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Mission Makeover: Volunteers work to help local meet property codes

Posted: June 23, 2009 9:00 p.m.
Updated: June 24, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Canyon Country resident Teresa Luna helps her neighbor weed and prepare the earth for sod as part the city's Extreme Neighborhood Makeover program in Canyon Country on Saturday. Luna is one of approximately 30 volunteers from Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita who gave their time to help a neighbor in need.

One Canyon Country resident returned to his home Saturday afternoon to find more than 30 volunteers transforming his lifeless front yard into a revived platform ripe for new grass, fresh concrete and thriving plants.

Oaksprings Landscaping and volunteers from Grace Baptist Church teamed up Saturday to assist the elderly man in complying with city property codes for his Stillmore Street residence.

By 10 a.m., gloves were covered in dirt and foreheads dripped with sweat after two hours of shoveling dirt, hauling concrete and digging ditches for a new irrigation system.

“They’ve been out here since 8 a.m. and they’ve been working their butts off,” said Ron Brown, a city of Santa Clarita community preservation officer.  

The project marked the one-year anniversary of the city of Santa Clarita’s “Extreme Neighborhood Makeover,” which kicked off June 20, 2008, in the surrounding Canyon Country neighborhood.

The city has initiated the makeovers in three different Newhall, Saugus and Canyon Country neighborhoods.

City code enforcement officers have cited 125 homeowners in those neighborhoods for property-code violations since the program’s inception. Residents have addressed 95 percent of those cases, Community Preservation Administrator Cruz Caldera told The Signal last week.

As part of the enforcement phase of the makeover program, Community Preservation staff notified the homeowner of various code violation issues on his property. The man, who requested to not be identified for this story, said he was willing to fix and clean up his home but could not afford to on a fixed income and he requested more time, according to city officials.

He is the first to request assistance from the city.

The city offered to assist the man in correcting a few of his property violations and enlisted the help of local volunteers and businesses willing to give back to their community.

More than 30 volunteers from Grace Baptist Church uprooted dead grass, removed pieces of broken sidewalk and hauled away hefty tree roots.

Previously, StayGreen Landscape had trimmed a 40-foot, heavily overgrown tree in the yard and SJA Painting began repairing chipped and cracked paint on the home’s exterior.

The duty of Saturday’s volunteers was to prepare the yard for a new landscape by getting rid of the old.

“I could have never done this. There’s no way on God’s green earth,” said the homeowner. “It would cost thousands, if not close to  10 (thousand).”

The homeowner said he was expecting to find four or five volunteers upon his arrival, not more than 30.

“Frankly, we believe this is being a good neighbor. A neighbor is anyone in your path with a need,” said Steve Kilker, Grace Baptist Church’s community outreach director.

Victor Cacho, vice president of OakSprings Landscaping, said his company participated because as a local business it is their “job to help the community.”

“(This yard) is going to look beautiful,” he said. “I think it will inspire others in the neighborhood that were just waiting to be inspired to pick up their house a little and clean it up.”

The city of Santa Clarita began its Extreme Neighborhood Makeover program in an effort to better assist community members with quality of life neighborhood issues. Brown said the hope is that when neighboring residents see a yard come to life again that it will become contagious.

“The key thing we’re trying to promote is pride of ownership in neighborhood and own community,” he said.  



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