Newcomer Tries to Clean Up an Old Part of Downtown Fresno

January 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
He's helping neighbors along a stretch of Calaveras Street to get together and bring the historic neighborhood back to life. It's not the worst neighborhood in Fresno. In fact, many residents on Calaveras have done a lot to fix up historic homes.

But one man is pushing the rest of the folks on his street to do more.

Whether its leaves in the gutter or garbage on the street, Rob Defrees often grabs a broom to make his stretch of Calaveras Street a little cleaner.

"My goal here is to make people who live on Calaveras Street realize that there is hope," said Rob Defrees.

Rob moved here just six months ago from San Diego, and took it upon himself to act as a one man neighborhood booster.

Rob: "Look at how many people are cleaning up their properties."
Neighbor: "Oh, I know. It's great."
Rob: "You're not alone any more."

In addition to cleaning up, he's working to get bad influences like drug dealers out.

"My neighbors were afraid and I told them I'm not going to be afraid anymore," said Rob.

He's organized a neighborhood watch group and the first meeting drew neighbors, police and a city council member who applauds the effort.

"I think it's great. I think it's what it's all about. This is what establishing good communication in our neighborhoods is all about," said City Councilmember Cynthia Sterling.

Police say this is generally not a high crime area, but a neighborhood where lots of people come and go. One longtime resident, Sonia Sanchez says things aren't bad here, but hopes this effort will make things better.

"Actually I think this is a great step for the downtown area. This is what we've been needing for a long long time," said Sonia.

Rob Defrees says his goal is simply to make his street a better place to live.


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