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Del Paso Boulevard is not Del Paso Heights

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There are many places in Sacramento city and county where a long roadway travels through numerous neighborhoods: Fair Oaks Boulevard, Watt Avenue and Sunrise Boulevard, for starters.

When the street name is very close to the neighborhood name – such as Del Paso Boulevard and Del Paso Heights – people unfamiliar with the area often confuse the road and the neighborhood.

Sacramentans take pride in their neighborhoods and, since the reputation of one neighborhood is not always carried on the roadway to the next, that confusion can get on a resident’s nerves pretty fast.

For example, a commenter on a recent Sacramento Press article about road improvements along Del Paso Boulevard had this to say after seeing a reference to Del Paso Heights in the article:

“The neighborhood that is affected by these changes is Woodlake, not Del Paso Heights. Why do journalists at Sac Press and the Bee constantly think that anything on Del Paso Blvd = Del Paso Heights? Del Paso Heights does not begin until much farther North,” Natalie Kuffel said Monday.

The ire is understandable – Del Paso Heights isn’t located on or adjacent to Del Paso Boulevard, and the nuances of Woodlake and Del Paso Heights are significantly different.

“It’s very confusing, and a lot of people think that they are the same,” said Jerry Kinglsey, president of the Woodlake Neighborhood Association.

Woodlake, as described by Kingsley, is a “nice, quiet community, secluded with lots of old trees.”

The community was established in 1924, and most of the Woodlake community was built in the early ‘30s, Kingsley said Wednesday. Some of the newer homes were built in the 1950s.

“There are people in Woodlake that were born there and raised their children and grandchildren there,” Kingsley said.

The neighborhood is known for its large, older homes and tree-lined streets, Kingsley said.

Woodlake is bound by Arden Way to the north, Hwy 160 to the south, Royal Oaks Drive to the east and Del Paso Boulevard to the west.

Del Paso Heights, on the other hand, is located about four miles north of Woodlake – and the neighborhood begins well past the point on Del Paso Boulevard where the road splits off to become Marysville Boulevard, Kingsley said.

Del Paso Heights is bound by Interstate 80 to the north, the Arcade Creek levee to the south, Marysville Boulevard to the east and Norwood Avenue to the west.

“It all started as part of the Rancho Del Paso land grant,” said Sondra Betancourt, lifelong resident and president of the Ben Ali Neighborhood Association.

Del Paso Heights is also an older neighborhood, and it was predominately a blue-collar/white-collar neighborhood, that "typified the hopes and desires and values of middle-class America of the 1950’s," added Brent Scott, a former Del Paso Heights resident.

“Over time, with use, the familiarity with the first two words become an all-encompassing term,” Betancourt said. “People have a common misconception that anything near Del Paso Heights is Del Paso Heights, but they don’t have any idea of what the map really looks like.”

Del Paso Boulevard travels through multiple neighborhoods after Woodlake – including Old North Sacramento, South Hagginwood and Hagginwood – before ultimately arriving in East Del Paso Heights.

“What most people think of as Del Paso Boulevard – with the art galleries and the finer restaurants – that is Old North Sacramento, which is close to Woodlake,” Betancourt said.

One of the key landmarks in “true Del Paso Heights,” according to Betancourt, is the Urban League building on Marysville Boulevard.

Del Paso Boulevard – the roadway – has been undergoing some transformations lately with streetscape improvements and business development along the corridor.

Meanwhile, Del Paso Heights – the neighborhood – could use some similar improvements, said Fran Barker, president of the Del Paso Heights Improvement Association Monday.

“The streets need lights for safety,” Barker said. “With crime the way it is, the city needs to consider safety projects first.”

Del Paso Boulevard is not Del Paso Heights – it’s much more, and residents in the communities along that roadway would likely agree.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

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