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Amid Santa Ana's bustle, fanciful Floral Park

NEIGHBORLY ADVICE

Somewhere between the urban struggles of the big city and the grace and prosperity of the past sits Floral Park, a 600-home neighborhood along the northern tip of Santa Ana.

July 10, 2005|Tony Dodero | Special to The Times

Santa Ana, the center of Orange County government and 340,000 residents strong, is known more for its struggles with crime, blight and poverty than for its quaint housing. But Floral Park, along with its sibling neighborhoods of West Floral Park, Fisher Park and Morrison Park, defies that reputation with homes that include stark and stately 1920s-era mansions, smaller vintage Tudor-style abodes and sprawling ranch houses on beefy, oversize lots.

Drawing card

Floral Park is known for its tree-lined streets, strong neighborhood associations, home tours and outdoor concerts. Residents strive to keep up their homes and maintain the old-school charm of this throwback community.

In some cases, generations of families live on the same street, said Nichole Doughty. Doughty lives in the neighborhood with her husband, Steve, and their son, just a few blocks from her mother-in-law, Molly Doughty. All three adults are real estate agents, and Molly owns Santa Ana Realty, established in 1926.

"The biggest asset, in addition to the great homes, is the people," Nichole Doughty said. "There is such a strong sense of community here. Each neighborhood has its own voluntary neighborhood association, monthly meetings and social get-togethers."

On the market

The community is bounded by Memory Lane to the north, 17th Street to the south, Broadway on the east and Bristol Street on the west. A check of the Multiple Listing Service for the 92706 ZIP Code showed close to 50 homes for sale, with about half of those in the Floral Park area, Doughty said. Some homes are up to the million-dollar price range.

Insider's view

Jack Fisher Park, named after a decorated World War I veteran, is a central gathering spot for many residents of Floral Park. It is where outdoor concerts are held and where school-age children bounce around on the playground equipment. The neighborhood associations organize home and garden tours to raise money for charities, community parades and holiday concerts. The Mothers of Floral Park also organizes events for children.

"The thing I like is [that] it is so diverse. People are willing to accept other people," said Joel Miller, who moved to Floral Park nine years ago after going on a home tour and falling in love with the community. "Everyone looks out for the interests of each other."

Stock report

Fisher Park, West Floral Park and Morrison Park consist of ranch-style homes built from the 1950s to the 1970s, Doughty said. The older section of Floral Park has mostly vintage homes built from the 1920s to the 1950s. Homes range from about 1,200 to 4,000 square feet, with lots from 6,000 to 20,000 square feet.

Good news, bad news

Floral Park's charm proved to be award-winning in June, when it was named neighborhood of the year by Neighborhood USA, a national nonprofit group dedicated to building residential areas. But the community does have its drawbacks. Traffic is the biggest one, according to both Doughty and Miller, who noted that many motorists take shortcuts through the residential area to avoid bigger, more congested streets nearby such as Bristol Street and Broadway. "We do have a lot of cross traffic," Miller said.

Report card

Children from the Floral Park community attend Santiago Elementary, Willard Intermediate and Santa Ana High School in the Santa Ana Unified School District. On the 2004 Academic Performance Index, Santiago Elementary scored 741 out of 1,000. Willard had a score of 594; Santa Ana High, 629.

Historical values

Residential resales for the entire 92706 ZIP Code:

Year...Median Price

1990...$195,000

1995...$163,000

2000...$235,000

2004...$385,000

2005...$540,000*

*Year to date

Sources: DataQuick Information Systems; Nicole Doughty, Santa Ana Realty, www.santaanarealty.com; api.cde.ca.gov; Floral Park Neighborhood Assn., www.floral-park.com/index.htm; Southern California Multiple Listing Service.

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