After repeatedly finding drug paraphernalia and graffiti around his apartment complex, a Lompoc man is taking it upon himself to change the culture of the neighborhood and is encouraging others to do the same.
The current state of the complex Thomas Bagu rents off 4th Street in Lompoc has him concerned for his kids’ safety.
Bagu has been finding needles and graphic graffiti in the laundry room and alleyways.
“My kids go to school right down the street a block away from here and they have to walk through these alleyways. If there’s needles and such and they’re wearing opened-toe shoes or something like that, somehow, someway it could happen but it could get poked with needles that could have HIV, Hepatitis C, and those types of things,” Bagu said.
These apartments are managed by DPI, Red Barn and Tower Property management. All three say trying to clean up this area is an uphill battle as they find many people that don’t even live in the area dumping their trash there.
“It’s a chronic problem that belongs to the whole community and not just the property managers or just the property owners,” said Glenda Shippen, owner of Tower Property Management.
Now Bagu is trying to change that, cleaning up the complex where he can, even installing cameras.
“I’m not perfect in any kind of way or anything like that. I have a past, I’m from the streets but it doesn’t mean that’s where I want to stay. I want to see my kids do better than I did,” Bagu explained.
He’s trying to instill a sense of pride where he lives that both he and the property managers wish others had as well.
“I think it’s going to take the entire community acknowledging the professionals, the people that can do something about it, for them to acknowledge there is this problem and that how we’re dealing with it now is not a good enough solution,” Shippen said.
Tower Property Management says they’d like the city to organize a meeting with all of the property managers in town to try to get everyone to work together on this problem.
KSBY reached out to the city to see if this is something that would interest them but has not yet received a response.