June 5, 2012 – Neighborhoods USA, a national nonprofit committed to developing and strengthening neighborhood organizations, named Long Beach’s California Heights Neighborhood Association (CHNA) the 2012 “Neighborhood of the Year” on May 25 at its annual conference held in Indianapolis. Neighborhood organizations from across the country submitted information on projects – either a community improvement project or a community building activity – completed in 2011 to be considered for the national competition. CHNA took first place in the “Physical Revitalization” category, and went on to be named the grand-prize winner.
CHNA’s project, the California Heights Home & Garden Tour, was recognized for demonstrating “both the intrinsic and financial values of maintaining the neighborhood’s historic character and unique sense of place.” Funds from the tour are to be used on community projects in the California Heights Historic District, which is bounded by Bixby Road to the north, Wardlow Road to the south, Cherry Avenue to the east and Atlantic Avenue to the west. Of the association’s home and garden tour profits, $10,000 will be spent on the CHNA signature vintage lamppost restoration project, which replaces lamppost tops with replicas of those that once adorned the lampposts in the historic neighborhood. Other garden tour profits will be used for other ongoing projects, such as volunteer-led, weekly litter and graffiti removal activities. While other local organizations supported by public funding presented at the Neighborhoods USA conference, CHNA stood out as a self-funded entity garnering donations and support from the community.
Association members paid the expenses for the trip to Indianapolis, with help from community donations that included two JetBlue airline tickets and $500 from Orozco’s Auto Repair. “We are very touched by the generosity of our community,” CHNA President John Royce said in a statement. “We remain a dues-free association and do not typically ask for general donations. We learned a long time ago that if we wanted to complete our community outreach and improvement project goals, we’d need to fund them on our own.” For more information on CHNA, visit www.calheights.org. Pictured above, from left, are: CHNA Boardmember Hugh Little; volunteer Mark Chambers; Royce; CHNA Boardmembers Stacey Morrison, Tim Price and Nancy Cruz, with daughter Gaby; and volunteer Kent Lockhart. (Photograph provided by CHNA)