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Creating a community

October 30, 2000

Claudia Peschiutta

SOUTH GLENDALE -- Margarita Ruiz will tell you La Crescenta is the

better, more tranquil area, that southern Glendale has seen only negative

changes since she first moved into the area in 1967.

But she lives in a cozy apartment on Chevy Chase Boulevard and has no

plans to move.

"I feel good here," the 69-year-old Cuban native says in Spanish.

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The incongruity comes as little surprise from a woman who shows off

the scar from her recent open heart surgery while keeping an open pack of

Pall Malls within reach.

Ruiz explains that everything she needs is near her apartment -- a

Cuban market, her doctor, a post office.

"Esta muy [handy]," she says.

Her best friend, Rosa Ynocencio, who lives a few blocks away, usually

drops by in the evenings, when the two enjoy watching "novellas," or soap

operas, over fruit shakes or hot chocolate.

A COMMUNITY OF CONTRASTS

Beyond the door of Ruiz's home lie more contrasts.

Near a strip of sidewalk marked by colorful graffiti, a storefront

boasts a certificate announcing participation in a "CLEAN Sweep" effort.

Down the block from an apartment building marred by fading paint and

water damage is a house with a carefully tended garden, blooming roses

filling its large, circular planters.

On streets where residents complain about gang activity, kids ride

their bikes without fear.

Perhaps the most noticeable of all the contrasts is that southern

Glendale -- which contains much of the land that made up the city when it

was incorporated in 1906 -- has come to be its most ignored area,

according to many of the people who live there.

"The city fathers never paid much attention to south Glendale," said

John Cianfrini, who has lived and done business in the area for more than

30 years.

"[Before the mid 1990s] there was a different group in City Hall. They

all lived in north Glendale," he said. "They took care of themselves."

A NEED FOR ATTENTION

As the city expanded and attracted increasing numbers of residents

over the years, many settled in southern Glendale, making the need for

attention greater.

From 1980 to 1990, U.S. Census figures show the city experienced a

surge in its population. The most dramatic growth came south of Broadway,

where the number of residents grew from 38,491 to 55,453.

Many of the new residents found homes in southern Glendale, where

several apartments were available to accommodate the influx.

Today, the area is recognized as the most densely populated district

of the city.

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