‘Our table always has room,’ CVC recognizes resident union

Century Villages at Cabrillo officially recognizes a growing resident union that has a seat at the table for decision-making regarding safety and other community issues.

In a memo distributed at the end of the summer to the residents at the Villages at Cabrillo and to staff of all agencies on site, CVC’s property management office shared the information that “the official CVC Resident Union has been formed and activated.”

The CVC Resident Union holds regular meetings that are open to all residents at the Villages and community members; additionally, representatives from the CVC Resident Union meet on a regular basis directly with CVC leadership to discuss the issues raised at the participant meetings.

“This group has been instrumental in making a difference in our community,” Century Village’s property management office said in the memo.

This formal acknowledgment comes after months of residents’ efforts to establish a union that would be entirely community-led, rather than one led by any outside groups. According to members of the CVC Resident Union, this distinction has been of particular importance for them.

“We need to be able to speak openly and honestly with CVC leadership about community issues because at the end of the day, we’re the ones who live here,” CVC Resident Union Co-Founder Mike Whiting, Veteran and long-time resident at the Villages, said. “We’ve all been through a lot before we came to the Villages, and as a community, we have all been through a lot together these last couple of years. We could not feel stronger about the fact that this place is only going to get better — get safer — if we all get to do our part to make that happen.”

The formation of the CVC Resident Union began in April, when members of the pre-existing United as One Union reached the decision that sponsor Long Beach Residents Empowered was no longer representing their best interest and sought assistance from community advocate and long-time volunteer at the Villages, John Oppenheim (also a Veteran).

“We exist on our own as a direct result of the misrepresentation and lack of leadership we experienced when working with LiBRE, a group we feel strongly did not have the best interest of our community in mind,” according to a statement released by the CVC Resident Union following the distribution of the memo from CVC property management.

Residents engaged LiBRE for support in the formation of the Unite as One Union in late spring of 2021, after a hit-and-run car accident took the life of a long-time security guard at the Villages and an incident between two residents at the Villages resulted in one of these two losing their life.

“Safety has always been a top concern for this community, and when the back-to-back tragedies happened last year, we knew we needed to find a way to get more involved with working directly with CVC to help make this place a safer place to live,” Whiting said.

Whiting has been directly involved with the community discussions about safety concerns since the formation of the United as One Union.

As a result of the collaboration between the CVC Resident Union and CVC staff, and with support from on-site partnering agencies, additional security cameras have been installed and additional security officers have been stationed in areas where more frequent safety incidents occur such as the area of the community known as the Plaza. Lighting has been increased in the Family Commons and Plaza areas as well.

Long Beach Public Works recently removed the growing encampment along the 103 Freeway and the CVC fenceline, and additional Long Beach Police Department presence has been requested by CVC leadership.

“It’s not often that landlords and tenants sit at the same table and work together to improve quality of life issues,” Oppenheim said. “CVC’s recognition of the Resident Union is a remarkable moment that gives us a lot of hope for the future of this very unique community.”

Whiting and CVC Resident Union co-founder Stanton Vignes (Veteran and resident at the Villages), are in the process of recruiting additional participants to represent the various buildings and sections of the 27-acre community at the Villages.

It’s important to us that this isn’t just about the Veterans in our building, or just about the safety of the families and kids, or just about any one group. This whole thing has to be about all of us, staff included, because this community is all of ours.”

— Stanton Vignes

By CityHeART’s The Hub Monthly Team

This story was previously published in the CityHeART Art from Ashes Magazine.

Leave a Reply