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Citrus Heights launches ‘Cares’ campaign to beautify city

Illegally dumped construction debris seen behind the former Big Lots building in Citrus Heights on Aug. 11, 2022. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
The Citrus Heights City Council on Thursday voted to allocate $47,000 in federal pandemic recovery funds to further efforts to beautify the city and combat blight.

With councilmembers Bret Daniels and Porsche Middleton absent during the Feb. 23 meeting, the three remaining council members, MariJane Lopez-Taff, Jayna Karpinski-Costa and Mayor Tim Schaefer, voted unanimously to allocate the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that will be used for signage and promotions throughout the city.

The effort is part of Citrus Heights Cares, the city’s focused campaign to address blight, vandalism and unlawful camping. The budget allocates $9,000 for light pole banners, $6,000 for six eight-foot by four-foot signs, and $2,250 for commercial and residential light pole signage. Additionally, $5,000 will be spent on local media and social media advertisements, $7,750 on promotional items, and $17,000 on a citywide educational mailer.

Economic Development and Community Engagement Director Meghan Huber outlined the campaign for the council on Thursday. The recommendation is based partly on community surveys that show the top concern for the 400 locals who responded are physical safety and security, appearance of neighborhoods, and amount of commercial vacancies and blight.

The city also worked with about 80 community organizations such as neighborhood associations, churches, schools, utilities, and businesses to prioritize the strategic objectives for the Cares campaign, Huber said.

With two phases of the campaign already implemented, Huber says community engagement is the next step.

The campaign encourages residents to report, maintain, and chip-in when they see nuisance issues. Through Citrus Heights Cares, residents will be encouraged to report graffiti and suspicious activity, participate in service clubs and clean-up events, and stay informed through the city’s various outreach channels.

“The call to action is really about going above and beyond and, frankly, this is one of the things that I’m most excited about,” Huber said. “Citrus Heights has such a great existing community fabric that we can leverage to create programming around chipping in and caring together.”

Councilwoman Lopez-Taff said the signage campaign is an important step for the city.

“When I was at the Sunrise Marketplace meeting, the one thing I noticed that I really enjoy was driving down Sunrise Boulevard from 50 all the way up here, and signage makes a big difference,” Lopez-Taff said. “So when I saw your proposal here I was very excited about that, so thank you for making it visible, public, and engaging.”

Councilwoman Karpinski-Costa also expressed support for the campaign, saying “we need this.”

Almost $1 million in Citrus Heights Cares campaign funding through ARPA has already been used to purchase a truck and two-person crew the city calls a “Beautification Crew.” Workers respond to cleanup illegally dumped debris, minor graffiti, and illegal encampments. The crew removed 2.2 tons of trash and debris in the first week of operation, the city said.

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