I consulted with a local REALTOR who lives and works in Lakewood, CA and he told me the following: As an unincorporate area of the county, the five member County Board of Supervisors in downtown Los Angeles governed the new "city" of Lakewood. Lakewood lacked a local government. Then, as Lakewood residents considered their first steps toward independence, Long Beach city officials made plans to annex the entire Lakewood area.
Long Beach annexation plans were stopped, but a growing number of residents were convinced that Lakewood should incorporate as a city. In only 10 days incorporation advocates collected twice as many signatures as needed to call a vote by residents.
John Todd suggested that Lakewood contract with Los Angeles County for the services the city already received as an unincorporated community. Contracting for services would avoid the high cost of starting from scratch and keep both taxes and city expenses low. On March 9, 1954, nearly 12,400 voters approved cityhood by a 2,600 vote margin. The vote became official in April, making Lakewood the first city in California to incorporate since 1939.
I hope this answers your question.