Our Highlands Guy says “Your baby is ugly”

It’s a bit over a one mile walk from Rossmoor Highlands, right through Los Alamitos “downtown,” & it got our Thursday Columnist thinking.

(Rossmoor Highlands, 6/12/2014)  by Highlands Guy:  

Yes, yes, I know that’s a weird title.

But it did get your attention. It came to mind this past Saturday, while walking up to Norm’s Automotive to pick up our car.

I had more relevant ideas in mind, but there were these nagging “little” things that just wouldn’t leave me alone. So instead of a  highly researched piece on the great political issues of the day (that our buddy JM does so well) my focus is at the other end of the spectrum, and maybe closer to your day to day goings-on in Los Al.

Right off the bat, the lawn (or should I say where the lawn used to be) in front of the rental house nearby is mostly  dirt. Can I presume the absentee owner should be held accountable?

On my way out to the main street, there is an open space where a tree has gone missing from the center divider for more than 5 years. The bricks at one end have been “caved-in” for 7 years, and there is a large area that should be grass, but is now dirt.

Rossmoor’s wall, on the west side of Los Al Blvd.

Heading up Los Alamitos Blvd one cannot ignore the difference between the look on the east and west sides of the street. The east side loses this one. I don’t think we need to go into the differences in the walls. Heading up to church row, either some trees are missing, or the original plantings were done haphazardly.

And now I’m seeing the center divider that is void of not only trees, but of anything green. The parkway up to Orangewood is treeless, but the grass is nicer. I don’t get it. Who drove this bus?

As we get north of Orangewood,  we seem to be missing a tree and the look of the wall is still a downer. Now we are past the churches and the grass goes back to its “just OK” quality.

Just past Harrisburg, for some unknown reason, the residential wall is now higher than the previous ¾ mile (and out of code). How come?

Up next is the Von’s Center. Once again, the sidewalk fronting our major thoroughfare is almost without any city trees all the way up to Farquhar.  Add to this the Center’s perimeter two feet that is full of weeds, trash, for profit and old political signs.

I hate to say it, but so far, Wendy’s and Jack in the box, are the clear design and upkeep winners.

Yet another long block (up to Howard) of a non-descript mini-mall, two haphazardly placed trees, and a couple of unkempt, low hedges. Nothing there of which to be proud to call Los Alamitos home.

Next up is the dirt area in front of the computer place that has hosted an “office for lease” sign for the last five years. What’s up with that? We now come upon the “twin towers” strip mall (with my favorite donut shop, Nevin’s) that looks so out of place that I find it hard to understand how the design was OK’d. Who can we thank for that one?

I cross Howard, and start the walk along our next treeless block. The dive bar on the corner seems pretty plain and unassuming, until you look closely. The walkway up to the front door looks like it hasn’t seen a good cleaning in years. But the pièce de résistance are the smokers’ chairs outside. Broken, dirty, and stained. I don’t like it, but more importantly, how does this take place in a city paying some of its department heads over $100,000.00 a year, making plans to spend over $100,000.00 to do outreach and studies, and still pretend we are some kind of neat little town?  It just does not compute.

OK, to keep you from getting bored, I’ll only take you with me up to Katella. We’re almost there. Hate to sound repetitive, but up the block to Green and thence to Katella, nary a tree.

Imperial Jewlelers, one of the few “bright spots” H.G. found on his walk up Los Al Blvd.

The only bright spot is the well-kept greenery in front of the jewelry store. And up to the main street we get an open parking lot and old building that needs a whole bunch of work (pretending to be a museum), and a bank built out to the sidewalk, with a strange railing that I’ve not seen in any downtown that I’ve ever traveled. How come?

Yes, I know these are not big deals in the big picture of the city. But we have to get these kind of things right before we even think about the pie in the sky General Plan ideas.

And, this brings up the questions about how these things happen. Where’s the enforcement? Does it require direction from the city council? Does it require an active citizenry to make noise down at city hall?

Oh yes, the title.  It’s really bad form to tell a parent that their baby is ugly, and will probably not end well.

And in this case there are probably folks in the city who do not want to hear this stuff, but it is noted only with the intent of improvement, not derision or blame. Well, maybe a little.

As someone once said, “Your assignment, should you choose to accept it”… is to take a little walk from your house to a main street. What did you see, up close? Still on my way to Norm’s in Old Town West, and a future submission will look at things up close north of Katella.

“Men who wish to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details”

- Heraclitus (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) Pre-socratic Greek philosopher and writer. Penned, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”.

…And that’s just the way I see it.

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2 Responses to Our Highlands Guy says “Your baby is ugly”

  1. JM Ivler says:

    let’s talk walls… Since Ivler’s Folly (as some called the wall on Katella) was built there have been those that talk of the two walls on Los Al Blvd. The wall to the west, nice, pristine and enhancing the local properties, and the wall on the east, a ragtag of different looks that make one wonder what kind of homes must be behind it.

    The west wall is owned and maintained by the RHA. The East wall was built by the developer on each individual piece of property and each section of wall actually belongs to the property owner on who’s land it sits. Thus, each homeowner with a wall section is responsible for their wall section. It’s on their property.

    Back after the Katella wall was erected there was an ad-hoc committee created by the City Council to look at the walls in the city. Because of my recent experience with the Katella Wall I was invited to be on the committee. That was when we found out that the walls on Los Al were the property of the individuals on whose land that they sat. We also found out the the walls were not built to current code and weren’t earthquake safe, all needing to be either rebuilt or retrofit. But until the walls fall down there isn’t anything the city can do as they were built to the original code and sit on private property.

    Now, we discussed a bunch of options. But all were far to expensive, or required 100% participation from the community that would benefit from the enhancement of the wall. In other words, it just wasn’t in the cards that this would happen (one “no” vote would kill it, it required consensus). So the ad-hoc dissolved when it became clear that there were no viable options. A lot of really good and caring people spent a great deal of time looking into the “problem” and there really was no cost effective solution. And with today’s budget woes, there is even less opportunity for a viable solution.

    So, when it comes to the eastern wall, the answers are just plain unpleasant in that there really is no viable answer to what has become an eyesore compared to the wall across the street.

    No, I don’t have any really good ideas on how to solve the problem, now after years, because there is no real way to resolve the issue that is financially viable.

  2. Los al resident says:

    I agree HG, agree, agree, agree.
    Now what?

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