Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Showing Visitors Our Ugly

High water rates have caused the least among us, and the greatest, to neglect our properties.  Sometimes it’s the whole property.  Sometimes it’s just a portion.  That portion is all too often right along the street, and the street itself.  The ugliness and neglect, though not the reason for it, are all too obvious to visitors, who are not used to looking past it to what the residents allow themselves to see.
Residential properties along major roads, like Bridge Street, have lower property values because of the traffic, and are thus inhabited by poorer people.  Many of these cannot afford to water their properties at our high marginal rates that cost this gardener over $80 per month in the summer.  Many of them are dry all summer, and even if mowed, are ugly.  But since no one likes to maintain ugly, many of them are not mowed, and fill with weeds like false dandelion.
Some people disown a portion of their property, watering and mowing the part around the house, but do not weed or mow the rest.  Some do so explicitly, inexplicably thinking that the area along the street outside their fence belongs to the city because the city has a utility easement that restricts what they can do with it, and therefore the city must maintain it. 
The city apparently doesn’t hear about this and certainly doesn’t disabuse them of the notion by telling them to clean up their weeds and litter.  That would mean that the city would have to do the same on its property margins.  The City has acquired so much property that it has trouble maintaining it.
These property margins tend to fill up with wild lettuce, heron’s bill, and mare’s tails, cheat, foxtails, and blackberries, especially after someone tries to stop the weeds with Roundup, which fertilizes the next generation of annual and broadleaf weeds while killing the present one.  The County’s Fairgrounds is a case in point, with mare’s tails, cheat,  and blackberries dominating their frontage along their parking lot on Redwood Avenue.
Streets and sidewalks have crabgrass, wild lettuce, and even star thistle and goat heads growing in the cracks because people disown the public easement.  In reality, we own or rent property to the middle of the street; the city only has an easement.  And we, as residents and/or property owners, are Johnny-on-the-spot to keep that street and sidewalk clean.
But with the greatest and the least among us disowning portions of our properties, the middle follows the example of both.  Some don’t maintain their property at all.  One man said, “I have a business to run!” while he stood there with no business and a worker standing idle.  

Gardening is easy, if you do it naturally