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The high cost of greater growth

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Wal-Mart: Reminds me of Lancaster in the late ’70s. Lancaster: a safe and secure high desert town with a lot of history. We shopped at Gemco, Kmart or downtown shops. Christmas shopping was done in town or 70 miles away at the Van Nuys Mall. We all talked about how nice a Home Depot, Costco, Wal-Mart or a mall would be. Then, in the mid-’80s boom, they all came. It was a godsend. By 1989 we had a mall! No more driving to Van Nuys. No one I knew cared that the downtown shops closed up or that downtown became a slum. All we cared about was: no more driving “down-below.” And we ignored the graffiti. We ignored the gangs and the crime that came with the growth; cheap labor, you know. We ignored it, that is, until it became so bad that entire neighborhoods were swallowed. Have you noticed the graffiti on Plaza Drive? Or along (Highway) 49? Maybe you saw it on the freeway? I’ve called the Sheriff and Auburn Police to report graffiti. Their response? “Graffiti is not a problem in Auburn. I’m sure it’s just some kids.” Denial. You want growth? I’d rather pay higher taxes. Gary L. Vogt, Auburn