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Do You Feel Safe In Watsonville?

Gang related violence has become even more a topic of conversation after the tragic shooting at 6 p.m. at Target. I was asked by someone recently if I felt safe in Watsonville- here is my answer.

I.t is hard to not to notice the headlines about gang violence that grace the pages of the newspaper. I was asked by someone recently if I felt safe in Watsonville. To tell you the truth—I had never really thought about that before, therefore I had to really think about the answer.

I suppose in order for you to understand how I will answer this question I should give you some background.  I grew up in Santa Cruz, in a safe neighborhood with lots of children. I attended private school in Santa Cruz and when it was time to go to high school I made the commute to Notre Dame Salinas. It was then my parents realized that the commute to Salinas was getting long and they decided to move to Watsonville. My parents found a beautiful house in the Brewington Martinelli district we called “home."

I have never gone to school in Watsonville, I rarely shop in Watsonville and I had one summer job at Jim Booth Swim School when I was home from college and that is about it. It is therefore I do not consider Watsonville my hometown.

That being said, I do go to Target every now and then, I will run to Nob Hill to go grocery shopping and when visiting my parents I take their dog out for a quick run. I have never had a problem nor have felt unsafe. I get the random cat-calls at times, but in reality we all know cat-calls are harmless.

At this moment, even in the wake of the recent violent activates, I truly believe I will never be affected by the violence in Watsonville. Why you might ask? First, I am not in a gang, I do not hang out with gang members and I really do not have any friends in Watsonville. Second, I do not go out at night in Watsonville. If by chance I am out at night, I am at dinner at Miyuki's (the best sushi in Santa Cruz County) and then I go straight home.

I live under the rule “trouble finds trouble” and therefore, yes I do feel safe in Watsonville.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

David H. Perez August 02, 2011 at 03:33 PM
I pretty much agree with Morgan. I bought a house in Watsonville because I could get the most for my money in Santa Cruz County. I have never been particularly in love with the town. On the other hand, I do not associate with the low-lifes that are perpetrating all of this violence, and I do not go out at night. On the other hand, I always make sure I have protection close by when I work in my garage at night.
Martin Enrique Garcia August 02, 2011 at 04:43 PM
I pretty much disagree with Morgan on all fronts. I was born and raised in Watsonville. I love the town of Watsonville and try to do as much as my shopping and community participation as possible in Watsonville. I lived in the "low life" community of Clifford and went to the "low life" school of Watsonville High amongst a number of other Watsonville public schools. The kids who are committing these crimes are undeniably in the wrong and should be punished accordingly. We do not need to suffer from the current crime wave and shouldn't. But it's important to remember that these kids are wounded kids themselves, kids who went to overcrowded classes and lived in poverty and in drug- and alcohol-plagued homes and neighborhoods. I'm not trying to apologize for these kids - I feel unsafe often - but I do understand their problems. This being my hometown, I lived through many of these problems. For those interested, there are outlets to try and remediate these problems - namely by getting involved in the community as a volunteer coach or referee or tutor or even attending Tuesday's National Night Out or the upcoming Smart on Crime event.
Jean Vengua August 07, 2011 at 04:12 PM
I grew up in Santa Cruz too, in a relatively safe neighborhood in a house across the street from the cannery in which my mother worked. Various neighborhoods in Santa Cruz (for example, the Westside, where I used to live) have lately been seeing a surge in crime. I think we're all being affected on some level by the violence. i can't read about a local child being shot without being affected by it in some way. Although I attended relatively "safe" schools with not much gang activity, I grew up knowing a lot of kids from labor camps. I understand the psychological "wounds" suffered by some of these kids, and I have some understanding of the disorientation and disaffection they feel from mainstream society. Without some positive support and guidance early in life, suffering leads to retaliation, and other dangerous forms of "acting out." I agree with Martin that the kids are doing wrong, and they need to know there are consequences. But it's a serious problem and relying on police only won't cure it. The police need help too. The community needs to get involved on many different levels.
Cathy P. August 07, 2011 at 05:18 PM
I think the only reason I feel relatively safe is because like others have said, I don't associate with anyone even remotely associated with a gang and I never go out at night in Watsonville. That being said, we have had a lot of increased traffic on our street and I do worry about drive-bys now that they have become common-place, even in the "nicer" neigborhoods. Sometimes I feel like a prisoner in my own house though, safer than many neighborhoods, but still a prisoner.
Daniela Suarez March 22, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Being able to go out and not being afraid to get hurt would be great! When people join gangs they don't know the trouble they're getting into and the risk of safety for themselves and others. The problem is that the young adolescence think that by joining a gang they're "cool" and gain respect all of a sudden. Once in a gang, gang members are told to do violent horrible things, causing rival between other gangs as well. People get shot, stabbed, beaten, even killed! It's sad because some that get hurt are innocent! For example, Jesse Lopez, a friend of mine passed away December 11, 2011, after being shot and thrown onto the road by Mt. Madonna after attending a friend's party. To hear that news was devastating! It's also crazy how I saw Jesse that night at the party before he was killed. Officers say the incident was gang related. Truth is, this isn't the only incident happening in the community. There are many more people getting hurt and killed from these types of activities. There are shootings, stabbings, maybe even deaths happening most likely every night. Us as a community we need to get rid of these problems and try to help each other more than ever! Gang life is obviously not the right path to go on. There is more to life than just the adrenaline that runs through your veins. We need to get educated and informed so that together as a community, we can change a whole lot! Once we change here, we could see many changes around us as well.

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