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Latest News in Orange Cove, CA
Crystal Cove: When Coastal Housing in Orange County Was Affordable
"A People’s Guide to Orange County" is an alternative tour guide that documents sites of oppression, resistance, struggle and transformation in Orange County, California. The following series of stories explore how land rights shaped Orange County.Humble housing began here in the 1920s, when some employees of Irvine Ranch and Bell Telephone who were working ne...
"A People’s Guide to Orange County" is an alternative tour guide that documents sites of oppression, resistance, struggle and transformation in Orange County, California. The following series of stories explore how land rights shaped Orange County.
Humble housing began here in the 1920s, when some employees of Irvine Ranch and Bell Telephone who were working nearby chose to settle in rustic cottages they built by hand. Beach vacationers arrived, especially after the Coast Highway was constructed in 1928, settling alongside artists, spearfishers, and, during Prohibition, rumrunners.
In 1932, on July 4th weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported that a "tent city" stretched five miles from Huntington Beach to Newport Beach, especially dense at Crystal Cove, where "campers filled the grounds to the water’s edge." Cottage 34, now called The Cultural Center, was a schoolhouse and community center set up by Japanese American farmworkers.
In 1962, the Irvine Company outlawed camping. The secluded cabins stayed within families for generations, on land rented from the Irvine Company, who forbade extensive cottage updates, so it remained a quaint and affordable beach village, in a region where housing costs along the coast eventually skyrocketed.
In 1957, there were not many stores near these cottages, only a mobile home park and a particularly dangerous stretch of Coast Highway with up to a dozen fatalities each year. The Irvine Company considered turning this spot into a luxury resort or a sewage disposal site. Eventually, in 1979, the Irvine Company sold the land to the state to create a park that would buffer other developments further from this steep canyon, inland where construction access and infrastructure was more accessible. The state paid $32.6 million, the most expensive park purchase in California up to that time.
Explore some of the spaces in Orange County shaped by land rights. Click on the starred map points to read more in-depth stories.
As the state began the eviction process for residents of the 294 mobile homes at Morro Beach and 46 cottages at Crystal Cove, resident Mary Jane Wood told the Los Angeles Times: "We've been here a long time. And this is what you’d call the low-cost housing everyone is hollering for." Rent in 1978 for a mobile home was $250 a month.
Cottage residents managed to get their village of "vernacular beach architecture" listed on the National Register of Historic Places and postponed their eviction for a remarkable 22 years, until 2001, while the media began to call them "squatters." Residents of El Morro Village mobile home park fought eviction even longer, until 2005, when their homes were replaced by state park campsites. By then, rents had increased to between $470 and $1,100 a month. Kelly Heflin asked the New York Times, "What's so bad about there being one affordable place to live in Laguna Beach?"
In 1999, Laura Davick — whose family had camped here since 1937 and lived in a cottage since 1961 — spearheaded the nonprofit Crystal Cove Conservancy, which now works in partnership with the state park to rent out these beach cottages. The conservancy charges more per night than many residents had paid per month and uses those funds for outdoor education and conservation. Meanwhile, the Irvine Co. developed the land above Crystal Cove into the community of Newport Coast, a collection of multimillion-dollar houses protected from the public by multiple gates. Along the coast, struggles continue between capitalist development and activists working to keep the coast publicly accessible, even if not affordable for the masses.
Here’s Why Some Rural Residents Prefer Clovis Facilities for Health Care
Growing up in Orange Cove, when my family needed to see a doctor or a specialist, the hardest hurdle was always finding a ride.OpinionMy mother, who immigrated from Mexico, never learned how to drive and, after more than 20 years of living in the U.S., her knowledge of English is limited to a few words.When I was younger, my father was the sole provider for our family. He often worked long days picking fruit, driving from one vineyard or orchard to the next as the season changed.Most of the time, ...
Growing up in Orange Cove, when my family needed to see a doctor or a specialist, the hardest hurdle was always finding a ride.
My mother, who immigrated from Mexico, never learned how to drive and, after more than 20 years of living in the U.S., her knowledge of English is limited to a few words.
When I was younger, my father was the sole provider for our family. He often worked long days picking fruit, driving from one vineyard or orchard to the next as the season changed.
Most of the time, he could not afford to take a day off work to drive me, my brother, or my mother to the doctor. Thus, my mother was often left with the task of finding a ride — it was never easy.
During my younger years, my mother would often rely on the kindness of neighbors for a ride if one of our family was ill.
The local community clinic was only a few minutes away and, for the most part, a friend or neighbor would be more than happy to give us a lift. And, there was also the local transit bus.
However, getting medical care beyond the town limits was a huge challenge.
Some people would be willing to give us a ride to Reedley or Dinuba, but downtown Fresno? Forget it.
Some would say they didn’t feel comfortable driving so far. Others told us their car wasn’t reliable enough to make the long drive. Some had no idea how to navigate the city of Fresno, (this was the ’90s before GPS and internet in our phones), and others said the trip would take too much time out of their day.
When I turned 6 years old, my mother began having troubling health issues beyond the scope of our local doctor.
She needed more extensive tests, which required frequent trips to Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno.
I would get out of school earlier than my brother did, and because my father would get out late from work, I had no one to pick me up. So, my mother dragged me along with her.
For the next year or two, I would miss at least one day of school a month for the trek to Fresno with my mom.
In those days, — and still the case today —Fresno provides one daily bus route to Fresno from Orange Cove (Monday through Friday) and it’s how Mom and I reached her doctor appointments.
We would get up before dawn, my mother would pack our lunches, and we would be off to wait at the only bus stop in town at 6 a.m.
We’d make it to the courthouse drop-off around 8 a.m.
From there, we would walk to CRMC with my mother reminding me every few blocks to take note of the street signs because she wasn’t sure she would be able to remember the way back to the bus stop.
It was a whole new world for her and me, full of one-way streets we didn’t understand. We sure weren’t in Orange Cove anymore.
My mother’s appointments lasted about an hour give or take, and the rest of the day was spent hanging around the bus stop until the bus arrived to pick us up sometime at about 6:30 p.m.
As I got older, my mother thankfully recovered from her health issues, and my father was able to get a better job that provided paid sick leave and personal time off. Taking Mom to doctor appointments became less difficult.
Nevertheless, my father dreads any trip that involves downtown Fresno.
Here’s the thing: Driving into downtown is daunting for many people, especially for those who have lived in small country towns their whole life.
My father, who taught me how to drive, finds any way he can to get out of driving downtown. I remind Dad that using the GPS on his phone will take him to where he needs to go. But he doesn’t think it’s reliable, and it confuses him more than it helps him.
He has gotten out of jury duty by stating that he only speaks Spanish even though he knows perfect English. The prospect of jury service frightens him because he gets confused by downtown’s parking garages and the one-way streets. And, he’s not the only one.
A bench under the shade in front of Fresno County’s downtown courthouse where families wait for the evening bus ride back home. (GV Wire/Liz Juarez)
Other immigrants are like my father. Many who migrated to the U.S. from Mexico, El Salvador, or Guatemala have no idea of what downtown is because they grew up in rural small towns.
A few years ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and spent a whole year receiving chemo treatments at Clovis Community Medical Center.
My aunt and uncle, who drive just fine on country roads, came to his rescue, as did Dad. And it didn’t take long for them to memorize the route to the Clovis hospital.
Unfortunately, after my grandfather finished his chemo treatments, he suffered a brain aneurysm and was transported to CRMC.
It then became my responsibility to check in with his doctors during the week and pick him up from the hospital because no one else felt safe driving downtown.
I would sometimes have to miss class or work to drive my grandfather to his check-up appointments.
My story isn’t unique. Many first-generation Mexican-Americans like myself who grow up in rural areas often find themselves in these situations.
When I graduated high school, I decided to forego moving out of state for college, because I knew how much my parents and grandparents relied on me for help.
Leaving them would have felt like I was abandoning them.
The fact is, rural areas continue to be overlooked and it can often take a village to get a mom, grandma, or grandpa to the doctor without help from someone else.
I share all this to bring awareness to the public transportation struggles, language barriers, and lack of educational opportunities in rural Valley towns like mine.
Funds going to one hospital instead of another is not about Clovis versus Fresno. It’s about accommodating those in rural forgotten areas. They need medical care as much as those living in or near downtown Fresno.
Poor people don’t just live in downtown Fresno. They live throughout the Central Valley and, more often than not, they need just as much or more assistance than someone in Fresno.
One could argue that Clovis and downtown Fresno may only have a 10-minute difference for those coming from Fresno County’s eastern rural areas. However, one offers an easier route to medical care, and that can make a life-saving difference for someone who struggles to drive on a major highway or understand the GPS navigation on their phone.
Berkeley’s new Latinx Student Resource Center creates family away from home
When Jade Jaimes-Chavez moved to UC Berkeley in August, she was homesick.As a first-generation undergraduate Latinx student, and the oldest of three sisters, she grew up taking care of her siblings with a close-knit family in Orange Cove, a predominately Chicanx/Latinx agricultural community in Central California. At Berkeley, she wasn’t sure she belonged, and she missed the support of her family .Her mother, a Mexican immigrant who worked the fields and packing houses as a farmworker, knew that Berkeley was a vast and ex...
When Jade Jaimes-Chavez moved to UC Berkeley in August, she was homesick.
As a first-generation undergraduate Latinx student, and the oldest of three sisters, she grew up taking care of her siblings with a close-knit family in Orange Cove, a predominately Chicanx/Latinx agricultural community in Central California. At Berkeley, she wasn’t sure she belonged, and she missed the support of her family .
Her mother, a Mexican immigrant who worked the fields and packing houses as a farmworker, knew that Berkeley was a vast and expensive university that was very different from Orange Cove. And her daughter would be the first in their family to go off to college, so she was worried too.
That changed when Jaimes-Chavez found UC Berkeley’s Latinx Student Resource Center (LSRC). The space, which also serves as a new home for the Chicanx/Latinx Student Development Office (CLSD), opened at the beginning of the semester and is the first physical community space dedicated for Chicanx/Latinx students on Berkeley’s campus.
Director Lupe Gallegos-Diaz and Assistant Director Gladys Perez offered Jaimes-Chavez and her family resources and support — a “community away from home.”
“They went over a map of the campus and all of the different services Berkeley provides. It was really reassuring and helped the transition for me, and my mom,” said Jaimes-Chavez, who now serves as a communications intern for the center. “It has been great to meet different kinds of people that I’ve never interacted with before. It’s quickly starting to feel like my community away from home.”
That community and sense of family is what Gallegos-Diaz, the LSRC director, said she hopes the center will foster moving forward. Berkeley alumni, staff, faculty and students showed that spirit on Sept. 28, by coming out to celebrate their grand opening.
“I am feeling full of love and energy,” said Gallegos-Diaz. “This center is a culmination of the history of the movement, and our story of love, all coming together from the many different generations that we’ve had here. And we’re here to celebrate that we now have a space where people can come to feel loved, respected and accepted.”
Located in suite 2 of Berkeley’s Hearst Gymnasium, the over 1,700 square-foot space, also called the Latinx Community Center, will serve not only as a social hub for Berkeley’s Latinx community, but an all-purpose space for student academic support and programing — including counseling, support services, professional networking, and student led classes.
The center will be a home base for the 60 different CLSD interns that Perez will oversee throughout the school year. As LSRC assistant director, Perez said she hopes the center will also become a conduit between the many different communities that Berkeley embodies.
“If communities feel comfortable here and they want to bring other folks here, by all means please do,” said Perez. “We have to be there for one another when it comes to members in the larger BIPOC community. It’s not about hoarding space, it is about sharing what we have with one another. As long as there is mutual respect being practiced, sharing space is an act of community and solidarity.”
Latinx students for years have advocated for a dedicated space on campus, often gathering instead in the hallways outside Gallegos-Diaz’s small office located at the Cesar E. Chavez Student Learning Center.
Today, the LSRC is one of the many spaces Berkeley leaders hope to ramp up as part of the push to become a Hispanic Serving Institution — a university having at least 25% of enrolled undergraduate students who identify as Latinx.
Vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, Dania Matos hopes the LSRC is one of many resources on campus that will help transform the initiative’s focus to create a campus culture where Latinx students can thrive.
“These centers represent how we can uplift unique experiences and create community across spaces on campus,” said Matos. “We want our students, faculty and staff to go out there into that space and be constantly examining the policies, the practices, the procedures of how we do things in regard to student experience. To give that unique lens of how structural practices impact different communities in different ways.”
Berkeley professor Pablo Gonzalez was an undergraduate on campus in the 1990s and said having a center for Latinx students to gather has been a long time coming. But the space is also an opportunity for staff, faculty and alumni to come down from their offices and interact with the students that they serve every day.
“The point of a location like this is about people being able to encounter each other, and to debate, have conversations, study, learn, build and organize,” said Gonzalez. “We are in dire need of organizers to think about, not only the restructuring of this university, but our world in general. … A place like this can be a spark that hopefully will manifest into policy and practice that shows care for the community and its ancestors.”
The center’s grand opening was one of several celebrations Gallegos-Diaz and her team held to honor the rich history of Berkeley’s Latinx community. Held on Oct. 1 and 2, Latinx Legacy Weekend was hosted by Berkeley’s Chicanx Latinx alumni association and student development center, and brought together generations of Berkeley alumni and students to remember the arduous work it has taken over the years to open the LSRC.
Berkeley student-parent Esau Torres attended the weekend of festivities and said Gallegos-Diaz continues to be as invaluable to Berkeley’s Latinx community as she was in the past.
“Lupe is a leader and a rock star that wants the students she serves to be rock stars too,” said Torres. “Berkeley can be an intimidating place for students like me. But having this center, and people like Gladys, Evelyn and Lupe here, who welcomes you like your family — your heart fills up and your arms spread out. It’s like you have wings, and you want to do anything you can to help them continue that legacy.”
California droughts spur ‘Water for Farms’ video series
Fallow fields, healthy trees being ripped out by the hundreds — this is the image that many California farmers are facing due to the state’s failure to plan for drought. Despite ...
Fallow fields, healthy trees being ripped out by the hundreds — this is the image that many California farmers are facing due to the state’s failure to plan for drought. Despite California farms being some of the most water efficient in the world, unrelenting policies and drastic water cuts are forcing farmers to pull back on food production — putting the U.S.’s independent, national food supply at risk.
Over 60 percent of the American West, Southwest, and Central Plains are considered under D3 — severe droughts or higher. Seventeen states that account for nearly half of the nation’s $364 billion in agricultural production are struggling with water shortages, including California.
While California may not always come to mind when you think of agricultural producers, the state is the largest agricultural state in the country producing 60 percent of all U.S.-grown fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts. Production cuts by farmers in the state will lead to higher food prices and fewer food choices on the shelves.
Simply put: An abundant and domestic food supply requires water. A new video series debuted by Western Growers consists of several short documentary videos giving first-hand accounts of how unrelenting, historic droughts are hurting California farmers.
Produced in association with the California Farm Water Coalition, the videos show the drought’s impact on consumers via stories from Booth Ranches in Orange Cove, Del Bosque Farms in Firebaugh, HMC Farms in Kingsburg, and Woolf Farming in Huron.
The series titled Water for Farms can be seen here:
Booth Ranches: Oranges
Almost 90 percent of fresh oranges in the store come from California. So far, Booth Ranches has pulled 100 acres of healthy orange trees — the equivalent of eight million pounds of oranges.
Del Bosque Farms: Cantaloupes
Cantaloupe farmers have invested billions of dollars on water saving technologies. Despite their best preparations, Del Bosque Farms has cut cantaloupe production by 15 percent — the equivalent of 3 million pounds of cantaloupes gone from grocery store shelves.
HMC Farms: Plums
Almost all plums come from California. Yet, HMC Farms has ripped out 100 acres of farm trees. Nearly three million pounds of plums gone from the grocery shelves — enough to cut out plums from the diets of 1 million Americans.
Woolf Farming: Tomatoes
Woolf Farming produces processing tomatoes, and the state of California is responsible for 90 percent of all processing tomatoes grown in the United States. Yet, Woolf Farming has cut production by 50 percent. Fewer tomatoes means more dollars spent by consumers on ketchup, pizza sauce, tomato soup, and more.
Despite cutbacks to the rest of the state, some ag districts get full allotment of water
Even as most agricultural water supplies are being cut to the bone, with California descending into a third year of extreme drought, the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractor districts will apparently receive 650,000 acre feet — 100% of their “critical year” allotment.The move is just one of the quirks in California’s byzantine world of water rights.The federal Bureau of Reclamation has increased the amount of water coming out of the Friant Dam above Fresno to help satisfy its contract with the Exchange ...
Even as most agricultural water supplies are being cut to the bone, with California descending into a third year of extreme drought, the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractor districts will apparently receive 650,000 acre feet — 100% of their “critical year” allotment.
The move is just one of the quirks in California’s byzantine world of water rights.
The federal Bureau of Reclamation has increased the amount of water coming out of the Friant Dam above Fresno to help satisfy its contract with the Exchange Contractors. That water normally goes to Friant Water Authority and its member agencies which are spread more than 150 miles up and down the east side of the San Joaquin Valley. Calls to the Authority weren’t returned.
The Friant Dam is part of the Central Valley Project, a more than 400-mile network of federal canals and dams that transport water to farms and towns throughout the San Joaquin Valley. But different agencies have different rights when it comes to the federal water.
The Exchange Contractors consist of four agricultural water districts that extend from Newman to Firebaugh on the west side of the Valley. When the federal government built the Central Valley Project in the 1930s, it took San Joaquin River water from existing water users and moved it to Friant contractors in the southern part of the Valley. In “exchange,” the federal government promised the original river users water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. That promise still carries on, and the Exchange Contractors have a higher priority to water, based on their government contract.
But extreme drought conditions mean there isn’t enough water in the delta to satisfy that contract. So, water being held behind Friant Dam is being sent to the Exchange Contractors instead. On April 1, the Bureau of Reclamation increased the Friant Dam releases from 680 cubic feet per second to 930 cfs to meet the Exchange Contractors’ needs, according to a Reclamation announcement. That amount will increase into the spring. Over the summer, releases will exceed 1,700 cfs.
The Bureau of Reclamation slashed water supplies for most others in the state. The Sacramento Valley Settlement Contractors are getting only 18% of their allocation and south of delta and north of delta irrigators are getting 0%.
Friant contractors were told they would receive 15% of their 800,000 acre feet contract which will go to “Class 1” water users. The relatively low 15% allocation is so the Bureau could hold water for the Exchange Contractors, in case there wasn’t enough coming from the delta.
But that 15% allocation could dwindle away to even less, wrote Fergus Morrissey, general manager of Friant contractor Orange Cove Irrigation District, in an email. Flows will “increase as the demand for water by the Exchange Contractors ramps up heading into the irrigation season.”
“We’re thinking about there being some change in it because of this action,” said Michael Jackson, area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation’s south central California area office, on the potential decrease in Friant’s allocation.
The flows for the Exchange Contractors could last until September, he added.
“We’ll do our due diligence to meet our obligations under the exchange contract,” said Jackson. “This year is so dry; I don’t do promises anyway, but no guarantees.”
Friant Dam water is rarely taken for the Exchange Contractors. But it happened in 2014-15, when Friant received a 0% allocation so Reclamation could satisfy the Exchange Contractors’ water supply. That decision resulted in Friant users suing the federal government; the lawsuit is ongoing.
“It hasn’t happened very many times over the years,” said Kole Upton, farmer and chairman of Friant contractor Chowchilla Water District, on Friant Dam water going to the Exchange Contractors. “But it is part of the lexicon that we deal with, so it’s not something that was unexpected for us.”
The lack of surface water means farmers will turn to pumping groundwater to sustain their crops, Upton said.
“It’s going to cause the underground to drop more,” he said.
That could be a major problem for small disadvantaged communities such as Fairmead, where crops surround the town’s homes as far as the eye can see. In the summer of 2021, small communities saw groundwater levels plummet and domestic wells go dry as surrounding agriculture sucked up the aquifers.
“They’re embedded in our district,” said Upton about disadvantaged communities. “They get water when we get water. It replenishes their underground.”
And even though the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which aims to bring groundwater back to sustainable levels, has started to take effect, the process is slow going and sustainability isn’t required until 2040. Many irrigation districts aren’t implementing any pumping restrictions.
This story was produced by the nonprofit SJV Water with funding and support from Fresnoland for The Fresno Bee.