Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

After sunset, the streets of downtown Stockton empty. As cash-strapped municipalities up and down the state demand concessions from employees, the police union in this nearly bankrupt port city -- which has one of the highest crime rates in California -- is fighting hard to keep the fiscal crisis from breaking its contract.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

The new City Centre Cinemas stands in contrast with the older architecture of downtown Stockton. The coffers of the inland port city at the northern end of the Central Valley are empty.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Expensive waterfront redevelopment projects have not brought promised prosperity to the urban core of Stockton, where numerous shuttered buildings hark back to the city's better days. The city has high crime, high unemployment and the worst foreclosure rate in the area.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Within the next three months, Stockton could become the nation’s largest city to file for protection from creditors under U.S. bankruptcy code. Using a new California law, the City Council is trying to slow or stop the bust by going into mediation with creditors, including public employee unions.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Darcy Koster, left, and her husband, Bradley, are struggling to keep their downtown Stockton bar open, even though they admit that closure may be imminent. The Kosters opened their establishment with the aim of being part of the city's economic rebirth. Today, the Kosters and Stockton both find themselves in dire straits as the community faces the possibilty of bankruptcy.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

The lights are on at the largely empty University Plaza Waterfront Hotel in Stockton, part of an expensive revitalization project that failed to take off. Most days, the hotel's rooms are vacant and its restaurant deserted. It has changed management several times since it was built in 2007.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A pleasure boat is moored along empty slips in the new Stockton Marina, across the channel from shuttered port businesses. Real estate in Stockton more than tripled in value between 1998 and 2005, but when the bubble burst in 2007, the ensuing financial crisis made Stockton one of the hardest-hit cities in America.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A water bird feeds in a channel in the Port of Stockton, where rusted and decaying warehouses and boatyards dot the shore.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

When the housing buble burst and the recession hit, few places were as devastated as Stockton. County workers who lost their jobs stopped coming downtown for lunch. The trolley stopped running. People stopped going out.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

As taxes from sales, property, business licenses and utilities dropped in Stockton, so did money for day-to-day operations such as police, fire, parks and libraries.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Schoolchildren jog through Weber Point Park, one of several expensive redevelopment projects in downtown Stockton that have not economically revitalized the port city's urban core.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Moviegoers file into the City Centre Cinemas, one of several redevelopment projects built in downtown Stockton. Expensive municipal projects and generous public employee benefits have pushed the city to the brink of insolvency.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

A couple stroll along the promenade of Weber Point Park in Stockton, which began a massive redevelopment of the civic center in the mid-1990s, including the construction of a sports arena/convention center, rear.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

An overflow crowd fills Stockton City Hall to watch City Council deliberations on whether the cash-strapped municipality should file for bankruptcy. The city of 300,000 has suspended several bond payments and will not cash out vacation or sick time for employees who leave.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

An overflow crowd fills Stockton City Hall to watch the council's bankruptcy deliberations via closed-circuit television.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Despite the expensive facelift of Stockton's waterfront, the city has not been able to shake its reputation as a seedy port town.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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Port city of Stockton faces bankruptcy

Within the next three months, the Central Valley city of 300,000 could become the nation’s largest municipality to file for protection from creditors under U.S. bankruptcy code. The City Council is trying to slow or stop the bust by entering mediation with creditors, including public employee unions. This is what it looks like when a city is close to going under.

Read Diana Marcum’s story, “Stockton residents watch their port city slip away”

1 Comment

  1. February 8, 2013, 12:57 am

    I sure hope something's done to right the situation soon. If conditions are already that bad when the city isn't even bankrupt yet, just imagine how much worse things will get once it does go completely under.

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