In recognition of their anti-gang efforts in Canyon Country, the city of Santa Clarita received a 2013 Helen Putnam Award for “Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics and Community Involvement” from the League of California Cities.
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This is Santa Clarita’s eighth year receiving the award.
Santa Clarita and other award winners were honored on Wednesday, Sept. 18, during the opening session of the League’s annual Conference and Expo.
In May 2009, the city began addressing gang violence in the Granada Villa Mobile Home Park near the intersection of Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway in Canyon Country.
The park is home to more than 550 residents, and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station confirmed gang members lived in the park and were fighting with rival gangs from across town.
In the summer of 2008, 36 percent of the gang incidents in Santa Clarita occurred in and around this neighborhood and graffiti was also a rising problem in the area, according a League press release.
In response, city staff held a community meeting at Granada Villa. Residents described graffiti and gang members loitering and fighting in the grassy area in the park, limiting families from enjoying it and intimidating local youth, the press release said.
There is limited space in the mobile home park. A small multi-purpose room is the only on-site facility residents can use for meetings and classes. The nearest public park is more than 1.5 miles away.
At the time, the city was in the midst of the economic recession. There was no available funding to support a community center, build a park or add after-school programs.
But residents, city officials and the city’s Anti-Gang Task Force engaged in outreach efforts and programs.
Santa Clarita’s application for the award describes the positive efforts that made a difference. A Granada Villa Neighborhood Committee was created. Local nonprofits and volunteers conducted English, health, domestic violence, fire safety and drug awareness classes.
Tutoring services, job skills programs for local gang members and regular patrols by the city’s Graffiti Task Force also helped improve quality of life in the neighborhood, according to the application.
Through all the programs, youth and families learned new skills, connected with the city, law enforcement, and other agencies and received support, the League press release said.
About the Helen Putnam Award
Established in 1982, the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence recognizes outstanding cities that deliver quality service in the most effective manner possible. Particular attention and credit is given to applications specifically advancing the League’s strategic priorities, which are determined each year by the board of directors.
The award is given annually in 12 categories:
- CCS Partnership Intergovernmental Collaboration
- Community Services and Economic Development
- Economic Development through the Arts
- Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics, and Community Involvement
- Health and Wellness Programs
- Housing Programs and Innovations
- Internal Administration
- Planning and Environmental Quality
- Public Safety
- Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation
- The Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government
- The League Partners Award for Excellence in City-Business Relations
Of 149 submissions, 13 were recognized for their outstanding programs.
Established in 1898, the League of California Cities is a nonprofit statewide association that advocates for cities with the state and federal governments and provides education and training services to elected and appointed city officials.
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Source: Santa Clarita News