Beyond Anna Drive: A Look Inside Another Neighborhood of Neglect in Anaheim

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Gabriel San Roman / OC Weekly
Iron gates section off a number of apartments in the largely immigrant Latino community near the intersection of Brookhurst Street and Crescent Avenue in Anaheim. Unlike Anna Drive, which has recently come under a new gang injunction in the city, none of them are affixed with an altar keeping the memory of a slain young man alive.

Even so, the neighborhood shares in visible and visceral signs of neglect just the same.

On any given morning during the work week, numerous children are walked by their parents across the street to board buses for the school day. The yellow crosswalks were only recently put up by the city and only after residents of the community raised the issue. It was a welcomed improvement in an area far from the glare of media and nonprofits, in an area where many more improvements still are needed.

Helping to facilitate the process that led to something as simple to community as yellow crosswalks was former resident Marisol Ramirez. It took many weeks and a lot of phone calls to the city, as the 21-year-old college student recounts it, just to get a city worker physically there. She helped translate from Spanish as parents addressed the needs as they saw them. In addition to the yellow crosswalks that came after the meeting, white parking lines were also painted along side streets where lack of space is often an issue.

The neighborhood, sometimes dubbed 'ABC' for the avenues of Alameda, Brownwood and Catalina that form its parallel boundaries, is a tapestry of apartment complexes all in differing conditions with no singular landlord. STAR honor student posters proudly shine from windows where they are displayed on some rental units. After having listened to residents over time, the quality of life for all children is chief among their principal concerns.

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Gabriel San Román / OC Weekly
A playground in the land of amusement parks

Hidden from street view are central courtyards in the interior of many complexes and what passes for playgrounds. They lay barren with little to no grass, have swing sets without swings, and slides that are all tagged up. At dusk, there's no lighting. "I keep my children inside," one resident tells me in Spanish. All but one of the swimming pools are empty. They stay fenced off collecting garbage and dirtied rainwater.

Ramirez remembers having spent most of her childhood years growing up in the community. The family originally moved into her aunt's apartment there when she was around the age of four. After a number of years, they settled into their own unit down the street where she lived until she was sixteen. "The conditions are actually the same now as I remember growing up," Ramirez says."Only when we moved out did we see how different things were."

Many apartments didn't have air conditioning back then and those with wall units didn't always work. "During the summer, when it would get really hot, the pool was always something I remember my parents asking the landlord about," Ramirez remembers. The promises ultimately turned out to be as empty as the pools themselves and remain so to this day. For summer play, she and her childhood friends improvised with water balloons or by inventing flips off the swing sets without swings.

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Unfilled pool
Though the courtyards are not public property, the city of Anaheim does have community preservation services with property maintenance standards. The Planning Department has the ability to hold those who own buildings, among others, accountable for conditions. "The city comes for some things and not for others," a resident relays.

Without any rent control or basic tenant rights, there is a palpable trepidation about raising concerns. With managers in between, some residents don't even know the name of their landlords. One person spoke about being no longer able to afford the rising cost of a two-bedroom unit and having to move into the crowded quarters of a one-bedroom apartment instead. It's an experience that Ramirez can relate to.

"There were months where our rent would get increased every time for no reason at all," she says, noting her mother's worries about making ends meet. "In apartments and neighborhoods like this, rent doesn't match the living conditions at all." Though her family ultimately moved out, the neighborhood remains, with new generations moving in and experiencing the same old neglect.

Ramirez sees potential in revitalizing the parks and the possibility of a community center on a plot of open land that currently rests as dormant as the dirt. Some of Ramirez's peers went down the path of gangs and drug abuse, so she's hopeful that raising the quality of life here would lessen the chances of that for others in the future. Either way, it shouldn't take a tragedy, whether in the form of hood violence or a police shooting, for people to start paying attention.

For Genevieve Huizar, mother of Manuel Diaz, a 25-year-old killed by a policeman in a July 21, 2012 shooting currently under investigation and subject to a massive civil rights lawsuit, it's already too late. At an emergency city council meeting at Cook Auditorium on August 8, 2012, she made a heartfelt plea for the city's future following the summer's unrest that echo the concerns of residents here in this community on the west side of town.

"It's time to make a change in Anaheim. It's time to make a difference in the neighborhoods of Anaheim," Huizar said. "Give the children a chance to grow in a healthy environment. Give them a recreation place. Give them a swimming pool."

Those words from a grieving mother reverberate through Anna Drive and beyond.

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16 comments
Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

"One person spoke about being no longer able to afford the rising cost of a two-bedroom unit and having to move into the crowded quarters of a one-bedroom apartment instead. It's an experience that Ramirez can relate to. "

...

""There were months where our rent would get increased every time for no reason at all," she says, noting her mother's worries about making ends meet. "

Uh, landlords raise rents to make more money. They can get away with higher rent because of this thing called 'supply and demand'. More people -- immigrants or immigrant produced children -- means more demand for housing. Supply is essentially flat. So  prices go up.


Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

" The family originally moved into her aunt's apartment there when she was around the age of four."

Hmmm. Inquiring minds want to know 'moved from' where? Legally? Did the 'aunt' have a family too? If she did, you have two families crowding into an apartment meant for one family -- stressing neighborhood infrastructure and public services. 

Actually, I'll bet when those apartments were built, the 'developer' envisioned them for singles or young couples who were, you know, working and putting away money before spawning. But that was back in the 1960s or 70s, before of the Mexi-influx. 

johnrose7588
johnrose7588

Awwwe... poor fuckin illegal immigrants! Gus why do you think we owe these people anymore? If we fixed it up it would allready be tagged by gangsters. You cant have nice shit in the getti because of the punks that live there ruin it. I was apart of a graffiti removal program in santa ana years back and we painted walls and playground equipment at a park off of sunflower and bristil and sure enough i go back with my kid to fish the pond a week later and tge wet backs tagged it up again. So fuckem. You dont deserve nice things if you wont take care of it. We spend enough tax $ on welfare. We dont owe these mojados anything.

grvz5247
grvz5247

@johnrose7588 Maybe you john should take a trip to indiana, ohio, michigan all those places look like irak and crack infested shit holes. In detroit you can even buy houses for $1,000 dollars. You know why because there crack infested neighborhoods. They have no imigrants there. 

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@johnrose7588 Actually, tenant law says otherwise, but nice to see you have a double-standard for whom the law should protect!

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@Mitchell_Young Actually, looks like the gabacho areas of Colton—and let's not get started on your beloved Southern brothers...

johnrose7588
johnrose7588

Yup. Mostly blacks there. Like compton. Detroit. All black. Ghetto. @grvz5247 @johnrose7588

johnrose7588
johnrose7588

So your point being, we should keep having to spend $ to fix things in an area where its inhabitants arent willing to keep their own from vandalizing it. Lmfao. You defend a culture that will allways be fucked up. There will never be a reconquista. Tgere are alot of good mexicans out there, but there are far more bad ones. So it makes sense not to spend $$ on fixing up the parks. And pools. Look at citys like citys like anaheim and santa ana. Both prodominatly white in the 40s and the 50s. Both citys had low crime rates. Both citys thrived. Now they look like dumps and are too dangerous at night. And they are majority hispanic now. What a coincidence right. Dumbass!@GustavoArellano @johnrose7588

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

@GustavoArellano @Mitchell_Young White areas of Colton? Get out of the 1980s.


 Of course, back then Colton must have been pretty nice, I remember a huge piano store used to advertise "only in Coooltooooon". Pianos are, of course, a mark of the aspirational white (and asian), lower middle class.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@johnrose7588 Low crime rates? You should read the papers back then—nothing but crime. Have you taken English classes yet?

johnrose7588
johnrose7588

Simple facts. Most wet backs are dirty law breakers. Fact, mexico will allways be a dump so long as it is inhabited by mexicans. Fact, more murders happen in orange county every year by latinos than any other race.@GustavoArellano @Mitchell_Young

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@Mitchell_YoungOut of the 80s? Try now. Funny how the defenders of the White race here are an illiterate and a pendejo who can't accept simple facts...

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