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I’m told everything happens for a reason. So I guess I should thank my neighbor, and his absentee owner landlord, for the sofa that is still sitting in the dirt in front of his house, along with the two wooden chairs.
It is that sofa that prompted me to write about the deterioration of our communities. In doing so, I heard from a lot of you who also are fed up with sofas, refrigerators and worse sitting in yards, as if the properties were junkyards.
I also fielded many calls, including one from a lovely lady in her 70s who lives in Victorville who needs help cleaning up her front yard. She knows it is unsightly, but she isn’t physically able to take care of it. I asked for her address and drove past her property on my way home one night.
It really made me think it was time to do something. I have railed against politicians who are all talk and no action, and I don’t want to be like them.
So today I am, with the help of the Daily Press, taking action. And you can too, if you would like to do so.
I’m announcing the formation of the Daily Press PRIDE program. The acronym stands for People Ready to Improve the Desert Environment.
For our first project, we — and I say we because I am hopeful some of you will join me — will spend a few hours on an upcoming Saturday or Sunday cleaning up this woman’s front yard. There are weeds that must go, materials that must be relocated and the area in front of her circle driveway could use some decorative rock and maybe a cactus or two. The goal is to clean it up and make it look nice without burdening her with gardening duties she may not be up to.
If you know anyone who would like to donate some rock, cactus or small statues, please have them contact me.
I will provide the date, address and time of this project in next week’s column. So if you’re willing to help us instill a little PRIDE in a local neighborhood, get your gloves, shovels and weed whackers ready and join the Daily Press PRIDE team.
I know this program will attract willing partners. And I want it to include other things, such as annual awards for the nicest neighborhoods in each area community, best landscaping and most improved property and neighborhood.
We also want to help folks who are interested in improving their properties but may not know what to do. We’re going to produce some videos and post them on our website that will provide tips for transforming lackluster front yards into gems of the community. I know when I moved up here I didn’t know a lot about how to use rock to create a desert oasis. It can be done. And I’ve learned the hard way what plants can and cannot take our winters.
It is my hope that our cities and towns will join in this effort by reviewing their codes and making adjustments as needed.
I stopped by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Hesperia Station on Monday morning and talked by phone with a code enforcement employee about my neighbor’s sofa. (Code enforcement is located in the sheriff’s station, but nobody has ever been at the front counter when I stopped by. You have to use the phone to call them.)
A very nice young woman told me my neighbor received a 14-day notice to move the sofa. When nothing happened in 14 days, code enforcement gave my neighbor another notice, this one for 10 days. At that point, I’m told, citations begin. The first citation is for a fine of $100. The next is for $200. The next is for $500. She didn’t tell me how many days the city gives someone to pay the first fine, or what happens after they pay the fine. Does paying the fine enable my neighbor to keep the sofa in the dirt yard?
She said citations go to both the property owner and the resident.
So I’m guessing my neighbor’s sofa is now a $100 sofa. Or maybe it’s a $50 sofa joined by two $25 chairs.
After talking to this woman, I guess that sofa will sit in my neighbor’s dirt yard indefinitely. (I’m kind of curious to see if weeds will grow on it.)
I’ll be stopping at the sheriff’s station again on Monday morning. I’ve got a couple of more questions to ask code enforcement. No. 1 is why is it that the City of Victorville would have sent Burrtec over to collect the sofa three weeks ago if I lived in that city but the City of Hesperia can’t send Advance Disposal over to do the same?
Steve Hunt can be reached at 760-951-6270 or at SHunt@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevehunteditor.