Who Can Help Rid Redding Neighborhoods of Pigpen Properties?

I live in the Garden Tract, an older Redding neighborhood not far from downtown. Mostly, I describe it as charming. I love the Garden Tract’s shade trees, and the character of so many adorable homes, most of which were built between the 1930s to 1960s. I love the ability for Garden Tract residents to carry our folding chairs and walk to Sequoia School’s lawns to watch the fireworks every summer.

Also, the Garden Tract is one of Redding’s few neighborhoods where one could survive quite nicely without a car, because it’s within walking distance of Safeway, OSH, the library, Movies 8, the Sundial Bridge, Tiger Field, a few churches, the Saturday farmers market, and a number of  businesses, banks and restaurants.

Of course, being able to walk to those places and feeling safe enough to walk to those places at all hours here in The New Redding is a whole other issue, but that’s another column for another day.

Back to the Garden Tract, where, sadly, there are properties that are far from charming; in fact, they’re pigpens.

I’m lucky because I live on a block where most neighbors take pride in their homes. Conversely, the west end of my street is dotted with some super eyesores. What’s really unfortunate about those eyesores is for every pigpen yard, there’s often a well-kept, tidy yard right next door.

You can practically hear the property values dropping with every new eyesore that pops up on that block.

In fact, when I’m expecting new visitors to my home, I often intentionally give directions that ignore the East Street option, so they’ll avoid seeing some of the most blighted properties.

I thought about walking down the street to photograph some of the best/worst examples for you to see (where I live in the Garden Tract); places where dry weeds stand high, and there’s junk in the yards, or even, in one case, a boat that is periodically parked out front like a nautical lawn ornament. But I didn’t want to risk an encounter with the home’s occupant. I’m not that brave.

Hi, I’m doing a story about blighted properties, and I wanted to include a photo of your home as an example.

So let’s move on to some other neighborhoods, outside of the Garden Tract. These houses have come to my attention because they’re near two of my favorite people, whose names I’ll skip, so they don’t incur the wrath of their pigpen neighbors.

But I will say that one of the people is an Airbnb host who’s suffered some negative reviews from guests, strictly because of the neighborhood’s proliferation of blighted yards, mainly along Loma Street. 

My first example is an attractive stucco house with good bones and character galore. But there’s nothing attractive about the yard around it. The side of the home’s lawn had hacked weeds, lined by overgrown shrubs, while the front was still high with weeds; a landscaping mullet, if you will. Often, there’s broken furniture, or an occasional mattress out front, or a van parked on the lawn.

Example No. 2, below, is one of the most glaring examples of blight I’ve ever seen within the city limits. This particular house shows evidence of no electricity (extension cords snaking from the windows to the next property), no water (the inhabitants carrying buckets of water to the house), and lots of coming and goings by scruffy folks with big backpacks riding too-small bikes at all hours of the day and night. Most neighbors suspect drug activity. blighted 2

Really, this photo doesn’t do the severity of this mess justice. It’s surrounded by enough trash to fill at least one – maybe two – dumpsters.

blight 3

Here’s another view of example No. 2.

My friend who lives near the epic junkyard has created a wonderful home and garden in the same neighborhood as this mess. He finally worked up the courage to report it to the city. I say it took courage because many people are reluctant to report a code violation for fear of retaliation from the violator.

I spoke with Steve Willkomm, who’s only been in Redding as the city’s code enforcement supervisor for two-and-a-half months. I asked him if his department would ever give up the name of someone who’s reported a code violation. His answer  was “never” – unless ordered by a judge for a court case; and that’s a rare scenario.

Willkomm emailed me additional information that helps spell things out with regard to city code enforcement. First, he said that his department’s priorities are life, health and safety. He said that his department has received 595 complaints in 2015. As of  August, he’s received 351 complaints for 2016.

To answer the question of what constitutes blight and code violations, and who are the responsible parties to abate the mess, Willkomm provided these guidelines:

  • All property owners and occupants are both concurrently responsible for property maintenance, building, and zoning compliance.  Cut, trim and maintain landscaping.  Remove junk, trash, debris from property.
  • All current and prospective property owners should check building permits to make sure their property structures are covered with a valid building permit.
  • All property owners, business owners and persons conducting business activity (including posting signage) in any property in the City of Redding should check with the Planning Division prior to signing leases or otherwise allowing or starting activity.
  • All business operators need to make sure they have a business license and post it in public view.
  • On residential property, refrain from storing unused items outdoors, except for outdoor patio/bbq furniture.
  • No wrecked, dismantled or inoperable vehicles may be stored on private property, except in a fully enclosed garage.
  • No recreational vehicles may be stored in the front yard setback of the property (typically 15 feet from the front property line).

That list covers my concerns in the Garden Tract, as well as the two example properties I featured earlier. In a perfect world, the concerned/offended neighbor could approach the blighted-property neighbor and the two could have a friendly chat about it. That conversation would result in the offender offering profuse apologies, hopping to it and whipping that property into place. In my perfect world, that’s how it would work, and perhaps, sometimes it does.

But more often, chronic pigpen people need some professional, official intervention before they will remove the blight. The incentives for cleaning up the blighted properties range from a letter and visit from someone in a city vehicle, to thousands of dollars in fines, and even criminal prosecution.

Even so, at some point, it bears defining the word “blight” since one person’s blight is another person’s drought-tolerant landscape. Willkomm said the criteria is personal.

“It’s anything that is offensive to another person’s senses,” he said. “Anything that detracts from any decent neighborhood.”

He said that that could include overgrown lawns and vegetation, or a property that becomes an attractive nuisance for transients and squatters looking for a place to break in and crash. It could also be people using motor homes beyond vacation vehicles, into the realm of 24/7 residences, parked in driveways, which is a code violation.

When I told Willkomm the location of the junked-up house in example No. 2, he said his department was well aware of it, and was on it. He described the place as a “mess” – and said that if he lived near that house, he’d complain, too.

I’m happy to report that my friend who reported the house to the city has noticed what he calls some positive movement that gives him hope. He’s seen a city vehicle there, and a PG&E worker, and a woman who arrived with a clipboard and a camera, snapping photos.

Willkomm said there are numerous ways to register a complaint:

1. Come to city hall and file a complaint in person at 777 Cypress Avenue, First Floor, Redding, CA 96001.

2. Call Redding’s code enforcement division and leave a message at 245-7110.

3. Write a letter that contains the specifics of your complaint, including your name, and the blighted property’s address, to Redding Code Enforcement Division, City of Redding, P. O. Box 496071, Redding, CA 96049-6071.

4. Send an email to the code enforcement division to  bldgmail@cityofredding.org

Meanwhile, even though Willkomn, with more than 20 years of code-enforcement experience, has seen the worst of the absolute worst blight and code violations, he remains optimistic.

“Most people want to do the right thing,” he said.

Even so, Willkomm’s poised to deal with those who seem oblivious to the concept of doing the right thing. That’s why, despite the fact that Willkomm, a Southern California transplant whose Redding code-enforcement staff can be counted on two fingers, and despite a backlog of code violation complaints in a city with 90,000 citizens; despite all that, Willkomm is emphatic about encouraging people to report blight and code violations.

And he’s the first to admit that there’s no question about the object of his loyalty.

“I work for the person who cares about the community,” he said.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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89 Responses

  1. David M. Kerr says:

    Oakland has a few nice neighborhoods with very low crime and homelessness.  In the foothills, nearly all houses have security systems.  Car alarms, cameras, good lighting.  Once can live in Castro Valley or Walnut creek and work in Oakland.   Some parks are reasonably safe some times of the day.

    Some of the highest crime and homeless in California is found in Oakland West of 580.  People have learned to avoid the parts of Oakland which have been abandoned to crime and drugs.

    Redding will go the same way.  The Garden Tract and anything within two miles of the railroad tracks will be abandoned to crime.  There will still be enclaves of safety and quality of life in Palo Cedro and as far as possible from the railroad tracks.  Push drugies out of motels and they will move into nearby houses.

    The city won’t admit it, but I think the strategy should be to try and contain crime in some areas.  Property in the Garden Tract may lose value.  It is on the wrong side of the imaginary red line.  Gentrification will not happen.

  2. JeffG says:

    New Orleans fights the problem by auctioning the properties of those who failed to remedy blight

      • Amy says:

        We live right next door to example 2… You were not lying when you stated the pictures don’t do it justice!!! My roommate has called every number thought possible, made complaints everywhere, fou s out wells Fargo holds the house that has been in foreclosure for months!!! She spoke with the president of the bank that said nothing could be done yet but within days had reps out to secure the property due to media involvement but again, tied hands due to waiting on formal eviction after cash for keys incentive. Happy to report that today, there were lots of people slowly moving garbage away. The motor home is no longer on the front “lawn”. There are YouTube videos of the tweaker parties.

    • K. Beck says:

      GREAT idea…more people living on the street!

  3. Dan says:

    Great story Doni! You not only highlight the problem but an easy solution. Other cities like Berkley and San Jose have nice brochures made up and distributed by the building department and Police Departments on steps homeowners can take to reclaim neighborhoods from blighted properties. In addition to code enforcement , neighbors can write polite letters to property owners, and offer physical help to the disabled and seniors. A number of small claims actions have been started against slumlords by entire neighborhoods all over the country. University and DOJ studies have shown that spiffing up neighborhoods reduces overall crime. (Broken Windows).

    “Enplan”, created by a local I believe, allows free access online to property owners names and mailing addresses.

    I have had to have our attorney use his letterhead to write terse letters to a few absentee landlords in the past on “behalf of his client” who is suffering from lowered property values and mental distress because of his criminal tenants. Worked well, only cost  me $75.

  4. Viki Twyman says:

    There is a house on Dove Street (one street over from where we live)  that is one of the worst cases of blight I have ever seen.  It actually made it into a story in the newspaper a few weeks ago.  They dug up the front yard so it is now just first, they put a chain link fence up, there are broken down cars in both he from and back yards, car parts and tools everywhere and a very large camp trailer in the driveway with wires running to the house.  I know. Implants have been filed and it is on the Citie’s radar, but I haven’t seen any improvements as yet.

  5. Grammy says:

    Could you please give us the info on county procedure on horrible properties?  Next door neighbor has OLD cars on his place right along Placer Rd.  They have been there for years.  Looks horrible.  I want the path to the Veteran’s Cemetery to be nice.  Heck I would even go for, decent.  Could even go for the weeds not being cut (because they haven’t been for years) but the old non-running cars are over the top.

    Down in Southern California they have clean up days where dumpsters and free dump days where you take all you want (even refrigerators) to the facility for free.

    Even Sacramento County there is the curb pick up of everything.  Where you can put computers, ovens…. out on the curb for pick up (daughter gets parts for her stove off ones just like hers at curb side) twice a year for free.

    When we moved to west Shasta County there were free dumpsters but when the dump was located here, the free dumping went out.  After that the properties have piled up.

    20% of the population just doesn’t seem to have pride anymore in anything.  Is this a Shasta County problem?

    • Sure. I’ll check with the county. My hunch is there are similar tools available. I actually had a couple of sentences in this story about county eyesores, but I deleted them to keep the focus on Redding properties.

      But I well remember when I lived in Igo one particular place on Gas Point Road that seriously looked like a huge junkyard. I marveled that it was allowed to stay like that.

       

       

  6. Peggy Elwood says:

    I think this problem has become much worse since the drought. Not everyone who cut back on water has put effort into keeping a nice yard in spite of the challenge of gardening with minimal water. Seems like lots of folks just said “oh well” and let their yards die and go to seed. It has always been crucial for my mental health to pull into my driveway and say “wow..pretty yard”. I am convinced not everyone has that priority, and ,in fact, I think lots of folks could care less or can’t even see the blight they have created. Of course the leaving of all  kinds of junk and cars and trash in the yard can not be attributed to the drought….For those of us who love a charming neighborhood and beautiful yards it is very sad to see these blighted properties on nearly every street. Don’t have an answer Doni but I feel your pain.

  7. name says:

    The homes in the photos – where are they located?  In the Garden Tract?

    • No, as I said, I didn’t photograph Garden Tract properties, although there are plenty of eyesore examples.

      Example No. 1 is on Loma Street, near Lake Redding Park. Example No 2 is on Irwin in Enterprise. The city is aware of both of these places.

  8. David M. Kerr says:

    It’s all  about the money.  California law probably does not allow it.  An attorney may be able to explain.

    Code enforcement should be a cash cow for the city and county.  If a violation is not corrected in 30 days, there should be a fine.  If the fine is not paid in 60 days, there should be a lien on the property.  The penalties for unpaid code fines should escalate just like unpaid property taxes. Change of ownership should not be allowed unless the property taxes and liens are paid first, with code enforcement liens ahead of contractor’s liens.  The assessor should at least walk around the outside of a structure before title can change.  He should spot unpermitted structures and code violations.  If people are living in an unheated garage, RV or shed, he should get a warrant based on photos from the outside

  9. Paul Edgren says:

    Doni,

    Ideas: Visit the occupant and see if there is a medical or other limitation preventing the occupant/owner from maintaining the property. If there is such a limitation form a “block” group to help clean up the property.

    If the owner/occupant tells you to take a hike and mind your own business offer them $250 cash if they clean up the property. Tell them there will be another $100 if the property is clean 6 months later. The money could come from the concerned neighbors having a yard and or bake sale.

    • Paul, I love your compassionate heart to think of those who are physically unable to maintain their property.

      I’m sure many people would balk at the idea of paying someone to keep their yard tidy, but on the other hand, there’s much more money lost if property values drop because of neglected properties.

       

    • K. Beck says:

      Best idea in this whole article. If you KNOW it is a drug house RPD should be called. Form groups of “concerned neighbors” who are willing to go to the said homes and help the occupants with the clean up. I would not offer money, unless you want to pay someone yourself  to do the clean up. Make an offer of help. Call on those “concerned neighbors” obsessed with “property values” they should be highly motivated.

  10. Teresa Norman says:

    Well Doni, at least you have a City department that works on these issues.  I live in the County and someone abandoned a car on my property in June making my option through the Sheriff’s Office.  I have called a dozen times and never even gotten a return call.  Dispatch accidentally transferred my call to the RPD Vehicle Abatement number once and I had a return call within one hour. That call only frustrated me more… 9 weeks vs. 1 hour!!

    I would never just tow this wreck out somewhere and dump it, but I think I understand why people end up doing that now!!  I have even offered to pay to tow it myself but Pick and Pull and that type of business cannot take an unregistered vehicle.  Any suggestions??

     

    • Geez, Teresa, that’s terrible. I’ll do a follow-up story about blight in the the county and see what’s up.

    • K. Beck says:

      Autos have VIN numbers. The VIN number is usually on the dash near the driver side windshield where it can be read from outside the car. It should also be firmly attached with rivets. You might also find it if you open the driver’s side door and look at the door post. Often stolen cars have the VIN numbers removed or traded with other cars. In those cases the VIN number might not be that useful. Turn that # in to the Sheriff’s Dept. Keep bugging them until they hate the sound of your voice. Keep at it. The squeaky wheel usually gets the grease. Also, CARFAX has a VIN number look up at: https://www.carfax.com/company/vehicle-identification-numbers-vins for people looking at used cars to buy. If you find an owner’s name you might be able to get the Sheriff”s Dept. to take action. Good luck.

  11. Terry says:

    Doni, Thank You for bringing this topic to light for all of us and starting the discussion about options to address this kind of neighborhood blight!

  12. Toni C. Perkins says:

    Great and timely column Donnie.  I have complaints about some of the properties on my street, but they are no where near the condition of the homes photographed.  Just unkempt, no care for the grounds, failure to water and maintain shrubs, dead plants.  They only cut down the weeds when forced to by complaint to code enforcement.  I have thought of approaching the owners, but feel my concerns will be met with hostility.  One neighbor even offered to help one homeowner remove a rusting shed, and also keep up the lawn, to no avail.  Sad that some have no pride.

  13. UPDATE on the Irwin property. I just heard from some of the neighbors who were delighted to report seeing three trucks, two trailers, and at least four people with shovels who are loading up the trash and hauling it away. One neighbor estimated about 1 ton of trash, just from the outside.

    The neighbor spoke to a worker at the house who said that the former occupants are gone, and said the inside looks worse than the outside: doors ripped off, graffiti on the walls, cabinets missing and wiring ripped out. The neighbor was allowed to peek inside, but the worker said not to enter, because the place is strewn with needles. So the neighbors’ suspicions about drug activity were correct.

    The neighbors on Irwin are planning a celebration in honor of the clean-up. They’re so happy.

    It’s so nice when the process works. Three cheers for Steve Willkomm and his code-enforcement department.

  14. Doreen O. says:

    Hooray for the improved situation on Irwin!  Doni, would you mind if folks printed out your article and left it on disappointing neighbors’ porches??

  15. Karen C says:

    Doni,
    When I worked for the City of Redding, I was asked to participate in a program call “Neighborhood Pride”.  It went through Jim King who was in the building dept. at that time, as I recall.  I was asked to get involved with the program because part of my job was managing the City volunteers.  Oh my, when I presented them with this program, they took to it like a duck to water.  When complaints were received at city hall about blight, a volunteer went out in my city van, took pictures of the location and made notes. No physical contact was ever made by the volunteers.  After the pictures were developed (yes, developed) they were sent to the city attorney, along with the complaints we received.  A letter was then sent to the property owner along with a copy of the picture.  They had 30 days to clean up the mess.
    The volunteers would then go out again to check on the progress.  If nothing had been done, they would again, take pictures.  To make this long story shorter, if the people complied, it was a win-win for them and the City.  If not, there was a fine.  The program was very successful, and became a model for other cities in the state.  Unfortunately, when I retired, it died.
     
    All it really takes is for neighbors to ban together and complain.  After all, the City does have a code enforcement ordinance.  Blight is blight and it is like a cancer and will spread throughout the neighborhood.  Get on top of it and stop it before it is too late.

  16. Karen C says:

    There are two places on Bechelli lane.  One on the west side heading north on south end of Bechelli and the other is on the east side just before the Country Club and the nice subdivision.  Both places are a disasters and a danger to the neighborhood.

  17. tommy says:

    For some reason most of the time this type of peoples who live in these blighted places are TWEEKERS METH HEADS.

  18. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    Does the city/county sponsor days where people can put there stuff out to be picked up? Nine-tenths of our disposable society’s problem is it’s hard to get rid of. Once the garbage is picked up, why not landscaping crews? I heard people were looking for jobs. Maybe a sales tax?

  19. Frank Treadway says:

    Very timely article Miss D.  I want folks to know that calling the Code Enforcement officers is not a form of ‘squealing’. I think this is part of the ‘Let Live’ problem that some folks operate under. It’s all about being responsible, whether you own or rent, maintain your property.  On my block we have an unspoken ‘who can keep their front yards looking the best’ contest, has worked for years.  I’ve sent a note to the City Waste Manager to institute a bi-annual Clean-Up Day, no response yet.  This used to happen once a year in Redding, needs to be brought back.  This is the area of community involvement we all can take part in, helping our city, helps ourselves.  Again, feel free to call 245.7110, you do have to leave your name and phone, but the City will not put your name/address on the complaint form, you remain anonymous.

  20. Barbara N. says:

    Excellent article and feedback. No one likes blight…in their neighborhood and in the city they live in. My two, or three cents. A browned out lawn is not blight. I have seen plenty, cut and kept nice and tidy…bushes and trees still alive. I agree the city should have at least two free pick up junk days…most cities do. The city should also check their own areas of blight…open spaces etc.  My pet peeve…please take your garbage carts off the street on collection day! I hate blight, so am glad to see that the city is stepping up to the plate!

  21. Pitbull lover says:

    It took us talking to Daniel Martinez a President Of wells Fargo bank..in Texas..before they would send out investigators to look at the severity Of the property..he continually made excuses for why nothing was being done. We had to threatened to contact the news before he would send anyone out here! Mgs the investigator said the bank didn’t care because they have insurance..cool. we have video Of the drug activity and the Redding drug task force was contacted and never even returned calls let alone investigate. Its been 6 months Of pure hell! We share a fence with them and have had property stolen as well as been accosted by the meth and heroin addicts..we can’t even let our kids play outside. How did Redding police pass the Buck for so long???!

  22. sam allen says:

    I have heard so many stories about empty homes. Not all of them look like the ones in your pics. We ran off two that moved into our neighbors shed and another trying to get in another neighbor next door. When my hubby leaves early sometimes for work he said the streets are crawling with bike riders, piles of people sleeping, and people just roaming around at night. Good reporting Doni! Thank you for keeping these issues up front!

    • It’s a pretty sad commentary on the state of the city lately, for sure. I heard from a cab driver, who picked me up in the wee hours of the Amtrak station, tell of exactly what your husband describes. He said Redding, in the wee hours, looks like a scene from The Walking Dead.

      Thanks, Sam, for the note, and thanks for all you’ve done to keep some of these more vexing issues on city leaders’ radars.

       

  23. CD says:

    Maybe some of the people just don’t have the time, money, and/or ability to entirely take care of their place; times are still tough in the Northstate, and discretionary money is  tight right now for some.  Perhaps a hand-up would work; or, perhaps there are people staying at the Mission who would like to help the community but do not have the money to do so.

  24. Brian says:

    You should know who and why first…  it’s about the economy and attitude, abilities and disabling depression and ostriziation of PEOPLE, choices not made, and not given, Hire a local code officer, I mean someone born here. This problem didn’t exist until the the outsiders equity came and they displaced the local population, took jobs and affordable properties, and now implement their standards and judgement, homeless depressed people that call this town their only home, without options..wait till it gets  cold this winter

  25. Lauren says:

    The 1st example you provided, the green house, is on Loma street, a neighbor to myself. It is far from the Garden track area, in fact across the Market street bridge from the neighborhood you are referring to. I’m not impressed but the falsified pictures in this article or your need to point out other peoples short comings. If you’re their neighbor, maybe you could ask if they need some help? You have no idea what goes on in others lives, who are you to judge? I am not negating the fact that Redding has eye sores, and shady people you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley, but instead of complaining there is a problem, why not try to be a part of the solution? Oh yeah, and get your facts right while you’re doing so.

    • Eleanor says:

      Lauren,  please read Doni’s article and her follow-ups before you criticize.  Your comment is unjustified and unfair.

    • As I said, the pictures I took were not in the Garden Tract, but in two other areas of Redding, neither of which are in my neighborhood.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “falsified” photos, but I can assure you they’re untouched – except for cropping, and reflect the state of the property.

      My part of being a “solution” is to write this story and provide help for people who are tired of having eyesores in their neighborhoods.

      Thanks for reading, Lauren.

  26. tommy says:

    Code enforcement needs to be proactive !

  27. Beverly Stafford says:

    Several commenters suggest that the guilty parties be contacted by neighbors.  No thanks.  The eyesore in the Parkview Neighborhood was a drug house, and there was no way any of us wanted to knock on the door, make nice, and suggest that all those who came and went at all hours become better citizens.  That’s what code enforcers and police are for.  If the guilty party is contacted by code enforcement or police and is found needy, then neighbors can step in and help.  But before that, they should be viewed as guilty unless proven innocent of downgrading a nice neighborhood.  It took months to evict the guilty squatter in the drug house in Parkview Neighborhood.  Once gone, the house became a rental managed by an property management company, and the renters have been upstanding types.  As an aside, the Parkview Neighborhood was designated as owner-occupied only.  The city has even sent letters to that effect.  So much for code enforcement.  Several of the homes have become rentals.  I have no objection because all of the renters have be good neighbors.  However, why bother stipulating a regulation when no one enforces it.

  28. Canda Williams says:

    As much as I complained about POA fees in Lake California, and HOA fees here in our Kalispell neighborhood, these regulations do keep homes from becoming eye sores.  I don’t think I’ll complain about them again.  So sad to see so many once-beautiful neighborhoods in Redding become trash heaps. 🙁

     

    • K. Beck says:

      Funny, I was going to suggest Doni  might want to move to one of these neighborhoods.

      • No need for me to move. As I said, there are plenty of examples of blighted eyesores where I live here in the Garden Tract.

        • name says:

          I drive through the Garden Tract quite often, and I have not noticed any yards that are trashed.  All in all it seems like a fairly clean, well-kept neighborhood.  Maybe you could elaborate?

        • K. Beck says:

          I meant you might want to move to one of the neighborhoods with 30 page CC &Rs. Your property values would be intact and you could operate your Air B & B without any worries.

          Odd you didn’t take photographs in your own neighborhood.

          • I’ll quote myself:

            “…I thought about walking down the street to photograph some of the best/worst examples for you to see (where I live in the Garden Tract), places where dry weeds stand high, and there’s junk in the yards, or even, in one case, a boat that is periodically parked out front like a nautical lawn ornament. But I didn’t want to risk an encounter with the home’s occupant. I’m not that brave.

            Hi, I’m doing a story about blighted properties, and I wanted to include a photo of your home as an example.

            So let’s move on to some other neighborhoods, outside of the Garden Tract. “

          • My concern for the blight and property neglect extends beyond my neighborhood. Blight brings down the entire community.

  29. Reginald Daniels says:

    I would like to comment on my family’s defense. We are a good  Christian family who has just been dealt some bad blows the last 6 months, I am sorry if my house offends people. I have tried to keep it up as best I can. My wife and I have been married for 18 years, we have 4 great kids who 3 of which have disabilities. Our 2 older ones have Autism and our 3rd has Asperger. We regularly attend church, and we do not nor have we ever done drugs or Alcohol. My wife has just been diagnosed with Menears disease after suffering a horrible hearing loss. I also have suffered a broken ankle and a broken arm, while trying to get to school. I am going to school to better my family’s situation. We could use some help instead of this. This has saddened us deeply because we have tried to be nice and good hearted to everyone. Thank you for letting me speak.

    • CD says:

      Good luck to you and yours.   I too am not a drug dealer.  My yard is a lot like yours.  It’s just not that simple for a bunch of us given priorities, responsibilities, time, money, etc..  The yard is on my list, but it is down at the bottom.  I will eventually get it done, but for now it is in a state of disrepair.

    • Hi, Reginald. Thanks for explaining your situation. You certainly have a full plate, and more than your share of hardships. It must feel unfair.

      I have no doubt you’re a nice family, and nobody said you were on drugs or alcohol.

      However, I’ve observed your house for a few years now, and the pictures I posted are not a new condition.

      You say you need help, and you mention being regular church-goers. I wonder if you share your situation with your church, if someone there could help you?

      The thing is, when properties are neglected, they negatively impact their neighbors’ property values, and just the general feeling of pride in a neighborhood. It would be different if you lived out in the country, without another house in sight. But you live in a nice home surrounded by other homes — a community, where there’s an expectation that people will care for the places in which they live.

      Thanks for writing, and reading A News Cafe.com. I wish you the best.

       

  30. Reginald Daniels says:

    Sorry I forgot the only reason we had our van on our yard was to unload groceries or to wash it. Also our nieghboor parks her van on the side of our house pictured only on trash days. Sorry needed to add that.

  31. Reginald Daniels says:

    If you could just meet us you would see we are not trouble makers.

  32. Reginald Daniels says:

    Sorry I also just got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      Mr. Daniels, your family’s health situation is heartbreaking. People love to help those in need, and you apparently have a church family who may not know you need help.  Your pastor might be the person to contact with your problem.  Your church family could give you a hand up.

  33. Tom Tancredo says:

    Doni,
    I usually enjoy your articles but i am calling you out on this one. You need to learn to mind your own business Nosy Parker. These pictures  are of OTHER PEOPLES YARDS! It is none of your business what is parked on my lawn whether it is my boat(presently on the front lawn), my car, kids toys, or a wood pile. It is my yard and if you dont like it dont look at it. I dont come to your house and take pictures of the bushes that might offend me. I dont try to make everyone else cut down lilacs because they make me sneeze for a solid month every year and you know why? Because i mind my business. This line “Even so, at some point, it bears defining the word “blight” since one person’s blight is another person’s drought-tolerant landscape. Willkomm said the criteria is personal.
    “It’s anything that is offensive to another person’s senses,” he said. “Anything that detracts from any decent neighborhood.”” is particularily offensive. Can i call the city and complain about pansies in someones yard because they offend me. Something is screwy with this code enforcement guy and all these comments on here supporting ratting out your neighbors because the cosmesis of their yard doesnt meet YOUR standards-Pathetic. If you want to be this kind of a busybody move to a neighborhood with a HOA as suggested above. This makes me want to put a Gadsen flag on my boat on the lawn.

    • Here’s the deal, Tom. I’m all for freedom and independence, until the neglected, trashy, weedy condition of someone’s property near my home negatively impacts my property values, not to mention the feeling of well-being and pride in not just my street, but the entire community I call home.

      Let me ask you this, dear Tom: Look at the photos, above, with the broken-down motor home and piles of trash. Would you want to live next door to that?

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        Nicely put, Doni.  Reminds me of the phrase:  your right to swing your arm ends at my nose or put another way, your freedom ends where my property rights begins.

          • K. Beck says:

            “Exactly” ? But WAIT! Doni goes to places FAR outside her neighborhood, so how does the “your freedom ends where my property rights begins”pertain to this article?

          • Beverly Stafford says:

            Methinks Tom missed the class on good citizenship when it was taught in school.

          • Beverly Stafford says:

            Perhaps, K. Beck, the phrase should be, your freedom ends where another person’s property rights begin thereby leaving Doni out of the equation.  She explained why she went “FAR outside her neighborhood.”  The whole reason for this article is to shine a light on blight in Redding.

      • Tom Tancredo says:

        Ha Ha Ha,

        Here’s the deal, Doni. I dont live next door to one of those places, I live in a place as bad or worse. It is my business what my yard looks like and nobody elses. As to the property values argument isnt that the same argument that white people have historically used to keep black people out of the neighborhood? Just because someone or by extension someones yard is different from you or yours doesnt automatically mean it is Bad. It is just different. Its not like any of the things pictured or in my yard are a health hazard. That would be an appropriate intervention by the code officer, not just because it isnt the way you like it. I looked to see if there have been any studies about blight vs property values and there are studies but all of the ones i was able to find are deeply methodologically flawed. I do not accept that blight causes property values to go down. The best of the studies that i looked up that is the least flawed ones estimated a 1-3% drop in property values so assuming a 200,000 house(high for redding) that is between 2000 and 6000 dollars. You are publicly shaming people over 6000 bucks? Really? As to your feelings of pride and well being in your street and community I am not responsible for your feelings. You are the only one that can change them. Other people live differently than you do. That is OK. Get over it. I have far more important things to do than putter around in the yard so it looks nice for you.

        • Rod says:

          Tom, you’re blowing it.  Doni is attempting to help.  Why be a stinker?

          You know how awful your place appears to others, yet you pretend to not care.  I’ve dealt with attitudes as yours numerous times.  You’ll get educated to civilized expectations and your own failings soon enough.

          Why not just spit shine your home and get into the good spirit,  leave your troubles in the back yard.

          • Tom Tancredo says:

            Hmmm,

            Help wasn’t my read on it frankly. I took it as an attempt at shaming. As to other peoples “civilized”expectations those are their problem not mine. I expect that other people will serve their own interests and i am rarely wrong. That is why i am being a “stinker” Doni is just serving her own interests (Her property value) and in the process attempting to coerce other people into serving her interests(Attempting to publicly shame people into cleaning their yards). I know my place looks awful to other people you are correct however i am just about out of “F’s” to give.I do not think that my messy yard is a failing so i kind of doubt i will be educated to my failings any time soon. As to the part about spit shining and leaving troubles in the yard i fail to see the connection between cleaning and leaving of troubles. Good day to you sir.

  34. Barbara N. says:

    No one should have to live next door to someone who leaves so much trash, junk and other assorted debris that it could actually be a health hazard…rats, etc.  This isn’t lilacs and pansies here. Not even taking your garbage can up and out of view. This is not only bringing down value to the neighborhoods, it is actually against city ordinances. If you want Redding to continue to look like a sh*t hole, fine, but I don’t. I appreciate everyone who tries to do their part to keep this city clean.  I wouldn’t rat you out Tom for your boat, wood or kids toys, but we are talking garbage and massive junk.  We had a massive hoarder in our neighborhood, but it was mostly out of view. I wouldn’t rat them out either unless the rats were coming to my house! Some people just push it too far, and that is why we need the city to step up to the plate.

  35. tommy says:

    Doni, as you see “some people you just can’t reach. “.   Denial, mental illness and just plan don’t care lazy junk houses.   Cry me a river while you pick up your junk.  Thank goodness for the code officers, we need them.   I bet most are not owner occupied, probably a loser living for free.

  36. Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    Thank you for a great article Doni.  I’m relieved to learn that in some communities, neighbors make contact with home owners before turning them in.  There are people who have lost the ability to keep up their lawn and front yard  because of disability or age.   What for a young and able person would be an easy task may at some point become almost impossible.  Maybe neighbors can help.

    David Kerr’s comment that “Code enforcement should be a cash cow for the city and county.” gave me a chill  because the county is using Google Earth maps to send inspectors to check out out-buildings and old farm buildings on ranches and rural properties in Shasta County.  If an inspector finds an out-of-code barn or shed, (that is, anything built before January of this year)  the county can demand that the building be destroyed, brought up to code or the owners will be fined $1,000 a day for each violation on their land.  You can imagine how older people living on land they inherited from their  parents feel about this.

    Great cash cow indeed.  But what if neighborhoods could see what could be done at the grassroots level before resorting to government intervention?

  37. Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    Let me re-phrase that “If no permit can be found in the country records, and a building is found to be out of code, the county can demand that the building be destroyed or brought up to code, or the owners will be fined $1,000 per day per violation on their property.   There seem to be exceptions for some buildings that are over 50 years old.

     

  38. cheyenne says:

    Doni, as I see some posters telling you to move, come to Cheyenne or Fort Collins.  We need an online news source that isn’t out there on the RWNJ area like some here.  The lower taxes alone are worth it.  The low housing costs, though some here think they are high in both Wyoming and Colorado because of the influx of Californians, are another reason.  Fort Collins reminds me of Redding, though slightly bigger, with the Rockies rising out of the west side.

    I can understand not moving from an area you have loved, that is how I feel about leaving Shasta County.  But from what I have read and hear from friends and relatives still there, it is not the same Shasta County I lived in.

    • Why, thank you, Cheyenne, for the offer. So sweet of you. Your new home sounds wonderful, and I’m so glad you found it.

      And you’re right that the Shasta County you once loved is a far cry from our current north state reality. We call it the new normal, and frankly, it stinks.

  39. Virginia says:

    It isn’t just one neighborhoods, but many who have lost their neat appearance.  Yes, I agree with you, Doni, how bad Shasta County have become in the many years since I arrived.  Then, try to go anywhere where you don’t find homeless laying on sidewalks and people’s lawns.  It is a sad state of affairs for those who keep up their homes and a love for the area.

  40. Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    When I first came to Redding I living in several places that didn’t have front yards or lawns.  They were, for the most part, little houses that I’m guessing housed workers on Shasta Dam.  The idea of caring for a space that was in the community view was foreign to me.   I’m getting it now, and I wonder if that isn’t part of the education that should happen in a neighborhood that has enough water and decent soil  to maintain a yard for public view, or because of the drought, create a space with drought resistant plants and rocks…  and like you mentioned to Reginald Daniels, there are probably people in his life who have the knowledge  about this sort of thing and would love to take on this project!

    It was a jolt to me but I saw one of the houses you pictured in your article today.  And there was a man working hard to clean up the yard….no lawn…but weeds gone and windows still to be replaced.

     

  41. cheyenne says:

    I have always determined how crime ridden a city is, or sections of it, by looking at the number of resident houses that had bars on the windows.  When I would drive down old 99 the closer I got to Sacramento the more prevalent house with barred windows became.  In Phoenix virtually every house on the south side is barred and the houses close to Interstate 17 are barred through the entire length of the city.  As one gets further away from 17 the houses are more bar free.  The same is true in the Colorado front range cities as the closer one gets to Pueblo and the HWY50 prison district bars are on most resident windows.

    Have bars started to appear on Redding homes?

  42. CD says:

    In the Northstate, it is the haves vs have-nots with the haves winning.  Significant middle class income ($$)  is gone from the Northstate relative to 25 years ago,.  The timber industry is a shadow of what it was once; so many mills have closed the last 20 to 30 years, and with them good paying middle class incomes, resulting in middle class homes being abandoned and/or in disrepair.  Yet the demand for lumber in California remains high; the high tech cities are booming and building.  We did this to ourselves; the trees are there on the public lands,  and could be harvested sustainably, re-opening several Northstate mills (e.g. the Hayfork mill, an Anderson mill).  However, the federal government has decided that much of the public timber is off limits, just too hazardous to log trees, so the mills remain closed, and the Northstate economy remains depressed, resulting in homes in disrepair and/or abandoned.  Bring back a sustainable timber industry, and the middle class neighborhoods will improve.

  43. Reginald Daniels says:

    We have cleaned up our yard considerably you should come by and take a gander.

  44. cheyenne says:

    Everybody in Redding should read the article in The Washington Post about the DC police chief resigning.  You could substitute Redding for DC in the headline.

  45. Displaying 20160905_101049-1.jpg See this photo? It’s of the Irwin property (see, above), after code enforcement. Neighbors said it took four days and many dump runs, but what a difference. (The inside is still trashed, but the outside is a vast improvement for the neighborhood, and no longer an eyesore.)

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