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It's 'Clean Up Your Room' Time for a City

Code enforcement officer Keith Gifford is heading down Beach Boulevard, trying to get properties to look their best.


It has been a week. Already Keith Gifford has jotted down 30 code violations--from trash heaped on property to improper landscaping to illegal signs.

And those are just the things he's found at the northernmost tip of Stanton's stretch of Beach Boulevard. In a few months, when he reaches the southern end at Garden Grove Boulevard, the senior city code enforcement officer expects to have found more--a lot more.

It's a measure of the city's effort to clean up the three-mile stretch of busy boulevard, which for many out-of-towners is the only glimpse they get of Stanton.

"Beach Boulevard is a very significant corridor. It's truly the window through which people see the city of Stanton," Stanton community development director Mark Lloyd said.

After 10 years of code enforcement work in Stanton, Gifford immediately spots what might elude others: Missing numbers on signs, dents, illegal fluorescent lighting in windows, forbidden banners, beat-up parking structures and ill-kept landscaping. All make their way onto his yellow legal pad.

Most problems aren't too complicated. Palm trees need trimming. Landscaped plots need weeding. Banners need permits.

But others require more attention. At a former motel now inhabited by a few small businesses, Gifford points to a rusted, dented sign for a restaurant no longer in operation. "It's here without a permit; it's going to have to go," he said.

The parking lot's asphalt is cracked and worn. Old, inoperable vehicles, refrigerators and other appliances sit on a patch of dirt. "That's code violation 9.16.002-property maintenance," he said matter-of-factly as he entered it on his list.

Once Gifford has completed his in-depth survey, property owners will receive letters advising them of the violations and their responsibility to fix them. Those who don't could face criminal charges, city officials said.

City officials are emboldened by their success in an area called Tina Pacific, a densely packed neighborhood in city's northeast corner.

Before a crackdown there, residents had to navigate through overgrown trees and shrubs on severely cracked sidewalks to reach the streets. Graffiti covered every garage door. Today every garage door has fresh paint, carports and alleys have new asphalt surfaces, and residents no longer trip over plants.

Beach Boulevard is in the city's sights now.

Stanton already had improved the street's appearance by landscaping the median dividers. The code enforcement effort is the next step in beautifying the highway that bisects the city, Lloyd said.

Nor does Lloyd plan to stop at Beach Boulevard.

"We have had a considerable amount of comments from the community to clean up the city effectively," he said. "That's the direction the city has taken to heart."

Judy Silber can be reached at (714) 966-5988.

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