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John P. Quimby, the plain-spoken former assemblyman who authored California’s law that lets cities and counties require developers to set aside land for parks, has died, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was 77.
The Times reported that Quimby died Dec. 23 of pneumonia at a Sacramento-area hospital. Quimby contracted polio when he was 12, a disease that required him to use crutches or a wheel chair in later years. When he was 22, he was elected to the San Bernardino City Council, the youngest council member in the city’s history. He was elected to the Assembly in 1962 and served for 12 years.
After World War II, Southern California experienced an unprecedented building boom that left areas like North Orange County “park poor.” In 1965, the Democrat authored the law later named for him — the Quimby Act.
While on the San Bernardino City Council, Quimby saw firsthand how difficult it was to create parks, he told Voice of OC in 2011.
“We couldn’t get the goddamned developers to budge an inch on dedicating land for public use, including putting in sidewalks,” he said.
Developers heatedly opposed Quimby’s legislation. But, he said, “it turned out that developers liked the bill afterwards, because they found out that [having parks] legitimately increased the value of the houses.”
After leaving the Legislature, Quimby became a lobbyist for San Bernardino and Riverside counties. He retired in 2011.
— TRACY WOOD