JURUPA VALLEY: Pedley mixes rural and commercial

If you were to throw a dart at a map of Jurupa Valley and hit the bull’s-eye, the dart would have landed in Pedley – a semi-rural community that sits smack in the middle of the newly incorporated city.

Those who know it best say the Pedley area captures the best elements of the new city.

“There are places in Pedley that are fairly rural, where you can keep large animals,” said Kim Jarrell Johnson, who has written two books on Jurupa Valley for the “Images of America” series. “It’s near the new high school, there’s the Metrolink Station and then there’s the Spectrum.”

Pedley also encompasses what many believe is the closest thing to a downtown in the new city.

In addition to the Jurupa Valley Spectrum, an entertainment complex that opened in 1999, and the train station, the section of Limonite Avenue running from Camino Real west to Bain Street includes the DeAnza Shopping Center, a Kmart store and Jurupa Valley’s City Hall.

“That area has always been considered downtown,” said Ron Anderson, who moved to Pedley in 1975 to raise horses.

Anderson, 69, said he and his wife Marquita were drawn to the area by the larger lots that were zoned for the keeping of horses and other livestock.

Thirty-six years later, Pedley is not the same place, Anderson said.

“It was wide open spaces back in 1975. The property across from us was alfalfa fields,” Anderson said. “Within three years of moving here, that property was nothing but rooftops.”

Johnson said Pedley’s wide-open spaces have always held an allure for growers, developers and starry-eyed dreamers.

“What we know now as the Pedley area seems to have been the focus of a lot of big plans over the years,” she said.

Around the turn of the century, former British cricketer, polo enthusiast and engineer William Everard Pedley designed and built an irrigation system for the San Jacinto Land Company that made it possible for hundreds of acres of citrus to be planted.

According to Johnson, to accommodate the crops, Pedley built a packinghouse near the Santa Ana River. He used a then-innovative technique that involved prefabricating much of the building by pouring cement into molds and then “tilting” the pieces up into place.”

In 1903 or 1904 the railroad build a station near the packinghouse and named it the Pedley Station. The justification for the name has been lost to history, but the name stuck.

In 1913 a devastating freeze spelled doom for the citrus groves.

With the citrus groves ruined, developer W.S. Sparr stepped in and laid out plans for “Sparrland,” a subdivision of three-acre parcels where people could raise rabbits and chickens.

In 1924, local newspapers announced plans for “Peace City” to be constructed in what is now known as Pedley.

In a speech to the Riverside Chamber of Commerce, Lionel Sterling of the World Peace Society laid out the proposal that included 15,000 homes, a $2.5 million Peace Temple in the center of the city, a movie studio to produce motion pictures promoting world peace and a $50,000 radio operation that would broadcast messages of peace over the air waves.

“Peace City” apparently never got past the blueprint stage and there is no additional mention in the newspaper.

Anderson said that while he opposed the two previous attempts to incorporate Jurupa Valley, he supported this effort because of concerns about what was happening in Pedley.

“I did some research about whether cityhood would be viable,” he said. “Not only is it viable, cityhood was needed at this time because we were losing control of our community,” he said.

Anderson, who was an unsuccessful city council candidate in the March 8 election, said he wants the city to protect larger, animal keeping lots, to support better code enforcement and to increase law enforcement.

“I believe cityhood will make a difference to the community,” he said.

Pedley facts

Incorporation: Pedley is part of Jurupa Valley, which incorporated on July 1, 2011

Population: 12,672

The Name Game: Pedley was named after William Everard Pedley, a British cricket player, polo enthusiast and civil engineer.

All aboard: The Metrolink Station sits on the site of the original Pedley Train Station. The station was built in about 1904 and burned down in 1920. It was never rebuilt.