Celebrating a Turnaround in Huntington Beach’s Oak View Neighborhood

The numbers speak for themselves.

While crime rates are spiking countrywide, they are going the opposite direction in Huntington Beach’s historically underserved Oak View neighborhood. Violent crimes have dropped 41 percent since 2006 and property crimes have gone down by 49 percent.

While many deserve credit for the turnaround in this 99-percent Latino community, the lion’s share goes to the Oak View Renewal Partnership (OVRP), a nonprofit started in 2006 by local business leader Jack Shaw.

“Until now, we were just a story and something people talked about,” said Yesenia Velez Ochoa, OVRP’s executive director, at a celebration this week of the organization’s accomplishments.“But now we have the proof and the data to support the impact we have made through the past ten years.”

Among the more notable improvements have been police-resident relations. “The police got more involved with the residents and we got to know each other on a more personal level, leading to better relationships and communication,” Lt. Kent Ferrin, watch commander for the Huntington Beach Police Department.

The progress can also be seen in the neighborhood schools.

“We got parents involved,” said Robert Tapia, the community outreach specialist for Ocean View High School. “We found a way to have them be more involved in getting their kids to college while giving them an opportunity to gain new skills as well.”

The parents were invited to join in on computer literacy classes which teaches them to use email, Google translate and a slew of other resources that allow them to check on their kids’ education as well as allowing them to develop their own skills.

The Oak View parents have also become more knowledgable about the health issues within their community. Within the past decade, there has been a 28 percent reduction in childhood obesity as a result of a greater emphasis on exercise and nutrition.

“It has been great to come back to my community and help in such a positive way,” Jadira Lopez, Healthy Communities Manager at the OVRP and Oak View resident. “The zumba classes I started organizing are really successful and I now have women so involved that they teach their own exercise classes.”

One reality that the OVRP has not been able to change is the neighborhood’s minuscule homeownership rate — 97 percent of its residents are renters.

Vice President and community development officer at Wells Fargo and OVRP board member, Vivian Pham, said “We can’t just build new housing, that would take millions of dollars. So right now we do our best to keep the residents informed about tenant rights.”

There is also talk about making the community more environmentally friendly. With help from the University of California Irvine and the city of Huntington Beach, the Oak View community is working to become more sustainable.

“We have empowered the community and brought it together to build a better environment and it will be great to move forward and watch it remain positive and begins to stand on its own,” said resident Jadira Lopez.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Robert Tapia’s job title.

Vanessa Sandoval is a Santa Ana resident and student at UC Irvine. She can be reached at vanesss1@uci.edu.

  • gustavoarellano

    You mean the same Oak View Renewal that has never uttered a peep against Rainbow Disposal—the same Rainbow that has given donations over the years? Hmm…

    • Paul Lucas

      Has the weekly stopped covering oak view? havent seen any new articles about it for a while.

  • Jacki Livingston

    Crime rates are not spiking countrywide. You have made a broad, unsustainable, sweeping statement that is not supported by the facts, whether you look at FBI statistics or that of other agencies. That is Jouranalism 101, support your facts with evidence. Whenever you do that, especially in the beginning, you turn off the reader and hurt your credibility, and, frankly, I am surprised that a top journalist like Norberto let that in.

    • Chava Zarate

      Crimes including violent crime, murder, rape (both according to the revisted/legacy definition), robbery, aggravated assault, and motor vehicle theft have seen an increase in percent change according to the FBI 2015 January-June Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report (which covers crime in the United States—gasps* that means “countrywide.”) And maybe instead of trying to teach lessons in Journalism 101, you can learn how to spell it–>”Jouranalism 101,” nice. Surprised they let you and your broad, unsustainable, and sweeping comment in.

      Some reading for you:

      • Jacki Livingston

        Touchy, aren’t we? I am not the one writing articles and pretending to be a professional or expert. Those citations of sources belonged IN the article. And, if your panties are going to bunch up every time a reader criticizes you, you might want to seek a profession where you can do or say anything you please and are not subject to proving your “facts” when you throw them around, or might actually be criticized. I hear there are openings on Todd Spritzer’s staff. Oh, and one little piece of advice? Don’t use troll schill accounts to stomp your wittle feet and whine because someone called you out on your errors. Put on your big girl panties and act like a professional, because if my comments made you cry in your Cocoa Puffs and retaliate with troll accounts, you are nowhere near ready for a career in the field. You didn’t back up your facts with any citation of sources. Throwing a toddler hussy fit because a reader called you out for an amateur mistake makes you look both immature and infantile. So unless you are looking for a job with DumpTrump, on his press staff, you need to take critiques like a grown woman, Princess Poutsalot. Done now…

        • Paul Lucas

          whoa? who are you talking to?

          • Jacki Livingston

            That should be fairly obvious.

          • Paul Lucas

            the comment got deleted so I dont know

          • Jacki Livingston

            Why am I not surprised. They never could handle people holding people accountable.

  • David Zenger

    But will Rainbow enclose their waste operation? It’s a disgrace.