By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
What would you do with land that you couldn’t build on? Let it collect dust, trash and weeds? What if that same space was next to the highest crime level neighborhood in the city? Would you neglect it even more?
You could try to turn it around.
Which is what just might happen for the city-reclaimed open lots in the Tina-Pacific neighborhood of Stanton.
Currently, an idea is on the table to turn empty spaces in the neighborhood into community gardens with the help of volunteers.
“The city and Stanton Housing Authority are investigating the possibility of creating a temporary community garden in the Tina/Pacific neighborhood. This would involve allowing the remaining residents in the area to use a portion of the vacant parcels to cultivate fruits and vegetables of their choosing,” said Carol Jacobs, city manager.
“This program is still very early in the development stage and so more details are not available at this time. However, any clean-up and/or community garden effort in the neighborhood would involve the removal of debris from the area, de-weeding the land and adding new top soil.”
A local landscaper, who has remained unnamed, has volunteered his services to help transform the space.
State Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) has already said that he would like to have his office help in the reconstruction of the area, even if it is only for temporary use.
In recent weeks, he has taken out his “Young Senators” group to paint over graffiti in the neighborhood.
“Community Action Partnership has also been very active in the neighborhood. CAP has participated in community meetings involving the Tina-Pacific neighborhood and they have presented ideas and concerns to the city that the residents have indicated to them,” said Jacobs.
“The city is also considering a partnership with the Illumination Foundation, a non-profit focused on overcoming homelessness in Orange County.
The city will be considering a lease agreement with the Illumination Foundation to allow them to rehabilitate three vacant units owned by the Housing Authority for sublease to their clients.”
Currently, Tina-Pacific comprises the highest percentage of crime in the city, coming in last year at 9 percent of all crime in Stanton.
Issues with overcrowding in the single-family units, gang crime, graffiti and drugs are the top of the list.
A project was started over the last two years to buy up the small dwellings in the two-street, U-shaped neighborhood, demolish them and rebuild with nicer, moderate income housing.
The city bargained with unit owners, helped place residents in new living accommodation and slowly started knocking down the empty buildings.
The whole project was funded through Stanton Redevelopment Agency funds, brought in from tax increment revenue from property taxes.
Then, RDA was gone. Governor Jerry Brown dissolved all RDA in California to use the funds to balance the state budget.
And the Tina-Pacific project screeched to a halt. With no funds to support the makeover, there was little the city could do.
Now, the empty lots sit filled with weeds, cornered in by chain link fence.
However, some things are beginning move again. Even just a little.
According to Jacobs, in terms of the full revitalization of the project, the Housing Authority currently owns 21 of the 40 properties in the neighborhood.
An additional four properties are is escrow, bringing the total number of properties to be owned to 25.
The goal is to acquire the remainder of the properties by the end of 2013 or even before if talks with current unit owners go well.
The average unit purchased in the area has cost the Housing Authority approximately $600,000; however, the purchase price will depend on the appraised value.
Any tenants will be relocated to housing outside of the neighborhood, followed by demolition of the structures and the future construction of new units.
The relocation costs vary from tenant to tenant depending on what they can afford. The demolition of each building will be approximately $35,000.
In all of this, a developer will be partner with Stanton’s Housing Authority.
First thing’s first though. There is no set time for the community garden project to take place in at present as it is still in its infancy
Until then, the empty lots will still be waiting until they are potentially, blooming.