1917 - 2010
Glenn R. Watson, a lawyer who was instrumental in the formation of the Cities of Rancho Palos Verdes, Cerritos, Industry, Carson, and who served as City Attorney for many cities throughout Southern California for 50 years, died December 26. He was 93.
His law firm, Richards, Watson & Gershon, was formed in 1954 with the late State Sens. Richard Richards and Robert G. Beverly, and became known as a leading municipal law firm in California.
Watson’s first city incorporation was the City of Dairy Valley, whose boosters claimed the city had “3,500 people, 35,000 cows.” The 1956 incorporation was bitterly opposed by the City of Long Beach and Watson successfully defended litigation seeking to derail formation of the new City. The City of Dairy Valley later changed its name to City of Cerritos.
When massive development threatened the unincorporated area of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Watson guided local residents in incorporating the new City of Rancho Palos Verdes in 1973. Owners of large tracts of land sued to prevent the incorporation, claiming they had the right to veto the formation of the new city; Watson and his colleague, James K. Herbert, obtained a California Supreme Court ruling that the landowner-veto provision was unconstitutional.
Los Angeles County zoning decisions in the 1960s led to a concentration of dumps, auto wrecking yards, and other industrial uses in an unincorporated area adjacent to Long Beach. Residents and business owners who were tired of being saddled with the County’s undesirable uses asked Glenn Watson to help them form a new City that could control its own land uses and future. The City of Carson was incorporated in 1968. Watson served as City Attorney of Carson for the next 30 years.
Watson was instrumental in the incorporation of the City of Industry in 1957 (also delayed by fierce litigation) and was the first City Attorney for the City of Commerce (1960). Over the years he also served as City Attorney for the City of South El Monte, City of Seal Beach, City of Gardena, City of Artesia, City of Cudahy, City of Rosemead, and others. During his long career, he was responsible for many reported appellate decisions in the field of municipal law, land use, and elections law.
Glenn Robert Watson was born in Ada, Oklahoma, in 1917. He attended the University of Oklahoma Law School, graduating with honors in 1939. After serving as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy in both the European and Pacific Theaters during World War II, he settled in Los Angeles and opened his law office in 1946. In 2000, he endowed the Glenn R. Watson Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Oklahoma Law School.
He is survived by his daughter, Carol W. Lynch and granddaughters Katie and Amy, all of La CaÃ±ada-Flintridge; by a sister, Lois, of Oklahoma, and by a host of nieces and nephews throughout the country.