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CENSUS 2000 | Snapshots

Santa Paula

March 31, 2001|DARYL KELLEY | Times Staff Writer

The 1990s brought a more diverse population to Ventura County. Due largely to an influx of Latinos in every local city, and a boom in upscale housing in the east county, the number of Ventura County residents rose to 753,000--up 84,000 in 10 years. The people pictured below represent the region's increasing diversity.

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Betty Hudson, 66, has watched her hometown change dramatically, first with apprehension and then with outrage. She arrived in this bucolic farm town of Midwestern transplants in 1947; it was still mostly white just 25 years ago. Now it's two-thirds Latino. And Hudson said she feels like a stranger.

"It's getting to be a very dirty town," she said as she walked her dog, Skeeter, beneath huge pepper trees, before century-old houses on stately Santa Paula Street. "Most everybody I know would like to get out of here. I don't like that graffiti writing on everything all over town."

Her son was attacked by a man for his cellular phone, she said. Her sister's truck was stolen from beside her mobile home a month ago. A frail, elderly friend was attacked for her purse and beaten, even though she quickly gave up the purse.

So there aren't too many streets in Santa Paula, Hudson said, that she'd walk anymore.

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