Keeping neighborhoods neighborly
August 8, 2008
Neighborhoods aren't what they used to be.
Perhaps the stable, always tree-lined, friendly and well-kept spaces depicted on television never did exist, except in some screenwriter's fantasy.
But it sure seems as if it was easier to keep a neighborhood thriving and prosperous back in the day than it is today.
We're exploring some of the reasons for the strain on neighborhoods as well as discussing ways that people can get help in keeping their neighborhoods safe and attractive in a new program at 210 Connect on Monday.
The forum, "Sustaining our Neighborhoods," is from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday at 210 W. Center Ave., Visalia. It is free, and all members of the public are invited.
This is the first program after a hiatus in July. It continues a forum discussion in June about how foreclosures on homes are affecting residents and neighborhoods in our community.
As participants discussed then, the failure in the mortgage lending industry has left many neighborhoods with several derelict homes, sometimes side by side. This has created concerns from neighborhoods about their own property values, loss of security and spreading deterioration.
The problem is not limited to old neighborhoods. Some of the newest developments in Visalia are affected by this unique kind of blight.
Obviously older neighborhoods have their own sets of issues, including rundown properties, unkempt alleys, poor lighting and other negative features that older places are heir to.
Then there are simply the issues about properties that functions of neither age nor economics: The problem neighbor who fails to maintain his property; problems with animals; homes where illegal activity is obviously taking place; people who use residential properties for commercial uses, etc.
It's not just the barking dog or the neighbor who has loud parties who are nuisances these days, and some of them create problems that can't be solved by threatening to call the police.
Our culture has created some of these problems with our distant, passive, insular style of living. Who gets to know their neighbors anymore? If you had to intervene in a situation with neighbors, could you do it?
Monday's program will include city of Visalia Housing and Economic Development Director Ricardo Noguera and Neighborhood Preservation Director Tim Burns.
They will share the city's strategy for both improving and protecting neighborhoods, offer strategies for residents in dealing with nuisances, explain the city's policies and programs on code enforcement and answer questions from the public about how to keep a neighborhood viable and what steps you should take when things start to deteriorate.
Like anything else, maintaining and nice neighborhood takes some effort, but it's mostly a matter of being involved: Know your neighbors, form a Neighborhood Watch, organize events and activities that bring neighbors together and establish a vehicle for neighbors to support one another.
Too often problems develop in neighborhoods because no one knew there was a problem and those affected didn't know who to share it with.
Monday's program should give all who attend some tips and ammunition on how to keep a neighborhood on the right track.
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