In Anaheim exists a phenomenon the Weekly calls 'Blight Fright!': numerous, unnecessary NIMBY ordinances that ignore root causes of the plight behind “blight.” Everything from homeless tents in public spaces to yard sales have served as fodder to harass poor people in the name of 'quality of life.'
These ordinances don't just drop out of the sky or are the sole domain of council-pendejos! As fun files obtained by the Weekly show, they result thanks mostly to whiny Anaheimers–or as we deem them, “AnaWhiners!”
First up on the NIMBY all-star roster is Sally Feldhaus, wife of former councilman Frank Feldhaus. As district elections spurred chatter of where candidates have historically come from, reporters sometimes mentioned no one on the dais had hailed from West Anaheim–a strange patchwork of working-class minorities and middle-class whites–since Frank's two terms that ended in 2002. With current councilwoman Kris Murray's Quality Rental Housing Program in the works, Sally asked city staff, “Does this new proposed program include private residencies that have far too many people living in them. i.e. the purported 18 people living in a house on our cul de sac?”
The question ultimately went to Planning Director Sherri Vander Dussen. “Unfortunately, state law allows a ridiculous high number of people to share a home or apartment,” she lamented in response noting the program will only be looking at “multi-family rental units.” Vander Dussen told Feldhaus that she believed the home in question had already been looked at by code enforcement and that no violation of state occupancy standards had been found.
Next up is retired Anaheim Police Chief Jimmie Kennedy who felt compelled to weigh in and contribute his two cents to blight fright. The offending sight for him? Yard sale signs.
“On any given weekend in Anaheim, you can hardly drive a block without seeing at least one…Then, after the weekend the signs remain up for weeks,” Kennedy wrote to the city council in August. “These sales and signage make Anaheim look shabby. I think more needs to be done to control these activities.” To that end, he noted the anti-yard sale ordinance, but suggested code enforcement have weekend patrols to better tackle the issue.
Should Murray's Quality Rental Housing Program–a revised, watered-down faux-crusade against slumlords–pass in January 2014, it would beef up the agency.
Back in the late 80's, in classic NIMBY style, Kennedy, just retired, led a crusade against a proposed jail site on Gypsum and Coal canyons, east of Anaheim Hills. A citizens group running by his side wanted the county to bar the site and have future jails built in…SanTana! If that doesn't scream “Not In My Backyard!,” I don't know what does!
The regulation of yard sales to four weekends per year came from a listserve serving the Colony District, the neighborhoods near Pearson Park. “What is the code for yard sales and can we look at a program that limits the number per year?” councilwoman Murray asked city staffers as a result in July 2011. “I can see how abysses can cause a nuisance,” she added.
And then there are shopping carts. Guinida Lane is currently being targeted for “revitalization” that would supposedly clear the priority neighborhood of crime and blight. But how petty can those categorizations get? An Anaheim Police Department incident report from August is telling.
Officer C. Vazquez and J. Romero were walking the foot beat in the neighborhood as part of the South District Community Policing Team. “We noticed many abandoned shopping carts. We also witnessed residents pushing the shopping carts filled with groceries to their respect residencies,” wrote Officer Vasquez. “The shopping carts appear to be an eye sore and paints a negative image of the neighborhood. It should be noted that possessing a shopping cart is a…misdemeanor.” Um, people bring groceries back from the nearby El Super on foot often because they don't have a car and El Super trucks routinely retrieve shopping carts to this day.
It should also be noted that APD does indeed write people up in the city for such a thing. “I was lying in the park when the officer pulled up to me,” wrote one man to Mayor Tom Tait and then-Police Chief John Welter. “He wrote me a ticked [sic] for, “possession of a shopping cart.” I guess crime in Anaheim is at an all-time low, since now we have time to clutter the courts with 'shopping cart possession.'”
Stay classy, Happiest Place on Earth!
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz