BALDWIN HILLS : Network Wages Anti-Blight Effort
Baldwin Village may be waging an uphill battle to improve its image, but a group of neighbors say they are up to the fight.
The Baldwin Village Community Action Network, officially formed last fall, has started a grass-roots effort to tackle problems that have long blighted the village, such as trash, graffiti, poor lighting and drug trafficking.
Through regular contact with police and other city departments, as well as area building owners, network members hope to help turn around the village, which is known locally as “The Jungle” because of its lush tropical flora.
“We’re trying to steer everything in a positive direction,” said Minnie Ruth Sweet-Goings, a network member and 12-year resident of Santa Rosalia Drive. “It’s very easy to give up on the neighborhood, to look around and say, ‘I don’t care, either.’ But if someone doesn’t step forward and do something about it, it’s going to get worse.”
The network started at the behest of Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who said that residents must get involved if fortunes are to change in the village, which sits at the foot of affluent Baldwin Hills.
Sweet-Goings has hosted meetings at her home and also coordinates a newsletter that she distributes at businesses and other residences, frequently with the help of neighborhood children. Her immediate concerns are a resurgence of drug activity, deteriorating buildings and poor or missing locks and intercom systems in apartment complexes. Sweet-Goings says the group hopes to enlist the aid of the city Housing and Building and Safety departments to bring such buildings up to code.
“Some owners attract undesirable tenants because good tenants simply don’t want to rent in undesirable buildings,” she said. “We’ll try to get them penalized, or at least point these things out to them.”
Despite the problems, Sweet-Goings says the village includes good people who simply suffer from the activities of a few troublemakers. Pointing out the group’s upbeat acronym--BVCAN--she says many residents are as determined as herself to stay and clean up the neighborhood.
The core group is small, numbering 10, and recently enlisted Latino members to reflect the village’s changing demographics, which used to be predominantly black, Sweet-Goings said. The group’s next newsletter will include a Spanish-language version.
Village resident and network member Carl Williams, 43, said the community’s involvement can only benefit everyone.
“I want to clean up the neighborhood for the kids,” said Williams, who manages two buildings on Coco Avenue. “We have a lot of elderly people who don’t have cars and have to walk, so we need to make things more secure. I’m not going to let anybody run me out of here.”
Information: (213) 291-8747.