Joys N the Hood

By James Abraham

Posted May 13, 2010 in News

When “George” was killed on his front porch earlier this year things really began to change for an Upland neighborhood.

Some might have appeared not to care about the death—“George” might have been suffering from mental issues or schizophrenia. But others were sympathetic.

Julie Boucher, decided to do something in the wake of this proverbial senseless killing.

“The neighborhood seemed very divided about this man—some seeing him as harmless while others saw him as a nuisance,” Boucher tells the Weekly.

Later, when searching online for info about the murder (“His murder happened right on his front porch around midnight where he was repeatedly shot—my neighbor referred to it as an execution.”) Boucher encountered some pretty harsh posts on the one-sentence Topix entry.

“It was infuriating to read some of these comments because they were so completely offensive in every imaginable way there is to be,” Boucher says. “. . . The anger about the comments combined with wanting to have my children grow up in a safe area prompted me to go out and post fliers and see what would happen.”

With those makeshift fliers—which alerted local residents about “George’s” murder and the need to come together—the Pleasant View Neighborhood Outreach group was born. Currently, it’s become an active organization with a website/blog that works towards tackling crime and a whole host of other quality-of-life issues.

Call it a forum to change hearts and minds.

The group’s first meeting in February drew eight residents. The following meeting in March drew 26 people, 18 showed up for the next one. And it keeps snowballing with a laundry list of concerns such as the need for crosswalks, maintaining the neighborhood’s historic integrity, a graffiti hotline and code enforcement.

“I think there’s a real need for community involvement,” Boucher says.

“Just because you don’t get along with the person living right next door to you—doesn’t mean you won’t hit it off with the person three doors down.”

Currently, six residents are actively involved in the Pleasant View group, Boucher says. The neighborhood is the city’s largest historic district, comprised of approximately 300-350 homes just east of downtown Upland. A bike trail cuts across the neighborhood.

Even the most cursory glance at the Pleasant View website is a testimony to the level of involvement group members are putting in. There’s a city events calendar, links to Yelp’s reviews of local businesses, water conservation info—plus phone numbers for local agencies or departments such as animal services, trash service and public works. You’d think this was City Hall’s website.

And Pleasant View isn’t shy about making its concerns known to the Upland Powers That Be.

“We also contacted city officials about creating a crosswalk for the bike trail on Campus [Avenue], needing historic curb repairs, extra lighting on dark streets, beautification projects, crime prevention—we are really trying to cover everything in this group so that it appeals to everyone in the neighborhood,” Boucher says.

Foreclosed homes? Pleasant View’s all over that.

The crappy economy certainly doesn’t make their efforts any easier.

“The city says it has no funding for anything,” Boucher says. “Many of us in the neighborhood have felt the effect and people are losing their homes.”

Members can join the group for free. No fees. Donating supplies and time are all that is asked.

“People have the time now to get involved and I think you can accomplish more and get more from that than simply paying a fee,” she says. “Ultimately, for me, it is about getting to know others who live in the same area.”

Boucher is hopeful that word of what Pleasant View is trying to do will strike a chord with others battling age-old problems.

Pleasant View can “show other neighborhoods going through tough times that things can improve if people agree to work collectively to make it so.”

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