Revitalization of our Local Communities
Our lives are constantly being disrupted by accelerations in technology, globalization and Mother Nature, leaving our citizens feeling destabilized. These forces are like hurricanes, one in which the winds of change are swirling so fast that families can’t find a way to anchor themselves.
The only answer it to build and revise healthy local communities. Neighborhoods that are flexible enough to navigate the winds of change and provide stability for our neighbors. Brandi Carlile sings, “You can dance in a hurricane, but only if you’re standing in the eye.” The “eye” in today’s hurricane is the local community.
Unfortunately, neighborhoods, which were once thriving, organized and tight-knit, have deteriorated because of leader fatigue, apathy, and lack of interest. Our Ward must lead the charge to breathe new life into organized neighborhoods so that they may provide Santaneros with a firm place to stand and find stability (economically and emotionally) while all this change swirls around them.
Revive Struggling Neighborhood Associations
In the course of preparing Katz’s campaign platform, he attempted to engage the leaders of each of the 22 neighborhoods in Ward 3. The results of the effort were discouraging. Six of the neighborhoods do not have a structured association at all. Many neighborhood associations are dormant. Katz spoke with a number of “presidents” on file with the City and learned that they had not been active for nearly 10 years – and continuity of the association had been abandoned.
This first step Katz will take in Ward 3 is to help breathe life back into the community. He will reach out to interested neighborhood inhabitants (this includes schools and other organizations) to serve on a steering committee to re-organize the neighborhood association. The key is to get a strong core group that is made up of individuals who are consistently willing to devote time, each month, for the good of the community. Set realistic goals that stand a good chance of success. The only way to maintain interest is through energetic participation and ongoing communication. It also takes positive reinforcement, acknowledgement and a constant sense of accomplishment.
Create a Campaign to Promote Neighborhood Pride and Image
Neighborhood revitalization is important to Santa Ana because neighborhood revitalization efforts strengthen pride in a community by improving the image and identity of the neighborhood. “Identity” refers to how the residents view or feel about their own neighborhood. Katz believes that our City should develop a campaign that promotes the residents’ pride and esteem in their communities. Pride means residents plan to stay, invest in their properties and become more engaged in community activities.
Neighborhood revitalization can improve the look and feel of the neighborhood instilling a sense of pride by the residents which, in turn, improves the image of a neighborhood. “Image” refers to how the neighborhood is viewed by non-residents. Non-residents could be visitors to Santa Ana, a business looking for a principal place to operate, students considering local colleges, or prospective residents looking to buy a new home. Improving the neighborhood’s image will positively impact the desirability of the homes in the neighborhood and the level of investment in the area, which, over time, makes residents proud of their neighborhood because it is a desirable place for people to live.
Potent Codes Coupled with Consistent Code Enforcement
In 1982, James Wilson proposed the Broken Windows theory as a metaphor for disorder within neighborhood. If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. His theory links visible signs of crime and anti-social behavior to creating an urban environment that encourages crime and disorder. It would stand to reason that well-maintained and well-ordered neighborhoods promote safety and civility.
Santa Ana currently has an ordinance that is designed to eliminate blight; however, the ordinance lacks the breadth to address the variety of “broken windows” that plague our neighborhoods. Further, where there is an ordinance on point, the City has not dedicated adequate resources to enforce the Code.
Katz would augment the Santa Ana Code to address blight and vacancies and then work with the appropriate department to ensure that adequate resources (including volunteers) are designated for code enforcement assignments.
Engaging Apartment Renters
Renting is a short-term proposition and many renters do move more often than homeowners. Often, renters tend to be younger, some are in college or graduate school, many are childless… So, they aren’t as tied down. But just because renters aren’t living in their homes for decades should not mean that they care any less about Sant Ana’s streets, sidewalks, businesses, and parks.
Apartment dwellers are transitory. However, apartment owners have longer tenures in a neighborhood. While their primary focus is maximizing profits, short-sighted strategies that focus only on this year’s profits ultimately impact long-term economics. Katz would promote landlord engagement as a vital part of a neighborhood revitalization strategy.
Adopt Policies and Ordinances that Preserve and Embellish Santa Ana’s Uniqueness
The City must adopt policies which require developers to build homes that are compatible to the site layout, density, and design of existing neighborhoods. Katz was encouraged by the recent work of the Santa Ana Historic Commission which has successfully lobbied for representation on the Planning Commission to ensure that the City is sensitive to Santa Ana’s unique, regional character.
Adopt a Façade Improvement Program
The main corridors of Ward 3 (Main St., Broadway and 17th St) have become worn and dated. Walkability has been sacrificed.
Katz would sponsor a Façade Improvement Program to encourage property owners and businesses to improve the exterior appearance of their buildings and storefronts. The program would provide financial incentives such as a matching grant or loan, a tax incentive, and/or design assistance. With a proper focus on concentrated areas, the investment can have an obvious, meaningful and lasting impact to attract other investment.
The results of a well-designed Façade Improvement Program can be dramatic:
- Sales will improve
- Businesses and shoppers will be enticed to the target area
- Participants will be motivated to make additional improvements (such as to interior spaces or product lines)
- And owners/tenants of properties and businesses in surrounding areas will be motivated to make improvements
Katz anticipates that a successful and well-designed program will garner increased sales tax revenue that will exceed the costs of the FIP.
Develop and Promote Neighborhood Initiatives
Katz would promote neighborhoods’ creative adoption of their own revitalization programs such as:
Love Your Block Santa Ana
Love Your Block Santa Ana is a neighborhood revitalization and blight reduction initiative. Through this program, neighborhoods would be selected to receive mini-grants which would fund a neighborhood’s beautification and/or blight reduction project. Funded projects are designed to engage the residents in creating the type of environment that they want to live in.
Be A Tool
This neighborhood rehab project uses a creative, collaborative and volunteer-driven approach to repair homes of low-income residents or residents with age or physical disabilities.