Bad Neighbors Ignor Property Upkeep - Threaten Home Values
Slackness In The Hood Can Be Contagious
We love living in our neighborhood northwest of Chicago because it is close to everything, shopping centers, great schools, hospitals, great restaurants, fire and police departments. The homes in our area are inhabited mostly by middle two-income families. In the Summer you see toddlers or school age children riding their bikes, or writing on their driveways with chalk, or shooting balls into baskets. You see smiling faces, occasional waves. As you walk your dog and scoop the poop to avoid a $500.00 fine, you have conversations with other area dog walkers and learn the names of the dogs, but strangely not the owners.
Each week during the Spring and Summer months about 50% of the homeowners still cut their own grass. This percentage is diminishing because grass cutting service providers are always buzzing the neighborhood trying to convert new customers. My neighbors across the street built a beautiful little brick wall to encase flower beds and the wife tends the beautiful array of perennial roses every day. My neighbors to the left of me have a beautiful selection of annual flowers decorating their front entrance as do we, because I purchased these flowers from their children's school during a spring fundraiser. This is a friendly peaceful neighborhood, one that Mr. Rogers would be proud of!
Enter our new neighbors situated in the middle of the block. The family consists of husband, wife, small boy, small girl and rather large puppy. We welcomed them and sent our smiles and waves whenever we saw them. Then things started to happen, not things you notice right away, but things.
- At Christmas they hung lights and decorations all over their front bushes. These were not removed until the middle of July when her father visited.
- When the grass started to grow, they failed to cut it. (It's now the end of August, and it is still growing.)
- They have gone through at least five different cars since moving in. A mechanic comes almost every night and works with the owner on a car throughout the night. Once my dog woke me up to go out and I saw the lights down the street and heard the sound of an electric spray paint compressor. They painted a red SUV black. (Some of us thought they could be hiding drugs or dealing in stolen cars, nah too much TV.)
- Their bushes died in the front yard and they did not remove them.
- Their dog grew as big as a horse and began a series of escapes from the back yard. He tore up some flowers and pooped on my lawn. (Now I know why their bushes died.)
- They put their garbage out once a week in dozens of little white plastic bags. Animals then tear up the bags to eat the garbage. We now have plastic bags blowing all over.
It didn't take long for comments and concerns about the unsightliness of this home to circulate. In the past, the home had been rented by business people and there was never any trouble because the corporation that owned the home provided professional upkeep. Now that the home had been purchased, it was turning into a wreck. People suggested we call the police but we were afraid of retaliation since a name would be needed for a complaint. Then like a hero sweeping in to save our property values, a 90 year old dog walker (Sugar's mom) said she would do it. She said she was too old to care about any retaliation. The Police issued an order to cut the grass, but nothing happened.
Next we thought that our annual block party might provide us the opportunity for an intervention. So three of us gathered and told them it sure would be nice if they would cut their grass and clean up the toys on the lawn once in a while (hint hint). We offered to lend them our mower and stated they were welcome to our extra garbage containers. We said that if they were experiencing any hardship we would like to help. They just laughed and said no thanks.
Who are these people who just don't care. And now they have infected another neighbor down the block who has stopped cutting his grass. Is this contagious? Beware my friends because if it is, we will no longer be able to sing "America the Beautiful."