In 1962, the Grand Terrace Chamber of Commerce was organized. From the very beginning the Chamber was interested in preserving the local identity of the area, and therefore, was a strong supporter of cityhood.
The push by residents for cityhood led to hearings by the county's Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), which was charged with deciding whether the town could succeed as a city.
According to Tony Petta, the City’s first mayor, several hundred Grand Terrace residents attended the LAFCO hearings and the news they heard wasn't always encouraging. LAFCO members seemed to think the area was too small to support itself as a city.
Then Supervisor Dennis Hansberger during his first term in office said the concerns were that Grand Terrace had no tax base -- meaning little sales tax revenue and an insufficient amount of property taxes -- to pay for city services.
But Hansberger supported the city and helped obtain the $28,000 needed for a feasibility study.
The residents got the issue on the ballot, and on Nov. 7, 1978, 82 percent of Grand Terrace's voters said yes to incorporation. The city was officially formed Nov. 30 of that year, when the City Council had its first meeting at Terrace Hills Middle School and became the 16th City in San Bernardino County.
Eighteen residents applied to be city council members and five were elected: Tony Petta, Thomas A. Tillinghast, Hugh J. Grant, Doug Erway and Jack A. Allen. Petta was chosen mayor.