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Homepage > History > 1980s

1980 - 1990


If the period between 1960 and 1979 was characterized as being a transition period, the City reached full maturity the following two decades. Roseville had transformed itself from a railroad-oriented community to a city of growing economic diversity. Nor would it be characterized anymore as just a “bedroom community” for local residents commuting to jobs in the greater Sacramento area. During this period of continual growth, Roseville emerged as one of the ten fastest growing cities in Northern California as the following chart shows:

Population Growth, 1980 - 2000

1980………………..24,347

1985………………..28,988

1990………………..44,685

1995………………..56,479

2000 (est.)…………74,234

The rapidly growing customer base attracted many of the country’s top corporations, which located here in the 1980s and 1990s. A good deal of new economic development centered on “high-tech” industries, including such high profile companies as Hewlett-Packard and NEC.

The 500-acre Hewlett-Packard site, established in 1979, manufactured and marketed a wide variety of the company’s computer and networking products. Since then, the company has expanded its Roseville operations beyond the main Foothills Boulevard campus to include facilities at Blue Oaks Boulevard and Industrial Avenue. NEC Electronics, which has worldwide sales in excess of $43 billion, moved into Roseville in 1983 with an initial investment of $100 million. Construction began that year and production started in 1984.

Besides the technology boom, Roseville saw the development of an expanded health care system beginning in the 1980s. Charter Behavioral Health Systems opened its inpatient facility on Cirby Way in 1988 to provide mental health services to both adolescents and adults. The facility was licensed for 80 beds and handled over 20,000 outpatient visits per year along with offering a variety of seminars to area professionals and residents until it closed in early 2000. Charter was unique because it served both paying and indigent patients and was the only psychiatric hospital in Placer County to serve the latter population.

Of the many new industrial developments that located in the Roseville area in recent years, one of the most warmly received has been Pride Industries. Pride is a multi-faceted organization providing job opportunities for people with mental or physical disabilities. Founded in 1966 in an Auburn church basement, Pride has continually expanded and by 1999 employed about 1,100 workers, making it the fourth largest manufacturing and service industry in the Roseville area. In 1983, 90 percent of Pride’s funding came from government and public agencies with only 10 percent coming from sales of products and services. By 1999, sales of products and services provided 99.9 percent of its funding.

While demand for both skilled and professional positions remains high and continues to be very competitive, the greatest number of Roseville area jobs remains in the service and retail sectors. Countless signs recruiting fast food, retail sales and construction workers are highly visible all over town. Competition for employees has resulted in higher pay and better benefits for these traditionally low paying jobs; however, the demand still far exceeds the supply. Roseville’s year 2000 labor shortage reflects the strong national and state economies with 30-year unemployment lows, healthy job growth and rising wages. Roseville’s healthy economic conditions are reflected by a steady increase in the year-by-year employment rates as shown below:

Projected Job Growth

1985………………..14,309

1990………………..21,327

1995………………..40,500

2005………………..86,800

2010………………..96,700

2015……………….110,600

2020……………….117,900

An expanding and diverse economy has propelled Roseville’s population from 24,347 in 1980 to nearly 75,000 in 2000. As a result, city growth has migrated beyond traditional city boundaries.


Busy Douglas Blvd.

Douglas Boulevard, perhaps more than any other sector in East Roseville, reflects the extent of that area’s rapid growth over the past 30 years. During that period, it has grown from a dusty two-lane country road, called Rocky Ridge Road, into a vital link in Roseville’s business, commercial and everyday life. Surrounded by new office buildings, ongoing construction and constant traffic, the areas surrounding Douglas Boulevard now surpass the traditional city core originally clustered around the railroad. Douglas Boulevard is the connecting link between Downtown Roseville and miles of new homes and business developments in the eastern part of the city and extends beyond Roseville to Granite Bay and Folsom Lake. Douglas Boulevard had to expand to six lanes in order to accommodate the astounding growth along this area.

Much of today’s busy Douglas Boulevard was once part of the vast Johnson sheep ranch. William Johnson, born in the former Mormon Island mining camp now deep under the waters of Folsom Lake, purchased his first piece of Roseville area property in 1905 on which he raised sheep, and by 1918, Johnson Ranch had grown to 2,000 acres. Additional land was purchased in 1927 and the final parcel, the former Brown Ranch, was purchased in 1941. Each year in late October and early November until 1961, Johnson would drive the sheep along Rocky Ridge Road (now Douglas Boulevard) through town and on to the Natomas Basin in Sacramento County for grazing. Johnson continued to raise sheep on his vast ranch until his death when son Clifton assumed full control of the family operation. The family still holds an agreement granted by the City of Roseville to run livestock through the city although they no longer raise sheep. Today, modern office buildings occupy pastures where Johnson’s sheep once grazed. Their last 40 acres were sold in the mid-1980s and today, Johnson Ranch housing developments occupy land once owned by this early day ranching family.

Another success story of the East Roseville area has been development of the Roseville Automall on North Sunrise Avenue. Claimed to be the nation’s largest development of its type, Roseville Automall dealerships began opening for business in late 1989 with eight major dealers and 12 vehicle franchises. With 15 dealerships and 24 franchises today, the Roseville Automall attracts vehicle shoppers from all over Northern California and generates more than $4 million in sales taxes annually for the city.

While Roseville expanded rapidly along the Douglas Boulevard corridor and adjacent areas, the 1987 sale of 1,600 acres in Northwest Roseville’s Pleasant Grove District marked the beginning of “West Roseville.” To accommodate expected growth in the northwest area, ground broke in 1986 for construction of a $14 million extension of Foothills Boulevard over the railroad tracks. The new road, which included a bridge more than 30 feet above the railroad tracks, opened in October 1988.Widening of Baseline Road from Foothills Boulevard to Fiddyment Road began that same year. Other road construction included the completion of the Bizz Johnson Bypass connecting Interstate 80 with State Highway 65 in 1987 to relieve traffic through downtown Roseville.


City Hall (1987)

The City of Roseville kept pace with the non-stop growth of the 1980s by constantly updating its infrastructure to meet increased demands. In 1985, the City Council approved purchase of the former Bank of America building on Vernon Street to redesign and enlarge in order to house offices for the City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk, Finance and Human Resources departments. Council chambers are located on the first floor of the two-story building.Following completion of the new City Hall in 1987, the old City Hall building directly across the street was remodeled to accommodate the Planning and Public Works departments for the time. The former City Hall is now known as the “City Hall Annex.”

Outstanding among Roseville’s many public parks is the 152-acre Maidu Regional Park in East Roseville.Dedicated on Sept. 22, 1987, Maidu Park has since developed into one of Northern California’s outstanding regional parks. The park includes the well-appointed Maidu Community Center, which serves all ages from preschool to senior citizens, the Maidu Branch Library, sports courts, ball fields, children’s playground and the Maidu Indian Village, where a Maidu Interpretive Center opened in early 2001.

While the economy was booming and job opportunities increased in many local business sectors, the railroad – long the dominant force in Roseville’s economy – experienced a period of decline before rising to new heights in the late 1990s. The general public first became aware of local rail operations’ ongoing decline back in 1972 when passenger traffic was discontinued and the venerable old depot was demolished.Further shock set in the following year when the PFE Ice Plant closed and was torn down. Over the next ten years, intense competition with the trucking industry and mergers of several smaller railroads further threatened Southern Pacific’s viability.

In 1983, Southern Pacific embarked on an economic move to merge with the Santa Fe Railway.Some operations merged and a holding company for the two railroads was created, pending approval by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). The ICC delayed its decision until 1986, only to then reject the merger claiming it would create a monopoly. The holding company was ordered to sell one of the railroads. During those three years of limbo, when the ICC deliberated, Southern Pacific did little to modernize its equipment and operations. At the same time, operating costs were spiraling, profits were decreasing, and employee morale was sagging. Railroading became a less attractive career as financially strapped Southern Pacific implemented belt tightening measures. The local work force declined from about 6,000 during Roseville’s peak railroading years in the 1940s and 1950s to about 1,300 in the 1980s. For years it had been almost tradition for many high school youth to work summer vacations at either Southern Pacific or PFE and, upon graduation, begin full-time railroad careers as their fathers and grandfathers had done before them. Now, with the future of local railroad operations in doubt and increased job opportunities offered by new industries locating in Roseville, many turned away from the railroad.

Passenger train service, which declined throughout the nation for many years, received a boost in 1970 when Amtrak, a quasi-governmental organization, was established. Various efforts to secure a passenger stop in Roseville culminated in April of 1987 when Mayor Phil Ozenick hand-carried a 12-page report to Amtrak officials in Washington, D.C. which included carefully prepared passenger and freight traffic estimates and a petition signed by over 12,000 area residents requesting a passenger stop in Roseville. Amtrak granted permission to reinstate a depot in Roseville if Southern Pacific would lease a depot site and the community would assume the cost of building the necessary depot facilities. Under the leadership of the Roseville Historical Society, an area-wide community fund-raising project was undertaken. As a result, two 1,000-foot-long passenger and freight loading platforms, required by Amtrak before service could begin, were completed on October, 1987. Later that month the California Zephyer, which provided east-west service, stopped in Roseville.This represented Roseville’s first passenger stop in over 17 years.


Roseville's Intermodal Depot

During the four-year period between reinstitution of passenger traffic and completion of a depot, the Roseville Historical Society continued its leadership role. In the absence of a depot or station agent, Society volunteers met each train to provide information, help with baggage, and assist the traveling public. The Society provided this service for seven years until a joint venture between the Historical Society and the City of Roseville resulted in construction and opening of a new intermodal depot facility in March of 1994. The depot also houses a Greyhound bus station and a privately operated travel office. The depot, the fourth in Roseville’s 130-year history, was located in Old Town at the end of Pacific Street on the old Southern Pacific Clubhouse site. Patterned after turn-of-the-century depots similar to those at Lincoln and Folsom, the Roseville depot had all the modern amenities demanded by today’s traveling public. Passenger traffic was popular from the start and increased appreciably each year. By 1999, according to station agent Paul Dhada, approximately 50,000 passengers arrived or departed from the local depot each year.


City Corporation Yard

Much of Roseville’s expansion and growth came under the direction and leadership of City Manager Allen (Al) Johnson who assumed the position following Bob Hutchison. Johnson’s career with the City began in 1983 when Hutchison hired him as Roseville’s personnel director. By 1988, the City Council named Johnson the new City Manager and during his 15 years in that position, Roseville experienced vast growth. A list of achievements accomplished during his tenure include formation of public-private partnerships for the construction of the Roseville Automall and Galleria at Roseville, expansion in business developments (creation of 35,000 jobs, continuous investment by NEC, and addition of millions of square footage of commercial, industry and business-professional space), City infrastructure (cities-county Highway 65 Joint Powers Authority financing, South Placer Wastewater Authority, Corporation Yard, Civic Center, three fire stations, the police station, and the Pleasant Grove Water Treatment Plant), and numerous recreational and educational opportunities (construction of 32 parks, the Roseville Aquatics Center, Maidu Community Center, Maidu Interpretive Center, Maidu Branch Library, and the Woodcreek Golf Course).


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City of Roseville 311 Vernon St., Roseville, CA 95678. Phone: 916-774-5200.
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