would be similar to Black Diamond Mines 
Regional Preserve? 

Milnes: Ardenwood would be in a category of its own, in 
the sense that Ardenwood is not foreseen as an 
intensive, active, recreational area. It's more 
of a passive learning experience. Certainly there 
would be recreational facilities; I've encouraged 
in the Land Use Development Plan for that park 





that they recreate the kinds of recreational 
facilities that the Pattersons had. As an 
example, there is a drawing of the Patterson 
Ranch in the 1868 Alaraeda County Atlas which 
shows a very, very tall swing in the garden. 


I would hope that kind of swing could be repli 

That's a marvelous idea. 

I want to see picnic facilities in there, not so 
that it becomes a park where large groups go to 
have a picnic as they do here at Central Park, 
but where a family can go for a family outing. 
They can take their lunch. There can be play 
facilities, so that the youngsters who may not 
really be interested in watching black smith ing 
can play in a sandbox, on a swingset, or on a 
slide. They can have their picnic and really 
make a day of the farm experience. 

They should have sarsaparilla instead of Coca 

Right. So that's really what I conceive for 
Ardenwood Park. I think we have done a very 
wise thing here at Ardenwood Park with the 
management agreement with the Park District. 
We have provided for two separate advisory 
bodies : one is the Patterson House Advisory 
Board. The city retains the ownership of the 
Patterson House. The Park District does not 
want it. The Patterson House Advisory Board 
has a Park District representative as a member. 
This Board will be responsible for the restor 
ation and operation of the house. The house can 
be used in the interpretive department of the 
Park District through arrangements with the 
Board . 

The other is an Ardenwood Park Advisory 
Committee. That committee will have four repre 
sentatives appointed by the city of Fremont and 
one each by the city of Newark, the city of Union 
City, and the Park District. The Park District 
representative would be the District Director 
representing this area. The purpose of this 
committee is to work as an advisory group to 
the Park District in carrying out the Land Use 
Development Plan, carrying out the operation 


Milnes: and reporting to the city of Fremont on what's 
happening. And it is also to serve as a cadre 
of advocates to keep the Ardenwood Park in the 
forefront of the minds of the District people. 
The District will be constantly reminded it has 
this facility, has responsibility for it, and 
should carry out the development. 

One other point that should be recorded in 
terms of Ardenwood Park is the primary stimulus 
which led to the negotiation and adoption of the 
management agreement with the Park District. 
There was an interest expressed by Saratoga 
Horticultural Foundation in finding a new site. 
In their search, they looked at Fremont, heard 
of Ardenwood Park, and were quite impressed with 
Ardenwood Park. They expressed a real interest 
in leasing some or all of Ardenwood Park from the 
city for the Foundation's use. 

The city owned Ardenwood Park, and there was 
a need to get on with doing something about and 
with it. The Park District was concerned with 
other problems and really was not getting around 
to a serious negotiation for the park. With 
Saratoga's interest, then, the Park District's 
interest was elevated to a new level. There was 
a sense of urgency. There was a series of meet 
ings, and out of it all came the conclusion by 
Saratoga that joint occupancy by Saratoga and 
the Park District would not work out to Saratoga's 
interest. They then backed away from it. Good 
purposes had been served, however. The Park 
District's attention had been directed to it, and 
we were able to proceed in developing an appro 
priate management agreement. 

end of excerpt on Ardenwood 



William D. Patterson 


an interview conducted in 

1955 by John Caswell for the 

Alameda County Water District 

William D. Patterson 



In July 1955 the writer was commissioned to write a history 
of the Alameda County Water District, the oldest county water 
district in California. Only one member of the original Board 
that was organized in 1914 remained. That member was William D. 
Patterson. He had served continuously since 1914, and had been 
President of the Board from 1932 to 195 . During his presidency 
he was the actual administrative head of the organization, conduct 
ing most negotiations regarding policy or involving other organiza 
tions personally. Ue was also first president of the Alameda County 
Flood Control and Water Conservation District, an organization 
created in 1949 under entirely different legislative authority. At 
the time of the interviews he was president of the Flood Control 
District and a director of the Jtlameda Water District. 

The first interview was conducted at his home on Ranoho Potrero 
de Los Cerritos; the second interview was conducted at the writer's 
home in Palo Alto, Mr. Patterson had had the opportunity to refresh 
his memory by reference to abstracts of the Minutes prepared by the 
writer, except for the five years after August 1949. Page references 
in the second interview refer to these abstracts, a copy of which is 
filed in the office of the District. 

Mr. Patterson displayed a memory for the significant features 
of a host of transactions that a man twenty years his Junior might 
wet.], envy. Not a few questions were trivial in themselves, but de 
signed to help the writer grasp the whole picture. Mr. Patterson 
answered the small as well as the great. 

The interviews were recorded on a Webcor tape recorder. In 
transcribing, the questioner's interjections were normally omitted, 
as were false starts. The transcript was then gone over by both 
parties, Mr. Patterson adding clarifying detail at a number of points. 

John E. Caswell 

Palo Alto, California 
August 20, 1955 

The 1955 interview with William D. Patterson is reprinted in this volume with 
the permission of the Patterson heirs, the Alameda County Water District, and The 
Bancroft Library. Ed. 



By W. D. Patterson, Member of the original Board 
of Directors, as told to John E. Caswell. 
Interview I, August 4, 1955. 

Formation cif the District 

Q. Here is a oopy of the letter I wrote you, and a oopy of 
my abstract of the Minutes. What about picking out some of the 
questions you would like to talk about that I asked in the letter, 
and then thumb through the outline of the Minutes and see what seems 
worthy of comment. Perhaps first, what about telling me what eras 
you see in the history of the District. 

A. There was of course the first era, when the main problem 
was struggling to gat the Spring Valley Water Co. to put sufficient 
water down into the gravel strata underlying the surface. These strata 
form our great storage reservoir for conserving otherwise waste flood 
waters of Alameda Creek. 

Q. And then there was a time when you started undertaking some 
pumping. Later on you bought distribution works [note correction 
to this idea], finally you bought the Alvarado pumping plant and 
started pumping yourselves. I haven't gone through all the periods 
when you made some major development in the operation. What ones 
would you think were the major steps? 

A. I think that in order to get a complete picture one would 
have to start back in 1910 or 1911 before the formation of the Dis 
trict, because the formation of the District was the result of what 
Mr. Runckel saw was coming about because of conditions that were 
growing up at thafe time. My brother and I forewaw that coming also, 
because of our farming operations near the Bay. We discussed this 


for a number of years when we beard that the Spring Valley was going 
to put up the Calaveras Dam, and what It would mean to have the 
water shut off from our ranch. We had started about 1900 to put In 
levees around an area of about 200 acres of salt marsh, first to keep 
out the tide water and secondly to check the floods which spilled out 
of Alameda Creek and over the country In times of high flood and were 
building up the soil as a delta near the Bay shore. 

This water went out through a gap In the Coyote hills, and by 
putting a levee around this area, we hoped to check the flow of water 
and thus allow the sediment to settle and build up the soil. We had 
noticed this was happening naturally, and we were trying to speed up 
the process. When the project of putting up the Calaveras Dam came 
up, we saw that it would take away a large part of the flow of Alameda 
Creek. Even though the water were -released, the special benefits would 
be lost to us, for the sediment would settle in the reservoir. Wo 
consulted our attorney for some time and decided to take action when 
the first measures were taken to build the dam. I think it was in 
1911, when the Spring Valley had shown that it intended to go ahead 
building the dam. We sent a warning notice to them saying that we 
would object to the diversion of the flow. 

Mr. Chris Runokel, who was editor of the Washington Press, was 
a very forward-looking, broad minded sort of a person. He had been 
agitating In his paper, as well as talking personally to a number 
of the interested landowners^, of the danger to the territory as a 
whole that he foresaw. He got the idea of forming a protective dis 
trict, and he got a number of the landowners of the area to get to 
gether voluntarily end attempt to form a protective district. He 


personally got aotion through the Legislature in 1913 for the forma 
tion of a new type of district which would have the powers necessary 
to defend the rights of the community. That went under the name of 
the County Water District Act. 

Immediately after the Legislature passed that bill, he got this 
Committee, which had been formed, to go ahead and organize under this 
County Water District Act. That became the first County Water Dis 
trict of the state. It was named the Alameda County Water District. 
That caused a lot of confusion because it is assumed that it is a 
water district under the control of the county. It happened that it 
was named for Alameda Creek. It would be more accurate, except that 
it is so cumbersome, to call it the Alameda Creek Watershed County 
Water District. 

That Committee was composed of six members. There were to be 
five directors under the Courtty Water District Act. One of the 
commit tae members was interested in a gravel works at Nilas, and was 
also engaged in some litigation [with the Spring Valley Water Company] 
already. We thought that there might be some conflict of interests, 
so the other five were elected as the first formal directors of the 
District in the spring of 1914. 

Why Runokel was not a_ Director 

Q. How was it that Runckel was not made one of the Directors? 
A. That is quite a long story. It was realized that he was 
being persecuted by special interests. That brings in a political 
angle. He was very unpopular with the vested interests, because he 
was attacking them. He was almost a radical. He was very liberal. 
He was even too liberal-minded for some of us, but it was necessary 



to have a man like that or nothing would ever have been done. He was 
an agitator and kept things going. lie wao persecuted all the way 

Q. Do you know why the County gang pioked him to be an editor 
when he turned against them so quickly? 

A. I think it was to try to win him over. They figured that he 
would be susceptible to influence, but he was one of these rugged 
individualists that gave in to no one or to any influence. They 
tried to starve him out. He stuck it out and in so doing practically 
starved for & while. He was supported by contributions of many peo 
ple in the area. He lived through it, and finally saw the result of 
his work. He was, I think, the one who was responsible for the suc 
cess of the District. He was persecuted, but was strong enough to 
stand up to it and become the real spark plug of the organization. 

Shinn. the first Board President 

Q. What sort of a man was Mr. Shim:? 

A. He was a very conscientious man. He had interests in Alameda 
Creek in that the Shinns had large properties bordering the creek. 
His father had been compelled like other riparian owners to sell out 
their riparian ownership rights. The Spring Valley had the right of 
eminent domain, and threatened them with condemnation. The riparian 
owners from Niles Canyon to the Bay had finally to take the price 
offered by the Spring Valley, and it was mostly through private ar 
rangement. I think there were no suits carried through to a conclu 
sion, but it was known that they would lose In a condemnation suit, 
so they got the best price they could and their riparian rights were 


Riparian rights extinguished 

Q. In view of the price level at that time, was the settlement 
reasonably fair, or was it a pretty tough settlement? 

A. It was reasonably fair, I would think* That was a little 
before my time. As to actual riparian rights, they were fair enough 
as of that time* The landowners didn't know, of oourse, that the 
water table would be sinking and that they would get into suoh a 
condition as they are now. 

From surplus to shortage 

In a good many cases, such as ours down here and all around 
Alvarado, the lowering of the water table was making the land. It 
was a problem of getting rid of excess water. The land around here 
was swampy. There were many ditches dug to lead the water off, so 
this lower country had no reason to oppose the cutting off of the 
water from up above, and was glad to get a little money and to get 
rid of the water, as well.... 

In the 1890s, I would say that the condition was one of too 
much water in this lower country. There was some need for irrigation 
around Niles, inasmuch as there was the "Washington-Murray Township 
Ditch Association," a local organization formed many years before to 
distribute water. That was a condition of about balance of water 
supply. After 1900 there began to be indications that water would 
be needed. Then from 1910 on was the period of lowering water tables. 
Irrigation had begun, by that time, because we were going from the 
hay and grain era into that of vegetables, starting with sugar beets. 
With alfalfa and other crops coming in, there was a growing demand 
for water for surface irrigation. Also, the lowering of the water 
table, which had shown at Nlles, had drawn water away from the roots 


of the orohards, which before that had not needed more than they 
hfid got from natural percolation. 

Q. Were quite a few orchards loat? 

A. No, as far as I know, there waa a loss of production and 
deterioration of trees, but no aotual loss of orchards. 

Q. Between 1910 and the present, has the orchard area grown or 

A, The orchard area has grown with the development of irriga 
tion. The irrigation has been increased by means of pumping. The 
pumping has caused further lowering of the water table, but land 
owners have followed that down with deeper pumps. 

[The Shinn family had the first nursery in the area, on a 
property adjoining the California Nursery Company.] 

Further identifioation of the Board members 

Mr. Trenouth was an orchardist from Irvington. He had a walnut 
orchard and other property. Stevenson had large properties near 
Centerville. He raised grain and sugar beets. He was a farmer, the 
same as we here, and our products were a good deal the same, except 
that we have never been in the orchard business. We have kept in the 
more diversified farming on this ranch. Kmanuel George waa mostly 
orchardist from the Alviso district. The Directors were scattered 
so cs to cover the territory better. Mr. William Ford of the 
original group dropped out because his Interests might become adverse 
to the District. He was about to sue the Spring Valley Company beoaus 
the stopping of the floods would prevent the renewal of the gravel 
deposits on his property and that was entirely outside the Interests 
of the District as a whole. 



The Early Staff 

I knew Judge Nourse at Stanford. He was a olass ahead of me. 
We played football together. I was '04. He may have been '02 and 
taking graduate work. The Directors accepted ny recommendation and 
asked him to serve as attorney. I think he felt It would have to b 
temporary, and he finally did feel that It was necessary for him to 
withdra\7 as he was appointed Superior Judge In San Francis oo. 

When he withdrew, Chris Runckel knew George Clark very favorably. 
He was a partner of Congressman Blston, and he had had considerable 
experience and Interest in water matters. He became attorney from 
then on until recently, when his health failed after long and able 

Cyril Williams, Jr., becane engineer for the district. He had 
done some work for us [Pattersons] in preparing material for our im 
pending suit. The Water District took him as their engineer also, 
because there were probably going to be the two parallel suits, and 
we wanted to merge the interests for mutual efficiency and economy. 

Suits against Spring Valley Water Company 

In the meantime we had made a formal complaint and that grew 
into a suit, Patterson vs. Spring Valley Water Company, in which the 
District Joined. The District was not interested in the "flood water 
phase" of our suit so the two had to be kept separated. The suit 
came to a head in 1916, after a lot of legal formalities. 

In 1916 the Spring Valley Company approached us and the Water 
District for an arbitration agreement. After considerable negotia 
tion we agreed to go into It, using the personnel of the State Water 
Commission. The Water Commission did not want to act officially, and 


it was agreed that they should be arbitrators as a group. That was 
the beginning of the attempt at compromise, 

<4. In the dry years immediately after the award was made, it was 
felt that the Bailey Formula was quite unfair to the District. Look 
ing baok on it over the entire period that it has been in force, do 
you think that the Bailey formula worked out fairly well? 

A. I think it worked out fairly well as far as its intent is 
concerned. We found out that during the dry years the District got 
the Advantage, while in the wet years the advantage -we s with the Com 
pany. That was the conclusion we came to, but that was not the com 
plaint of the. Water District at all. 

The verdict took the attitude that all that was required of an 
appropriating concern--water user--was that it not interfere with 
present conditions. The conditions as of that time were such that 
there was a limited amount of water from each winter's runoff from 
the watershed that was absorbed into the gravels... .The Bailey Formula 
was very complicated, but it took into consideration the actual storm 
periods of the winter. It took into consideration such things as 
temperature. When temperature is high, water flows more freely 
through gravel. If a storm occurred during a time of high tempera 
ture, we would get a larger allotment... .It was a very fine-spun 
idea, but quite correct, I think. But the point was that it didn't 
allow for the controlling works that we were starting to put in to 
get additional water. The decision was that we were entitled to get 
this surplus water that belonged to no one, but it did not take into 
consideration the fact that the Spring Valley had all of the storage 
reservoir areas under their ownership. That shut us out and gave 
them the power to shut off practically all of the flow of Alameda 


Creek. We thought we were entitled to future use aa well, and to 
a proportion of that surplus water. 

Q,. In other words, In building Calaveraa Dam, they had appro 
priated all future use. 

A. Yea. And also had bought the reservoir sites on other trlbu- 


taries, so there was nothing left that had economic value. 

Q. Hns the City of San Francisco Insisted on maintaining all the 
Is gal rights of the old Spring Valley Company? 

A. They have not given up any of the legal rights, but they have 
been vary friendly and very liberal In their Interpretation of those 
rights. They hove been generous with us and we hove cooperated with 
them. TThen they have been In a Jam wo have given them water to be 
repaid, and when they repaid, they repaid It with a lot more than 
they took, so we have no complaint against the past actions of San 
Francisco. ... 

Alvarado Annexed 

Q. I have noted that Alvarado was at first left out of the 
district and later taken In. 

A. Yes. That was because Mr. Williams, who was a very careful 
engineer, didn't want to lay claim to any greater percolation area 
than he could prove In court. He had not had time to make a thorough 
study of the Alvarado area then. When he extended his study to that 
area, he found unquestioned proof that that was affected very directly. 
In fact, he found that the gravels were affected by the shutting off 
of the flow about ten nilas father north, as far as San Leandro. 
There Is a slight effect from the next creek north, but primarily In 
the upper gravels. The deep gravels are affected most by Alameda 
Creek and secondarily by Coyote Creek. He almost proved that Coyote 


Creek gravels mingle with Alameda Creek gravels at great depth, 

and also with gravels aoross the Bay around Palo Alto. Studies show 

that they are connected in some way, 

Salt Water Intrusion 

Q. After the water situation began to improve somewhat, around 
1920, did that enable the farmers to go in more for row crops vege 

A. I think it must have had aome effect. I think the effect 
as to row crops was more the increasing market for them. You could 
always get water if you went deep enough. We have never been out of 
water, but it became more expensive to get. The losses that have 
occurred in the way of lack of water, or lack of usable water the 
salt sea water intrusion from the Bay... has put out of use hundreds 
of wells in the area. Some of them could not be replaced because 
they did not have deeper underlying gravel strata to go after. 

Q. Roughly what proportion of the area of the district is at 
present affected by salt water intrusion? 

A* The intrusion has cone up to very roughly the line of High 
way 17, Alvarado-Centerville-Irvington, with the addition of local 
intrusion around Centerville. 

ti. That would be close to 2/3 of the district, wouldn't it? 

A. UTell, if you include the salt marshes, yes. But it wouldn't 
be quite half the area of the producing land. But that is not a 
total loss, because in many of these areas that are lost to salt 
intrusion in the shallow gravels you can go through the shallow 
gravels and cement them off and go down to the deeper gravels. In 
this area from Highway 17 down, as a rough rule of thumb you can 


figure there is a olay stratum between the shallow and next deeper 
gravels of nearly 100 feet, and that olay is impervious, practically. 
There are a few oases where the water does get through in sandy lenses 
end more particularly through old-time wells that have rusted through 
and are transferring salt water to lower levels* 

Q. Now if you go from the first gravels at perhaps forty feet 
to a hundred feet farther on, don't you about triple your electric 
bill for pumping? 

A. No, because the water table is the same for the different 
gravel strata. They have the same pressure head. They merge toward 
the head of the Cone. Around Niles you get practically no clay, so 
the head is about the same regardless of the depth of the wells. 
The lowering of the general water table is what counts, 

People's Water Company 

Q. Do you recall the old People's V/ater Company? Do you recall 
what areas they sold to? 

A, They sold to Alvarado and the Mt. Eden area, both of which 
were on their main. They had a 30" main, I think it was, running 
from Alvarado in to Oakland, and through their ownership of another 
company they were also serving Newark through a well system. I think 
it was the old United Porperties Company. That old company was broken 
up at the time of the first World War. They went into bankruptcy 
were all broken up, anyway. 

United Properties Company 

Q,. Was United Properties mainly a development scheme for indus 
trial or agricultural property? 

A. It was a combination of Tevls, Hanford and "Borax" Smith 
interests to develop the whole belt of country between Oakland and 


San Jose, and they had started buying properties along the line of 
an electric railway that they were going to put in. The United 

Properties Company part of it was buying large tracts of land that 
would benefit by the development. 

<<. Was Tevis an eastern firm? 

A. Mo. that was Lloyd Tevis, a San Francisco capitalist, and 
"Borax" Smith, the old Twenty Mule Team borax man. They were wealthy 
families. Hanford and Tevis were interested in the San Joaquin 
Valley, too. They had big tracts there. The Henry Miller estate 
and the Hanford-Tevis group were rivals in the San Joaquin. 

4. Did the electric railroad get down here, or did the World 
Wer stop it? 

A. It stopped it. The financing which was going on actively 
at that time was stopped Immediately by the outbreak of the War, and 
the firms were committed to such an extent that they were broken up 
and took great losses. and gave up these schemes that were being startec 

Local Water Companies 

M.. I have noticed that almost every little town at one point 
had a water company in it. Were these tied together by a syndicate, 
or were they financed by local men? 

A. They were local men, all of then, I think, except these 
I speak about. ... 

Calaveras Dam Collapse 

Q. What happened when the Calaveras Darn collapsed? Did it 
do a good bit of damage to the district, or was there not enough 
water behind it? 


A. It was Just a fortunate circumstance that the dam slid out 
through having an Improper core, a core of mud which didn't solidify 
and that it slid on the upstream face of the dam, leaving a down 
stream shell that held the water* If it had slid downstream it 
probably would have been quite a catastrophe. ... 

Q. That didn't materially affect the plans of the Water Dis 
trict, then, did it? 

A. It didn't affect them that way, but it did stir people up 
and there was considerably more Interest because there was risk of 
its going out at some other time, and particularly: because it was 
known to have been built on an earthquake fault. 

Arbitration. 1920 

H. Were there any political aspects to the decision against the 
District by the 'A'ater Commission? [Sitting unofficially as a 
Board of Arbitration, the decision was rendered in 1920.] 

A. At the risk of being considered a disgruntled loser in a 
lawsuit, I still think there were political aspects. 

*i. But there was nothing one could really pin down? 

A. No, there is nothing you can pin down, because it was finally 
affirmed by the State Supreme Court. But we feel that there was a 
lot of influence improperly used in various ways. ... there were some 
discrepancies that I think an opan-minded court would have consid 
ered and ordered a new trial or a reversal. 

i. There is one think that I have not looked into, and perhaps 
you know offhand. Has the decision of thse court and the pattern of 
the arbitration set precedents throughout California for later 


A. Wall, that is another thing. Judge Olney, who was Supreme 
Court Justice for a while in fact he waa the Chief Justice-- 

Q. Was this the Olney who waa attorney for the Spring Valley 
Water Company, or was this his father? 

A. No, this was the same men. Warren Olney, Jr. He was in the 
Supreme Court later. In the first place, he appeared to argue this 
case. Then he became Supreme Court Justice, and later argued a 
case in the San Jonquin Valley in which he took the opposite stand 
from what he did in our case. Our case got no publicity at all, 
although it practically overturned the Herminghaus Case. Then there 
was the case that came up in the San Jooquin Valley and Judge Olney 
took exactly the opposite point of view when he was retained by an 
interest that was opposed to this decision, and the litigants were 
successful in their argument to sustain the Herminghaus Case. 

Citizens Support Board 

Q.. One thing that I picked out from the Washington Press was 
that Chris Runckel had virtually promised that there would presum 
ably be no tax after. the first couplo of years, and only 10^ on 
the tlOO then. Wos there any criticism when the District didn't Just 
shrivel up end die on the vine after the first couple of years? 

A. No. I think that there was no opposition to speak of. 
None that we knew of. The people were with us right along. But 
there was criticism when we bought up the East Bay Municipal works 
at Alvarado. There was a faction that claimed v/e got hoodwinked in 
that case and that we paid too much for it. We paid a quarter of a 
million dollars for it, but there are two sides to that story. The 


group who criticized were mostly the remains of the old time politi 
cal gang that were for the private utilities (remains of Hiram 
Johnson's "S.P. gang"). 

Q. That brings us back to another of Runckel's articles which 
he published in 1912 or 1913. He publiohed some quite unsavory 
information about the tieup between the county political gang and 
the Spring Valley Water Company as it affected the Pleasanton area. 
Did this tieup affect the Alameda County Water District? 

A. Yes, it was the same group. It was what we called the 
county gang. It was the Southern Pacific up to the time of Hiram 
Johnson, and then the Spring Valley. There was a very close con 
nection there. 

Foshar:." Company at Niles 

Q. This is just an item of interest. What kind of a water 

service did Foshay Company operate at Niles? 

A. They acquired the Niles Water Company, which was a local 
concern. It was run largely by iir. Shinn and some people in Niles. 
The Foshay Company came in with ideas of expansion. I think the 
thing was overcapitalized, and they combined with a local bank and 
had all sorts of financial difficulties. They were bidding for the 
East Bay's Alvarado pumping plant, arid there was a deadline we had 
to meet to avoid the Foshay Company getting the Alvuredo properties, 
which we figured would be disastrous. That was the reason we moved 
so quickly: in order to head them off. VYe got the thing tied up, 
through an agreement with ex-Governor Pardee, acting for Oakland, 


Water distribution systems , . 

Q. One thing that I couldn't find in the Minutes was the refer 
ence to the time when the distribution systems of Alvarado, Newark 
and Mount Eden were taken over, 

A. They were taken over with the purchase of the water rights 
and pumping property at Alvarado. We tried to get Oakland to keep 
the two systems. We didn't want them. They were a losing proposition, 
and we didn't want to get drawn into the water distribution problem 
of thio area, because we represented such a large area compared with 
these two local distribution systems that were not paying costs. We 
v.-ero forced into the water distribution business and that is what 
has developed into this present system. 

Q. You certainly made it profitable shortly, as I recall, 

A. It is profitable in that it has developed the country into 
a very prosperous and fast-growing area. But it is not yet profitable 
as such, because we are having to put so much money into large dis 
tribution mains running through only partly inhabited territory in 
order to get to and tie together these towns where it would otherwise 
pay. But it is knitting the area together, so that in a few years 
it should be very profitable. That would be reflected, of course, 
in lower water rates and taxes and such as that. We look forward to 
prosperity, but it has been pretty hard sledding the last twenty years. 

Future Subdivisions 

. Do you anticipate that a good bit of the area will be sub 

A. Oh, yea, we consider that it is Inevitable unless there is a 
big slump. You can't travel around the area without running into 
real estate promoters. 


Q,. I imagine the north end of the district, around San Leandro, 
Hayward and San Lorenzo will develop first, 

A. The flood control problem is the one factor around the north 
end. There is a big erea toward Alvarado that cannot be developed 
before the flood control problem is solved, and it may be five to ten 
years before growth can start in that area. 

jfot a_ flood control district 

Q. The water district is a conservation district also, isn't it? 

A. Yes, it is a conservation district that has been drawn into 
distribution obligations against its will. 

Q. And you also have jurisdiction over flood control? 

A. No, the Flood Control Commission is a subsidiary of the 
Alaneda County Supervisors, while the Water District is a State or 
ganization and not subject to the County. We cooperate very closely 
with the Flood Control District. ... 

In a good part of the area the problem is not flood control, but 
surface drainage to take care of the accumulated flow from built-up 
areas. It is hard to make a good many people who are a considemble 
distance from Alameda Creek wee why they should support a flood con 
trol measure, but the fact is that they cannot build unless something 
is done to take care of the surface runoff. The Planning Commission 
will not let them build unless they have the facilities for drainage.... 

Engineering Department abolished 

Q. I noted that Williams was finally released, apparently 
because he was so slow in getting some action taken in regard to 
repairing a main that was carrying East Bay Municipal Utilities Dis 
trict water down toward Alvarado. 


A. The ooat of the Bngineering Department was at the bottom of 
that. He had an assistant who was getting rather arrogant Nunea. 
He was a bad influence, and Williams wouldn't give him up. It got 
to be a hot-headed dispute, and one of the Directors suddenly said, 
"I move we abolish the Engineering Department. 11 Someone said, "I 
second the motion." The motion was put to a vote and carried. 

Q.. 1 suppose you did save money over a few years. Was .Richmond, 
Williams' successor as manager, an engineer? 

A. Ho, he had been in charge of the Alvarado pumping plant, 
which was a big-scale steam pumping plant, ever since he was a young 
man. iie was very efficient as a practical man, but with no engineer- 
Ing training. At that time we were laying pipe and he was very good 
at that. He served with us for a great many years and spent his whole 
life in water affairs and was a great asset to the Water District. 

Agricultural Statistics 

[A portion not recorded introduced the question of agricultural 
statistics for Washington Township and where they might be obtained.] 

Q,. Do you recall what year Senator Sheridan Downey and Senator 
Kerr held this hearing on agricultural produce? 

A. 1 don't recall, but I have It in my records. 

Q. Was this an agriculture committee hearing? 

A. No, this was a committee to urge the Importation of water 
into this area from outside sources. It was centered largely at 
that time on the advisability of Bay barriers to Impound fresh water 
and get it into this area. 

Q. Was it about 1948 or 1950? 

A. Yes. 



Q. If I oan't get a printed oopy of the Congressional hearing, 
do you have any idea of anybody who would have a report embodying- 
those figures? 

A. It waa one of those hearings that was carried on under the 
auspices of the Army engineers and with the State Water Commission(?) . 



1914 - 1955 

By W. D. Patterson, Member of the original Board 
of Directors, aa tald to John B. Caawell 

Interview II 
August 15, 1955 

Q. What I have done today, Mr. Patterson, is to make 
out a list of questions with page references to the abstract 
of the Minutes. That may simplify things a bit. On page 39 
[Hay 21, 1932} is the first one. You will note a reference 
to the legislation concerning a State Water Plan, and some 
reasons for opposing the Plan. W re there phases of the Plan 
that were believed to be adverse to the District's interest? 

A. The reason for that was that the Plan as originally 
advanced was to carry the water down the San Joaquin Valley, 
which of course would have been of no benefit to us. 'e felt 
that if the State was going to have a Water Development Plan, Pll 
the areas of the State that were in need of water should be 
considered. We felt that it was being monopolized by the San 
Joaquin Valley. 

Q. On page 40 [June 4, 1932} there is a reference to 
power costs. The P. .0. and E. representative told the Board 
that there was a hearing coming up. Was anything done about 
lowering the rates? This was 1932. 

A. No, there was nothing done. It was not carried through. 
One of the Directors, George Lowrie, had had considerable argu 
ment with the P. 0. and . over their cates. It was the desire 
of certain ones, including Mr. Runokel, to get power wholesale 


and distribute it by means of the District. That seemed a 
little out of our line, so we discouraged it. 

Q. On June 25, 1952 [p. 40], there is a reference to the 
tax budget. Is there any sort of a summary that given figures 
year by year on the distribution system and conservation work 
of the District? 

A. Nothing that I know of except what shows in the Minutes, 

Q. Do you think that the Auditor's reports are in such 
a shape that they could be tabulated quickly, and if so, would 
it be worth while putting the figures into the history? 

A. That information isn't in the Minute Book, is it? 

Q. There is information similar to that on page 40 of 
the Abstract, with details on such matters as salary. Then, 
on occasional years something was done about putting down in 
formation on the gross revenues and profits of the distribution 
systemafter 1930 of course. Do you think it would be a good 
thing to arrange a statement of income? 

A. Yes, if you could get hold of it. I Just don't know 
if it is available. 

Q.. Cn page 42 [May 6, 1933] there is a reference to 
legislation Senate bill no. 80, requiring that county water 
districts buy out private water companies. I wonder who was 
behind that. 

A. I don't know who it was. It was some member of the 

Q.. It wasn't any concerted move, then, of any particular 

A. No, not in our district. 

Q. On page 45 [March 31, 1934] we come to the time when 


the terms of the Director* ware split, and two were elected at 
one time, and three two years later* 

A. Tea. 

Q. Waa that some new requirement of the atate law? 

A. Yes,... 

Q. Do you think It was an Improvement? 

A. I think probably, 

<1. On the next page [p. 46, May 5, 1934] there la a ref 
erence to a Mr. Crozler wanting the District to buy out the 
Centervllle Water Co. A little earlier Cyril Williams, Jr., 
had proposed the aame thing, What waa behind their move? 

A. Mr. Willlama waa our former engineer. Ha felt free 
to make thla deal on the outside with Ur. Crozler, who owned 
the Centervllle A'ater Company. I waa at that time In favor 
of getting away from the water distribution end of It. The 
other directors were not, and I waa overruled. I think per 
haps It waa Just aa well, because that has become a major In 
fluence In the development of our area. I guess they were better 
grounded than 1 waa. 

. At that time, as I recall, the District did not buy 
the company. 

A.. Not at that time. Later It grew Into a purchase. 

Q. On page 48 [Feb. 12, 1935] In reference to water re 
leased by San Francisco, It appeared that 25$ of the water that 
waa being released went Into the gravels above the fault where 
but 5jt of the land of the district lay. Was there some good 
engineering or agricultural reaaon for giving them about five 
times as much water as the ratio of the rest of the district? 


A. Yea, there was. There were several reasons. In the 
first place the Niles gravel basin was quite limited in depth. 
It was- underlaid by bed rook, and after the water table got 
down to a certain depth a good many of the pumps couldn't get 
any water at all. Also, the main reason why it was advisable 
was that if the small basin above the fault was over-supplied 
with water, it leaked over the barrier of the Niles fault, and 
so the lower part of the district got the surplus anyway. We 
were sure it was better to keep their level' up, and then we 
would get the water we needed anyway. 

Q,. It assured them a supply, and you didn't suffer. 

A. Yes. 

Q. I'm not clear about two things: the 36" Spring Valley 
main and the 30" Spring Valley main. They were both originally 
built by Spring Valley, were they not? Or was one built by San 
Francisco? This is on page 49 [Stay 4, 1935], 

A. They were built by the Spring Valley. 

Q. The 30" was abandoned at least by 1940 or 1941? 

A Yes. That was what they called their Alameda line, 
and that was the original line. It was deteriorating so that 
they had to give it up, before it crossed the Bay. No, that was 
the 36 line. The 30" line, unless I'm mistaken, was the- line 
of the East Bay Company, leading from Alvarado to Oakland, and 
we bought that line as far as San Lorenzo with our purchase of 
the water supply at Alvarado. 

Q. Is that the one that was taken up during the war? 

A. Yes. We took up that part of it that was above the 
surface of the ground and sold it for pipe or Junk metal. 


Q. Is there any of the old 56 B line sections operating 
In the district? That is, the Spring Valley lines? 

A. Yea, it'a atill operating. It was in very good ahape 
from the hi lea Reservoir down to and through Centervllle to 
the cannery just below Centervllle, and that la atill uaed both 
to aupply the free water rlghta along Ita course and to carry 
water when It la available from release, down to the Western 
Pacific pit. We took some of the 5O" line and laid It to con 
nect the lower part of this 56" Spring Valley line to the West 
ern Pacific pit, which was about half a mile out In a field, 

Q. On page 51 [Dec. 7, 1935], In reference to the District's 
reply to Cahlll's letter, what had been done by the District to 
capture a much larger amount of the Sunol water In 1936 than In 
the summer of 1935? In 1935 and 1936 apparently you were making 
preparations for the summer of 1936. 

A. I think that that followed the clearing out of the chan 
nel, the stirring up of the sediment that was deposited on the 
gravels of the craek channel by bulldozer work, and loosening 
them up. We had a pump which was spoken about, I think It was 
at this time, too, that pumped from the channel of the creek 
Into the other end of the Western Pacific pit, from that where 
the pipe line Is. 

Q. [P. 52, April 14, 1936] In your agreement regarding 
your releases from the obligations of the water rights, was the 
District to assume them permanently If It failed to return the 
advanced water to an Francisco within 15 years? 

A. The free water rights were to be assumed permanently, 
yes. This phrase about the 15 years, I don't know about. I 


don't remember that, and I intended to look it up to see Just 
what it did mean. It was something new to me. 

Q. My impression was that, if they had demanded the 
water back within the 15-year period, presumably it would have 
been their Initiative, then your obligations would have been 

A. If they had canceled their obligation under this agree 
ment, I think that would be so; but it may also mean that if 
they kept up for 15 years , that was not to end our obligation. 
We understood, when we made this agreement, that we were to take 
over these obligations for free water service permanently, and 
our only recourse was to buy the rights out or condemn them, 
which we have gradually been doing. 

Q. What proportion of the original free rights were actually 
active when ycu bought it, and are still active? 

A. The main right, which was that of the California 
Nursery Company, is still active and we are continuing to serve 
that through water which we pump, and which is also supplied 
by the City of San Francisco as long as they have the water flow 
ing down Alameda creek for whatever reason. They keep the 
Nursery pipe full of water and available to them, and if they 
should find it impossible to continue that, there would be some 
legal question about whether we would still be required to 
serve the Nursery. 

In the original contract under which the Nursery gave up 
their riparian rights there was a provision that required San 
Francisco to supply them with water, but only so long as there 
water in the "Stone Chute," which is an old Spanish diverting 


dam, onoa serving a ditch leading to the Vallejo flour mill 
mt Niles. Whan water was not flowing at that point, tha Spring 
Valley Company was not obligated to supply tha nursery. It i 
quite a complicated legal matter, but there was that limitation, 
and it would probably have to be determined by tha courts aa to 
just what was meant by that contract. It was a very long and 
obscure type of contract. Nona of the attorneys have been able 
to work it out to their satisfaction. 

Q. How you have to supply water to the Nursery. Do you 
have to do it fairly constantly? 

A. Kvery year they take their 50 million gallons of water* 

t. Part of that comes from tha creek, am I right? 

A, Part of it is a substitute for the water that would 
otherwise flow down the creek, and that is supplied by the City 
of San Francisco. 

Q. Then that whole 50 million gallons doesn't come from 

A. No, but we are under obligation to see that it is 
delivered to the Nursery. 

Q. On page 52b [Sept. 5, 1936] there is a note about the 
10 percent federal contribution from the WPA. Is that in addition 
to the WPA labor supply? 

A. That was 10 percent of the cost of the materials. All 
the labor and 10 percent of the material was furnished by the WPA. 

Q. On page 54 [Oct. 2, 1936], why did Cahill refuse the 
permit to build the San Antonio Creek dem? 

A. That was because San Francisco would not give up a 
prior right to whatever was needed by San Francisco in an 

306 *-*<*.. 


emergency, and they ware to define the emergency. If we had 
built the dam and there was surplus water stored by the dam, we 
oould have It so long as San Francisco didn't need it* He 
refused to give it under any other circumstances. 

Q,. In reference to the Hayward pipe connection [page 55, 
Feb. 17, 1938], what is the present source of Uayward's water? 
Does it have any large wells except at lit. Eden? 

A. It has the old wells at Mt. Eden and other wells between 
ttt. Eden and Hayward. The other source of supply at the present 
time is a twenty or thirty inch line running from the Hetoh 
Hetchy aqueduct which crosses the road between Niles and Mission 
San Jose. 

Q. Hayward still gets some water from underneath the 
District, then, I would presume. 

A. Yes, that is what we have been quarreling over for 
a number of years, trying to settle their exact rights. 

Q. On page 53 [Sept. 7, 1940], just a small item of 
Interest: the Minutes speak of Corey fire hydrants and another 
type whose name I forget. One seemed to have been used in cities, 
and the other in rural areas. What were the particular virtues 
of each one? 

A. It was the Wharf hydrant that was used in rural areas. 
That was a simple valve, like a garden hydrant, only of large 
siza. It was not a very good type. There were a great many 
mechanical features it did not have, and where there was a chance 
of much use the Corey type of hydrant was considered by the Fire 
Underwriters to be the more acceptable type. 

Q. [Page 64, Jen. 4, 1941.] In reference to the service 
at Sunol, was it the Raker Act that prevented the District from 


taking over? 

A* Ho, we had the power to take It over; it was a question 
of expediency. The City of San Franolsoo had the distribution 
system at Sunol, and they vare uncertain whether they wanted to 
keep it or not. It was Espy 'a own idea that for a well rounded 
system we should have the Sunol town system with ours, and relieve 
San Francisco of any country service. 

Q. Oh! I had assumed that it referred to the Sunol gravel 
beds, filters and so forth. 

Q. [Page 64, Feb. 1, 1941] Did you ever get the office 
building built by WPA? 

A. No. It was designed by a man who was working in the 
WPA office, who had some training as an architect. WPA was 
about over, and we didn't feel it necessary to go on. 

Q. [Page 65, June 7, 1941.] In reference to the Niles 
subdivision, what was to be the source of the water for that? 
And was there danger of contamination? That seems to have been 
higher up than most of your water system. ...You will note that 
the water was to be delivered "as is," which I thought meant 
that it might not be fit for domestic consumption. 

A. No, that was the mechanical service end the leok of 
pressure that would be there. It was one of the first subdivisions 
and was located at the entrance to Niles Canyon, and at a high 
elevation. We could not supply satisfactory pressure, but we 
told him he could take it as it was then, which he did to start 

Q. How did you cure that? Put In a standpipe end pianp? 

A. We put in a booster pump at the reservoir, which was 
at the Nilea Canyon outlet and which was only a few hundred feet 


from this development and almost at the same level, so that the 
pressure without booster would have been unsatisfactory. 

Q. [Page 66, Sept. 6, 1941.] Emanuel George passed away 
and Louis Amaral was appointed in his stead. What area and 
interest did Mr. Amaral represent? 

A. He was a small farmer and lived very close to Emanuel 
George. He was a close friend of the family and had ogricul- 
tural and irrigating experience, so we thought he would do very 
well as a substitute. 

Q. [Page 68, Feb. 6, 1943. 3 It was reported in the Minutes 
for 1943 that the building of Camp Parks near Pleasant on required 
a large amount of water. VThat effect did the construction of 
Camp Parks have on the District's water supply? 

A. It didn't have much effect as far as we coujd make out, 
because the water that was used, except for evaporation, was 
returned to the Pleasanton gravels, and so made its way down to 
our District. We also had a quarrel with them over the pollution 
of the water. In case their septic tanks didn't operate or 
overflowed. But Mr. Clark told us we couldn't do anything about 
it. It was a wartime operation, and it was almost impossible 
to bring a successful suit against the government. You had to 
trust to the rulings of the Health Department to keep it in order. 

Q. So far as you were able to discover, did they actually 
contaminate the waters? 

A. Not by any analysis that we got. The point where the 
contamination would occur was about ten miles upstream from us. 
The water ran over the gravels and we didn't pin down such 
contamination as appeared to be occurring to come from Camp 
Parks. There were too many other sources. 



Q. Did Camp Parka pat In standard sewage equipment? 

A* Yea, but there were several reports from neighbors 
that there waa raw sewage coming through at times* 

Q.. [Page 70, Sept. 16, 1944.} I note that Prank Duster- 
berry passed away In early September. He had been the customary 
representative at the Irrigation Districts Association meetings. 
Did Dusterberry make any distinctive contribution to the Board 
that should be mentioned In the history? 

A. He did a very good job at attending the various conven 
tions. He was a retired banker and went to practically all the 
water conventions and did a greet deal of good In keeping the 
District well informed as to what was going on. His advice In 
financial matters was very good, of course. 

Q,. I should ask the same question about Emanuel George. 

A, He was a very sound thinker, a practical man; a good 
farmer and orchardlst. On practical matters he was very well 
considered by the whole community. 

Q. [Page 71, Nov. 4, 1944. J The Board proceeded to hold 
an election to replace Frank Dusterberry and the Board split, 
Grimmer and Patterson on one side, and Bernardo and Amaral on 
the other. What was the basis of the split that balked an 

A* We didn't consider that the opposition's candidate had 
sufficient grounding for the post. He had practically no 
experience in water matters. His ownership of real estate in 
the District was very minor, end we split on ths advisability 
of the type of man. 

Q.. What did the people who supported him have In his favor? 


A. The two directors felt that he had sufficient knowledge 
of wator matters, and he was a union official at Newark* 

Q. [Page 71, March 3, 1945.] In regard to the Ellsworth 
water right. Dr. Grimmer was authorized to offer $10,000 for the 
water right. Later on I discovered that Ellsworth had no inten 
tion of selling because there was hard pan under his land and he 
couldn't get any water by drilling. Was the Ellsworth tract 
all in one piece at that time? 

A. Yes. [It was later subdivided, and the District had 
great trouble with its divided water rights. 3 

Q. [Page 72, Oct. 13, 1945.] In regard to the annual 
appropriation, new language was used. Why did the County Auditor 
now notify the District as to what its appropriation was to be? 

A. I think it was that the County Auditor set the rate that 
we should have in order to produce the amount set forth in our 

Q. So he didn't determine the amount, simply the tax rate? 

A. Yes. 

ft. [Page 72, Oct. 13, 1945.] Was a well drilled in the 
Shinn subdivision in order to gat water for the California 

A. Because of the obscure language in the contract between 
the Spring Valley Water Company and the Nursery, the lawyers 
had very much trouble with Interpretation. Y*e decided it would 
be better to have a well next to the Nursery at the point of 
delivery, so that in any case we would have a water supply which 
could be substituted for that called for under the contract. So 
we bought a lot adjoining the Hursery at the proper point on their 



border and drilled a wall that would be entirely sufficient 
to supply the 50 million gallons a year. Wo hold that In 

Q. You don't ordinarily pump from that, simply in an 

A. In an emergency we could put a pump in and substitute 
for the water they would otherwise get out of the flow in Alameda 

Q. [Page 76, Sept. 13, 1947, and elsewhere.} There are 
references to the fault having been cut by Pacific Coast Aggre 
gates Company. Has water ever flowed over the cut in sufficient 
quantities to affect the water table above it? 

A. Yes, I think it has. I think there was a lowering of 
the water table above the fault by several feet. I forget just 
how many.... That was partly corrected by later work on the fault... 
We uncovered the place where this out had been made and did some 
work in en attempt to seal it. 

Q. [Page 78, May 8, 1948.] You and the Secretary testi 
fied before the Dickie Underground Water Pollution Committee. 
What was the Committee seeking to determine? 

A. They were trying to find out the causes and possibilities 
of preventing the pollution of the fresh water by the salt water, 
not only in our case but in some other cases where salt water 
was intruding. 

ft. [Page 78, July 10, 1948.] In regard to pit purchases, 
was the land that was to be purchased from Pacific Coast Aggregates 
adjacent to that leased from Mrs. Shinn? 


A. The property waa adjacent and formed a aeries of pita 
which could be used and is used for percolation. 

Q. Are they called collectively the Shinn pits now? 

A. Ho, they are separate. 

Q* [Pago 79 Feb. 12, 1949.] To what extent do the duties 
of the Alatneda County Flood Control and Eater Conservation District 
overlap those of the Water District? And how have the conflicts 
in Jurisdiction been resolved? 

A. The Flood Control District, as we call it for short, 
has not been formed very long, and as 1 waa the chairman of both 
Boards, I recommended to both Boards that we attempt to prevent 
any unnecessary overlapping of Jurisdiction of the two. I person 
ally was in favor of eventually having the percolation part taken 
over es much as possible by the Flood Control District, inasmuch 
as they were attempting to get Alnmeda Creek straightened and 
widaned, exposing a great deal of gravel which could be used for 
percolation purposes. I thought there was no purpose in having 
both bodies covering the one project and that we should separate 
the duties and obligations of the two. 

Q. BBS the Flood Control District been able to take over 
much of that work? 

A. Not as yet, because they have Just this year had passed 
a bond issue of about 4 million dollars, which is to go into the 
reconstruction of Aiameda Creek. The finishing of the project 
has to wait on tha Army Engineers, which may take five or ten 
years to complete, because it has to have the approval of Congress 
and an appropriation bv Congress. So that ia only partly taken 
care of. 


Q,. la any part of thia four million dollars going to 
be apent before Congress oomea through? 

A. Yea, they will a tart, I believe, thia winter. They 
are going to work with the Army Engineers, and the Army Engineers 
have just received an appropriation of 15,000 for a preliminary 
survey of the project. 

Q I suppose this is to include channel straightening. 
Will it also include additional percolation pita? 

A. Only incidentally. The straightening and widening of 
the channel will expose large areas of gravel, which will auto- 
matically become percolation areaa. That is why I think coopera 
tion between the two bodies is essential. The channel is something 
less than a hundred feet wide on the average. They are making it 
about 600 feet wide in the final plans, and that will make an 
immense difference in the percolation of the flood waters. 

Q. Will eny check dams be built along the channel? 

A. That remains for the future to determine. The increase 
in percolation will be so great that I think it will be tried 
out first without check dams. 

^. How much is being asked of Congress for the flood 
control work? 

A. Lets see, about five million dollars, I think it is. 

Q. Making a total of about nine millions available. 

A. YeE. It'll be a major project for our country, 

Q. I auppoae that will save considerable loss from floods, 
as well as assuring a better ground water supply? 

A. Yes. The floods occasionally are very destructive. 

Q. Do you have any rough notion of how many million dollars 
worth of damage they've done in the last ten yeara? 


A. Mr. Crowle, the Chief Engineer of the Flood Control Com- 
ni salon, has all of that matter available. So if you want you 
can get it from him* 

Q,. Do you think that it's essential to go into that in 
any length? 

A. I don't think so--a lot of detail. 

Q. [Page 80, April 9, 1949] Why did the U. S. Engineers 
suddenly ctart surveying the Arroyo del Valle? 

A. They, I think, had been reached by Senator Sheridan 
Downey who was very much interested in our problem here, and ha 
wanted to get a report from the U. S. Engineers about the possi 
bility of supplemental vtater out of the Alameda Creek watershed, 
to try to cure the salt infiltration by filling the gravels with 
fresh water and forcing the salt water out. 

Q,. In forcing the,salt water out, suppose you were able to 
flood the upper gravels very heavily, where would the selt water 
depart froa? One of your first things, I presume, would be to 
plug the wells which now permit intrusion. 

A, That has pretty well been done, now, ar.d the forcing of 
fresh water into the upper gravel which is the contaminated one 
would, we hope, force the salt water out through the old spring 
areas in the tidal flats, which used to carry fresh water out 
into the Bay. This action was reversed whan the water table 
dropped low enough. They formed channels to bring the salt 
water in. '."ell, we hope to force another reversal. But the 
problem there is whether we can force salt watsr out with fresh, 
because the salt water is heavier and it lies on the bottom 
the fresh water might go right over tine top. But in such a 


case wo Intended to put big pumpa in and actually pump the 
aalt water out over the surface into the Bay, and then it 
would be replaced with freah water. 

Q. Do you contemplate doing anything with that in the 
immediate future? 

A. If we can get a supply of freah water, yes. We Intend 
to do that sa soon as possible, because it's a very serious 

Q. Would the fact that more and more subdivisions are 
coming in and requiring water of perhaps greater purity than la 
being pumped is that going to affect the situation? 

A. Yes, we feel that It already Is speeding up the in 
trusion of salt water, and we are using a considerable amount 
of Hetch Hetchy water so as to reduce the draught on the under 
ground supply. 

. So the result of bringing in the subdivisions is to 
Increase the pumping? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Both for the subdivisions and that which is required 
for agriculture? 

A. Yes, the old rule was that a housing settlement took 
about the same amount of water as agriculture did, which no 
doubt was true 50 or 40 years ago. But (chuckle) people take 
so many more baths now than they did then, and they have lawns, 
so that in the Water District's experience the water demand has 
doubled per capita, so that they're using about twice as much as 
they did when we started. 

Q. So the capita demand has gone up sharply, as well as 
the number of heads? 


A. Yes. 

Q. That would mean that your aore demand, when land was 
converted from agriculture to subdivision, would go up perhaps 
ten times, wouldn't it? 

A. Yas. Yes, it could. 

Q. [Page 80, May 14, 1948] Why did the State start inves 
tigating this Livermore-Pleasanton area at the same moment the 
Engineers started surveying the Arroyo del Velle? 

A. That was an investigation that was asked by the Pleas- 
anton-Livermore people, to see what could be done about getting 
a water supply for their area. And we got the State to extend 
that to cover our area, too. The Livermore and Pleasanton people 
were ahead of us in that case. 

Q, Is Binkley able to make good use of those figures in 
hits present survey? [District's consulting engineer, T. C. 
Binkley of Palo Alto.] 

A. Oh, yes, they are cooperating closely with the State 
authorities and exchange figures with them, and theyState is 
very cooperative. 

Q. [Page 81, August 13, 1949] What was the Flood Condi 
tions of Alameda Creek Case that Senator Downey had arranged to 
reopen? It sounded as if this was litigation and this was being 
reopened by act of Congress. 

A. That was not litigation. It was the investigation and 
the bringing to life again of the original inquiry into the 
possibility of getting water into Alameda, Santa Clara, and 
San Benito Counties. 

Q. Do you recall how long before the original authority 
had expired? 


A. I don* t know. 

4. The original investigation, than, was some timo before 

A. Yea, it waa several years before that, but it had Just 
died down. It was still somewhat active, and Senator Downey 
held a number of meetings in San Jose and Alameda County even 
up in Contra Costa County, learning the facts of the salt water 
intrusion and the laok of fresh water, and he was trying to get 
congressional action on an emergency basis to speed it up. 

Q. An aside, a note on the next page referring to the Flood 
Control District; You were first on the advisory committee, and 
then I gather you were the first chairman of the board of the 
Flood Control District. Is that right? Are you still the 

A. Of the Flood Control? 

Q. Yes. 

A. Yes, I'm chairman of that. 

Q. You were the chairman since it was first created about 
1949, I gather? 

A. Yes. 

Q.. [Page 84, December 20, 1950] With reference to the 
water supply, after acute concern with drought in 1947 and con 
tinued concern in 1949, did 1950 actually mark a considerable 
improvement in the weter supply? 

A. When was that? 

Q. 1950. I had noted along this was at the very end of 
the year, the very bottom note. When did the water situation 
start to look up as far as the gravels were concerned? 


A. I think that was In the flood of 1950. We had a 
heavy flood then. Another one, not long afterwards, came in 
1951. The two of them had a very marked effect on the water 

Q,. Has the water table wasted away again to about what it 
was before? 

A. Yes. It's back to an alarming situation now. 

Q. Probably because of much heavier pumping, I presume? 

A. That 13 it. 

Q,. As far as irrigation goes, is the most efficient means 
of irrigation to pump it in at one end of the valley and pump 
it out wherever required? 

A. Yes. That has been determined by the .engineers. The 
cost of distributing either by ditches or pipes would be pro 
hibitive because you would more or less have to follow the con- 
toure, and in doing so you would cut through all sorts of private, 
property. The values have gone now to $3000 to &5000 an acre, 
and it would Just cost too much to distribute it that way. 

Q. I see. That's a very interesting point. 

A. And you get away from evaporation, too, when you store 
it underground. Evaporation is quite high. It amounts to about 
four feet per year in our area. Loss over the entire surface, 
well it would be four acre feet per acre. And that's a lot of 


Q. Of course you store it to a considerable depth in a 
reservoir. How mony acre feet do the crops over there average 
in consumption? 

A. I think that t eking the upper area which is much more 
porous than down toward the Bay you would have perhaps one and 


a half aore foot of uao. 

Q,. Do you thick the District's records of the amount of 
water pumped from the gravel? Is -reasonably complete and accu 
rate, so that figures on percolated and pimped rater would be 
really meaninsful? 

A. Yea. The Engineers use those figures as a tasis for 
their conclusions. 

Q. [Page 86, November 14, 1951] There are several refer 
ences to rain making. Although the Board is quite interested 
in rain making possibilities, why has it never actually experi 
mented *i 

A. We investigated several sources of rain making the 
personnel and the companies promoting then--and there was a good 
deal of fear among the directors that we might be involved In 
litigation. If ve promoted rain making over an ares that really 
needed it, it could overlap into the vegetable ares where an 
unseasonal rain will ruin a whole crop. It could run into very 
high damages. I think that was whet scared them off. 

Q. [Page 89, December 18, 1952] Why was the use of Stivers 
Tule Pond for percolation first considered end then dropped? 

A. That was partly because the Stivers family didn't want 
the land flooded. They wanted to raise crops on It. Partly 
from the difficulty of getting the water from Alaneda Creek to 
the Stivers farm, vrtiich was perhaps a rnile awsy. And pertly 
Just because it died for lack of promotion. It was too uncertain 

Q. Could they hcvo gotten *ater from Mission Creek in 


A. Mission Creek does flow through the Stivers Pood but 
the bottom of the pond ia almost impervious. It would have to 
be combined with works to divert the water into the gravels, 
whioh would be about 40 feet deep in that area, tie have put a 
well down in whioh we are experimenting to see if it's practical 
to put more wells or a big pit in order to conserve that water 
that runs out of the Stivers Pond to the Bay. 

4. That brings up the question of drain wells. Is there 
sufficient water saved by the drain walls to make any substantial 
contribution to the district? 

4. We don't think so, and it's too dangerous because of 
the chance of pollution from housing areas and also because the 
drain wells, if they use untreated water, will 'gradually clog 
up through the growth of algae. It would be necessary to 
chlorinate the water before it was put in, and It juat doesn't 
seem practical. The Aatur Listrict has forbidden any drain wells 
being put in that will be permanent. It ia just an emergency 
to get by the period before the Flood Control ditches go in, 
which will take care of the drainage. 

Q. Another five years will possibly see the elimination 
of those? 


A. I think so. 

Q. [Page 91, April 27, 1953] W&s the lease of the 56" 
pipe line from San Francisco ever consummated? 

A. Be long considered purchasing the 36" pipe line and 
San Francisco was not willing to give it up. Then we talked 
with tir. Percy ana Ur. Espy, who had the greatest knowledge 
of the needs of San Francisco in that respect. They suggested 


that we offer to take a lease on the pi pa line, and that is still 
under consideration. 

. I gather you* re not too keen on the lease? 

A. No, because If we got It, we would want to put con 
siderable capital Into itaklng It available for the purposes 
that we foresaw. ?e wouldn't want to give It up on a lease 
basis If we want Into the planning of our pipe line system 
the sizes snd so on, and then have an Important part of It good 
for only a few years' time. 

Q. [Page 93, February 24, 1954] In reference to a re 
tirement plan, was one finally adoptedone that affiliates 
the District either with the State or the Alameda County Retire 
ment Systems? 

A. We are still studying that problem, and other things 
have come up that have put It off. We have a plan partly worked 
out for the purpose. 

Q. Would that take care of men like Richmond who have 
long since retired? 

A. It would do so, because although he and Mr. Barrold 
have retired, we had an arrangement by which they are on call, 
you ailght say, as advisers In lines that they covered, and they 
are still In that category. The attorneys are trying to arrange 
a plan that will Include them. 

Q. That would save you from having to put up the money 
that now goes for their semi-retirement. 

A. Yes. 

Q. [Page 97, July 9, 1954] Why did Messrs. Amaral and 
Qrinsner feel the District should abandon underground pumping? 


A. The basis of that, if I understand It, Is that the 
underground water should bo conserved for tba purposes of 
agriculture. Dr. Grimmer also believed that the Hetoh Hetobj 
water was much superior from a health point of view. He was 
an advocate of the use of the Hetoh Hetohy watar, so that he 
got it in Irvington, which was his town, and reported very 
favorably on its use, so it was left in there. Amaral, being 
a farmer, was against any pumping for other purposes than farm 
ing. But right now, just at the last meeting, Dr. Grimmer has 
reversed himself and demands that the Hetoh Hetohy be given up, 
so it's a little peculiar situation. 

Q. Is It now a matter of price that's affecting him? 

A. Yes, and at this time he was willing to pay the price 
because he said the benefits were so great, and the saving of 
sosp was one of his arguments. Soft water saves so much soap, 
he said it would pay its own way, but he has quite violently 
turned the other way now. 

. Why the violence? 

A. Veil you'd better ask him. 

q.. [Page 98, November 10, 1954] In reference to the 
Soito well. Has tba Solto well been used during this past 
summer, 1955? And if so, hava there been any complaints by 
the neighbors? 

A. It's being used steadily, and I've been by there 
several times recently and the neighbors are pumping lots of 
water. So they are not complaining, naturally. Their claims 
were entirely unfounded. 

Q. [Page 100, January 6, 1955] Did I ask you a moment 
ago how long it would take the Flood Control District's tiro- 


proposed developments to eliminate the need for drain wells? 

A. I think that it will be a matter of only a few years 
before that ia taken care of. They will first take those areaa 
that ere thickly built up and eliminate the drainage problem. 
That is mostly In the area between Newark and Centervllle, and 
one of- the first drain ditches, I think, will go through that 
STOP and then those wells will have to be plugged. 

[Page 101, Merch 2 and 9, 1955] In reference to the 
Tri -County Authority, what Is the importation scheme that the 
Tri -County Authority would principally back? 

A. They have specifically said that they are not backing 
cny particular scheme. Their first duty le to study all projects 
end make up their minds as to whet is the beet, 

Q. Does the District favor a scheme that ie probably not 
the seme scheme that fan Benito and Santa Clara Counties would 

A. Not unleee they should attempt to bring water in by 
way of Pachecc Pass. In that case Alameda County feels it oan 
bring the water in by Itself cheaper than to bring it clear up 
north from the Pacheco Pass. They are in a position to put in 
their owr pumping plant and to bring it into our valley and to 
the Livermore-Pleasanton area to greater advantage, I think* 

Q. Ifould it be an equally good route, so far as the lower 
Santa Clam Valley end Sen Benito County ere concerned? 

A. Eo far, the engineers who heve been working on it, 
both local and state, say that that is advisable for all of 
them, with the possible exception of San Benito County. It 
will be better to carry it in through the Alt amont Hills some 
where into the Livermore Valley and carry it on at an elevation 


of about 500 feat, through tha Santa Clara and San Benlto areas. 
But of oourae there hasn't been a final full study made, and it 
oould change. 

Q. What proportion of the underground storage ia lost by 
the upper gravels being salty? 

/.. I don't think that that aan be determined. I don't 
think that it is sufficiently open to observation. It would 
require endless computations and analyse* of water in wells to 
see Just That was going on underground. But the mass of salt 
water that is flowing gradually into this upper gravel haa de 
stroyed the usability of the water in the upper gravel, and 
what is happening to the lower gravels is simply beyond any 
one's guess. The action of salt water, as it spills through 
or rather over the impervious stratum of clay, in the area 
towerds Niles, may be that it is dropping, because of its 
higher specific gravity, clear to the bottom of our basin, 
which is of unknown depth. It is probably beyond a thousand 
feet. I don't know of any well that has gone deeper than a 
thousand feet, but they haven't struck hard rock in the middle 
of the valley. So salt water may be accumulating end rising 
from the bottom, and if so it's a very bad situation. But we 
can't compute it at all. 

Q. Do you foresee a possibility of sealing off and flush 
ing tho upper gravels? 

A. I think so. 

Q.. Is the water that's now intruding pest Newark of about 
the same specific gravity as sea water? Or is it well diluted? 


A. It beoexnes rrore and r.oro diluted as It progresses 
farther Into the valley. There are wells that have analyzed 
nearly eea water concentration. Others are on the margin 
between usable and non-usable water for irrigation purposes. 

Q. About how fur from Niles to Centervllle is that line 

A. It is lust barely paat the outskirts of Centervllle 
to the east, and it doesn't seen to be advancing as a line. 
But over the years it's increasing in salt content, which makes 
me feel that maybe this salt water Is dropping down to the 
lower grave In. 

Q. /.a agricultural use diminishes and domestic use in 
creases, may it be possible that Alameda Creek 'waters will re- sufficient to cere for pgricultural needs and imported 
water be used as a prirary source of domestic water? 

A. The two could be separated quite easily. ~e have our 
present main reservoir nt the mouth of Niles Canyon, and as the 
importation of domestic water under the present plan would come 
in t about the 500-foot level, it would be very easy to drop 
thfit water both into that reservoir and into several others 
that we ere planning -to build. It would be entirely feasible 
to do so, and so leave all the water that comes down Alameda 
Creek for percolation for Pgricultural use. 

Q. Is the Niles reservoir right in the creek? 

A. Bo, it Is at an elevation of, I suppose, about 50 feet 
above the creek. 

Q. An artificial reservoir entirely, then? 


A. Yea. It's In conjunction with a San Francisco reser 
voir of about 5 million gallons, and this is 100,000 gallons 
that we constructed on San Francisco ground with their coopera 

Q. Is there a littla dsun across the creek still? 

A. Yes, there is the old stone chute dam, which wsa built 
In old Spanish days to grind meal out of wheat at 5ilos--tha 
old Vallejo Mill. The foundation Is still there, and thia atone 
chute threv the water Into a ditch and flume and carried it at 
a slight elevation to where it turned the mill wheel. That is 
the stone chute that enters into the documents of the area 
today, for it Is still there. 

Q.. Is there any diversion work where you 'divert watar into 
the Shinn Pits? . 

A. Yes. We built a battery of pipes into a concrete foun 
dation and a concrete stepping down of the flow of the water into 
the Shinn Pit, which was very much deeper than Alaaeda Creek 

Q. You didn't hsve to construct a dam across the creek 

A. No. It flows In because of the head of water in flood 
time thrftogh these pipes into the Shinn Pit, 

Q. Have you built any reservoirs in the southern part of 
the District? 

A. No, except at Mission San Jose, where there is a 
100,000 gallon reservoir on the old Wltherly Ranch, at an 
elevation of about 500 feet. That was put in in order to have 
a water supply for Mission San Jose. It is pumped from our 
mains up into this reservoir Just to have storage at that ele- 


Q.. I suppose that tea two reservoirs together are at 
about the ssze elevation and ar the principal source of your 

A, Ho, the reason for the booster pump is that the Riles 
reservoir is about 180-scrce feet, while the Mission reservoir, 
I think, is nearly 500 feet, and so we took out the water from 
the train at Irvlngton, for this reservoir at the L'ission, and 
puxpod it with a booster pump to get that elevation; and also 
there tvas a spring above that reservoir that flowed a consid 
erable quantity cf water, and the surplus that was not used by 
Mr. Tfltherly flowed into this tank. So It was an advantage to 
hove it at that point. 

Q. Well, I think I've Just about run out -of questions. 

INDEX Volume II 


Adams, John, 195, 196 

Adams, Sally, 195. 196, 221, 227- 

agricultural community, political 

strength, 69-77, 89-90, 129-136 
Alameda, Tony, 72-73 
Alameda County. See development, 
southern Alameda County; water 
issues, southern Alameda County; 
Fremont, California; Newark, 
Alameda County Flood Control 

District, 55-56, 176-178, 312-314 
Alameda County Water District, 13- 
116, 279-327 

annexations, 1-2, 15, 101-107, 
112-113, 288-289, 293-295, 301, 

board of directors, 13-18, 21-23, 
24, 27-30, 36-37, 48-52, 60, 72- 
75. 100-101, 111. 114-116, 309- 
community relations, 19-20, 113- 

114, 165 
early directors and employees, 

283, 285-286, 296-297 
formation of district, 280-283 
planning for growth, 18, 20-21, 
26-30, 37-41, 52, 58-59, 61-62, 
75, 164-165 
role of general manager, 23, 37, 

98, 114 

See also Patterson, William D. ; 
water issues, southern Alameda 

Alameda Creek. See flood control; 
water issues, southern Alameda 
County, riparian rights 
Alameda Creek quarries, 273-275 
Amaral. Louis, 22, 34, 308, 321-322 
aquifer reclamation program, 66-68, 


Ardenwood Park Advisory Committee, 

Ardenwood Regional Preserve, 
citizen involvement, 271-273. 

See also Fisher, Robert B. 
establishment and plan, 182-183, 

187, 229-238, 266-267 
eucalyptus trees, 270-271 
G. W. Patterson house, 182-183. 

226-229, 237 
management, 238-253 
water quality problems, 80-83 
Arroyo Del Valle, 41-44, 314 
Azevedo, Tony, 267 

Baker, John, 272 
Balentine, James E. , 190-191 
Banks, Harvey, 42, 53, 59. 85-87 
Bay Area Regional Water Quality 

Control Board, 90-91 
Belli, Melvin, 202-204 
Bentham, David, 235 
Bernardo, Manuel, 22, 72-73 
Binkley, Thad, 20, 27, 43, 53, 59, 


Black, John, 95 
Borghi, Frank, 73, 114 
Brooks, Barbara Matthews, 151-152, 

Brooks, Jack, 75, (Int.) 145-206, 

222-223, 229, 267-269 

Calaveras dam, 291-292 
California nursery, 304-305, 310- 

California State Department of Water 

Resources, 42, 44, 53-54. 58-59, 

61-63. 66, 316 
California state water plan, 1932, 

California state water project. 

South Bay Aqueduct, 52-55, 61-62, 

Citation Homes, 193 


Citizens Utility Company. 101-107 
Conway and Culligan, 37-39. 75 
Cook. Lyle. 87 
Coyote Hills Regional Park. 179- 

180. 201 
Crowle. Herbert. 55-56. 314 

Davis. Al. 155-156 

Del Valle reservoir. 42. 58 

Democratic Party. 152-153 

development, southern Alameda 
County. 149-152. 295-296. 315- 
316. See also Patterson Ranch, 
development; Fremont, development 
and planning; Washington Township, 
development in 

Dusterberry. Frank. 309 

Dutra, William. 128 

East Bay Regional Park District. 

269-277. See also Ardenweod 

Regional Preserve 
Eastwood. Joe, 48-50 
environmental impact review [EIR], 

Esley. Bernadette. 217 

Fisher, Robert B. . (Int.) 212-253 
flood control. 31-32. 44-45. 55-56. 
163-164. 176-179. 295-296. 312- 
314. 322-323 

fluoridatien. See water issues, 
southern Alameda County. 
Fremont. California 

boundaries. 128-129, 166-167 
city politics, 138-139. 169-170. 
171. 174-175. 184-189. 195-200. 

development and planning, 137- 
138. 168-175, 180-181. 183-193. 
216. 229-231. 266-277 
Historical Architectural Review 

Board (HARB) , 218. 224 
Historical Resources Commission, 
216-218. 221 

Fremont. California (continued) 
incorporation of. 127-137. 165- 

parks and historic preservation. 

214-225. See also Ardenwoed 

Regional Preserve 
Recreation Commission, 214-217 
See also Washington Township; 

Patterson Ranch 
and water district, 34, 40-41, 

54. 113 

Gallegos water system, 1-2 
George. Emanuel. 308. 309 
Grimmer. E. M. , 13-15. 21. 29. 37, 

Harding, Sidney, 41-42, 58-60 
Harrold, Herbert, 15, 16 
Ha thorn family, 227, 240-241 
Hetch Hetchy water. See water 

issues, southern Alameda County 
historic preservation. See Fremont, 

California, parks and historic 

preservation; Arderwood Historic 


Howe, Juliane, 217 
Hyman, Morris. 27, 43, 69 

Johns, Frank, 247, 248 

land-use planning 

planned district [PD] . 170. 173- 

175. 200 
planned unit development [PUD] . 

See also Patterson Ranch, master 


League of Women Voters. 114 
Lewton. David, 240. 245, 251 
Livermore Valley, water, 42, 58, 
90-92. 93 


McLane. Harry. 247. 250 

MacViker. Len. 215 

Mare Island Naval Shipyard, 9-11, 

Matthews, Barbara. See Brooks, 

Barbara Matthews 
Medeiros, Keith. 272 
Milnes, Larry, 113, 186-189, 232, 

241. 244. 250. (Int.) 265-277 
Minges family. 221, 227. 240 
Mission Peak Heritage Foundation. 

215. 221-225. 228. 232-235. 238. 


Mission Peak Regional Preserve. 275 
Mission San Jose. California, 4-5, 

6-7, 214, 218 
Mission San Jese Historic District, 

218-220. 224 

Newark. California, 128. 130. 166- 
167. 184-185. 189-191. 224-225 

Niles Sand and Gravel Company, 84- 

Nixon, Stuart, 131-133 

North Plain. See Fremont, 
California; Patterson Ranch 

Oakland Water Works (Company), 15, 

20, 57 

Ohlone Indians, 232-233 
Overacker, Michael, 131, 134 
Overview, Inc., 234-235 

Pacific States Steel, 48-50 
Patterson, Donald, 26, 158, 161, 

194-196, 221. 246 
Patterson, George Washington, house, 

220. See also Ardenwood Regional 

Preserve. G. W. Patterson house 
Patterson. Henry. 133-135, 158, 

160-161, 163 
Patterson, Marjorie, 183, 221 

Patterson, William D. 

as Alameda County Water District 
director/president, 13-14, 22- 
24. 26-30. 45-46. 50-51, 60, 

165. (Int.) 280-327 
attitude toward develoment. 30- 

31. 133-136, 157-163. 295-296 
characterized. 24. 25. 205-206 
home. 25. 226 
interest in flood control, 44-45, 

176, 295-296, 312-314. 317 
Patterson House Advisory Board. 

242-246. 276 

Patterson Ranch, Livermore. 44 
Patterson Ranch, southern Alameda 

agriculture on. 196-199. 201- 

development of, 157-162, 178, 


family incorporation, 202-205 
levees and creek diversion, 281 
master plan, 195-202 
parklands on, 179-180 
relations with cities, 129, 

187-188. 191 
Patterson vs. Spring Valley Water 

Company. 286-289. 292-293 
People's Water Company, 290 
Pihl, John, 48, 50, 75, 116 
Pitcher, Robert, 272 
planning. See land-use planning 
Pond, Wallace, (Int.) 126-139 
Potter. Roy. 170-173. 180-181 
Prouty. Jack, 22, 48, 50-51 
Public Utilities Commission, 

California, 103-104 
pump tax. See water issues, 
southern Alameda County 

Reber. John, 45-46 

Reber plan, 45-47, 297-298 

Redd, Al, 104 

Redecker, Clark, 73, 114 

replenishment assessment. See water 

issues, southern Alameda County. 

pump tax 


Rhodes and Jamieson Company. 84-88 
Richmond. Ed. 15-17. 19. 297 
Rogers. John. 87-88 
Runckel, Chris. 280-283 

saltwater intrusion. See water 

issues. Southern Alameda County 
San Jose State College. 5-6 
Saratoga Horticultural Foundation. 


sewer district. 162-163 
Shinn. J. C. . 283-284 
Singer Housing Company, 183, 185- 

193. 267-269 

Smith. Francis M. "Borax", 290-291 
Soito well. 47, 322 
South Bay Aqueduct. See California 

State Water Project, South Bay 

South Pacific Coast Railroad 

Organization [SPCRR] , 224-225 
Soviet Union, water treatment 

plants, 98-99 
Spring Valley Water Company, 293- 

Strandberg, Carl, 74, 101 

Tevis, Lloyd, 290-291 
Trudeau. Richard. 236. 241 

Union City. California. 128 
United Properties Company. 290-291 
United States Maritime Academy, 

United States Navy, 9-11. 17-18 

Washington Township (continued) 
schooling in, 4-6 
See also Fremont, California 
Washington Township Historical 

Society. 213. 216-217. 228, 241- 
244, 248. 250 

water issues, southern Alameda 

drought. 1977. 109-113 
fluoridation, 93-98 
protecting water quality. 79. 

83, 90-92. 308-309. 320 
pump tax. 69-77 
recharging ground basin. 33-34. 
40. 56-58. 64-68. 84-88. 301- 
302. 314-315. 317 
riparian rights. 283-284. 292- 

293, 302-306, 310-311 
saltwater intrusion, 63-68. 78- 

83. 289-290. 311. 324-325 
softening. 35. 93-94 
use of Hetch Hetchy water, 34- 

36. 40. 54-55. 113. 321-322 
See also Alameda County Water 

water projects. See California 

State Water Project 
Weed. Cecilia. 228. 241-242, 244 
Whitfield, Mathew Joseph (father of 

Mathew P.), 1-2 
Whitfield, Mathew P., (Int.) 1- 

116, 164-165 
Williams, Lee S. , 133 
Williamson Act. 187-188. 194. 199 
World War II service. 9-11. 17-18 

Valley, Wayne, 154-156 
Vincent, Irene. 104 

Warne. William E., 53, 62-63 
Washington Township 

community, pre-World War II, 7, 

development in. 127. 136. 157-165 


B.A. , University of California, Berkeley, with major 
in history, 1963 

M.A. , University of California, Berkeley, history, 1965 

Post-graduate studies, University of California, Berkeley, 
1965-66, American history and education; Junior 
College teaching credential, State of California 

Chairman, Sierra Club History Committee, 1978-1986; oral 
history coordinator, 1974-present 

Interviewer/Editor, Regional Oral History Office, in the 
fields of conservation and natural resources, 
land use, university history, California political 
history, 1976-present.