Partnering to Improve Neighborhoods – Chula Vista, CA

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Project at a Glance

  • Issue Area Neighborhood improvement, Racial equity and healing
  • Engagement Approaches Door-to-door, Partnering with residents
Project Description

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Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, a grassroots organization, began knocking on doors in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods in Chula Vista, California. The residents identified their concerns, then they – with support of ACCE – brought their concerns to city council meetings. The mayor then asked city staff to work with the group.

The relationship between city officials and residents was sometimes rocky. It has evolved from sometimes in-your-face action, complete with media attention, to collegial conversations between city officials and residents. The city manager asked the deputy city manager to work with the group and organize the city’s response.

Guided by ACCE members, the deputy city manager went to the neighborhoods to see the concerns residents had. Residents pointed to shortcomings in parks, infrastructure and roads. The neighborhood residents, led by an ACCE member, also hosted a neighborhood cleanup. The city continued to meet regularly with residents to communicate how issues were being addressed.

Building a team of can-do employees, the deputy city manager – who had been the city’s finance director – was able to find solutions for some of their concerns. The city added lighting and playground equipment to neighborhood parks, fixed a sagging wall that might have fallen into residents’ yards and improved curbs and streets in long neglected areas.

The work done on the west side of Chula Vista offers an example of how residents and government officials can forge relationships that lead to solutions. How issues are resolved may not always please residents, but at least a dialogue persists.  That relationship also has inspired changes in how city government works on other challenges such as homelessness and privacy issues found in body cameras and drones. The city now seeks involvement and ideas from the community.

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