In 2003, voters were asked to decide whether the community should incorporate and become a city. Proponents argued that a new city would be able to better control development and provide increased police and fire service, while opponents argued that the new city would increase taxes and redevelop residential neighborhoods for revenue-generating businesses. Most of the prime commercial land had already been annexed by the City of Industry to escape taxes levied by the County on unincorporated areas. Ultimately the measure failed by about a 2-1 margin.
One of the largest Buddhist temples in the Western Hemisphere, the Hsi Lai Temple (meaning "Coming West") , is located in Hacienda Heights, and the site of a minor fundraising scandal involving then Vice President Al Gore. (References on this issue: Los Angeles Times Sept. 11, 1998; June 8, 1999; June 21, 2000 and Feb.7, 2001: After Hsi Lai Temple agreed to pay tax for 'improper' political donations. The case has been closed since then.) Hsi Lai Temple encompasses 15 acres and a floor area of 102,432 sq. ft. The temple's Ming (1368-1644 AD) and Qing (1644-1911 AD) Dynasty architecture is faithful to the traditional style of buildings, gardens, and statuary of traditional ancient Chinese monasteries. Hsi Lai Temple was built to serve as a spiritual and cultural center for those interested in learning Buddhism and Chinese culture.