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Anaheim Maps a Massive Renewal : Run-Down Jeffrey-Lynne Area Is One Target in 35-Year Project

Staff Writer

On a misty Wednesday afternoon, some of the residents who live in this south-central Anaheim neighborhood near Disneyland were out in groups.

Young and old men in this predominantly Latino neighborhood between Jeffrey Drive and Lynne Avenue were drinking beer at various places, and children were playing in gardens that have only patches of grass.

Some adults may go out on a given night here. But the children and the mothers who were pushing baby carriages are sure to be in before dark.

This rundown neighborhood just two blocks west of Disneyland is part of 4,387 acres in Anaheim that the City Council has targeted for a 35-year, $2.2-billion redevelopment plan.

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The council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency, tentatively approved the plan Tuesday for the area that includes Disneyland, the Anaheim Convention Center and Anaheim Stadium.

The Katella Redevelopment Project will include the upgrading of 38% of the 12,559 houses and apartments which are now poorly maintained in the area, according to a report compiled by Katz, Hollis, Coren & Associates of Los Angeles. More than half of the 919 businesses, including industrial warehouses, also need repairs, according to the report.

In the neighborhood between Jeffrey Drive and Lynne Avenue, some residents talked about the condition of the area.

It used to be a nice neighborhood, they said. But during the past 10 years it has declined with drugs, violence, robbery and prostitution becoming the norm.

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Some of the residents said they blamed the problem on the increasing number of illegal aliens who often live in overcrowded apartments. Others said they can’t believe that such problems could be happening so close to Disneyland.

“You would think it’s the opposite,” Richard Matthews, an apartment manager on the 1500 block of Jeffrey Drive said.

“In three years I’ve had my truck stolen; somebody’s broken into my garage; my tires have been slashed. The neighbors are always getting their batteries stolen.”

“It’s gotten to the point that I don’t worry about it anymore. It’s in God’s hands now,” he said.

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The city plans to finance the redevelopment project through the sale of $500 million in bonds to be repaid with increased tax revenue generated by new and upgraded businesses, the report by Katz, Hollis, Coren & Associates said.

Norm Priest, Anaheim’s community development director, said the plan is still tentative because public hearings must be held and an environmental impact report must be approved before an ordinance can be approved. However, Priest said, the city expects the project to begin this summer and end in the year 2022.

Although the bulk of the spending will focus on redevelopment of the area’s streets and utilities to alleviate traffic congestion and an inadequate street system, Priest said up to 20% of the project cost--or up to $198.3 million--will go to improving the area’s low- and moderate-income housing as required by state law.

Priest said that among those businesses that will need improvement are motels and hotels that were built originally to serve tourists but have since become long-term housing for transients and headquarters for drug-trafficking and prostitution.

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Priest said the city might acquire property for redevelopment, and that the Jeffrey-Lynne apartment neighborhood is one possibility because the city is running out of options.

Workers from the city code enforcement office made about 2,300 visits to the area last year and found severe overcrowding in many apartments, the report said. And the Police Department has also targeted the area as one of two major narcotics problem areas in the city.

Resident Matthews said he “feels insecure living in the area.”

“I can’t leave my apartment alone because I don’t know when they’re going to break in.”

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An apartment owner who did not want to be identified blamed the problem on absentee landlords.

“This used to be a beautiful place. Grass used to be green and there were no bottles and no mariachi music at 2 o’clock in the morning,” he said.

“A lot of owners don’t care. We have a lot of apartments with little maintenance. As a result (the apartments) don’t attract decent people.”


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