Letters for December 19, 2002

‘Real World,’ Oak Park

Re “A Down Market” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, December 5):

Yet another installment about the plight of Oak Park.

As a resident of Oak Park for several years, what annoys me most is the fact that this area has been going through redevelopment for a long period of time. That market has always been an eyesore.

When I rented my first house on 37th and Y, I walked to the market for a quart of milk. The first things that caught my eye on the shelf were straws, scrubbing pads and baby food. Nothing in that store was worth the price you had to pay for it.

The market isn’t a member of the Business Association, and [its owners] could care less about the Drug Free Zone, or the problem wouldn’t persist. We can’t walk around with rose-colored sunglasses. It’s time to take them off and see the real world.

Guy Madison

Why not Oak Park redevelopment?

Re “A Down Market” by Chrisanne Beckner, (SN&R Cover, December 5):

Congratulations to Beckner on her accurate descriptions of the infamous intersection of 37th Street and 2nd Avenue. Although the root causes of the problems that plague this North Oak Park neighborhood are numerous and societal in nature, the perpetuation of the problem is clearly the result of the city’s failed use of resources in protecting citizens from the terrorist thugs that roam the streets around the Washington Market.

To those of us who are residents of Oak Park, it is no secret who the drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes are. As the article demonstrates, this criminal element is blatant and brazen in its activities. Citizens do their duty to report criminal and suspicious activity, but the police response is inadequate. Citizen complaints are ineffectually divvied out to various squads such as narcotics, vice etc. The police response demonstrates a lack of understanding that the drug problem, prostitution, murders and crime throughout the city are connected.

The Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency also contributes to the ongoing problem by its poor management of its housing resources. I was surprised to read that the Sherman Oaks apartments were for seniors, since the only people I see around the site are the much younger drug dealers and prostitutes.

Ultimately, when you can’t safely walk down the streets of any neighborhood in Sacramento, you wonder why the City Council doesn’t respond with the same intensity that it spends on Downtown development projects.

Jeffrey Greer

Less coffee, more enforcement

Re “A Down Market” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, December 5):

The streets are wide, the corners are not so inviting, and the drugs and hookers and such don’t help matters. I am new to North Oak Park, and, coming from the foothills east of Sacramento, these are very new surroundings for me.

I am very concerned about the level of law enforcement in the neighborhood, especially on 37th Street and 2nd Avenue. I have been to community meetings, such as “cops and coffee,” and, in my opinion, getting together and talking about what goes on does absolutely nothing to enforce the law and make the streets safer.

If the city of Sacramento can subsidize a “study” for the feasibility of a Downtown arena, they sure as hell can put more police on the streets in Oak Park. Not just any officers, either, but ones that can connect with the community.

In the first contact that I had with a police officer from Sacramento, I was told that I moved to the murder and crack capital of Sacramento and that I should move back where I came from. Not a very warm welcome.

Oak Park needs law enforcement that cares and realizes that not every person that crosses the wide expanse of 37th Street and 1st Avenue is a drug dealer or a crack head.

The police also need to enforce laws restricting intoxication and being under the influence in public. I see high crack heads wobbling down the street all the time, and the police just drive right by. Try being a crack head wobbling down 39th Street. You wouldn’t have a chance.

Joseph Gamble
via e-mail

Jesus would drive his followers

Re “Jesus—A Driving Force?” (SN&R Editorial, December 5):

It is really futile to speculate what an illiterate, itinerant, apocalyptic prophet who lived 2,000 years ago would have thought about SUVs. More likely, he’d probably wonder about the directions his followers haven taken.

James G. Updegraff III

Gray Davis in penthouse?

Re “A Tale of Two Mansions” by Jeff Kearns (SN&R News, December 5):

A governor’s mansion in Carmichael was a bad idea for Reagan and every governor since. Only County Supervisor Muriel Johnson got it right.

A few short years ago, I frequently listened to the Capitol Area Planning Committee ramble on, weighing mansion locations, the East End Project monstrosity, state development sites etc. for Sacramento’s central city.

Members were a hodgepodge of mostly suburban architectural, general services and real-estate staff and governor-appointed decision makers.

Supervisor Johnson repeatedly reminded staff about the mansion location’s need to retain identity with the capital city of Sacramento and be connected with state government. Johnson suggested numerous locations, including the then-vacant parcels facing Capitol Park.

Overcome with objections to that, she then urged staff to “think outside the box” by adding a penthouse residence atop one of the East End’s buildings, with a view, roof gardens, a governor’s conference and reception center. Male “expert” members objected again and, with rolled eyes, jokes, smiles and condescending tones, figuratively patted her pretty little head and told her politely how foolish her suggestions were.

She acquiesced in deference to their strong assertion that Downtown was unsuitable because it would have “no demand for new housing in the foreseeable future.” Those staffers needed glasses. Johnson’s vision was clear and correct.

Dale Kooyman

Jerry Brown wasn’t in a studio

Re “A Tale of Two Mansions” by Jeff Kearns (SN&R News, December 5):

Many years ago, some reporter referred to former Governor Jerry Brown’s Sacramento apartment as a “studio,” and reporters continue to describe it as such. Kearns’ article again uses the erroneous “studio” description.

Many prominent people have also rented at 1400 N Street, which is on the city’s list of historical buildings. Tenants have included former Assembly Speaker and Treasurer Jesse Unruh, who was there while I was a resident.

The apartment building, which is directly across the street from Capitol Park, has a basement, above which are five floors of 10 virtually identical apartments—two per floor. It was built in 1929, and the intention was to sell each unit. However, because times were tough, they were instead turned into rentals.

Each unit, which has approximately 1,500 square feet, includes a large entry hall, a large living room with a huge wood-burning fireplace and windows overlooking Capitol Park, a formal dining-room with a park view, a modernized kitchen with lots of cabinet space, a breakfast nook (also with a window overlooking the park), two bedrooms (each with a full bath) and seven closets. In addition to other amenities, each unit has a garage with an automatic door opener.

As you can see, Brown’s living quarters were a far cry from a studio apartment—although it is true that he slept on a mattress on the floor and that the rest of his unit was sparsely furnished. It should also be noted that the other apartment on his floor was not rented, for security purposes. He could make it available for special guests, although it was never used like the White House’s Lincoln Bedroom!

Bruce Samuel