Newer Mediterranean and Craftsman-style homes line Noel Street in southwestern Arroyo Grande. The yards are tidy, and the street is wide and clean.
Across Oak Park Boulevard is Dixson Street, another wide cul-de-sac lined with similar homes.
But although the streets are separated only by Oak Park Boulevard, it might as well be a line of demarcation between neighborhoods as formidable as any wall.
“Neither side knows each other,” said Rob Feder, a Grover Beach resident who is out to change that.
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For the past six months, Feder and friend Kim Jeffers have been walking the neighborhoods south of Grand Avenue in Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach to gain support for an ambitious project.
The idea began several years ago when Feder was contacted by a few of his neighbors with a concern about a plan to alter a portion of South 16th Street from a cul-de-sac to a through street.
He wondered what residents on nearby blocks thought about it and started reaching out to them. In the meantime, the street was opened, and Feder stepped back and wondered: When issues impacting the community arise, how can we connect people across neighborhoods?
He came up with a new vision: to see whether he could link residents on a much larger scale, across numerous blocks and city limits. He met Jeffers, who enthusiastically supported the idea.
The pair is currently targeting about 500 mainly single-family homes that were built in clusters over the past two decades in the two cities on either side of Oak Park Boulevard.
So far, they’ve knocked on about 350 doors, sent fliers and compiled a list of residents in the hope that people will be inclined to meet those on other blocks, organize events or Neighborhood Watch groups and generally feel a heightened sense of community.
They also want to define the community between Arroyo Grande and the beach as something more than “those nice houses behind Vons,” as Jeffers put it. They’re calling it “Oak Park Community,” but are open to suggestions.
“If we can get people to care about different neighborhoods, then people might care about what happens a few blocks away,” Feder said.
In the interest of full disclosure, Feder and Jeffers follow up to interested residents with a letter explaining who they are: Feder is a San Luis Obispo-based real estate agent who lives in Grover Beach; Jeffers is a lending adviser who lives in Santa Maria but has worked in the South County the past 15 years.
Both say their volunteer effort is separate from their work and there’s nothing “clandestine” or commercial in their intent.
“So far it’s great,” said Arroyo Grande resident Clydean Headrick, who spotted Feder and Jeffers walking around her neighborhood one recent afternoon. “Anything we can do to get neighbors to know each other and get together.”
Another nearby resident wasn’t too sure.
“He’s a realtor, she’s a lender,” said Jeff Asher. “That’s their bottom line.”
Feder and Jeffers insist that’s not the case. Feder said of the 160 or so people they’ve talked to or received feedback from, six have refused to participate.
“I believe in this,” Jeffers said. “There are so many people that are distrusting ... but in this day and age we need to look out for each other. If we pull this off, this is a really big thing.”
Their next goal is to connect blocks of residents and then streets. They hope to gauge their success with a community Fourth of July parade next summer down Oak Park Boulevard.
To get more information, contact Feder at 305-1007 or Jeffers at 260-9409.
Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCounty Beat on Twitter.