By Kim McCarthy
Past and present City Council members have stated that their focus has mostly been on development and downtown redevelopment. They call it “Preserving the Past to Enhance the Future”.
But in the 11 years I have lived here, instead of enhancing the future I have witnessed council members take actions that contribute to the creation of a sanctuary city for illegal aliens, criminals and welfare recipients.
The result of council actions can be seen in many of our neighborhoods. One example is a neighborhood off Del Obispo that I visited recently. My friends have lived there for decades, raising their children there when it was a new, safe, family-friendly community. They have watched the decline of their once middle-class neighborhood into a gang injunction zone littered with broken beer bottles, abandoned cars and graffiti.
How did this happen, I asked? My friends said neighbors who weren’t lucky enough to sell and get out before the complete transformation have been intimidated into silence by gang bangers threatening them if they complain about the graffiti being spray painted on garages and fences, or the drug paraphernalia left on patches of dying grass. A few of the braver residents have begged City Council members to help them, but they said council members have turned a deaf ear. I asked Mayor Sam Allevato why the city doesn’t step in to help these people. His response was along the lines of well, it’s a low-income neighborhood anyway… as if that explains the council’s unwillingness to confront the problem they helped to create.
I’ve been asked why I care. After all, my friends point out the council members don’t care; why should you? Besides the fact that it’s wrong to ignore the pleas of law abiding residents who have asked for the city’s help, neighborhoods under gang injunctions and the council’s inaction ultimately drag all of our property values down.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can help our neighbors – and ourselves – by putting pressure on the council to pass ordinances addressing blighted neighborhoods. We can work with the council to address code violations and overcrowding. We can demand that the council stop spending our tax dollars on anything but essential services we were promised, like public safety and infrastructure maintenance.
More importantly, we can vote in council members who actually listen to constituents and who will take steps toward cleaning up the mess left by previous councils. Fortunately, we have this opportunity in the 2012 election.