We just realized our neighborhood is about to change, just when we were getting comfortable the way things were. Our neighbor is putting her house on the market, just when we’d managed a decent nod and smile arrangement over the fence, dammit.
Here I worry about my neighborhood changing with a home sale. Recently I found out, my neighborhood can change from day to day, and I won’t know anything unless there’s a problem.
Have you been to “Nextdoor”? This is a website touted by the Chico Police that is supposed to help neighbors network in a secure atmosphere.
For one thing, when you register, they ask for personal information which is supposed to verify your address. They want to know you actually live in Chico, in a specific neighborhood, and you’re not lurking for whatever nefarious reasons. I didn’t want to give my SSN, or my credit card number, so I had to ask them to send a postcard to my address. There was a glitch and they screwed up my address, but luckily we have a mailman who is familiar with the neighborhood, and he used my name to deliver the card.
I had to ask for “Help” to get registered with my card, since of course the non-existent address they’d assigned me didn’t exist in their database either. Glitches, glitches, glitches. All in all it took me about a week to get registered, with help from their faceless staff, and I never had to compromise my private information. Which is important to me since about a month ago we got a notice that T-Mobile had a security breach and our SSN’s might have been given out by mistake. Great!
One I got registered and got my sign in information figured out, I dove in to explore the site. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I was hoping for some sort of bulletin board on which we could post and find information about criminal activities around town. Several of my neighbors have been burglarized, including cars broken into in broad daylight during a wedding at the church across the street. I was hoping this would be a site where we could post that kind of information, not only for our own knowledge but for Chico PD.
I did find some chatter about various activities – a strange man jiggling a doorknob, a bike stolen, a bike found, stuff like that. But many of the posts are about garage sales, offering or looking for various services, somebody collecting candy for the troups, etc. Yeah, kind of a bulletin board. I will say, there’s been nothing really inappropriate, I haven’t been contacted by anybody trying to sell me anything, but I realize, the professional people are hoping to get some business out of it. That’s fine.
You can fix your settings to receive updates about as often as you want. I was getting an e-mail every time somebody “thanked” somebody else, so I fixed my settings so I only get “urgent notices”. I can log-in and check the conversation when I want.
The most interesting conversation so far has been about “air bnb”. This is a website by which you can rent out your house to any Tom, Dick, or Harriet you feel comfortable entertaining.
The conversation got a little hot – the woman who initiated was worried about her neighbors, who keep their RV in their side yard so they can rent their entire house out. She says parking has been an issue, but being a landlady, I’m sure she knows what other problems might arise.
Right now, the board of Supervisors has just ok’d a plan by which every motel in Chico will be paying into a “tourism district” – or their guests will pay, that is, a two percent fee tacked onto their bill like a booger. Hotel patrons might feel gouged – well, it’s kind of what you pay to use our town like a toilet, okay? I pay fees when I stay at hotels in other towns, and I’m damned glad to have the services they provide. In a tourist economy, it’s essential.
In past Chico had the “second unit conversation”, during which a group of people wanted to ban second units and require anybody who owns one to occupy the property if they intend to rent either the first or second unit. That was an ugly conversation – the upshoot was a zone around campus where there will be no permits given for second units and I think they might have added owner occupation, I can’t remember. I do remember, it was a really ugly little battle during which many people around this town made it clear they have no use for renters.
The same crowd reared their ugly head when we had the “disorderly events” conversation. That was an attempt by Chico PD to put a fine on landlords of houses where parties were held, make the landlord responsible for “response costs” of fire and police, including the salaries of every cop and fireman who shows up, and that includes OVERTIME. Landlords rejected this policy.
When the disorderly events ordinance did not include landlord responsibility, they brought in the “social host” ordinance. The cops said they’d get to an out-of-control party and nobody would take responsibility – the tenant can just refuse to talk to the cops, even sneak out a back door, and if nobody else at the party ID’s this person, the landlord is left on the hook. At one point in the conversation it was suggested that landlords who put a clause in their lease would at least have a leg to stand on – they could sue their tenants for the money they’d shelled out, that is, if they could afford to go to court after the cops got done turning them upside down and shaking all the money out of their pockets.
So, here we are with air bnb. There are people in this town who act like all landlords are creeps and criminals, we all take a bunch of rent and we run these whorehouses out of control and have no respect for our neighbors, right? Well, how do you think it’s going to be when the tenants are in and out of town within 48 hours? Or less?
I realize, people have been encouraged to rent their homes out short term for graduation, when hotels in every direction are packed to the gills. Air bnd is nothing new. But if I found out my neighbor was doing it I’d be worried.