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The overall goal of this study is to create a context where residents can develop their own plan to revitalize the residential portions of the area while improving community facilities as well as commercial and industrial patterns.
To retain and rehabilitate or modify existing housing, stop the high rate of abandonment, and to allow for a stable yet varied population growth.
To seek ways of relating Delmann Heights and California Gardens to the entire city.
To re-evaluate present plans affecting the study area and to influence future plans so that they will be more responsive to the people's needs.
To provide job opportunities by encouraging industrial and commercial development best suited to the economic base of the study area and entire city, ultimately leading to full employment at acceptable wages for residents.
To provide adequate, attractive neighborhood facilities and human services conveniently located to serve the people who live and work in the district.
To revitalize the existing shopping area and to attract appropriate commercial investment for the greater convenience and pleasure of the people who live and work in the area.
To improve the appearance of the study area for those who live there and make it an attractive and interesting place to visit.
To buffer residential areas from incompatible land uses.
To improve traffic circulation within the area while enhancing access to and from the study area and, in particular, to keep non-residential traffic out of the residential neighborhoods.
To provide adequate education for all residents regardless of existing educational deficiencies.
To achieve an adequate measure of study area resident control of all public policy and decision making processes affecting the institutions, services and quality of their community.
The City of San Bernardino was originally established as a Mission town and is now the seat of the largest county in the nation, which covers an area of approximately 20,000 square miles. After being established as a Mission town by the Spaniards, San Bernardino became a Mormon Settlement. The Mormons developed the town on a grid system which exists today and established themselves as the dominant social force until they were called back to Salt Lake City in the mid 1800's. Later, settlers developed the area as a center for citrus fruit crops and shortly thereafter, San Bernardino became a railroad center when the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe relocated its maintenance shops. The City of San Bernardino's population grew significantly as a result of World War II with the establishment of military bases and related new businesses.
Recent data sb ws San Bernardino County with a population of 698,000 people of which nearly 450,000 are White. The County's non-white population is mainly Spanish Surnamed (111,700), with a small Black population (29,300). By contrast, the City of San Bernardino, with a total population of 107,000, has a much larger percentage of non-white people, with 25,000 Spanish Surnamed persons and 17,500 Black people.
Over 70% of the non-white population is concentrated in the western sector of the city. Within this western sector, or the "Westside” as it is called, the Spanish Surnamed and Black populations are geographically situated in distinct areas with the predominent Black population to be found North of Baseline Street and the Spanish Surnamed located South of Baseline.
Within that portion of the “Westside” that is predominantly Black are two adjoining neighborhoods known as Delmann Heights and California Gardens (see Location of Study Area map). These two neighborhoods have the same general demographic characteristics yet differ in size and, most significantly, in the rate of abandonment of single family homes. Highland Avenue, a major East-West Street and California Street, a less heavily trafficked North-South Street, separate the two neighborhoods. More specifically, Delmann Heights is bounded by Cajon Boulevard to the Northeast, Western Avenue to the East, Highland Avenue to the South and California Street to the West. California Gardens is bounded by 19th Street to the North, California Street to the East, -a vacant tract of land just below 17th Street to the South, and State Street to the West.
Both areas were developed privately in the 1950's with single family homes for sale and financed under either FHA or Veterans Administration mortgage assistance programs. The homes themselves are generally small, and spartan. These neighborhoods were initially considered relatively stable and had no more than the usual number of mortgage foreclosures,
California Gardens, until last year, was just outside the City limits of San Bernardino, while Delmann Heights was annexed to the City in 1966. Prior to ·annexation, this area, known as Muscoy, was inhabited by white upwardly mobile families of modest income that would generally sell their homes and move elsewhere to similar or better housing as their income rose, other job opportunities occurred, or their families became too large for the house they occupied. (It is interesting to note that three of the city officials interviewed in the process of developing the data for this study mentioned that they or other fellow workers had "started out" in Delmann Heights).
Between 1950 and 1960, Delmann Heights at the northwest edge of the city began to experience an exodus of white households. The increased property tax assessments that resulted from annexation coupled with the influx of relocatees from a redevelopment project elsewhere caused an acceleration of this exodus to what can only be described as a panic withdrawal of White families. It is estimated that currently the Black populations of the two neighborhods exceed 90% of the total.
As a result of the rapid white exodus, property values dropped to the point where it became difficult for a seller to market his property and pay off outstanding mortgages. In the late 1960's it became increasingly expedient for a property owner (Black or White) with little cash equity to abandon his property rather than attempt to pay off mortgages that amounted to more than the houses current value on the open market. Thus, a grim pattern had begun and has continued to accelerate to this day. For instance, in May of 1971, 100 properties had been abandoned and were in foreclosure by FHA or the VA in Delmann Heights alone. In May of this year, there were nearly 300 vacant and boarded up houses in foreclosure in Delmann Heights. Some of these bouses have been abandoned, foreclosed upon, rehabilitated and resold two and three times. If this accelerating rate of abandonment were to continue, it would be only two years more before the entire area is abandoned. Presently, it is very difficult to sell a house in Delmann Heights on the open market due to the high percentage of abandoned and boarded up buildings, combined with a history of high rates of arson, vandalism and theft. Many of the remaining families have been victimized, their property stolen, damaged, or destroyed. Even though a major need for low and moderate income housing exists, the image of Delmann Heights is so bad that few have been willing to buy into the area. Delmann Heights can only be characterized as a blighted neighborhood with boarded up and vandalized houses everywhere. The houses, which are approximately 20 years old, can generally be described as shabby, deteriorated, and devoid of landscaping. Signs threatening prosecution by the F.B.I. for trespassing are an ominous presence. Many of the occupied units are overcrowded.
In spite of the grim recent history of Delmann Heights, there still exists a core of stable and courageous homeowners whose properties are generally attractive and well kept. Most of these owners are committed not only to remaining in Delmann Heights, but also to working to make the area, in all senses, a viable community. These residents with assistance from the Community Development Corporation are organizing themselves in groups structured to achieve this goal.
California Gardens, just a few blocks away, has a lower rate of abandonment and cannot be described so negatively as Delmann Heights. Of the 142 homes thirty-five are boarded up. While this is a very high rate of abandonment, one does not leave the area with the same sense of ominous disaster as in Delmann Heights. In June of this year the Community Development Corporation had rehabilitated and sold five of the vacant units in California Gardens and were working on fourteen others. A homeowners association was formed to deal with neighborhood problems, and a cautious sense of optimism prevails. The area
looks good with well painted and landscaped exteriors, children playing outdoors and a renewed liveliness.
In tracing and analyzing the evolution of the Delmann Heights Area certain facts became obvious. It has never possessed those qualities that are inherit and indicative of a cohesive community. Initially, circumstances did not warrant any community or neighborhood considerations. Evidence indicated that the primary, and perhaps, the only consideration for the development of Delmann Heights was to quickly produce a housing resource to meet a critical need.
Population shifts and changes produce a new or expanded need for goods and services. For example, a significant increase in the percentage of female heads of households usually increases the need for child care services. Additionally, if a neighborhood changes from a predominance of one ethnic group to another it also produces the need for goods and services which are reflective of their ethnic subcultures. Unresponsiveness to meeting these demands for specific types of goods and services often results in community apathy. Apathy can best be described as being frustrated by not getting the necessary assistance which could make life easier to cope with on a day-to-day basis; a feeling of alienation and isolation, and a constant struggle to maintain a concept of "self worth”.
In the past few years some fragmentary programs were implemented aimed at community restoration. In each instance, these efforts have produced minimal positive results.
This being the situation, how do intelligent planners justify putting more money and valuable energy into a community that has already had a significant amount of attention, both through planning efforts and public monies ? Quite simply, the public planning efforts have been inappropriate at best, and the monies have been spent on programs that were detrimental to the well-being of the community. This statement does not deny that competent and wellmeaning people have not preceded our involvement, but rather that their efforts were the result of blindly accepting inappropriate conceptual notions about the treatment of urban problems from other communities without adequately evaluating the impact of the usage of these programs in their own community.
The full intent of this study is to develop a schematic framework under which public action can be positively utilized to make a dysfunctional community a reasonable place to live. In short, we are committed to bringing Delmann Heights and California Gardens to the point that there is no question in any resident's mind that this is his home and that he is basically satisfied with it.
8. A background of the Delman Heights area is provided to some extent in my previous affidavit of July 18, 1975 and more completely on pages 5 and 6 of the Delmann Heights Study (filed herewith as Exhibit A).
9. As indicated in Exhibit A, there have been some unsuccessful fragmentary programs implemented in the past four years including rehabilitation of some HUD and Veterans Administration (“VÀ”) foreclosed properties and subsequent resale, aimed at the restoration of the community. In fact, many of the subject houses, together with many of the VA-foreclosed properties have gone through the cycle of sale, subsequent abandonment foreclosure and re-acquisition by HUD or VA under their mortgage insurance programs, rehabilitation and resale two, three and even four times.
10. As the figures in Exhibit A indicate the rates of abandonments and foreclosures rapidly accelerated between May 1971 and May 1974 in spite of the fragmentary efforts mentioned above. The reasons for the failure of these efforts and for the continuance of the abandonment, foreclosure, rehabilitation, resale cycle are primarily the following:
(a). The failure by HUD and VA to consider and implement a comprehensive revitalization plan which deals with the variety of factors such as those explored in the Delmann Heights Study (see Exhibit “A”). A comprehensive plan of development is necessary to assure prospective buyers that their investment will be safeguarded by an overall improvement in the neighborhood. Logically, no person will be willing to invest several hundred dollars as down payment in a house if the adjacent houses (s) is or is likely to remain vacant and boarded up. In connection with Delmann Heights this not only would require a comprehensive plan to develop the subject 147 homes but also a coordinated plan to develop the 133 homes currently owned by the VA which are also boarded up. Additionally, a plan of development would have a greater possibility of success if it also dealt with the kinds of physical and social considerations, such as transportation and street patterns, recreational facilities, and safety, which are dealt with in the Delmann Heights Study. A community with approximately a 50% vacancy rate which has experienced repeated, unsuccessful fragmentary improvement attempts cannot be reasonably expected to turn around with a program which does not address itself to the total picture including but not limited to the condition of the physical structures.
(b). The inadequate "cosmetic" rehabilitation work performed on houses and the resulting deterioration which is noticeable within several months to a year have also been responsible for the failure of past development efforts. T'nfortunately, I have all too often witnessed the spectacle of newly “rehabilitated” homes deteriorated within a short time as a result of cosmetic, inadequate and shoddy rehabilitation work. An example of such work is the inadequate preparation of exterior and interior surfaces for painting and the use of inappropriate or cheap paints with the resulting bubbling and blistering of the painted surfaces. Another example is the use of less expensive interior wood mouldings in exterior surfaces and the resulting deterioration of the moulding. The result of such practices is to present the buyer within several months with the alternative of investing several hundred or thousand dollars to rectify the improper work or of abandoning the property. Since the buyers of homes in the Delmann Heights area are invariably lower income families (homes sell for about $9,000 to $10,000 in a properly rehabilitated condition) who are on tight budgets, the result is likely to be the abandonment and subsequent boarding up of the house with the concomittant detrimental effects on the surrounding homes. I have personally seen examples of cosmetic rehabilitation of the type I have described in some of the thirty-two homes rehabilitated by Defendants Oma S. Brown, Fred Sykes and Ronald G. Mogen and in homes previously rehabilitated by HUD for subsequent resale.
(c). The inadequate screening and counseling of prospective buyers condoned or tolerated by HUD and VA have been instrumental in the deterioration of Delmann Heights. The purpose of counseling is to insure that a buyer fully realizes the present and future costs of home ownership. Future costs include maintenance and increasing property taxes resulting from the improvement of the subject house and of the neighborhood. In contrast, proper screening and credit checks are intended to assure that the buyer can adequately afford such costs. Unfortunately, I have seen examples of buyers whose credit ratings had ben falsified and others who bought and abandoned several houses in series, each time managing to qualify for HUD or VA mortgage insurance as a result of falsified credit or changes in identity and as a result of inadequate credit screening procedures. Unfortunately, the reality of a neighborhood is that if buyers are not adequately screened for credit worthiness and they subsequently abandon their property or are foreclosed upon, the neighborhood and the re. maining residents bear the consequences of decreased amenities, property values and increased raudalism.