NORTH HIGHLANDS (CBS13) — The owner of a North Highlands recycling company says he got so fed up with prostitutes and truckers meeting in this parking lot, he put up concrete barriers. Now he’s hoping for a concrete plan to clean up all of Watt Avenue.
Among the sounds and sights of hardworking business owners and their employees on Watt Avenue is the seediness of drug deals and sex transactions.
Business owners like David Kuhnen, who owns Recycling Industries, say enough is enough — it’s time to clean up
“Cleaning, beautifying, reducing the crime, making this an attractive place to stay,” Kuhnen said of his goal for the area.
Longtime business owners say as police got rid of crime in other areas, it got pushed onto Watt Avenue. The downhill transformation unfolded in neighborhoods off Watt too as some claim area motels even turned a blind eye to illegal activity.
“I used to live on Watt and Elkhorn,” said Russell Hysell. “The manager lets all the prostitutes stay there, you know, rent-free or in advance. They don’t have to put the cash down or nothing, you know, they just go get rooms there.”
But Kuhnen plans to push out prostitution that was pushed into his neighborhood. He’s behind an effort to ask business owners in the area if they’d pay for increased security or even a dedicated deputy through a yearly self-assessment fee. For now, many businesses pay for private security. Some rely on Paladin, which happens to sit right off of Watt Avenue.
“The money wouldn’t go to some county person for them to decide,” he said. “We would get to decide how to use it. We’re just not going to tolerate it anymore.”
The process to establish the assessment takes about two years. Businesses would pay less than $100 per every acre parcel annually. At least half of the businesses must vote yes for the assessment to pass.