Thursday, June 30, 2016
[San Joaquin County] South Stockton's troubled New Grand Save Market heading to receiver
Blog note: this article references a 2014-15 San Joaquin County Grand Jury report urging city government to take a lead role in a south Stockton renaissance.
STOCKTON — Control of south Stockton’s New Grand Save Market, described by the city as a fire trap and a “cesspool” of illicit activity, will be placed in the hands of a receiver late this week, a judge ruled Tuesday morning.
Once the court-ordered seizure is consummated, appointed receiver Mark Adams said, the market will be shut; a fence will be installed around the building at Ninth Street and Airport Way; and 24-hour security will be deployed.
“It’s a lawless place,” said Adams, describing how New Grand Save currently operates.
When Adams’ California Receivership Group takes control, it will develop a plan for the rehabilitation of the property, which most recently was in the news following a slaying in the parking lot in May. Adams said he expects to present his plan to Judge Barbara Kronlund at San Joaquin County Superior Court in August.
A visit last month to the dilapidated, dimly-lit market revealed shelves stocked with merchandise that included cupcakes, alcohol and junk food but no fruits, vegetables or other nutritious items.
The city reports it conducted “nearly two years of code enforcement efforts” and found 31 violations of state and local laws while scrutinizing New Grand Save.
Assistant City Attorney Susana Wood said that under the plan to be developed by the receiver, conditions will be ripe for a market or retail outlet that would benefit the neighborhood. She said court orders will be in place to ensure the property “doesn’t resort to its nuisance conditions.”
“It’s like a clean slate, I think, what gets to happen with that property,” Wood said.
City Councilman Michael Tubbs, whose south Stockton district includes New Grand Save, said he sees “momentum building” for change in the community.
“Now we get to start over,” said Tubbs, who is running for mayor against incumbent Anthony Silva.
The city sued New Grand Save one month ago. Tuesday’s court hearing passed without any opposition by the individual who owns the building and the land, and with no action taken by the store operator who rents the property.
Redrose Singh, the market’s operator, did not appear in court Tuesday or send a legal representative. Jaswant Singh, the building and land owner, stipulated to the court order through attorney Brian DeAmicis of Sacramento, who was patched into the hearing by speakerphone. Redrose Singh and Jaswant Singh are not related.
About 30 members of the surrounding community attended Tuesday’s hearing, expressing satisfaction over a ruling they said was decades overdue.
Maria Alcazar, who works for STAND Affordable Housing and the Reinvent South Stockton Coalition, said she had been waiting for Tuesday’s ruling since the day her brother was murdered near the market in 1999.
“It’s like a thorn that digs within my skin every single day,” Alcazar said of New Grand Save.
The Rev. Ernest Williams has lived adjacent to New Grand Save for about six years. During that time he said there have been eight homicides and 22 cases of assault with a deadly weapon near the store. According to the city, there were 191 calls for police service at the market in a 402-day span that ended with the slaying last month of Ikeila Fikes, 30.
“I can’t even count the robberies,” Williams said. “I don’t trust nobody in that lot, and I know a lot of them. That store could be an asset to the community, and it’s not.”
Tuesday’s legal ruling came 13 months after the release of a San Joaquin County grand jury report urging city government to take a lead role in a south Stockton renaissance.
The report said years of government inaction bear a large portion of the blame for the neighborhood’s “extensive blight, poverty, deteriorating housing, slumlord residential ownership, and vacant lots, a lack of neighborhood services, and widespread drug dealing and crime.”
The report added, “Only city government has the resources … to effect real change.”
Following Tuesday’s ruling, neighborhood resident and STAND worker Roslyn Burse recalled better days in south Stockton and voiced hope for rejuvenation.
“We had a pharmacy, we had grocery stores, we had our own gas station out here, we had our own Big Dipper, we had our own fish-fry store, we had our own bakery where you could wake up in the morning and smell the fresh bread,” Burse said. “I’m looking for a tower of businesses and organizations to come into our community.”
The New Grand Save ruling, she said, could be a turning point. But she said the market’s owners are not fully to blame for the neighborhood’s challenges, and she said many of the drug dealers who populate the parking lot do so only “because they don’t have any other place to hang.”
“You can’t always blame everyone,” Burse said. “You need to find out, ‘What made this happen? Why are they here?’
“It’s not just because they choose to. They also have to feed their families, take care of their families. We have to take everything into consideration while we’re doing this process at this time. Just taking over this store is not going to cure everything.”
June 28, 2016
By Roger Phillips