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No money to revitalize Olivehurst
Set to be adopted by Yuba County supervisors next month, the plan has three main components:
• Aiding in zoning changes to make Olivehurst Avenue a hub for small businesses;
• Redoing the street to make it more pedestrian and bike friendly;
• Encouraging building owners to make eye-pleasing facade improvements.
A plan to revamp the heart of Olivehurst is complete and nearly ready for adoption. Talk to business owners and residents in the Yuba County town, and they're ready for the changes it might bring.
But as of yet, there is no money to put the Olivehurst revitalization plan into effect after two years, several community meetings and a $191,000 Caltrans grant that led to its creation.
Still, Yuba County Supervisor Mary Jane Griego, who represents Olivehurst, said there is reason to be optimistic.
"The thing is, this gives us direction in looking for those public and private sources to put it into action," Griego said, adding the county has had past success in bringing in outside sources of money for levee upgrades and expanding recreational options.
County planning director Wendy Hartman said all three of those parts reflected what Olivehurst's residents said they wanted in community meetings going back to summer 2011. "It's identifying more clearly what the community feels is the downtown core," she said, referring to a zone along Olivehurst Avenue from where it meets Highway 70 to about Eighth Avenue, as well as a portion east and west of the street on Seventh Avenue.
Right now, the county's zoning ordinance would allow someone to put a single-family home next to businesses, giving both current and future business owners potential problems, Hartman said.
And the lack of broad sidewalks and bike lanes on Olivehurst Avenue makes it difficult for many locals, who for various reasons don't drive, county officials said.
But Griego said the plan could come alongside other positive signs. She has heard of increased interest in new businesses in Olivehurst's core, and residents will see similar sidewalk improvements next year to nearby Powerline Road.
On Olivehurst Avenue itself, those with a front-door perspective on the street said they'll be waiting, but they're hopeful.
"It's going to be step by step," said Juan Celedon, co-owner of Video Express, a video store also providing services such as money orders and copying. "But it's been changing. There's more stores, and people like it."
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.
Residents have waited 'long enough'
In Olivehurst, revitalization isn't a new topic. And residents and business owners said they'll believe it when they see it.
If it does, though, many of them will be big supporters.
"We've been waiting long enough," said resident Wayne Ferguson, 62, as he sipped a cup of coffee Thursday at Duke's Diner, where artist renderings of a revitalized Olivehurst hang on the walls.
"If it looks more presentable, maybe businesses come in, plant trees and shrubs," he said.
But based on the past — in the last two decades, there have been at least two previous efforts at revitalization — he said he has doubtful. "The money always gets spent on something else," Ferguson said.
So far, there isn't money to spend on this effort. When originally envisioned under a Caltrans planning grant, the plan would partially tap into redevelopment money to make improvements. But as part of the state budget in 2011-12, redevelopment agencies got the ax.
For now, county officials said finalizing the plan will give them a leg up on approaching public and private agencies for grants to put it into action.
Jorge Campos, who opened the Olivehurst Avenue Barber Shop about a year ago, said he is a booster, noting in particular a lack of sidewalks in front of his storefront.
"A sidewalk would be a hundred times better," he said. "I'm totally for it."
Such sentiments are common, even in a community where some would say tough times have been the rule.
Though he would also like to see fewer motorcycle parks along the Yuba River, Carl Studhalter of Olivehurst said improvements in his town would be welcome.
"I think they should improve it," said Studhalter, who has lived there since 1971. "Get rid of some of these old houses and stuff."
— Ben van der Meer