Tom Harp's career as a building inspector began in Hesperia.


"My first day on the job was May 8, 1978," Hesperia' deputy director of development services said, sitting in his office in Hesperia City Hall, a few days before he retires on June 30. "I actually started in Hesperia."


It was 10 years before Hesperia would be incorporated as a city, and Harp worked for the County of San Bernardino.


The Victor Valley was in the midst of a building boom, something Harp would go on to see many times.


"We were adding about an inspector a month."


Harp and his colleagues were working 70 hours a week, going out on up to 40 calls a day.


"I've been around a little while," Harp said. "I'd drive around Apple Valley and I'd literally been in half the houses."


He was a building inspection supervisor, working out of the county's Victorville office, when Hesperians incorporated their own city in 1988.


"You'd be blind to not know it was for good reason," said Harp, who lived in Apple Valley, where residents were agitating to incorporate as well -- which they did, a few months after Hesperia was founded. "We'd seen the same things they did."


Hesperia's newly appointed city manager brought Harp over on the pretense of wanting to look through the outstanding proposals within the new city's sphere of influence. Harp was offered a job within minutes of his arrival.


Those first few years were bumpy ones.


"I did know that small city politics were volatile. What I didn't know where new city politics were even more volatile."


Residents were full of grand visions for their new city, but didn't have the revenue to realize most of them.


"Two years in, we were laying people off," said Harp.


But the promise he saw in the new city outweighed the growing pains for him.


"The one pro that kind of outweighed everything else was the potential I saw in Hesperia," he said, including the "Golden Triangle" of land west of Interstate 15 and seven miles of mostly undeveloped freeway frontage. "Since '88, we've added over 40,000 people."


At the end of this month, 32 years of service to Hesperians come to an end (or almost), when Harp retires.


"It's been a good job," he said. "I've made a good living here, raised our family here" in the Victor Valley.


Harp will still be around, to an extent. There are still five major projects on his desk he wants to shepherd through the system -- including the updated general plan, fee structure, building code, trash code and water code -- that he'll work on as a consultant.


"I hope to not work every week and certainly not every day," he said. "I like being involved in the day-to-day [affairs of the city] and creating the solutions."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.