Locals have long puzzled over why El Cerrito is named for a landmark not only outside the city limits, but actually in another county.
But that was not the reason the city received a request that it change its name this month in 1949. The request came from the desert city of El Centro, the Imperial Valley county seat. El Centro, founded more than a decade before El Cerrito, claimed that mail addressed to one city or the other was being misdelivered, as the Oakland Tribune’s “Daily Knave” column reported on July 20, 1949.
The claim was that the United States Post Office had incurred a cost of $1,000 forwarding errant mail (see below), a cost that officials in El Cerrito scoffed at as minor (see below) in turning down the name-change request.
El Cerrito, on the other hand, could be justified in requesting that an unincorporated community in Riverside County that shares its name adopt another title. But no such request has been made and when we visited the namesake a few years back and asked about misdelivered mail, we were told it happened, but was rather rare. Maybe handwriting has improved over the years.