Clayton Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Incorporation – 1964 to 2014
In 2014, Clayton celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first Clayton City Council meeting, which took place on March 18, 1964. While much has changed over the past 50 years, much remains the same. Clayton is still a small, family-oriented bedroom community with all the advantages of close proximity to the big city yet the desirable ambience of a town in the country. We have one of the lowest crime rates in the 3- county area, quality public schools, high property values, friendly neighborhoods and the most beautiful backyard in the Bay Area.
Fifty years ago, our founders had the foresight to oppose annexation to Concord and to file for incorporation as a city. There have been many changes to the surface appearance of the city while the heart of our town has remained intact. Community leaders and citizens have worked hard to preserve that special something we each feel when we come back into town after a long day away from home.
With the resources of a Redevelopment District and the development of Oakhurst, since 1987 we’ve built new roads, installed sewers, storm drains and flood control measures as well as added community playfields, a new middle school, secured the site and built a new library and moved the Historical Museum to downtown Main Street where we can all enjoy it. Through extraordinary volunteer fund-raising efforts, we now have a model library and gymnasium. We’ve also added a modern Post Office and fire station designed to fit our community.
Most of our downtown buildings have the same familiar appearance they did in 1964, yet several have seen significant restoration. Our downtown streets are now paved and include storm drains, underground utilities, landscaping, old-fashioned streetlights, benches and boardwalk sidewalks. We’ve restored Endeavor Hall, built in the 1860s, into a self-supporting and charming site for community events, weddings, and meetings. We preserved and renovated the historic DiMartini Winery (built in 1885) into our new City Hall. Both of these projects earned the coveted California Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation. A community-designed downtown park to include a large, community-donated gazebo is planned at Marsh Creek Road between Main Street and Center Street when construction and maintenance funds are secured. To complement the old-time flavor of our downtown, we have a Town Center Specific Plan that requires any new building to be built with “historic style architecture.”
The pat decade of on-going state budget crises have left Clayton’s municipal budget at “bare-bones” levels. While minimal basic community services remain intact, many of the extras have been curtailed until the situation improves. Your city council and city management, through careful, conservative planning and with severe cutbacks in all non-essential services, have remarkably managed to maintain essential services to our residents. Clayton Councilmembers joined with colleagues throughout the state to negotiate a “deal” with first the Governor and finally the Legislature to hopefully halt the drain of your local tax dollars to backfill the State’s coffers.
Despite the state’s drain on our municipal dollars, Clayton volunteers and civic groups remain our greatest resource. Together they produce special events all year including the Art & Wine Festival, Holiday Tree Lighting, and Oktoberfest (Clayton Business & Community Association), Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day ceremonies (Veterans of Foreign Wars), Fourth of July Parade (4th of July Committee) complete with Pancake Breakfast (Rotary), and an annual Garden Tour (Historic Society) and Halloween Walk. These groups and others, including our Girl & Boy Scouts, Clayton Community Library Foundation, Clayton Woman’s Club, and American Association of University Women, contribute immeasurably to the fabric and vibrancy of our community.
On Clayton’s first anniversary in 1965, the City received a resolution from the County Board of Supervisors commending the City on its first year and “its efforts to comply with the wishes of its citizens in terms of community life, and for its forward looking actions related to balanced development.” The resolution noted that Clayton was incorporated to “maintain a careful balance between progressive development and preservation of one of the most scenic landscapes in the central part of Contra Costa County.”
At our March 18, 2009 Council meeting commemorating that first Council meeting, now 50 years ago, the meeting room where the Council meetings are held was dedicated to Robert Hoyer (Clayton’s 1st Mayor) and Eldora Hoyer for their dedication to the incorporation efforts. We invite you to enjoy and discover the delights that Clayton now has to offer after its 50 years of cityhood.