Monterey County

Salinas looks to residents for goal-setting ideas

Keeping teens away from gang violence

SALINAS, Calif. - Taking back our teens by taking them off the streets-that's the message from a group of people who spoke up at Salinas City Hall on Monday night. Salinas residents are getting a chance to share their opinions on what the city should focus on, to make improvements down the line.

On Monday night, NewsChannel 5 caught up with a group of young adults who said kids need more resources to keep them away from violence. The group called Urban Arts Collective said soon it will be able to use the top floor of a building on Lincoln Avenue to create art. It's all part of a mentoring program and the people behind it, think the city needs to direct money toward these kinds of activities, rather than adding officers on the streets and in schools.

"We don't need more cops in schools like people were bringing up. We don't need that because what are you trying to bring? Make us scared of cops when they're supposed to be protecting us? I don't think that's right," said artist Charlie Cortes.

Prevention and intervention are top of mind for residents in Salinas who decided to speak at Monday night's public discussion on "Envisioning Salinas". For some who stepped up to speak out, gang-violence is the problem and many say they're concerned the city is too focused on spending money on police.

"We can't just start throwing money at the problem," said one resident.

While the Salinas Police Department continues to run understaffed, many residents want to make sure the majority of the city's budget goes toward enforcement.

"Its just scary to me and it seems like just like in schools you have the adult-to-child ratio and meet the bare minimum legally," said another resident.

City leaders said the money set to come in from Measure G this summer, will be directed mostly toward police and fire. But mentor Juan Carlo-Gonzalez said programs like the Urban Arts Collective will do more. He said they get funding through the California Endowment of Building Healthy Communities. Artists like Charlie Cortes said teachers also need to listen better to their students needs.  

"They need to be treated like humans they need to be treated like they're people," Cortes said.

The city plans to take all the input from the meeting into consideration as it re-focuses its goals. Other ideas surrounding bicycle safety and better traffic enforcement were also brought up.

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