I’m going to take on a sensitive issue in Dixon. I can see both sides.
I take daily walks around Dixon. At one time or another, I’ve walked nearly every block in town. The most interesting parts of town are the older sections, where the neighborhoods have more personality and individuality. A lot of individuality.
There are some really modest, small homes and there are some imposing two-story numbers.
What I want to write about are a few properties in Dixon that look like depressed areas of Appalachia, or some deeply rural areas of California. There are portions of lots with rusting abandoned vehicles, deep unmowed grass, travel trailers either abandoned or lived in, boats that haven’t seen water in a decade, unmaintained shacks, and any number of other junky-looking items.
I never saw Mike Ceremello’s lot when a few neighbors complained about it, but I suspect that it didn’t come close to some other lots I’ve seen. Maybe his stood out because it’s in a relatively new neighborhood (20 years old) where people manicure their lawns and keep up the landscaping.
I’m not going to suggest that people complain to the city about some of these properties that look like they’re deep in the bayou, reachable only by dirt road or boat. I think what’s happened is that the renters or live-in owners of the property only gradually contributed to the junk-yard look that’s there now.
First off, let’s imagine that they couldn’t afford to fix a pickup once, so they just parked it on the lot with plans to repair it. When that didn’t happen, it began to rust and weeds grew up around it. Later, when they had kids, they bought a big swing set. After the kids left home, they wanted to keep it around for possible grandchildren, so they moved it over next to the car, and it too began to rust. They had a farming relative who died and left behind some antique horse-drawn plowing implements so they accepted one and brought it home, and it joined the car and the swing set.
In their younger days, they had a veggie garden and they kept all their tools in a crude and hand-built shed. At one point they lacked the energy to continue the garden, and now the never-visited shed has a bad tilt, half the roof’s missing and a family of raccoons lives underneath. They also planted some fruit trees but now no longer maintain them and they’re scraggly and the fruit falls down and rots.
Finally, when cousin Al lost his home due to foreclosure, Al was given permission to move his 20-foot travel trailer on the property and live in it for a few months. That has now been three years and the extension cord still runs out there.
What happened was that the renter or live-in owner of the property lost sight of how the lot was slowly going downhill and lost sight of how the property looked to others.
On the other hand, cousin Al might’ve been me. I sure would’ve appreciated the chance to continue living decently, without being homeless or living out of a car somewhere. If I were Al, and the city came along and told me to move the trailer, it would’ve created a hardship.
I don’t really have a clear answer about how to relate to these junky-yard properties. On one hand, they make the city look kind of backwater and out of it. On the other hand, they testify in an off-hand way to individual freedom and the desire to live life the way one wants too.
Probably the only way to clean up some of the eyesores is for the neighbors to get together and offer to help the renter or live-in landowner clean up the lot. This person might resent the approach, but you never know.