Is your neighborhood looking a little … sad? Do your neighbors let their lawns turn brown, double-park on your street or pack a dozen people into a house designed for four or five?
The issue of problem residential areas arose at Tuesday’s city council meeting when four people from Kathy Lane in a northeastern area of Garden Grove complained about all those problems and more. What was once a well-maintained, pleasant area has turned into an eyesore, one resident said.
That led to a discussion in general about neighborhoods in crisis, which is not a problem in Garden Grove alone. Councilman John O’Neill (District 2) placed much of the blame on Sacramento for gutting local control of zoning, opening the floodgates to accessory dwelling units on single family lots, a development sure to increase pressure on streets, parking, sanitation systems and general overcrowding.
He’s not wrong. Well-meaning folks in the state capital took aim at the housing crisis and missed, hitting the people already in houses.
But there’s a lot more to the issue. All those problems noted on Kathy Lane existed before ADUs were even thought of. Absentee landlords, aging buildings, cultural changes and just plain lazy people predate the Sacramento circus.
The key is code enforcement, but the problem clearly exceeds the resources allocated to fix it. The sales tax increase approved by voters in 2018 helped boost the police department by 10 officers and six non-sworn personnel. That additional manpower has allowed the department to do much good work and get results.
But, from our perspective, code enforcement and quality of life are crime issues, too. Deteriorating neighborhoods attract – in some cases – an element that’s prone to neglect the law as likely as they are to neglect their landscaping.
Can we afford to put more muscle and cash into clean-up? Can we afford not to?
Did they really say that? Oh, yes.
Speaking of city council meetings, they tend to be … how shall we put this? … dull or loud. But sometimes things are said that make even jaded reporters wake up from their reverie.
At last week’s Westminster City Council meeting, two members argued so loudly and persistently, talking over each other and essentially calling each other liars, that a third member quipped, “You two should get a room,” as you might say to squabbling spouses.
In referring to issues totally unrelated to the first inhabitants of America, Councilmember Kimberly Ho twice used the term, “Indian givers.” Some people find that a wee bit offensive, unless – of course – it was meant to honor the indigenous people who gave so much in the building of this great nation.
Here’s something to look forward to. Garden Grove City Councilmember Phat Bui, in reference to the Elvis Festival coming to Main Street, said, “With my new haircut, maybe I could sing at the festival.”
Perhaps the highlight of Tuesday’s Garden Grove meeting was the pickleball exhibition in which the “fastest-growing sport in America” was demonstrated. A blend of tennis and badminton, it looks like good exercise, but the name – allegedly stemming from the name of a dog, Pickles – may need some polishing. On the other hand, what the heck does “badminton” mean?
“Usually Reliable Sources” is posted on alternate weeks (usually), trading places with Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column.