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Extreme neighborhood makeover

LIVE from City Hall

Posted: June 22, 2008 5:54 p.m.
Updated: August 23, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Neighborhoods. They are the fabric of our society. Who can't remember his or her neighborhood growing up, and most likely the names of the families who lived in the houses on that block.

Ask any kid how far of a walk it is to his or her best friend's house, or where's a great place to ride bikes, and chances are you'll get a precise answer.

For parents, the houses we call home are usually our largest single expenditure each month, and our biggest investment.

In Santa Clarita, long known as a "bedroom community," homes are integral to our lifestyle. And we aren't alone! Channel surfing today reveals a plethora of home improvement shows, cooking-at-home shows and even reality shows, many of which are filmed - guess where? - in the home.

As our city enters its third decade of existence, we continue to address many different issues relating to our homes. Some issues, like traffic and congestion, are regional in nature, and we find our city participating in solutions that involve a variety of entities. A recurring issue we have heard quite a lot about at City Hall is one that involves neighborhoods.

Residents have let their local government know that they are deeply concerned with issues in their neighborhoods that impact their property values and their quality of life.

They have told us that they would like to see their neighbors embrace a strong sense of pride in their neighborhoods and have that reflected in how they care for their property.

Issues including lack of landscaping; trash and clutter in plain sight; multiple, graffiti-riddled, inoperable vehicles on the front lawn; abandoned shopping carts in the neighborhood; illegal dumping; and poor maintenance of houses have a cumulative, negative impact on the entire neighborhood.

Over the past two decades, the city's "reactive code enforcement" policies have slowly grown to encompass a more proactive approach, enabling the city to better interact with individual neighbors at an early stage in the process.

The city's dedicated Community Preservation Officers work diligently with homeowners to help bring them into compliance with city codes and, most importantly, improve their properties.

Many homeowners are actually surprised to learn that their practices - such as storing inoperable vehicles on the front lawn, paving the entire front yard with asphalt or concrete, or converting a garage without a permit - are illegal in the city of Santa Clarita.

During any given month, it is not unusual for the Community Preservation Office to have several hundred active files going. In fact, this small team responds to more than 1,700 cases per year citywide.

In an effort to better assist homeowners with these issues, improve property values and clean up neighborhoods, the city is beginning the new "Extreme Neighborhood Makeover" program, starting in Canyon Country.

The program is a unique and bold initiative involving the city and community working together to help resolve neighborhood beautification and safety issues proactively.

The program will begin with an invitation-only Neighborhood Block Party for the residents of nearly 130 homes in the first Extreme Neighborhood Makeover area, plus the Santa Clarita City Council and volunteers.

While not all of the homes have issues mentioned above, it will take the combined efforts of the entire neighborhood to succeed in transforming the area.

At the Block Party, members of the City Council, city staff, the sheriff's and fire departments, nonprofit organizations, along with volunteers and vendors, will gather to discuss how the new program can best benefit the entire neighborhood.

As part of the new program, the city has also invited local licensed contractors who are willing to provide residents with discounts for goods and services that will assist them in improving their individual properties.

At the same time, the city will be doing whatever it can to provide improvements to the neighborhood with respect to public rights of way, including tree planting, graffiti removal, working with other agencies, and even helping secure volunteers who can provide help to individual residents who need it.

We see the Extreme Neighborhood Makeover program as a clearing house of resources that the city will help to bring to the neighborhood. We have access to licensed contractors and vendors, and we regularly receive calls from church groups and scout troops seeking meaningful volunteer work in the community. And we all have a desire to improve our neighborhoods.

This is an idea that has been cooking for a while, and it is a good time to bring it together for our residents.

If you are interested in learning more about the City's Extreme Neighborhood Makeover, please contact Cruz Caldera at (661) 255-4322 or e-mail him at

Bob Kellar is Mayor of the city of Santa Clarita. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Live from City Hall" is a column provided to The Signal by the city of Santa Clarita.


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