It’s been a long, successful run for Yucaipa Councilmember Denise Hoyt Allen. She was first elected to Yucaipa City Council on Nov. 3, 2004, and after four terms, decided not to seek re-election in 2020.
“It’s time to retire,” said Allen.
Incumbents Dick Riddell and Bob Lampi were the other two councilmembers elected alongside Allen in 2004.
“It was Mr. Riddell who initially got me to run for council,” said Allen. “Because of the time I spent with Mr. Riddell, the swim team and my relationship with the college (Crafton Hills College), I guess he thought it was a good idea. He came to my office that summer and pitched the idea of running for city council and taking Diane Smith’s place, who was not running again.”
Allen said she held no political aspirations and just wanted to serve her community. She did just that, with class, for four terms.
Allen, who holds a masters degree in administration, is a retired professor from Crafton Hills College. Prior to her run as councilmember in 2004, she served over 10 years in volunteer service, as president of Yucaipa Swim Team for over 10 years.
“The city council will not be the same without her. Not just as a female but her overall knowledge will be missed,” said Cece Johns, who has attended almost every council meeting in the last 20 years. “What I realized at the last city council meeting, is that Denise asks the questions that no one would else even think of. Only a woman can do that.”
Allen doesn’t see it like that. “I never really saw myself different than the others on the council because of my gender,” said Allen, who has consistently considered each item on the agenda, studied and voted accordingly, even when it was in the minority vote.
Looking over a list of completed city projects that city council worked on over the last 16 years, Allen said she was exhausted, “because of how much we have actually achieved over the last 20 years.”
A number of low water crossings have been completed in town over the past 16 years. Beginning June 2007 through November 2019, six major low water crossings have been completed to ensure flood-free streets in town.
Allen said the Yucaipa Boulevard widening and medians were completed in phases.
“Remember all the flooding we used to have? They finished Fifth Street to Bryant Street in 2010,” she said. “Hard to believe that was 10 years ago.”
Allen has done more for the local music and festival scene in Uptown than any other councilmember.
She was active in helping to create the city’s “Uptown Crawl” from January 2016 to October 2019, bringing nightlife to the city.
“It was always about getting the Uptown to come alive,” she said.
Allen served on the first Music & Arts Festival committee in 2012, when she was mayor, and has served on every festival committee since then.
“The next year we added AutumnFest and WinterFest,” said Allen.
Allen said one of the most proud accomplishments of her time on council, was the completion of the Aquatics Center and the 50-meter by 25 yard Olympic swimming pool at Crafton Hills College. The pool was a collaborative project with the college and the city. The Myrtha stainless steel pool was designed in Italy and constructed specifically for the swim trials held in Fall 2004 in Long Beach. Allen deservedly took center stage at the CHC unveiling in 2014,
“The pool took quite a long time to design and build and it was really an honor to be on the planning committee for the design,” said Allen. “It’s an amazing location and I’m thankful to the board members of the community college district, former CHC President Gloria Harrison, city staff and council all contributed to the success of the project.”
Allen praised City Manager Ray Casey and city staff for always maintaining a solid city budget and offering so many amenities.
“We have an amazing city manager and city staff,” she said.
In her retirement, Allen plans to travel extensively, stay active and already has two major trips planned next year.