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ANAHEIM : New Panel to Study Blight, Crime in City

September 17, 1993|TERRY SPENCER

Responding to recent complaints about deteriorating conditions in West Anaheim, Mayor Tom Daly ordered the city manager to come up with plans for a task force of residents, apartment owners and business leaders to develop solutions to the area's problems.

Daly said the committee, which would have 12 to 15 members, would deal with crime, blight, and problems in the business community. He told City Manager James D. Ruth to bring a finished blueprint for the task force to the council within a month for implementation. Its focus will be on the area west of Brookhurst Street.

Two years ago, a similar panel addressed the city's drug and gang problem. Some of its suggestions were implemented, such as hiring an administrator to coordinate the city's anti-gang efforts and expanding the Police Department's gang-suppression unit.

"There are some beautiful, established neighborhoods in West Anaheim, but there are some neighborhoods that have been neglected," Daly said. "We have to empower the people who live and work in the neighborhoods and give them the tools they need to improve their neighborhoods and give them direct access to the city and its resources."

In recent months, it has become common during the public comment portion of City Council meetings for someone to get up, give a West Anaheim address and begin an angry speech on the run-down condition of the area.

One man told the council he was moving his custom clothing shop to Tennessee because he was tired of fighting with the drunks who hung out in front of his store.

Others talked of drug dealing, prostitution and panhandling on or near their properties.

Daly's proposal has been well received.

"I sure like the idea," said Dave Coombs, who owns a bike shop in the area. He has been critical of the city's lack of community organizations. "When you get people together, they are going to come up with ideas to deal with the community's problems."

Councilman Bob D. Simpson said, "I endorse this wholeheartedly, provided that its goal is getting the community involved."

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