Op Ed By Kevin Shawver
El Dorado Street, north of the Downtown area, was once lined with the mansions of Stockton’s elite families, many of them area industrialists who shaped this city. Slowly over the early and mid 20th Century they were torn down, replaced with modern buildings and businesses ranging from auto dealerships to office buildings. Many now sit vacant, housing transients in the doorways that are waiting for the methadone clinic to open it’s doors. This area of El Dorado Street has seen better days.
In the 800 block of N. El Dorado sits an architecturally designed apartment building from the 20s, The Mayfair Apartments. Built with the materials and construction techniques of the period, the craftsmanship and quality is still very evident today. Since the time it was constructed it remained a viable and useful building, but that ended on June 6, 2017.
On that day there was a fire in the building which displaced many tenants. A Stockton Record article published that week stated the tenants were low income, many with special needs. The story also put an estimate of one year for repairs to be made, at which time tenants would be allowed to return.
Here it is almost three years from the date of that fire, with no evident work having been done. Why is this building sitting fallow and why is it being allowed to deteriorate?
Sitting a mere three blocks from City Hall, with thousands of vehicles passing daily, I find it hard to believe that City leaders haven’t noticed what is clearly evident. I find it hard to believe they haven’t noticed the grand entrance literally being used as a toilet, the graffiti, the forest of weeds growing through the sidewalk. We sure are a city that’s taken a big interest in building new low income high density housing, yet an existing building that once housed those in need is allowed to sit completely ignored and neglected for a three year period? Why is the owner not being pressured by the City to get the repairs done and complete the project?
The building doesn’t appear to be secured too well. Will this beautiful building eventually suffer the fate of other historic buildings in Stockton? Like the Western Pacific Railroad Station, Monarch Foundry, Stockton Royal Theater, Union Ice Company, Henery Apartments and the Earle Hotel, will transients eventually get in and torch it? Completely destroy it?
It’s very disappointing that the City ignores its rich history and it’s great historical buildings. It’s disappointing that the City will not hold the owner accountable to a deadline and commitment. It’s disgusting that the City allows properties like this to sit vacant and rotting. Other California cities embrace their history through advocacy, protection, preservation and restoration. Other cities understand that such things are important, that it enhances the quality of life in their cities.
This building is an asset to Stockton, not only in an historical aspect but a practical aspect too. It’s an asset to a city and neighborhood in decline, and if put back in use would help be part of a catalyst to change that. Unfortunately Stockton, and the powers that be, just don’t seem to care.