The ugly Little Orphan Alley

TAGGERS’ DELIGHT in The Tunnel under the Garden Grove Freeway (Orange County Tribune photos).

One of the most influential law enforcement theories advanced in recent years is the “broken windows” concept.

In 1982 an Atlantic Monthly article indicated that broken windows, graffiti, trash and other signs of neglect and “rot” encourages more of the same. It drives out responsible homeowners and business operators and accelerates all kinds of problems.

This concept has been widely embraced and it has invigorated anti-graffiti efforts. But some things always “fall through the cracks,” and our nominee for the most egregious example is the pedestrian tunnel, or alley, that runs under the Garden Grove Freeway from Trask Avenue to Garden Grove Park and Bolsa Grande High School.

“The Tunnel” has been an eyesore for over half a century. Narrow and dark, it is the perfect place for the homeless, vandals and taggers to hide out of public sight. Except that it is a principal path for people – including students – to walk to Bolsa or the park.

The walls are perpetually sprayed with gang graffiti, vulgar personal messages and NSFW drawings.

It collects trash, including broken glass, rotting food and abandoned bits of paper and plastic. From time to time you’ll find people dwelling in there, dirty and hunched over either in existential despair or intoxication.

MORE NEGLECT. Who is responsible?

Why has this disgrace been allowed to go on for so long? Because no one seems to take responsibility for it. Who owns it? The City of Garden Grove has said it belongs to the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans). CalTrans has said it’s the city’s job. The school district – obviously – doesn’t own the property, but you’d think it would have an interest in keeping that popular route to school clean, safe and at least minimally attractive.

Several months ago, while walking through The Tunnel we found two worker bees painting the walls. They told us they were from Cal Trans, and now they would be painting the tunnel twice a month.

At last! Someone stepping up? But … they haven’t been back. 

Why can’t the “stakeholders” get together, climb down from their “silos” and solve a problem together rather than say, “it’s not my job.”

Until they do, Garden Grove will continue to have one of the biggest “broken windows” in all of Orange County.

Pot shot down in Surf City?

For those municipalities interested in nurturing cannabis businesses as a way of raising revenue, a cautionary note from Huntington Beach.

CANNABIS sales tax falling short in Huntington Beach (Shutterstock).

Voters in that city voted on whether to create a special tax on marijuana-related businesses, as a preliminary to perhaps authorizing them within city limits.

(While California has legalized the sale of cannabis products statewide, cities may choose to allow or not allow it locally).

A special tax requires a two-thirds approval, and it appears that the “yes” vote fell just short. According to the Orange County Registrar of Voters, Measure A drew 66.13 percent in favor and 33.87 opposed.

The target missed was 66.67 percent.

That may not be the final word, but for now, the march of legal “tea” in HB appears to have “gone up in smoke,” so to speak.

“Usually Reliable Sources” alternates with Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column.

Leave a Reply