John C. Holland
John C. Holland (1893–1970) was one of the longest-serving Los Angeles City Council members, for 24 years from 1943 to 1967, and was known for his losing fight against bringing the Los Angeles Dodgers to Chavez Ravine and for his reputation as a watchdog over the city treasury.
Holland was born July 6, 1893, in Bartlett, Texas, the son of William Philip Holland of Fluvanna County, Virginia, and Betty Connell Holland of Liberty Hill, Texas. He was married to Alice Colby Wells of Redlands, California, on June 30, 1919. They had two daughters, Mary Elizabeth Neeb and Helen Louise Osterberg.
Holland attended high school in Roswell, New Mexico and spent one year at the University of Texas. He then attended Stanford University, where he was active in debating and was on the wrestling team. He graduated in 1917 with a prelaw degree and then went into the Army.
A Republican, he was a member of the American Legion, the Masons, the Kiwanis Club and Delta Sigma Rho fraternity. He served two terms as president of the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce and was active in the Northeast YMCA.
Holland died at the age of 76 on March 10, 1970, at Broadview Christian Science Sanitorium, Montecito Heights, after an illness of several weeks. He was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills).
Holland took part in the successful 1938 reform bid of Superior Court Judge Fletcher Bowron to unseat Mayor Frank Shaw. In 1942 Bowron appointed him to the city Fire Commission, a post that he resigned in 1943 to campaign for the seat in Los Angeles City Council District 14 against the incumbent, Edward L. Thrasher. He was elected in the primary, a feat that he accomplished in every one of his elections thereafter until he retired in 1967. He set a record for longevity on the council, a feat that was tied in 1969 by L.E. Timberlake.
District 14 has included Eagle Rock and Highland Park since its limits were first drawn in 1925. As the city's population increased, it expanded outward — the most recent addition under Holland being the Rose Hills section of Los Angeles.
Finances. Holland became chairman of the council's finance committee early in his career, and he became known as the "watchdog of the city treasury." He was parsimonious in running his office, too, making do with just one field deputy, Art Snyder, when other members employed three assistants.
Public housing, 1952. He was opposed to a massive U.S-government subsidized public housing proposal that, he said, was "inexcusably expensive and wasteful of tax monies." He objected to the building of thirty-four 13-story buildings throughout the city, including on "virgin land" in West Los Angeles, Rose Hills and Tujunga. The proposal was abandoned.
Dodgers, 1957–59 The councilman believed that exchanging the 300 acres of city land in Chavez Ravine for "a 10-acre unused" former baseball stadium, Wrigley Field, was "not in the best interests of the city. "It was the biggest steal of public lands and money since the trade for Manhattan Island with the Indians for a basket of beads," he said.
It was common for him to make three or four speeches an evening to any group which would listen to his side of the Chavez Ravine issue, and then appear early the next morning for a breakfast meeting and another speech before participating in a stormy council session starting at 10 a.m.
Fluoridation, 1961. Holland's birth in Bartlett, Texas, was a talking point during a campaign over adding fluorides to the city's water, which he opposed as a Christian Scientist. His obituary in the local community newspaper, the Highland Park Herald & Journal, ended with:
Holland said it was his experience that fluoridated water was unhealthy, and he said he could prove this because the town of Bartlett taxed the residents in order to take the fluorides out.
Access to the Los Angeles Times links may require the use of a library card.
- Los Angeles Public Library reference file
- "John Holland, Former Councilman, Dies at 76," Highland Park Herald & Journal, March 12, 1970, page 1
- Doug Shuit, "John Holland, City Councilman From 1943 to 1967, Dies at 76," Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1970, page C-1
- Norma B. Goodhue, "Opposition to Housing Project Told by Holland," Los Angeles Times, February 9, 1952, page 10
- "Council Asks Dictionary of Slang Study," Los Angeles Times, June 21, 1963, page A-1
- Library of Congress catalog entry for a later edition
Edward L. Thrasher
|Los Angeles City Council
Arthur K. Snyder