Paso Robles gangs getting harder to ignore
‘Down for my hood’
Paso Robles’ gangs are becoming harder to ignore
Over the summer, a collection of 13 Paso Robles city leaders were asked to raise their hands if they thought the city has a gang problem.
Five hands went up.
“I don’t think they want to advertise that there might be a gang problem,” said one person who attended that meeting. “And I certainly understand that.”
That’s five people out of a room of 13—less than half of the people who thought there was enough of a problem to show up to the meeting in the first place. The meeting was organized by the San Luis Obispo County Anti-Gang Coordinating Commission, a federally funded group that pulled together community groups and organizations alongside the county’s Gang Task Force in 2007. Of the 50 people the Gang Commission invited, only a baker’s dozen showed up.
To make things weirder, the people who did show up filled out survey cards asking the same question they were asked by a show of hands. And of those survey cards, all 13 said they believe the city has a gang problem.
Maybe they were confused by the phrasing of the question, or thought it was too ambiguous. Or maybe they didn’t want to acknowledge publicly there might be a problem, even if they were willing do so privately.
Paso Robles is the fastest-growing city in San Luis Obispo County, but it’s still a small town by most accounts. Despite a population bump of 5,000 people in the last decade, brought on largely by a burgeoning wine industry, the city is still small, with a population of about 30,000. It’s a quaint community more associated with vineyard tours and fine dining than gangbangers and drive-bys.
But over the past few years, gang violence has been on the rise throughout the county, particularly in the northern areas and especially in Paso Robles.
“There’s been an increase in violence in North County, I think it’s pretty safe to say, and some of it is directly tied to gangs,” said Sheriff Ian Parkinson, who championed gang crackdowns in his campaign for the job.
Read complete story at New Times SLO.