Good morning or afternoon or evening whatever time of day you are reading our local newspaper. Last week I made reference to “eye appeal is buy appeal” and I wanted to add a bit more commentary regarding the importance of this statement as it relates to our community. A community I refer to as a big small town. I received a number of compliments on last week’s column; one of which has prompted me to address code enforcement.
Escondido still maintains its small town atmosphere in spite of the population being over four times the population when I moved here in 1973. Head count then was about 33,000 and today is over 150,000. Here is an interesting tidbit: When I moved here the hospital was the tallest building in town and still today the hospital remains the tallest building in town albeit a new Palomar Hospital. As a city we have done an exemplary job of creating a clean and safe community. This does not happen without a concerted effort from our government and the residents.
The key phrase is the community efforts. In 1975 then Mayor Alan Skuba contacted the Escondido Jaycees and asked if we could get some guys to go out once a month and paint over graffiti. The city would supply the locations and the paint. We had two colors, white and off-white. As you can surmise, the city had numerous rectangles and squares of these two colors. I remember Mr. Scardino, Laura’s Restaurant, calling the Jaycees and asking we not paint the 3 foot high wall at the edge of the parking lot. He then painted the entire wall in one color which looked a whole lot better.
We didn’t have a Code Enforcement department to deal with graffiti and code violations until about the mid 1980’s following the catastrophic conditions in the Park Square apartments at Washington and Rose. I won’t go into detail but I can tell you that the property owner was sentenced to prison. This incident resulted in the formation of the Rental Housing Inspection Team Escondido ( R.H.I.T.E.) in which I participated along with about twenty other men and women in the real estate industry scouring the city citing violations.
You see, blight has a distinct and definite negative effect on real estate values. The beginning had one person in CE and today we employ about 20 to deal with code violations such as cars on front lawns plus a graffiti team to remove the visual blight. And personal graffiti kits are available at City Hall where your efforts would be much appreciated.
The CE will respond to citizen complaints ASAP and the graffiti team is fantastic removing the scribbling within hours when the norm used to be about 3 or 4 days. This is where we all can have the biggest impact. If you see something, say something whether you think it is a violation or not. If you have an i-phone you can download the ‘Report It’ Escondido app to take a photo of what you see and email it with a key stroke. Or, you can call CE at 760-839-4650. This goes for business and property owners and tenants. Or, you can contact any City Council member at 760-839-4638.
I can’t even imagine what Escondido would look like today if the City Council, of which I was a member, hadn’t made the decision over a decade ago to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintaining a clean community. Next week, among other topics, I will address a comment made regarding our streets.