A once-blighted street corner in Chula Vista has been transformed into a colorful reflection of the community.
For years, the bus stop at the corner of Palomar Street and Orange Avenue sat next to an empty dirt lot. There were no sidewalks, and the large wall separating it from a mobile home park was a frequent target for gang-related graffiti.
"The community has always reached out to the City and said, 'Hey, you’ve gotta do something about this,'" said Chula Vista City Councilmember Mike Diaz.
The City listened and received funding through the Community Development Block Grant Program to create a park-like area on that corner, adding landscaping, a walkway, benches and 1,700 feet of sidewalks.
For the mural, the city turned to MAAC Community Charter School, a nearby alternative/continuation school that serves students ages 14 to 24.
"I’ve worked at the school in this area since 2001," said MAAC Director Tommy Ramirez, "So driving to work every day, I always told myself, we should do something about this issue. We should do something about this area."
When it came to designing the mural, the students reached out to the community, to get a range of ideas and perspectives. As a result, the community has thrown its support behind the project.
"Through social media, people have been supportive and telling us, we’re gonna protect that wall, we love that our ideas are there, we love what you’re doing there," Ramirez said.
Councilmember Diaz said a lot of people even honk their horns as they pass Palomar and Orange.
"People feel like there’s a little bit of ownership here now. There’s a little bit of pride in this area," Diaz said.
Diaz is hoping the City’s new Right of Way (ROW) program will help spread that pride to other areas of Chula Vista as well.
The 3-person ROW crew will respond to reports of blights throughout the city, prioritizing the major entryways. Residents can make requests through the "ACT Chula Vista" mobile app.
"Whether it’s graffiti, whether it’s weeds in the medians or debris that people leave out different places," Diaz said.
The Councilmember said boosting the city’s image will also help to boost its bottom line.
"One of the things I’m trying to do here is try to get good business into Chula Vista and if we make it look nice, if we can reduce the crime, I think that we can bring more business here."