Valencia Gardens

By Tom Erikson

By the early ‘90s both the Examiner and the morning Chronicle were reporting a blight upon Valencia Gardens. “If there ever were any gardens at Valencia Gardens they’ve long since withered, gone the way of the institutional paint on the buildings and the dreams of many of the housing project’s residents,” begins Craig Marine’s September 25th, 1991 editorial in the Chronicle. It is clear that something about the arrangements for subsidized “mass living,” overseen by an overworked, under-funded and often corrupt Housing Authority, had been broken for a long time. Poorly lit stairwells were magnets for crime, abandoned units became drug houses, and the vast courtyards and anonymous concrete shells of the projects didn’t inspire pride of ownership.