Upland, California – Los Angeles County

April 22, 2024

Upland, California

The City of Gracious Living


Growth, heritage, and community spirit form the heart of this city gem

Nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Upland, California, is a hidden gem in the Inland Empire. The charming city is home to many unique businesses, delicious restaurants, picturesque parks, and exciting activities. Whether you’re a local looking for something new or a visitor seeking a fun weekend getaway, Upland has something for everyone.

Mayor Bill Velto, Braden Yu, Public Works Director, Robert Dalquest, Development Services Director, and Mel Picazo, Economic Development Coordinator, illuminate Upland’s vibrant narrative. Their combined expertise thoroughly explores Upland’s storied past, ongoing developments, and prospects.

Historic monuments and citrus groves

Upland’s journey began in 1906 when it was incorporated as a city, emerging from the fertile lands that once belonged to the Rancho Cucamonga Spanish Grant. Led by visionaries like the Chaffey Brothers, who hailed from Canada, the city was meticulously planned, with Euclid Avenue standing as proof of their foresight. With its bridal path and iconic landmarks like the Madonna of the Trail, this historic boulevard pays homage to the pioneers who shaped Upland’s identity.

The citrus industry flourished in Upland, with its lush groves and abundant harvests drawing admiration from far and wide. Today, the city proudly hosts an annual Lemon Festival, attracting over 100,000 visitors to celebrate its agricultural legacy. But beyond the citrus inheritance, Upland’s history is intertwined with the evolution of transportation by its connection to the legendary Route 66.

Foothill Boulevard, known as Route 66, winds through Upland, reminding the city of its role in America’s highway culture. With Route 66’s centennial anniversary approaching in 2026, Upland finds itself at a crossroads of history to honor its past while embracing future opportunities. Preserving Route 66 and Euclid Avenue is a nod to nostalgia and cultural heritage.

In recent years, Upland has witnessed a revival of its historic downtown, thanks to the dedicated efforts of city staff, city council, and community leaders. From revitalizing old buildings to promoting local businesses, the renaissance of downtown Upland reflects a deep-seated pride in preserving the city’s downtown core for future generations to cherish.


Downtown Upland

Downtown Upland exudes a quaint, historic charm, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in a day of leisurely exploration. With its walkable streets and abundance of locally owned small businesses, including antique shops, boutiques, and eateries, the neighborhood offers a delightful escape for shoppers and diners alike. Among the dining options, visitors can even find the iconic In-N-Out Burger, serving up its famous burgers and fries for a classic California flavor.

Before embarking on a shopping spree or a stroll through town, visitors can fuel up at Lucky’s Coffee Roasters or the Local Baker and Cafe, indulging in freshly brewed coffee and delectable pastries. From boutique shops like Outatime 80s Retro Shop to longstanding establishments like Pacific Wine Merchants, downtown Upland offers diverse experiences for families, friends, and couples to savor throughout the day and into the night.

Investing in infrastructure and roadway solutions

The Inland Empire, including cities like Upland, has emerged as one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, fueling demand for infrastructure and housing solutions. “Our population is going to see an additional million people in the next 10 years,” shares Velto, underscoring the urgent need for strategic planning and investment in the region’s future.

From reservoir construction to roadway improvements, the city has prioritized investments to lay the groundwork for sustainable growth. “We just completed a 7.5-million-dollar reservoir construction,” remarks Yu, highlighting the city’s commitment to water infrastructure.

Roadway improvements, including a major project on Arrow Highway, are also underway; Yu sheds light on the city’s efforts to tackle these issues head-on through a series of infrastructure projects to enhance transportation networks and alleviate traffic congestion.

Navigating Upland’s city challenges

The city’s trajectory is not without its challenges. However, with astute leadership and strategic planning, Upland stands prepared to overcome these obstacles and emerge stronger. Velto highlights one of the primary issues facing Upland is the pressing need for housing amidst soaring demand. Southern California grapples with a housing shortage, exacerbating the strain on infrastructure and affordability concerns. With an anticipated influx of over a million residents in the next decade, the urgency to address this housing deficit becomes vital.

“Jobs and housing are really what create the increase in sales tax revenue,” explains Dalquest, emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between economic growth and community development. Upland is charting a course toward a more resilient and equitable future by investing in infrastructure, supporting affordable housing initiatives, and fostering a vibrant business environment.

New developments on the horizon

The city’s vision extends beyond housing, with initiatives to enhance quality of life and foster economic vitality. In a bold move towards educational innovation, Upland is exploring establishing a local community college campus, focusing on downtown revitalization. Velto states, “I’m working with the local community college about building a campus in Upland, and we’d like it to be downtown if we can find the right spot.”

With major employers like the San Antonio Regional Hospital and the Upland Unified School District anchoring the local economy, Upland is well-positioned to attract new businesses and investment. “Our largest employer is the San Antonio Regional Hospital, along with our school district,” says Velto, highlighting the importance of these institutions in driving economic growth and supporting the community. In addition to healthcare and education, Upland features diverse employers, including Holliday Rock and Tesla, which recently opened a showroom facility in the city.


Building community and commitment to progress

Mayor Velto elaborates on the vibrant events and initiatives shaping Upland’s community. With a collection of festivals and gatherings, such as the upcoming Irish Festival and perennial favorites like the Lemon Festival, Scary-A-Faire, Christmas Parade, and Holiday Festival, Upland offers experiences that beckon residents and visitors alike to its streets.

Importantly, these events are more than entertainment; they catalyze economic vitality and community cohesion. By fostering a sense of belonging and pride in Upland’s culture, these gatherings contribute to the city’s identity as a welcoming and vibrant locale where memories are made, and traditions are honored.

As Upland looks to the future, its leaders recognize the need for strategic investments and forward-thinking policies to address pressing challenges. Housing, particularly for seniors, looms large on the city’s agenda, with plans underway to expand senior housing options and accommodate the needs of an aging population.

Furthermore, the scourge of homelessness and mental health challenges poses a complex dilemma that requires a multi-layered approach. Mayor Velto candidly discusses the city’s proactive stance in addressing these issues, from implementing park ordinances to collaborating with neighboring municipalities and advocating for streamlined funding mechanisms.

The heart of Upland

Upland’s spirit of collaboration extends far beyond the realm of business. Volunteers and community organizations are crucial in enhancing the city’s quality of life. “There are so many organizations in our city that reach out to us that want to volunteer,” shares Velto, highlighting the grassroots efforts that fuel Upland’s sense of community.

Upland’s history and character shine through in its myriad community-driven initiatives, from private donations funding park renovations to the iconic skateboarding culture. “We’ve got history here of some iconic sports,” remarks Velto, reflecting on the city’s legacy of innovation and recreation. Skateboarding has long been intertwined with Upland, with the city being the birthplace of the phenomenon.

The iconic Badlands, known for its Pipeline Skateboard Park, became a haven for skateboarders worldwide, attracting legendary figures like Tony Hawk and the Alba brothers. Today, Upland’s skateboarding legacy continues to thrive, with enthusiasts flocking to the city to pay homage to its rich legacy and to partake in the exhilarating sport that has left an indelible mark on the community.

Looking ahead, Upland upholds its reputation as the City of Gracious Living while confronting the opportunities and challenges of contemporary times. Guided by innovative leadership, a thriving economy, and a vibrant community, Upland is prepared to continue its journey toward prosperity, securing a promising future for future generations.


Upland, California

What:  A city honoring its legacy while confronting the opportunities and challenges of modern times, illustrating its path toward prosperity and a promising future for generations.

Where: Upland, located in San Bernardino County, California, near the border with Los Angeles County.

Website: https://www.uplandca.gov/


Ford of Upland – www.fordofupland.com

Holliday Rock Co. – www.hollidayrock.com

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