Neighborhood picture scheduled for Santa Barbara Eastside award entry

Turn around for community could be honored

POSTED: 05:53 PM PDT May 17, 2013    UPDATED: 08:38 PM PDT May 18, 2013 
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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

The Santa Barbara Eastside, plagued by homeless and criminal activity in recent years, is in line for a national honor for a sweeping cleanup and public safety effort.

The community has been picked as a finalist in the "Neighborhood USA" contest. The award will be handed out May 23, in Minneapolis.

Organizer Sharon Byrne says as part of the entry into this competition a community photo will be taken tomorrow morning in the Cabrillo ballfield near the beach.

The site is significant because it once was a hot spot for criminal activity and problems linked to the homeless.

A nearby businessman Paul Griffin with the Blue Sands Motel says his guests used to be discouraged at the scene.

Now they use the park often, and since he has a "dog friendly" motel they walk their pets as part of their visit.  

Griffin credits the community effort to clean up the problem areas.

"I had no idea who significant a difference it would make," said Griffin. "It's cleaned up the entire area. Now we have kids playing softball, and people walking dogs.  Before it had almost no use."

John Dixon with Tri-County Produce said. "it doesn't come easy.  It takes a lot of people coming together. Time, resources, and coming to a lot of meetings and really caring about your neighborhood and your community."

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. there will be a community picture for the awards event.  Residents are invited to come out to the Cabrillo field for the photo on the corner of Cabrillo and Calle Puerto Vallarta.