The Hazards of Gardening In The ‘Hood…Be Careful Out There

Gardening in the ‘Hood is like gardening elsewhere…except for one additional chore.

If you live in the ‘Hood, you need to perform a daily check of your gardens for trash left by what I will call the “party people.”

They arrive during the afternoon or late evening…engines & mufflers announcing their arrival…

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They park, have a quick meal, and throw their trash on the sidewalk or in your garden…

Fast Food Trash

Fast Food Trash

Afterwards, they may quench their thirst with a libation or two…or three…

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Some may engage in additional activities…

Syringes & Needle Trash

Syringes & Needle Trash

Each morning you should carefully check on the detritus left by your visitors! The debris field can be quite extensive at times.  It is recommended that you use a trash pickup stick for this purpose. Latex gloves are also a good idea!

Fortunately, most of the trash is disposed of in quick order:

  • The empty beer and liquor bottles obviously go in the Recycle Can
  • Paper and food wrappers likewise go into the Recycle Can

However, the disposal of used condoms and syringes is another matter altogether.  Technically they are bio waste and should be disposed of accordingly. Blue Can or Gray Can?? I can’t decide.  Perhaps, the garbage company will provide Sharps containers and biowaste cans that we can strap to our trees…with signs>>”Used Condoms” and “Used Needles” Emoji

ADDITIONAL GARDENING TIPS

  • To reduce the risk of fire from the many discarded cigarettes keep dead vegetation and leaves under control.
  • To reduce your risk of getting a needle stick from the discarded syringes, use a pickup stick.

In addition, it is advisable to wear heavy gloves while pruning in case you encounter a discarded syringe in a hedge or bush. You don’t want to get a needle stick forcing you to get tested for all kinds of nasty diseases.

Happy Petaluma Gardening!!

P.S. Perhaps the Petaluma Garden Club has additional suggestions!!

See you at the Petaluma Arts & Garden Show!

Petaluma’s Blight Plight!

…and by blight I am referring to graffiti, trash, and abandoned shopping carts.  Granted, there is a large problem with foreclosed homes, or soon to be foreclosed homes, in our neighborhoods; however, I make no attempt to address that issue in this article….

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While the obvious graffiti has been somewhat down of late, I have noticed a resurgence of “practitioners” in certain areas around Lucchesi Park…

And of course, there is always the Weir Writing Wall on the Lynch Creek Trail…

There has been some progress on the abandoned shopping cart front now that Raley’s and Safeway have controlled their carts with electronic locking devices. I trust, however, that Safeway will not relax their diligence because they are diverting resources to scanning driver’s licenses!

But it matters not what Raley’s and Safeway do–there are still plenty of  carts from other stores roaming about our streets and neighborhoods…not to mention cavorting in our parks…

Lucchesi Park continues to be a shopping cart magnet. They should be listed as a featured attraction…

…along with other manifestations of  “trashy” behavior…

On a positive note, I can report that at least one person was thoughtful enough not to throw an empty cup on the ground…

I now close the Blight Report for March 2010. In fact, it will suffice for the balance of 2010.

 

 

Petaluma’s Vacant Homes–Holding Back The Blight

It is not “news” to report that the national recession has taken its toll on homeowners in the form of foreclosures.  Even a casual observer can see that Petaluma is also suffering from the foreclosure tsunami.

In some of Petaluma’s neighborhoods, more and more homes are sprouting  bank foreclosure notices… 

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or “”For Sale” signs–sometimes two…

For Sale For Sale...

Vacant Homes

Unoccupied homes can become an eyesore if they are not maintained or, even worse, they can become an attraction for vandals or squatters. In some cities, squatters have moved in and established utilities, thus living rent-free until discovered. Since banks take forever to put a property up for sale, squatters can live for up to 18 months before being evicted.  For a TIme article on the situation in Stockton, Ca. (Click Here)

Fortunately, things have not gotten this bad in Petaluma. However, I do wonder if we may have more vacant homes than homeless people.

There is something you can do to help prevent a problem developing with an unoccupied home in your neighborhood.

City Code Enforcement

If there is a property in your neighborhood that you think is becoming a problem, you should contact Code Enforcement…

  • Go to their Web Page  and click on the link titled “On-line Complaint/Violation Form” (Preferred Method of Contact)
  • In the alternative, call the Code Enforcement Complaint Line at 707-778-4469

If you suspect drug and gang activity, call the Police Department directly at 707-778-4372.

If you have general questions, you can also contact Code Enforcement by e-mail at codeenforcement@ci.petaluma.ca.us

Citizen reporting is essential, as City staffing levels do not permit pro-active enforcement.  The identity of those making inquiries or complaints is not disclosed.  They “… have no problems being the bad guy, so you don’t have to. Due to our lack of staffing, we may not be able to address every complaint right away, but we will get to it…Keeping your neighborhood clean and maintained is one of the best ways to deter crime and keep your property values up.”

As an aside, while this article focuses on coping with problems with unoccupied houses, you should also contact Code Enforcement if you have concerns about a house that is occupied.

When to Report

If something does not look or seem right, feel free to contact Code Enforcement or the Police Department as outlined above. Some signs to look for include…

  • Overgrown vegetation
  • Weeds that haven’t been cut or pulled
  • Graffiti
  • Piles of junk, trash and garbage.

Recently, a vacant home purchased in foreclosure was being remodeled for resale. The contractors left the house unattended with the front windows and garage door open–for two days. It was an open invitation for mischief.  Fortunately, a neighbor decided to call the police on the second night and they came out and secured the property.

Another current case involves a vacant foreclosed property with open windows, curtains blowing outside the window, and an unsecured garage door. In addition, newspapers, flyers and new phone books can be observed littering the front sidewalk…

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In closing, keep in mind that even when a complaint is addressed by the City, there are usually additional delays because the process of identifying the owner (usually a bank) is quite cumbersome.  In some cities, such properties have become so numerous they have initiated legal action against the banks.

Let’s hope it does not come to that in Petaluma…

The Petaluma Lynch Creek Trail Blues :-(

The Lynch Creek Trail in Petaluma is a major Petaluma cross-town connector for hikers and bicycle riders.

It has also been a “playground” for vandals, graffiti taggers, and other miscreants. In addition, the trails and river were perpetually littered with trash and abandoned shopping carts.

Over the last year or so conditions improved due to the efforts of city staff and volunteers.

However, a recent visit to the trail revealed that things are not going well.

These photos tell the story…

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They’re Back! Tag!! We’re It!!!

Graffiti and other forms of vandalism seem to be a part of urban life these days.  On the East Side of Petaluma, I have noticed a sudden up-tick in graffiti (gang and tagger crews) in our public parks and trails…

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And if they tire of painting their symbols on public or private property, there is always a public toilet somewhere that can be turned over for sport…

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A recent column in the Press Democrat reported that there was also an increase in graffiti in Santa Rosa.  The  article argued that graffiti could be reduced if we just provided a space for the “graffiti artists” to perform.

Of course, art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  I wonder what the columnist would think of this piece of  “art”…

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Sigh…

It’s looking to be another long…hot…summer on the East Side…

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