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Our View: Beautifying neighborhoods helps our city

Posted: January 20, 2011 7:37 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2011 4:55 a.m.
 

The city of Santa Clarita should be commended for its Extreme Neighborhood Makeover program. The program, which began operating in spring 2008, helps boost the appearance of local neighborhoods.

It is a great way not only to improve neighborhoods, but also to help build important relationships between local residents and the city.

And it helps reduce crime.

The Extreme Neighborhood Makeover program brings together members of the City Council, city staff, the Sheriff’s and Fire departments, nonprofit organizations, and licensed contractors and vendors with residents in the target neighborhood.

Neighborhoods are selected through a combination of resident complaints and an annual survey conducted by the city.

The program begins with an invitation-only block party, during which participants gather to discuss how the program can best benefit the entire neighborhood.

Invitations are extended to contractors and vendors who are willing to provide residents with deep discounts for goods and services that can help them improve their individual properties.

According to Cruz Caldera, community preservation officer with the city, five neighborhoods have been renovated so far.

Programs such as the Extreme Neighborhood Makeover are an important part of providing a quality lifestyle for local residents. By bringing citizens together with those “in the know,” they not only get needed repairs made to their homes and properties, but lingering issues such as graffiti, trash and inoperable cars in driveways can be addressed.

The end result is reduced crime, a more attractive neighborhood, increased property values — good news for the local economy — and increased pride in the neighborhood.

According to Caldera, once a neighborhood makeover is completed, the increase in property value is approximately 30 percent.

But Extreme Neighborhood Makeover is about more than just creating more attractive neighborhoods, or even improving quality of life for Santa Clarita residents. The program is also important because it helps open much-needed lines of communication, gives residents an outlet to voice their concerns and builds trust between citizens and government.

That, in turn, creates perhaps the most important benefit of programs such as Extreme Neighborhood Makeover: an overall reduction in crime.

According to the “broken window” theory of crime prevention, neighborhoods that are allowed to deteriorate — with dilapidated houses, inoperable cars and graffiti — attract the criminal element.

By improving the appearance of neighborhoods, criminals are encouraged to go take root elsewhere.

As Efren Galindo, sports coordinator at the Santa Clarita Community Center recently observed: “Criminal elements don’t want to live next to white picket fences and flowers.”

Programs such as the city’s Extreme Neighborhood Makeover are a great example of what can be accomplished when residents, businesses and city leaders work together.

It is the kind of partnership we would like to see more of as we work together to create a better, safer community for all of us.

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