|This Google Maps aerial shot shows the Breezewood Village, with Green Hills Shopping Center to the left. Dulles Elementary School can be seen on the bottom right. Imperial Highway is on top and is north. "It was a cesspool up and down the street"-former city manager Gary Sloan|
Check this story out in the print edition of this weekend's La Mirada Lamplighter!
La Mirada~The State of California may have did away with city
redevelopment agencies (RDA’s), but a great example of how the system
was designed to work, is represented well in La Mirada.
The Breezewood Village Residential Community-an RDA project- hosted their 10th Anniversary celebration last Thursday night. It was attended by Breezewood residents and staff, along with numerous representatives from city hall including city council members Steve DeRuse and Steve Jones.
California's approximately 400 municipal RDA’s were eliminated as part of a cost-saving measure by the state last year. The repercussions and details of this action, and the affect it will have on cities, is still currently being worked out in court.
In 1999, the city, along with its RDA, used its eminent domain power to tear down the 30-unit apartment building on the site that also included five duplexes.
The area is bordered by Imperial Highway to the north, Breezewood Drive to south and east, and the Green Hills shopping center to the west.
At the time, the dwellings suffered from the influx of drugs, prostitution, high crime, and child neglect among other things, and really was an undesirable and unsafe area of La Mirada-all within 500 feet of Dulles Elementary school.
One of the worst units on the property was owned by former Cerritos city council member Sherman Kapee.
After the property was condemned, the LA County Fire Department used it for training, and literally burnt it down.
Former La Mirada City Manager Gary Sloan who held the position from 1980-2001, recently described the area back then as not good, “It was a cesspool up and down the street. A guy selling drugs, some prostitution, and two children had to be taken from their family by social services because they were not being cared for. It was really a bad situation.”
Critics of RDA’s like blogger Scott Shackford say that California’s redevelopment agency program was filled with corruption.
However Sloan says, “That project (Breezewood) really is what redevelopment was for. To get rid of blight, take it down, and it ends up being an asset to the community instead of a negative.”
Jones, who was just beginning his first term on city council back then said, “It was a good use of eminent domain. We had such a crying need for senior housing, and it was just a better use of the property. We took a crummy area and turn it into a garden spot.”
|Congratulations! left to right, Bonni Peery, Asst. Manager-Valerie Martinez, Property Manager-Amy Hyde, Asst. Manager-George Silva, former manager-Sue Silva and area supervisor Steve Frandsen.|
Breezwood Village opened in 2002 and is located at 16000 E. Grayville Drive in La Mirada and is available to persons age 62 over. It is not assisted living and residents live independently.
After the anniversary ceremony, I took the opportunity to give myself a quick self-guided tour of the grounds of the 122-unit property. It has meandering sidewalks and is filled with lush landscaping and multi-color foliage, but mostly green. At times I felt like I was in a tropical rain forest.
Breezewood units come with a refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, garbage disposal, central air and heating. Each unit also has a balcony or patio.
Amenities include a swimming pool and spa, putting green, community room, computer room, and exercise equipment.
The village has been so popular that there currently is a waiting list, “Currently, there is over a one year wait for a single-bedroom and over five years for a two-bedroom, said Manager Amy Hyde, “We have birthday parties once a month, little socials every week and other activities that bring the residents together. We are very busy here. It’s a fun place to live.”
There are over 60 original charter members from 10 years ago.
Breezewood is also a great partner with the La Mirada community by regularly hosting the Neighborhood Watch meetings for the area.
They also host the annual La Mirada 5K run/walk. The event is used as a way to raise funds for the La Mirada Community Foundation, which then disperses the funds within La Mirada. This year’s 5K will take place September 29th at Regional Park.
Glen Chandler, a retired teacher from Whittier Christian High School, has lived at Breezewood for three years. He spends his time socializing, walking the neighborhood, and playing pool with the fellows, “At this stage of my life right now, this is the best place I have ever lived.”
For more information about Breezewood Village Residential Community or this year’s 5K run/walk you may call (562) 943-9555 or visit their website at www.breezewoodvillage.com.