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City throws block party

Posted: June 27, 2008 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.
 
Some may have been a little offended at first, but with music and barbecue smoke in the air and a wealth of advice at their fingertips, Canyon Country neighbors set up their folding chairs and went along with the party.

The city of Santa Clarita threw an Extreme Neighborhood Makeover block party Thursday night, an event for code enforcement officers and other city officials to work with 130 Canyon Country homeowners whose properties have fallen into a state of disrepair.

Though some of the homes in the neighborhood off Whites Canyon Road near Stillmore Street were in top shape, some homes sported dusty abandoned cars in their driveways, weeds that have sprouted a few feet high and chain link fences that were twisted and drooping to the ground.

Arnold Romero has lived in the neighborhood for 14 years and said he was notified of a code violation recently when he was remodeling his house.

"At first, I was upset," he said. "I thought, ‘Why me?' But it is something better for the neighborhood. You've got to look at the big picture."

Today, the city will send out letters to the 130 homeowners in the four to five block radius listing the common violations found in their neighborhood. The homeowners will have 30 days to spruce up their homes, and then a code enforcement officer will "go out and enforce," said Supervising Community Preservation Officer Curtis Williams.

"We always want voluntary compliance," Williams said. "We're trying to make sure the tools are here."

Common violations include inoperable vehicles, weeds in the front yard, peeling paint and crumbling rooftops, he said.

"The real thing we're looking for is curb appeal," he said.

The city already has a proactive code enforcement program in a residential and commericial area of Newhall. Because the targeted area in Canyon Country is residential, the city officials wanted to throw a block party.

"I think it's really important that the city is making the effort to get to know the people and the people get to know them," said Alan Ferdman, president of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee and resident in the neighborhood.

Code enforcement staff answered questions and explained how to report potholes, volunteer to help city workers plant trees and request graffiti removal. Help with housing rehabilitation is also available to city residents who fall within certain low-income brackets.

Marsha Carr has lived on Walnut Springs Avenue for 37 years and said she has seen more trash, graffiti and ungroomed lawns over the years.

"Maybe people will become aware of what's happening - or maybe what's not happening - in our neighborhood," she said.

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